The fourth annual Fleet Safety Conference was held July 14-15, 2015, at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel in Schaumburg, Ill.

More than 260 fleet managers and key fleet stakeholders learned how to make their companies’ fleets safer and more efficient in a wide-ranging array of speaker and panel presentations.

In five packed general and keynote sessions, speakers thoroughly explored the pressing issues facing fleets today.

These topics included the nuts and bolts of setting up an effective safety program, selling the idea of a safety program to senior leadership, how to navigate the tricky legal landscape of medical marijuana use by drivers, why cell-phone bans are in the best interest of fleets and society in general, and a look back on the key trends that have shaped fleet safety and how they are affecting the industry today and what to expect tomorrow.

Concurrent sessions drilled down even further into how data is being used to improve fleet safety. Sessions included details on how to find “hidden risks” that may be increasing fleet liability, the unintended downsides of relying too heavily on crash avoidance technologies, the pros and cons of developing an in-house versus an out-sourced fleet safety program, and best practices in driver risk management.

New for this year’s conference was a heavy-duty truck track designed specifically for the particular needs of fleets using heavy-duty trucks.

Shell's Journey To 'Goal Zero'

Mike Watson

Mike Watson

Presenter: Mike Watson, Global Road Safety Manager, Shell.

Key Takeaways: Shell has a holistic approach to road safety for its global fleet, focusing on its “Goal Zero,” i.e., zero fatalities and no incidents that harm people, the environment, or put the company’s neighbors or facilities at risk. This goal is supported by:

  • Leadership at all levels. 
  • Management Controls to reduce/eliminate risk.
  • Driver behavior, including safety rules governing vehicle operation and driver training.
  • Vehicle specifications and vehicle maintenance.
  • Journey management.
  • Assurance and sustainability.

Developing Fleet Policies to Address the Legalization of Marijuana

Tom Bray

Tom Bray

Presenter: Tom Bray, Senior Editor, Transportation Management, J.J. Keller

Key Takeaways: More than half of U.S. states have “legalized” marijuana in some way, including for recreational or medical use. However, fleets should keep in mind:

  • DOT regulations are clear on Schedule I and II drug use, including prohibiting the use of marijuana, even if testing is not.
  • Positive lab results are still positive even if a driver has a prescription or claims use was in a "legal" state.
  • A solid policy, which includes training, should be implemented and enforced.
  • Do not rely on testing and policy. Supervisors need to be well trained on reasonable suspicion signs and processes.  

Senior Leadership Engagement

Joe Mckillips

Joe Mckillips

Presenter: Joseph McKillips CSP, Director, Global Commercial Environment, Health & Safety, Abbott
Key Takeaways: Gaining senior leadership support and financial backing is paramount to a fundamentally sound and sustainable commercial EHS/fleet safety program. Strategically engaging leadership in the following manner will help ensure success:

  • Actively pursue educational and networking forums to ensure leadership remain current with the very latest automotive trends, research and risk reduction measures.
  • Define clear expectations and performance standards, which allow all levels of management to "know the score" with their EHS program at all time.
  • Solicit support and endorsement from senior leaders who have shown genuine interest in EHS and appoint them as program champions and ambassadors for the program. 
  • Partner with functions outside fleet safety such as risk management and fleet procurement personnel to leverage additional insight and wisdom from their areas of expertise. 
  • Routinely share "real-world testimonials" with senior leaders (as well as all associates) to allow them to directly witness the impact their support and endorsement has had on the program. 

Making the Case to Implement a No Cell-Phone-While-Driving Ban

Dave Teater

Dave Teater

Presenter: David Teater, Senior Director, Transportation Strategic Initiatives, National
Safety Council

Key Takeaways: Driving while using a cell-phone is among the biggest factors contributing to driver crashes. Fleet managers need to keep the following in mind when advocating and implementing a total cell-phone-while-driving ban for the company:

  • Employees need full attention for the task of driving — cognitive distraction is real; multitasking is a myth. 
  • Hands-free is not risk free.
  • Risk exposure is what makes cell-phone use the biggest threat. 
  • A total ban on employee cell-phone use while driving is a "best safety practice" and a company's best defense against liability exposure. 

Looking Back to Build a Vision of the Future

Jack Hanley

Jack Hanley

Presenter: Jack Hanley, Executive Director, Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS)

Key Takeaways: Established in 1989, NETS has 100-plus corporate members. It helps to develop policies and programs to increase fleet safety, by preventing traffic crashes both on and off the job. Its efforts and programs include:

  • Benchmarking fleet safety through a comprehensive publication, "Strength in Numbers," measuring all aspects of the fleet safety programs of NETS' members.
  • Helping to engage the entire corporate culture from leadership down. 
  • Taking an active part in the U.N.'s Decade of Action, whose aims include promoting safer roads, vehicles, and road users. 
  • Identifying trends and new safety techniques to help member companies remain safe and efficient. 
About the author
Chris Wolski

Chris Wolski

Former Managing Editor

Chris Wolski is the former managing editor of Automotive Fleet, Fleet Financials, and Green Fleet.

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