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How A Fleet Safety Program Can Prevent Catastrophe

How A Fleet Safety Program Can Prevent Catastrophe

It's amazing how a simple lack of safety can lead to a serious catastrophe. An unmaintained fleet vehicle has a tire blowout on the highway, the driver loses control of the vehicle and it swerves into oncoming traffic. Or a driver, in a hurry to finish their route, breaks the speed limit and can’t stop in time to avoid a collision. These may seem like extreme examples, but fleet directors have seen it all. And that's why safety is such an important issue for them.


In addition to taking the necessary steps to keep fleet drivers safe, fleet directors should also establish a fleet safety program. In this article, we will explain what a fleet safety program is, and then we’ll cover five elements every fleet safety program should have:


  • Driver Hiring and Training
  • Established Fleet Safety Rules
  • Ongoing Driver Coaching
  • Regular Vehicle Maintenance and Inspections
  • Collision and Accident Reporting Procedures

What is a Fleet Safety Program?

In its most basic form, a fleet safety program is a set of practices an organization's fleet follows to ensure safety of the drivers and the vehicles. The program is typically codified into a set of guidelines within a written document called a Fleet Safety Policy. The document outlines fleet policy for safe driving and contains protocols for hiring and training drivers, as well as guidelines for disciplining drivers when necessary. It’s vital to make your fleet safety policy transparent and freely available to ensure drivers and management are on the same page. 


Fleet safety programs reduce the risk of vehicle collisions and safety hazards by standardizing driving behaviors, coaching drivers, and setting vehicle maintenance requirements. They should also include resources that raise awareness of the risks and costs associated with dangerous driving behavior, as well as how those costs and risks can impact the drivers and the company.

5 Elements of an Effective Fleet Safety Program

The size and use of a fleet varies from organization to organization, so no two fleet safety programs will be identical. But there are a few core elements that are common in most fleet safety programs, and yours should have them, too. 


Driver Hiring and Training

One of the first ways to ensure safe driving is to start by hiring safe drivers. An employee’s driving history is a good indicator of how they will drive in the future, so it’s important to check employee motor vehicle records before handing over the keys to a fleet vehicle. Once hired, drivers should have access to training on safe driving techniques, State/Federal driving regulations, and company driving policies. Drivers should also be informed that they will be responsible for any driving tickets or citations they receive, and that they should report any citations to the fleet management team.


Established Fleet Safety Rules

A fleet safety program should have a full list of rules that every driver must follow, and all fleet vehicle drivers should be fully aware of those rules. Here are some of the rules you should consider for your fleet safety program:


  • Wear seat belts. All fleet drivers and passengers are required to wear seat belts while a fleet vehicle is in operation.
  • Follow traffic laws. All fleet drivers are required to obey all traffic laws including speed limits, street lights, and traffic signs.
  • Don’t drive while impaired. Drivers may not operate a fleet vehicle if they are under the influence of intoxicants or any substance that impairs their ability to drive. The same restriction applies for drivers who are fatigued or injured in a way that impairs their ability to drive safely.
  • Don’t use mobile devices. Distracted driving can lead to collisions and injuries. Drivers are not allowed to use mobile devices, such as cell phones and tablets while driving a fleet vehicle. Many states have banned texting or calling while driving and the FMCSA restricts mobile phone use for drivers of commercial motor vehicles.


Ongoing Driver Coaching

For a fleet safety program to be successful, and for the safe driver training to stay fresh in the drivers’ minds, training needs to continue on an ongoing basis. Once drivers are hired and trained, it’s important to regularly monitor and review their driving, address any unsafe driving habits that may come up, and provide ongoing driver training. Every driving employee’s motor vehicle records should be reviewed at least on an annual basis. Any serious offenses you discover when reviewing a driver’s record should be corrected, and disciplinary actions per your company policy should be carried out when necessary.


But it’s unrealistic to expect fleet managers to catch every incidence of risky driving or speeding. Sometimes safety takes a back seat to expediency, and sometimes rule violations get overlooked. Automating safe driving practices through fleet management software helps improve fleet safety by managing the vehicle instead of driver behavior.


Derive VQ’s speed governor allows fleet management to set the top speed of every vehicle in their fleet to match company policy.


Regular Vehicle Maintenance and Inspections

Fleet safety isn’t just about managing driver behavior. A good fleet safety program also includes regular maintenance and inspections of fleet vehicles. Vehicles should be inspected daily before driving to make sure they’re in good working condition and safe to drive, and vehicles should be regularly maintained following the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. Fleet management should communicate with staff when maintenance is due and track its progress. Regular inspections can help identify potential vehicle issues before they become a serious problem, and quality maintenance can extend the working lifetime of your fleet vehicles.


Collision and Accident Reporting Procedures

Part of the daily inspection of a fleet vehicle should include making sure proper paperwork, such as vehicle licenses and registration are in the vehicle. There should be a checklist of post-accident procedures in the vehicle as well. It's important that drivers take specific precautions when an accident occurs, that they document the accident, and that they report it to fleet management immediately.


The safety of the drivers should always be the number one priority for fleet managers and fleet drivers. By creating a fleet safety program with guidelines on hiring & training procedures, vehicle maintenance schedules, and established driving policies, you can minimize fleet vehicle collisions and help save your drivers from serious injury on the job. 


Managing driver behavior to ensure safety can seem daunting. It wouldn’t be fair to put all the responsibility of fleet safety on the drivers themselves, and fleet managers can’t be everywhere at once. But with the right fleet management software, you can optimize safe driving behavior by managing the vehicles instead of the drivers. 


Derive VQ software includes a speed governor and eco adjustment. The speed governor restricts the vehicle’s top speed to prevent speeding, and eco adjustment smooths out the vehicle’s shifting points to help minimize aggressive acceleration. 


Learn more about how Derive VQ can improve your fleet safety program.