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  • Best practice for fleet safety programs

    Fleet safety programs

    A fleet safety program establishes the policies and procedures that are needed to help ensure a safe work environment for employees. It can also help protect against liability from vehicle accidents. Whilst you can’t always prevent accidents from happening, a formal program to include aspects such as screening, testing, inspection, training and company policy is essential.

    We believe that best practice elements of a fleet safety program should include:

    Checking driver’s records

    In most cases a driver’s records and licence will be checked upon hiring and then maybe once a year after that if you are lucky. As best practice however, it would be much more preferable to conduct continuous monitoring of their driving record and to be proactive in terms of reacting to any new suspensions, revocations or violations. Being able to take corrective action to improve driver behaviour sooner than later is a key factor to preventing possible accidents as well as helping avoid fleet insurance premiums rising, and building a successful safety program. Service providers are available to help you do this should you not have the resources needed internally.

    It is also a good idea to implement an automatic scoring system of your driver’s vehicle records. This helps to highlight when drivers are tending towards the possibility of a crash or incident. It allows for intervention prior to something occurring in the form of discussions and perhaps further training.

    You can score their records based on the number of certain types of violations (from minor to major) they hold on their record and therefore either highlight who is undesirable for a driving position or those that need training and regular review, or even those needing a disciplinary process.

    Use of technology to tailor driver behaviour

    In addition to a scoring system of their driver record, telematics and other safety technology can also be used in a similar way to monitor driver behaviour and highlight the possibility of a problem prior to anything happening and encouraging the safety of your fleet.

    Vehicle safety has evolved a long way since the introduction of seat belts and air bags with some technologies now being just as common as these mainstream items.

    Vehicle safety technology can help to provide safety indicators to the driver by either overriding driver behaviour or providing audio or visual prompts when facing hazards. Features such as ABS (Anti-locking Breaking Systems), AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking), lane departure warning, tailgating alerts, forward collision warnings and pedestrian sensing can all help towards your fleet’s safety.

    Clearly technology will hold many future advances to fleet safety and it is therefore important to keep up-to-date with what is available so you can consider what to implement.

    Don’t ignore the human element of a good fleet safety program

    Whilst there are many great technologies out there you can’t become too reliant on them or under-estimate the need for human intervention. Drivers should not become too reliant on in-cab technology to alert them of problems and need to keep engaged with high levels of concentration.

    Whilst technologies can help to boost the safety program they should not be the key element and driver behaviour, communications and company culture are still critical components.

    Crash reporting and investigation

    No matter how hard you try, unfortunately accidents will occur. It should be best practice policy to report on all crashes regardless of severity as soon as possible following the incident. This will allow for the driver to receive support and guidance on their responsibility following a crash as well as being able to review on the cause, if it was preventable, and what can be done in future to avoid similar accidents.

    Vehicle selection, maintenance and inspection

    Selecting, maintaining and regularly inspecting your fleet vehicles is extremely important in terms of safety. Drivers should be fully aware of where their responsibilities start and end and the importance of daily checks in terms of preventative maintenance. Annual service and maintenance outside of the driver’s responsibilities should also be tracked and recorded clearly to ensure appointments are met.

    Promote expectations and reward good behaviour

    Communications regarding your fleet safety program and what is expected of your fleet drivers should be ongoing. Many companies will experience constant turnover of staff and it is therefore important to train and re-iterate these safety expectations regularly.

    Positive outcomes as a result of adhering to your fleet safety program should also be rewarded and shared. Setting an example of good behaviour helps others to understand where the bar is set.

    Always look to the future

    A fleet safety program cannot stand still as technologies and regulatory requirements are forever changing. Fleet Managers need to continue to modify their fleet safety programs in accordance with this and be passionate advocates of new tools and techniques to enhance the safety of their fleets. The key is to be proactive and to manage the safety of your fleet by avoiding incidents before they occur.

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