6 Essential Elements To Include in Your Fleet Safety Policy
Not to sound like a broken record, but it’s hard to stress enough just how important fleet safety is to operations. With it being such a key contributor to your bottom line, it’s something you want to fully organize, systematize, and optimize. And it all starts by developing a fully fleshed-out fleet safety policy.
We know this can seem a little overwhelming. So in this post, we’ll outline the six essential elements of a fleet safety policy, ranking them in sequential order.
1. Vehicle Operation Guidelines
Typically, you’ll want to start by identifying exactly who is allowed to operate a company fleet vehicle. In most cases, for example, operation will be limited to authorized fleet drivers, with the only exception being when a vehicle is being repaired by an approved mechanic. This ensures only approved drivers operate fleet vehicles, which is a critical part of establishing fundamental safety procedures.
2. Driver Requirements
Next, you’ll want to specify the exact requirements a fleet driver must meet in order to operate a vehicle. This starts with the basics, like having a valid driver’s license and auto insurance with an approved carrier. If fleet drivers are operating larger vehicles like tractor-trailers, box trucks, or heavy machinery, you’ll need to state which type of CDL license is required.
Here’s an overview of the three classes of CDLs for quick reference:
Besides that, driver requirements should also include any criteria that would prevent someone from being allowed to operate a fleet vehicle. Some examples could include:
- Being convicted of a DUI or DWI
- Accumulating three or more violations within a year
- Being involved in three or more incidents within a year
- A combination of two or more of the previous criteria
3. Vehicle Maintenance
Studies have found that preventative maintenance can decrease the need for emergency repairs by as much as 98%. This, in turn, can save significant money on expensive repairs, reduce major downtime, and keep vehicles running smoother for better overall safety. That’s why having a set procedure for inspecting vehicles should be another integral part of your fleet safety policy.Studies have found that preventative maintenance can decrease the need for emergency repairs by as much as 98%. Click To Tweet
Some examples of items to inspect on a checklist include:
- Tire condition and air pressure
- Oil and oil filter
- Air filter
- Brake systems
- Coolant levels
- Steering components
A great way to streamline vehicle maintenance is to use software like VQ Telematics. This features sophisticated technology that continually monitors vehicle maintenance and provides in-depth data on how vehicles are performing. It also lets drivers know when it’s time for oil changes and tire rotations, as well as more significant fixes, which automates much of the process and frees up more of their time.
4. Driver Safety Rules
This consists of a set of fixed, definitive rules fleet drivers must follow. While the specifics will vary from fleet to fleet, some common driver safety rules include:
- Not operating a vehicle while intoxicated in any way
- Wearing a seatbelt at all times
- Not using a cell phone while driving (no talking or texting, but “hands-free” mode may be acceptable)
- No unauthorized passengers are allowed to ride in the vehicle
- Headlights must be turned on 30 minutes before sunrise and 30 minutes after sunset and during inclement weather like rain or fog
- Highbeams must be dimmed when following within 300 feet of another vehicle
- Drivers must obey all state and federal laws at all times
Note that tools are available to completely eliminate distracted cell phone driving to prevent the need for behavior modification. Distracted Driving Prevention Cell Blocking, for instance, pairs with a driver’s phone and locks it down based on vibration sensors and speed. So, if you’re looking for a simple yet highly effective way to keep distracted driving in check, this is a technology to consider.
5. Fleet Driving Best Practices
For this part of your fleet safety policy, you’ll want to provide a clear outline of driver expectations to ensure maximum safety. A good starting point is setting speed limits, both for normal conditions, as well as adverse conditions like rain or snow. Besides increasing safety for fleet drivers and others on the road, governing speed can significantly lower fuel consumption because there’s a noticeable drop in fuel efficiency once drivers exceed 50-55 mph.
And if you’re looking for a way to ensure drivers don’t exceed the restricted speed limit, you can use a speed governor. Once installed, this device prevents drivers from going beyond the speed limit mandated in your fleet safety policy and gives you complete peace of mind.
Next, there’s setting a safe following distance. Tailgating is a serious safety problem these days, with studies finding “14 out of every 10,000 drivers nationwide have a prior citation for tailgating,” and “33% of car collisions being rear-end impacts.” That’s why it’s important to state exactly what the maximum following distance should be at all times. Many fleet safety policies mandate there should be at least a two-second interval between a fleet driver’s vehicle and the vehicle in front of them during normal weather conditions and a four-second interval during slippery road conditions.
Rapid lane changing is another behavior to avoid. And when drivers need to change lanes, they should always use their turn signal to show their intent and carefully look into their rear-view mirror to ensure they can do so safely. Also, drivers should never speed through a yellow traffic light or pull up too closely behind another vehicle stopped at a traffic light. And when a light turns green, a driver should look both ways before proceeding to ensure there’s no last-second oncoming traffic.
The key is to be as detailed as possible when creating fleet driving best practices to eliminate any misunderstandings. Also, you’ll want to include a corresponding penalty for each infraction so drivers know what the consequences are.
6. Accident Response Plan
Finally, you need to have a clear outline of what fleet drivers should do when they’re involved in an accident. Although this is obviously something you’re trying to avoid, you need a definitive protocol for drivers to follow to minimize the potential for serious injuries or legal repercussions.
Some common examples include:
- Stopping immediately, and if possible, avoiding obstructing traffic
- Calling the police for all accidents, regardless of how severe
- Calling for an EMT if necessary
- Gathering critical information like the names and contact information of other drivers involved in the accident as well as witnesses
- Filling out a vehicle accident report
- Not making any statements to anyone besides the police
- Not arguing about the accident
- Not admitting liability or fault
- Contacting the appropriate department of your company as soon as possible
By reviewing the accident response plan and becoming familiar with the process, information, and legalities, fleet drivers should be in the best possible position even in a worst-case scenario. You can find an example of a fleet accident response plan here.
Creating the Perfect Fleet Safety Policy
Let’s recap. There are six essential elements in every fleet safety policy:
- Vehicle operations guidelines
- Driver requirements
- Vehicle maintenance
- Driver safety rules
- Fleet driving best practices
- Accident response plan
Taking the time to fully articulate each area will provide fleet drivers with complete guidance on how to properly operate company vehicles, how to drive safely, and how to respond after an accident. That way can ensure you’re on the same page with fleet drivers from the start and elevate overall safety.