Fleet Driver Safety Management is all about implementing and sustaining a safe driving culture in a business. Of course, the responsibility for safe driving comes down to the employee behind the wheel, but a safe driving program or a fleet safety policy is only as good as the person tasked with ensuring that its guidelines are followed, the fleet safety manager.
Fleet driver safety managers are responsible for educating fleet drivers on safe driving practices in line with a company’s safety policy. This could include the implementation of a driver training program. That means reinforcing directives that may seem terribly obvious at first (Don’t text or make a call while driving, Don’t eat behind the wheel, etc.), but in our high-pressure world of tight deadlines and mission targets, the obvious often gets forgotten.
A fleet safety manager has the difficult job of stamping out ingrained impulses and increasing awareness of all the consequences of unsafe driving. But it’s not just about getting across the potentially disastrous repercussions of accidents resulting from bad driving habits. It’s also about informing employees of the major benefits of safer driving and good driving performance, both for their company and for themselves personally.
With comprehensive training and enforcement, a fleet driver safety manager or a company’s safety administration can achieve their primary goal of creating and overseeing a safe driver culture in which best practices become second nature to employees when they are behind the wheel.
What makes a good fleet driver safety manager: The Key Roles
1.) DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT A COMPANY’S DRIVER SAFETY SOLUTION
What fleet driver safety management is, what it really comes down to, is developing, implementing and presiding over a vibrant fleet safety culture within a company. Fleet driver safety management training programs will always focus on the challenges of how to draw up a safe driving policy and how to roll it out.
In essence, all fleet managers need to:
- Educate themselves on the key challenges of developing a driver safety program such as how to build buy-in from senior management, how to gain acceptance from employees and how to enforce the policy for long-term success.
- Know every distraction out there. Dispatch devices, cell phones, exhaustion, external distractions－fleet managers need to familiarize themselves with the major driving distractions on the road so that they can develop a comprehensive safety program that will incorporate measures to combat each of these all-too-common threats to road safety from inside a commercial fleet vehicle.
- Study and learn from other companies that have successfully rolled out safe driving policies or fleet risk management solutions (global roofing and insulation giant Owens Corning and engine developer Cummins Inc. are two good examples).
- Create an implementation team made up of people from various sectors of the company (marketing, human resources and fleet operations). This helps ensure a company-wide understanding and buy-in.
- Know the policy inside out. If you’re going to educate staff on the safe driving guidelines outlined in a safety policy then you’d better know those directives like the back of your hand.
- Plan and introduce a driver’s safety training program to reduce driver risk (see below).
2.) SAFETY TRAINING: HOW TO COORDINATE IN-HOUSE COURSES AND IN-VEHICLE EVALUATIONS
All fleet driver safety management training programs will stress the importance of planning and coordinating both in-house safe driving courses and practical in-vehicle evaluations.
Objectives of in-house courses :
- To convey the full consequences of a motor vehicle crash on a company. It’s not just about the obvious personal risks; it’s also about the impact of a motor vehicle accident on the company’s bottom line through lawsuits, vehicle damage, mission delays, reputation damage and increased insurance premiums.
- To explain the company’s safe driving policy in detail. Drivers must be made aware of the guidelines and best practices they are expected to adhere to.
- To provide a comprehensive overview of all the various federal and state laws related to safe driving.
- To familiarize drivers with safe driving software and fleet telematics
A good fleet safety manager must plan regular practical evaluations of drivers’ driving skills and behaviors. Research shows that companies with the best road safety scores generally provide “refresher” driver training every 2 to 3 years. A program of practical behind-the-wheel coaching for drivers must take the long-term view in order to ingrain a safe driving culture in an organization.
A good on-the-road training session will run through the full range of best practices from basic risk-management procedures to vehicle maintenance to emergency protocols. These sessions will go a long way towards avoiding accidents by improving driving skills and honing techniques for preventing defensive driving or sharing the road with pedestrians and cyclists.
3.) KNOW YOUR TECH SOLUTIONS INSIDE OUT
Many companies are incorporating safe driving solutions and cutting-edge telematics into their everyday fleet operations. A manager responsible for the safety of fleet drivers has a responsibility to know exactly how these solutions work and how to operate them. When it comes to introducing safe driving software like TRUCE into a company’s fleet, safety managers must be open and honest with their drivers.
Safe driving devices give administrators control over employee mobile device usage while monitoring driver behaviors. The reasons why such devices are being installed in fleet vehicles should be explained: Data is being recorded simply to improve safety by avoiding motor vehicle crashes, not to put pressure on employees to meet targets.
A health and safety manager cannot even think about coaching drivers on these tech solutions unless they themselves know how these solutions work. And there is no better way to find that out than to have these devices installed in their own company or personal vehicles, to use them for a period of time before asking others to do the same. Let it be leader-led.
4.) RECORD AND REWARD COMPLIANCE
Let’s say your fleet safety program is under way. Safe driving practices are being followed. You might think the work is done, but it’s not. The next task is to create the kind of environment in which safe driving is the norm, an everyday part of the company’s operations. Compliance, so important to sustaining a safe driving culture, involves the following:
- Examining all driving data recorded by telematics (vehicle speed, diagnostics, driving patterns, etc.).
- Compiling comprehensive safety reports and scorecards based on safe driving devices installed in the vehicle.
- Implementing a rewards system to incentivize drivers to adhere to safety guidelines. Good driver performance deserves to be rewarded; incentives may include an employee of the month programs, extra vacation days, reduced insurance premiums or a bonus system.
- Identifying high-risk drivers (motor vehicle record, aggressive driving, driver scorecard, poor maintenance etc.) and explaining clearly to them the penalties for failing to follow recommended driving protocols.
Fleet driver safety management depends on understanding and executing these important roles. They are key to building and maintaining a strong safety culture in a company with a commercial fleet.