Best Practices for an Effective Driver Safety Program
Commercial fleets are an incredibly vital component of operations for many companies and nonprofits overseas, and are often the 2nd highest expense after staff. These vehicles carry aid to far-flung destinations in developing countries or may move raw materials to fulfill operational requirements.
Therefore, fleet management safety is not only an important consideration for employee safety, but also maintaining your operations as a whole. Numerous elements can challenge your fleet management. Some are structural, such as international roads that sometimes are poorly maintained and not always easily navigable, while others are personnel related, including individuals using work vehicles for personal purposes.
You cannot control all the challenges your fleet will face, but you can minimize your risks. One important area to start with is a driver safety program, which can prepare those driving on international roads to understand the dangers that exist from possible accidents or theft. Also, a vehicle maintenance program is critical as the best driver in a faulty car can still have an accident.
Responsible driving by employees is the best way to keep employees safe, and to protect your company from risk.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), last year, there were 32,675 fatalities from automobile crashes in the U.S. Accidents can happen anywhere and when you’re driving a vehicle, there’s always a danger of death or damage to the property of others.
Saving lives is the most important reason to implement a driver safety program, but doing so can also help a company’s bottom line. According to the NHTSA, the average cost of any motor vehicle accident is $16,000, not including costs from potential litigation that may arise from an accident. Safe driving and a vehicle maintenance policy will surely result in fewer accidents and less liability should they occur.
While your fleets should definitely be insured, just like with personal policies, the premiums for fleet insurance will vary greatly based on your company’s claims and accident history. Programs that lower your accident rates and claims can have a significant effect on your company’s expenses.
Develop a Communication Plan
One of the first steps in creating an effective driver safety communication plan is to explain the program to all employees so they know what’s expected. It should be available to all employees, either by print or via an employee information section of the company’s intranet.
Areas to cover should include: the goals of the policy; how management is supporting the policy, the importance of having a valid license and a good driving record, qualifications for driving privileges, personal use policy, seatbelt use, avoiding common distractions (cell phone use, changing radio stations, eating, drinking), local laws, notifying a manger in the case of a loss of license, DUI, or accidents, rules in regard to protecting vehicles, and the importance of resting on long trips.
Additionally, a policy should outline procedures to handling accidents. This may depend on various factors such as the company’s culture, considerations by management and the human resources department, and each country’s own driving laws. If there is an accident and it’s determined that an employee was at fault, punishments can range from notations in an employee file, to suspension of driving privileges, to elimination of those privileges and even termination of employment.
Educate Employees on Different Rules of the Road
One of the best ways to make employees safe drivers is by teaching them how to be responsible drivers. Before sending its employees abroad, an organization might want to consider hiring a company devoted to teaching driving safety with experience in numerous countries. For instance, AlertDriving tests drivers regularly, with weekly, biweekly and monthly courses, and trains drivers in the laws of different countries all over the world.
Another option is a tiered approach, in which drivers with good records continue training through independent study. Drivers who have gotten into accidents, or aren’t following the company’s safety program, should take part in a more rigorous program involving instructors and milestones, which if not met, could result in removing that person’s driving privileges.
Extra steps should be taken in terms of new employees or those heading to a new country for the first time. New hires need to not only adjust to a new job, but also learn how to drive in a new area with a new vehicle. A class specifically geared for new hires can cover the basics of driver safety and emphasize the most important parts of the safety agreement.
Provide Online Training
Online courses provide employees with flexibility to train at any time that works best for them. Companies such as Alert Driving provide CSA-compliant defense driver training on line with full motion video.
The program involves a series of 10-second full-motion videos that simulate a driving scene that provides a review outside a windshield, including the rearview mirror and two side view mirrors. Drivers have three chances to identify the hazard in each scenario.
The program offers footage from 60 different countries in 80 different languages. It is designed to reduce collisions, injuries, cost and liability exposure.
Car Access may be a Privilege – What are the Rules?
Some companies may offer the use of a company car to employees as part of a compensation package. In those cases, it is important to specify drivers of the vehicle. If spouses or driving-eligible children are allowed to drive a company vehicle, they too should participate in a safe-driving program.
In addition to establishing the policy, it’s helpful to write a contract for employees to sign so that they officially acknowledge their understanding of your company’s driver safety program, and all the ramifications if they practice unsafe driving techniques. This policy should be signed by all employees who drive while working.
Ensure Vehicles are Being Well-Maintained
When purchasing vehicles, consider safety rankings and average maintenance costs. The company should maintain a standard maintenance policy per vehicle type, including when vehicles are inspected for safety and have common maintenance activities completed.
Employees driving company-owned vehicles should consider how well the vehicle is driving and make note of any changes or irregularities. Create a system that makes it easy for employees to report potential problems they experienced while driving. Another possibility is a regular meeting where employees who drive company vehicles discuss their experiences on the road, and make suggestions with the goal of promoting driver safety.
Driving logs may be necessary for insurance and tax purposes, so employees should log all trips they make in company-owned vehicles. Logs should include the date, starting location, destination, mileage, and the number of passengers. Drivers also should maintain records for services such as oil changes and even gas purchases.
Share Your Success
Let’s say you’ve introduced your safe-driving program and its working. It’s not enough to pat yourself on the back and take pride in a job well done. It’s important that drivers and executives talk about the plan, so that it continues to be followed and funded.
Keep the program relevant by making note of improvements to accident rates, reduction of average repair cost, improvements of fuel usage, effects on insurance premiums and other evidence that the program is working. Provide the information in company emails and newsletters.
Consider providing rewards and bonuses to drivers with the best records, and share the message with clients and others, so that your company earns a reputation as one devoted to safety.
Review Your Insurance Package
Clements Worldwide offers a great solution with its World Auto International Fleet Insurance program, so adding another level of risk management is easy and cost-effective. Clements policies can cover fleets with any number of vehicles with borderless coverage against war and terrorism.
Clements Worldwide is a leading insurance provider for NGOs, government contractors, construction companies, and oil & gas companies. In additional to full-service policies, Clements can also provide claims-only processing for self-insurance arrangements. To find out more, read our latest whitepaper, Prioritizing Fleet Risk Management to Improve Your ROI and Mission Completion.
Call us today at +1.202.872.0060 or 800.872.0067 or e-mail email@example.com to speak to one of our insurance specialists and obtain a DBA quote.