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Fleet Management: 10 Steps to Driver Safety

The average vehicle crash costs an employer more than $16,000. When the incident involves an employee injury, that figure spikes to $74,000, then up to $500,000 if there is a fatality. The good news, say the experts, is that auto accidents are largely preventable

There’s no time like the present to shore up your fleet safety program. Here’s a little help from OSHA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), who have gotten together to propose a 10-step fleet safety program to minimize the risk of crashes at work.

1.   Management and involvement. Like any good safety program, a driving initiative requires the involvement of owners and top managers as well as workers and their representatives.

2.   Written policies and procedures. A written statement, like one that describes your company’s overall safety mission, is an essential first step. Next, a clear, comprehensive, and enforceable set of traffic safety policies should be created and shared with all employees.

3.   Driver agreements. OSHA and its safe driving partners recommend establishing a contract with all employees who drive for work, whether they operate a company vehicle or their own. In signing an agreement, the employee acknowledges awareness and understanding of traffic safety policies, procedures, and expectations.

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4.   Motor vehicle record checks. Checking the driving record of any employee who drives for a work purpose is the next recommendation. The intent is to screen out those with poor driving records, as they are most likely to cause problems in the future.

5.   Reporting and investigating. Establish a reporting and investigation process that works in the same way your general accident reporting process does. All crashes, regardless of outcome or severity, should be reported to a supervisor as soon as feasible.

6.   Vehicle selection, maintenance, and inspection. Accidents can be prevented with "upstream" measures such as selecting, maintaining, and routinely inspecting company vehicles. Businesses should consider the safety of all vehicles and should provide cars with "best-in-class" safety features.

7.   Disciplinary action. A moving violation or preventable crash should engender a set course of action. Most corrective action programs are based on a system that assigns points for moving violations. The system selected should provide for progressive discipline if a driver begins to develop a pattern of repeated violations and/or preventable incidents. The action plan should describe the specific actions that will be taken if a certain number of violations occur in a predefined period.

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8.   Rewards and incentives. A driver reward/incentive program can help make safe driving part of your business culture. Employees should understand that safe driving behaviors contribute to the bottom line.

9.   Driver training and communication. Driver safety training and communication should be provided on an ongoing basis. Even experienced drivers benefit from repeated training and reminders.

10. Regulatory compliance. Depending on your workplace, you may be subject to various regulations. It’s important to clearly identify which, if any, government regulations affect your vehicles and/or drivers. These may involve NHTSA, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, and Employment Standards Administration.

Tomorrow, we’ll offer some defensive driving tips that you can share with your employees to make sure they steer clear of accidents and keep safe on the road.

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