The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

How to Sell Fleet Safety to Your Drivers

While fleet drivers may be savvier on the road than the average driver, accidents still happen. How can you sell fleet safety to drivers who think they don’t need it? Top safety companies weigh in.

December 2011, by Cheryl Knight - Also by this author

Fleet drivers make their living behind the wheel, logging an average 2,000 miles per month. Though they may consider themselves “masters” of the road, accidents still happen. On average, fleets experience a 20-percent accident rate per year.

Getting through to employees who have been driving for years, are more aggressive in their driving habits, and/or don’t think they need safety training can be challenging. 

Employ a ‘True’ Safety Culture

According to three leading accident management companies — CEI, Corporate Claims Management, Inc. (CCM), and Fleet Response — reaching drivers through safe driver programs starts with a true safety culture within the organization from the top level of senior management on down.

According to Brian Kinniry, manager of Risk & Safety Operations at CEI, fleet managers should educate senior management on the financial impact of accidents by providing key metrics on accident rates and overall associated costs, including overall productivity. 
“This will greatly assist in getting leadership to buy-in to the concept of driving safety through the organization,” Kinniry said.

He also pointed out that the field manager plays a key role in making sure employees focus on safety as a top priority. The manager must be clearly aware of the driving performance history of each employee and should actively participate in “ride-alongs” with drivers. 

“The manager can also use ride-alongs as an opportunity to educate employees on the statistical relevance of accident data within the company and industry so that the employee is well aware of the risks he or she faces while on the road,” Kinniry said.   

Kinniry also suggested drivers access a complete record of their own driving performance, including accidents, motor vehicle record violations, camera violations, and fleet policy violations.

Managers and drivers should also be held accountable for safe driving by making it part of employee performance reviews. But just as important is recognizing drivers who perform well.

“Encourage them to share their success with others through testimonials or other forms of interactive communications with their coworkers,” said Kinniry.

A structured safe-driver program and training are also critical to a successful safety program. CEI’s DriverCare Risk Manager enables fleet managers to have a complete view of a driver’s profile, including accident history, motor vehicle records/driver abstracts, traffic camera violations, driver monitoring (“How’s My Driving?” programs), company specific safety and fleet policy violations, assigned and completed training (both online and behind the wheel), along with any recognition awards the driver received during his or her tenure.

Kinniry said CEI customers experience a 5- to 40-percent reduction in incident rate over time while using CEI’s services.

The bottom line, he said, is that it’s important for fleet managers to be sensitive to all employee challenges while instilling one of the most important goals of the company: for drivers to make it home safely every day.

“Safety has to be presented as part of their job responsibility, along with a responsibility that they have to their families and communities,” Kinniry pointed out.

Use Statistics to Sell

While drivers may think they have good driving skills, CCM believes there is always room for improvement.

“Most people always believe something bad will happen to someone else, not them,” said Bob Martines, CCM president and CEO. “When you make a company driver aware that one individual in five will experience an accident and then you ask how many drivers are in their immediate family, realization sinks in that an accident involving one of their family members may occur. The process of creating a safety environment is embraced a bit easier at that point.”

Martines also pointed out downtime and lost hours are key motivators to company drivers, especially if their earning capacity is interrupted due to an accident. Engraining a safety culture into a company is vital. The more frequently a company promotes safety, the more safety becomes a priority.

“Monthly newsletters are reminders of why safety is important, ongoing training proves to the individuals being trained as well as other team members that safety is important, and behind-the-wheel training clearly demonstrates a company’s commitment to safety as drivers can learn valuable, long-lasting skills that can save their lives one day,” he said.

CCM’s safety solution, FleetGuard, provides fleets with options such as monitoring driver history for accident reporting, motor vehicle reports, automated recommendations, and safety training verification. It also categorizes drivers, company employees, and/or any other persons permitted to use the company vehicle into fleet-established risk levels.
Many online training courses are already downloaded into FleetGuard, so drivers receive instant notifications of courses required to stay in compliance with company policies.

“FleetGuard was designed to help companies keep their drivers safe, as well as protect them and their drivers from negligent entrustment concerns,” he added.

Martines has seen his clients reduce accidents, liability claims, and expenses. Typically, he said CCM clients see more than a 20-percent reduction in actual incidents.

“One of the most important aspects of any safety program is repetitiveness,” he added.

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  1. 1. Janelle Molony, Fleet Ope [ January 16, 2012 @ 06:02PM ]

    Driver safety is such an important part of running a business, even when that business is not directly identified with operating commercial vehicles. The 2010 Bureau of Labor statistics report found that the number one reason for deaths in 2009 was from the amount of hours worked. This puts serious pressure on fleet operators to manage their on-duty and driving times, but much more so those companies who aren't necessarily professional drivers. For example, someone who drives a CMV to the worksite, works on the ground all day, then drives back is still subject to the Hours of Service regulations which limit our exposure to tired drivers on the road. How does one convince these types of workers to comply with regulations that seemingly have nothing to do with their jobs? Knight does mention that supervisor buy-in and front line support of continuous efforts is crucial. This is very true. I would add to this article the importance of involving the drivers themselves in the process of becoming safer through educating them on the policies and the protection they grant the driver (not the limitations that put on them). Education and proper training helps to empower employees to make the right decisions at the root level. This is what creates the most work efficiencies, reduces injuries, and improves a company's reputation and bid power.
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