Crashes cost employers in the US more than $60 billion annually in medical care, legal expenses, property damage, and lost productivity, and the costs are steadily rising. In addition, crashes drive the cost of workers’ compensation, Social Security, and private health and disability insurance. NHTSA estimates that the average crash costs an employer $16,500, however, when a crash results in injury the cost to their employer is $74,000. Costs can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved.
Off-the-job crashes are costly to employers as well. Clearly, whether on the job or on personal time, crashes can have significant physical, financial, and psychological impacts on the employee, co-workers, family members, and community, not just the employer. Therefore, it’s imperative that your company put in place a driver performance and safety program that:
- protects lives and reduces the risk of life-altering injuries within your workforce.
- Protects your organization’s human and financial capital.
- Protects the company against negligence while on company business or in company assets.
- In turn, maximizes the efficiency of every mile driven.
Not sure where to get started? Here is the first of 5 elements every driver performance and employee safety program needs to have.
1. Top-down commitment and involvement
Optimizing the safe driving of your employees requires the attention of management. Senior management provides vision, leadership, sets goals, defines policies, models behavior and allocates the resources to create a culture of high performance and safety. Actively encouraging, and requiring, employee participation and involvement at all organization levels are a must-have and ensures success. Employees, and if unionized their representatives, really need to be involved in the initial goals and policies planning phase.
2. Written vehicle and device use policies, procedures, expectations and consequences
Once you have the buy-in of senior staff and have communicated the goals and expectations to all employees, it’s time to put a policy in writing. The policy must be clearly defined and enforceable, identifying program goals and specific policies.
Once you’ve discussed the policy with an employee, have them sign and acknowledge that they received, understand and will abide by it. These goals and policies are the requirements for how your vehicles are to be operated and policy communication is the cornerstone of your organization’s commitment to achieving the goals.
3. Implement crash reporting and investigation procedures
Next, you must define and enforce a crash incident reporting and investigation process. NHTSA estimates that many crashes, even a certain percentage of severe ones, go unreported or are underreported. Your policy must be that all crashes, regardless of severity, are to be reported to the employee’s supervisor at the time of the incident. Crash policies and procedures should clearly guide drivers through their responsibilities in a reported situation.
All crashes should be reviewed to determine their cause and how to avoid or prevent them in the future. Discontinue the use of “Avoidable” / “Unavoidable” or “Preventable” in your corporate vernacular and/or reporting process. Focus on understanding the root causes of crashes and why they are happening and work toward eliminating them in the future. Leverage crash suspect reporting from the in-vehicle technology, look for valuable before, during, after data from the system that will be input into the settlement process. If possible legally secure the data as a “work product” to be used only by the company.
4. Proper vehicle selection, maintenance and inspection
Proper selection and routine inspection and maintenance is an important part of optimized performance, preventing crashes, and minimizing human impacts when there is a crash. You’re advised to review and consider the safety features, as well as the performance features, of all vehicles to be considered for employee use.
Vehicles that demonstrate ‘best in class’ status for crash-worthiness and overall safety should be chosen and made available to drivers. For the latest information on crash test ratings and other important vehicle safety information, visit www.safercar.gov. Driving performance goals should be aligned to minimize the costly wear and tear on vehicle life cycle expenses and seek to achieve/exceed the manufacturer performance rating on the vehicles and components.
5. Provide driver training/communication
Once you’ve created your employee driver safety policy, communicated expectations to employees and gotten their commitment to the policy, it’s time to set them up for success. Provide continuous driver safety training and communication is key to this step. Even experienced drivers benefit from periodic training and reminders of safe driving practices and skills. It’s easy to become complacent and not think about the consequences of our driving habits.
Alright, you’re halfway there. Check out the next 5 steps to a world-class employee driver safety and performance policy. Don’t forget to share with colleagues you think might be interested!