You know that fleet safety can make or break your company. Accidents impact the bottom line, while stellar safety saves money, improves your business’ reputation, boosts morale and preserves lives.
An effective fleet safety program is the key to reaping these benefits. But these programs aren’t “set it and forget it.” They need the same kind of care and attention you give your vehicle maintenance.
Here are eight essential elements of an effective fleet safety program. How does yours stack up? If you’re missing one or more elements, your program may be falling short.
1. A clear, written safety policy
Drivers can’t follow policies they don’t know about. Your written fleet safety policy should cover not just the basics but every aspect of your operations. Clarify the responsibilities of executives, supervisors and employees. Provide guidelines for daily operations as well as procedures to be followed in the event of an accident or other incident.
The policy should be reviewed at least annually and revised to address new regulations or circumstances. Many insurance companies provide fleet safety program templates.
2. Comprehensive and continuous driver training
Safety training starts with employee intake and ideally, never stops. Regular coaching can break unsafe driving habits such as speeding, harsh braking, hard cornering and tailgating. Think of continuous driver coaching as preventive maintenance of your fleet safety.
Give drivers access to their own vehicle telematics data so they can see their driver behavior patterns for themselves, in black and white. Back that up with one-on-one meetings to review driver behavior . Use video telematics to go a step further and watch clips of driving violations together with each driver to help them understand how and when they take unnecessary risks and see in real time the dangers of aggressive or distracted driving.
Vehicle telematics data coupled with actionable video snippets help managers understand and see where the biggest problems are so they can address them head-on.
3. Frequent safety messaging
Handing new drivers a copy of your safety policies is just the first step in informing them of what’s expected. Keep safety top of mind with persistent messaging. Use meetings, emails, newsletters and fliers to highlight the value of specific safety practices and to offer specific tips and reminders. Use special bulletins to inform drivers about changes to your safety policies.
4. A robust seat belt campaign
Everyone “knows” using seat belts saves lives and prevents injuries. And of course, federal law requires it. Yet 16 percent of commercial drivers still don’t wear their seatbelts, according to the Federal Motor Safety Carrier Administration. Those drivers cost employers $4.9 billion in crash-related expenses in 2013 alone according to a report from the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety.
Corporate safety messaging should include frequent seat belt reminders, but don’t stop there. Most fleet telematics solutions allow you to configure an alert triggered when a driver drives without a seat belt. If the solution includes a fully integrated driver-facing video camera, you can plainly see whether the driver was wearing one when a trigger-based incident is captured.
5. A distracted driving program
In 2018, 5 percent of all U.S. crashes involved a distracted driver, leading to 2,841 deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. People driving for work were more likely to be distracted and to use a cell phone.
Setting a no phone/no texting policy is a no-brainer. But the temptation to make a quick call or text can be strong. To identify drivers who can’t keep their hands off their phones while driving, consider installing driver-facing cameras, especially for drivers with low safety scores. The cameras can capture device use as well as other forms of distracted driving. Use this data to help you customize your driver coaching.
6. Accident reconstruction
In the heat of a crash, memory becomes unreliable. Telematics data can reveal some useful pieces of information about the event. Better still, a fully integrated video telematics solution can provide trigger-based video footage of the critical seconds before, during and after impact. Accurate situational details help companies understand the root cause of the accident.
Full accident reconstruction is the brass ring and is made possible with CalAmp’s CrashBoxx™ risk management service. It provides comprehensive crash data including the force of the crash, direction of impact and speed prior to impact. To help fleets respond faster to accidents, it also delivers location, date, time, VIN and collision severity information in near real time.
Rapid access to video capture and crash data streamlines accident investigations and can help insurance investigators determine liability — and exonerate drivers who aren’t at fault.
7. A preventive maintenance plan
Well-maintained vehicles are safer vehicles, and reducing unscheduled repairs is better for the bottom line. The cost of roadside repairs reached an average of $407 in 2020 according to American Trucking Associations. To keep on top of maintenance, ditch the whiteboard or spreadsheet. Telematics platforms that provide a dashboard for tracking maintenance needs and scheduling inspections and service keep costs down and vehicles moving.
8. Safe driver recognition
Simple recognition of your safest drivers by way of a leaderboard or a mention in the company newsletter can be surprisingly effective. Also consider offering rewards such as time off, gift cards or coupons for food or coffee. For drivers who aren’t yet performing up to your safety standards, set clear and achievable goals so that they, too, can earn good driver scorecard marks and become models for others.
The best fleet safety programs combine technology with the human touch. Use objective data on driver performance coupled with communication, coaching and rewards to make your safety goals a reality.