Rules, policies, and procedures are not “safety.” Safety and accident prevention come down to human behaviors. After all, rules won’t always stop your drivers from making unsafe choices.
Having said that, it’s important for a company that puts non-CDL or light-duty vehicle drivers on the road to have an explicit fleet safety policy. A fleet safety policy and related fleet safety programs will protect you from litigation and set the standard in place for your employees.
A fleet safety policy consists of rules and guidelines directly related to driving a company vehicle.
Why is a Fleet Safety Policy Important?
Your drivers put your company at risk.
The fact is, driving is the most dangerous thing your employees do. They likely don’t see themselves as drivers. They see themselves as plumbers, electricians, pest control specialists, or sales reps. That’s not the full picture, though.
Your employees must drive in order to complete their job, and in doing so, they face tremendous risk.
This means you face risk as well. When your drivers have collisions, you must deal with the aftermath. A fleet collision means:
- Rising insurance premiums
- Workers’ comp
- Court visits
- Damages to vehicles
- Potentially serious or fatal injuries
These all fall under the umbrella of “cost of loss.”
To improve profits, it’s crucial to reduce your cost of loss. This is most effectively done by hiring safe employees and training them to be defensive drivers.
However, another important aspect of reducing cost of loss is having fleet safety policies in place. Fleet safety policies explicitly state what your drivers can and cannot do behind the wheel. They explain what will happen as a result of breaking the policy. And, they protect you from litigation in the event that a driver has an accident.
The Four Fleet Safety Policies You Must Implement
Creating fleet safety policies is crucial to preventing accidents and reducing your liability. But where to begin?
These are the top four safety policies that every fleet should have:
- Journey management
- Distracted driving
- Seat belts
- Drugs & alcohol
1. Journey Management
A journey management policy covers things like pre-trip and post-trip vehicle inspections, schedules, routes, and emergency procedures.
The goal of a journey management policy is to ensure your drivers minimize their risk of breakdowns and other emergencies on the road. These emergencies are expensive and often dangerous.
Here is a sample of a journey management policy you can use:
(Name of Company) prioritizes safety. Therefore, all employees of (Name of Company/Organization) must complete a pre-trip vehicle inspection form before operating their work vehicle at the start of their shift and have their supervisor sign it. An employee will not drive a vehicle that is deemed unsafe for the road. Supervisors are responsible for deeming vehicles unsafe and for overseeing repairs. Supervisors are also responsible for giving employees their route, destination and/or travel schedule and employees are to check-in (insert frequency). In case of an emergency, employees are to call 911, if needed, and their supervisor once it is safe to do so. Failure to comply with these policies may result in immediate termination.
2. Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is the leading cause of accidents in the U.S. Most notably, distracted driving includes texting and driving. However, it also includes talking with a hands-free device, day-dreaming, rubbernecking, talking to passengers, eating or drinking while driving, and much more.
Distracted driving causes serious and even fatal accidents. As a company with non-CDL drivers, you have a moral obligation to prevent distracted driving. You also have a financial incentive.
Your distracted driving policy should include examples of distracted driving, a strict no-phones policy, and resulting punishments for breaking the policy.
Here is a sample policy:
(Name of Company) recognizes that distracted driving poses a massive threat to safety. Therefore, (Name of Company) requires all employees to be attentive, defensive drivers and prohibits any form of distracted driving. If an employee is found to be breaking any of the following policies, the employee may be immediately terminated:
- Employees are prohibited from texting while driving
- Employees are prohibited from talking on the phone or hands-free device while driving
- Employees are prohibited from programming their GPS while driving
- Employees must turn off their cell phones and stow them away while driving
- If an employee needs to make a call, the employee must find a safe place to pull over and make the call from there
- Employees who are driving must not eat or drink while the vehicle is in motion, rubberneck/gawk at scenes on the side of the road, or engage in any other activity found to increase the risk of collisions
If an employee causes a collision and is found to be at fault due to distracted driving, the employee will be terminated.
3. Seat Belts
The use and need of seat belts are so common we won’t go into detail. Simply put: your drivers’ risk of death greatly increases when they refuse to wear a seat belt.
Here is a sample policy you should use:
(Name of Company) recognizes that seat belts are a matter of life or death. We prioritize safety and require that our employees do the same. Therefore, all employees of (Name of Company) must wear seat belts when operating a company-owned vehicle, any vehicle on company premises or any vehicle on company business. All occupants are to wear seat belts or, where appropriate, child restraints when riding in a company-owned vehicle, or in a personal vehicle being used for company business. Supervisors are responsible for doing seat belt checks before a vehicle pulls out of the lot. Failure to comply with any part of this policy may result in immediate termination.
4. Drugs & Alcohol
Similar to seat belt usage, this one is obvious. Drugs and alcohol use by drivers greatly increases the risk of collision. This includes alcohol, marijuana, stimulants, depressants, and more.
Sadly, though, drug and alcohol use while driving is common in many industries. You must protect yourself and your employees from this with a drug and alcohol policy.
Here is a sample:
(Name of Company) prioritizes safety and requires its employees to as well. Therefore, the consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs by any employee during “duty hours” is prohibited. Duty hours consist of all working hours, including break periods and on-call periods, whether on or off company premises. The consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs while performing company business or while in a company facility is prohibited. The possession of alcohol or illegal drugs on company grounds or in a company vehicle is also prohibited. If an employee is taking legal drugs or medication that could affect that employee’s ability to drive, the employee must inform the appropriate manager or supervisor. Failure to comply with any part of this policy may result in immediate termination.
As a side note, it’s also important to implement drug and alcohol testing for your drivers. You may be required to do so by state or federal laws. Even if you aren’t, it is strongly advised to implement testing:
- At time of hire
- Randomly throughout the year
How to Turn Your Policies Into a Fleet Safety Program
Fleet safety policies are crucial for establishing expectations, rules, procedures, and punishments regarding safety. But unfortunately, on their own, they do little to prevent accidents.
You need to turn your policies into a fleet safety program.
Create employee education, training, and coaching protocols to ensure your policies are being carried out. Beyond that, if you’re serious about preventing accidents, you need to implement safety and defensive driving training for your employees.
World-class safety organizations follow this training cycle:
- Online defensive driving training for new-hires
- In-person safety training over the first few days on the job
- Monthly safety meetings focused on a specific and important safety topic
If you implement this fleet safety program, you will have a drastic reduction in accidents, injuries, and cost of loss. The money you save will double what you invested to put this program into place.
Invest in a holistic fleet safety program to back up your policies.
About the author: John Kuder is a senior instructional designer at Avatar Fleet, the creators of the non-CDL safety training course, The Fleet Safety Course.