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7 Steps to Ensure the Safety of Your Fleet Operations and Mitigate Risks

Businesses with fleet operations dread potential accidents and the legal issues they can bring. A single bad accident can lead to lawsuits against your company, claims against your surety bond, and damage to your brand. Vehicle loss, unexpected repair costs, injuries, deaths, and other harm caused by a fleet accident can mean your company could face six- or seven-figure losses. You should take proactive measures to improve the safety of your fleet operation and protect your business, employees, and the public.

Ways to Reduce Risk and Improve Safety in Your Fleet Operations

1. Develop a Comprehensive Safety Policy

The first step to take to improve the safety of your fleet and reduce risk is to create a comprehensive safety policy. Your policy should be clear and easy to understand so that your employees know your expectations. Make sure to specify what is and isn’t safe in your workplace and the consequences that drivers will face for engaging in negligent or reckless behavior.

Align your safety policy with the Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, and include specific steps for human resources to take to implement the policy and immediately address any violations. Once your policy is drafted, train your human resources staff and drivers on it and make sure they understand the policies your company has for safe fleet operations and what will happen if they fail to comply. Once your employees have been trained on your policies and have reviewed the document, ask them to sign and date an acknowledgment that they have read and understand its provisions.

2. Create a Safety-First Culture

Having a written policy is not enough to ensure your fleet drivers operate safely. You’ll need to work to create a safety-first culture so that everyone from the top down prioritizes safety. Designate an individual or team of individuals to serve in leadership roles focused on safety. Invite employees at every level to participate in discussions about safety and alert management to issues they see. The discussions your company has about safety should be open and honest, and employees should be encouraged to come forward with any concerns they might have.

Make sure you have employee buy-in whenever you contemplate changes to your company’s safety policy to minimize non-compliance. Establish a reward program for safe driving to incentivize drivers who are safe by providing bonuses or additional vacation days.

3. Conduct Regular Driver Safety Training Sessions

Driver safety training sessions are major building blocks of strong fleet safety programs. While training comes with a cost, the expense is far less than what your company could face from unsafe fleet operations. Safety training can help to prevent accidents, reduce repair costs, and minimize liability exposure. Offer a mixture of in-vehicle and online training options to ensure your drivers understand that safety is a priority for your company.

Make sure to include quarterly seasonal driving safety training in your overall program. During these sessions, address seasonal driving issues and ensure your employees understand how to adjust their driving in various types of weather.

4. Discipline Appropriately

If a driver violates the safety policy at your company, you need to discipline them appropriately and immediately. Don’t let drivers cut corners to try to get loads to their destinations faster. Enforce the hours of safety rules, mandate rest breaks, and ensure your drivers comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

If these rules and laws are not followed, your drivers’ noncompliance could expose your company to substantial risks. Make sure that the drivers understand you will not look the other way for a short-term benefit when the long-term risks are too great. Prompt discipline for violating your company’s safety policies can also help to deter other drivers from engaging in similar behavior.

5. Have a Strong Maintenance Program and the Right Vehicles

In the same way that a strong safety policy and workplace culture are important, the fleet vehicles you lease or purchase are likewise critical to reducing risks and improving safety in your fleet operations. Make sure the vehicles you choose are appropriate for the jobs they will be used to perform. You should also ensure the vehicles you select have advanced safety technology systems installed to help reduce accident risks.

Once you have a fleet of vehicles that are designed for the tasks your company performs, make sure you have a regular maintenance program to ensure they remain in great condition. Routine preventative maintenance can help to prevent breakdowns, mechanical failures, and other problems that could lead to serious accidents. Keep a documented maintenance schedule and have a system in place to ensure it is regularly monitored and strictly adhered to for every vehicle in your fleet.

6. Use Driver Monitoring Technology

Driver monitoring technology can be a great way to mitigate risk in your fleet operations. This type of technology can help you understand how your drivers behave when they are behind the wheel and address any concerns promptly. Drivers who know that your company uses driver monitoring tech are less likely to engage in unsafe driving behaviors when they are behind the wheel, and the technology can provide reports that identify areas in which further training might be warranted.

Telematics and safe driving apps can provide information to your company about a driver’s tendency to speed, abruptly accelerate or decelerate, and engage in distracted or inattentive driving. Review the historical driving records of each driver every year to identify any drivers who might need additional training. You can also use the reports from the safety tech to identify drivers with flawless records and reward them publicly to incentivize others to emulate similar behaviors.

7. Implement a Program for Managing Accidents

Even if your company has a strong approach to safety, accidents might sometimes be unavoidable. You need to have a program for managing accidents when they occur so that your drivers respond appropriately and emergency services are immediately dispatched. Your program should also handle insurance claims and make arrangements for required medical care.

Companies with fleet operations should never overlook safety. Instead, you should make safety a cornerstone of your business. Ensuring that your fleet operations are safe helps to keep your employees and others around them on the roads safe. Your focus on safety can also help to stave off losses that could potentially sink your business.

In closing, The Heavy Duty Parts Report agrees that safety in fleet operations is crucial and can be achieved through measures like safety policies, driver training, and technology for monitoring. We also acknowledge the importance of maintenance, vehicle selection, accident management, and creating a safety culture. By implementing these measures, we believe that safe and efficient fleet operations can benefit all stakeholders involved.

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Author: Jamie Irvine

Jamie Irvine is the host of The Heavy-Duty Parts Report and a consultant that works with manufacturers, distributors, and SaaS companies serving the heavy-duty truck parts industry.

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