As a small business owner with a few commercial motor vehicles, you may not think you need a program for safety. But however small your fleet, implementing a safety program can help prevent crashes and keep your drivers safe on the road.
Establish a Safe Driving Policy
Distribute a comprehensive set of enforceable safe driving policies to all employees who drive as part of their responsibilities. The policy should apply to all vehicles used for company business — even personal vehicles.
At a minimum, your policy should:
- Reinforce safe vehicle operation, including how driving is monitored (crashes, fuel mileage, seat belt use, etc.).
- Require the use of safety belts by all occupants, not just the driver.
- Prohibit the consumption of alcohol and/or controlled substances in connection with vehicle operation.
- Implement a distracted driving policy that clearly outlines appropriate actions and behaviors while driving and prohibits use of mobile devices.
- Clearly state the consequences and/or penalties for noncompliance.
Having safe driving skills may not be the main reason you hire an employee, but understanding experience in this area is important, especially if that employee has driving responsibilities. The following steps can help determine safe driving competency:
- Require that each job candidate’s application includes a detailed driving history, including a list of crashes, moving violations, and states in which the individual has been licensed.
- Visually check the applicant’s driver’s license to determine whether it’s the proper license for the job and whether there are any restrictions. Review each of the applicant’s driving licenses.
- Obtain motor vehicle records from the states where the applicant is or has been licensed.
- Establish “safe driving record” criteria, such as no moving violations in the previous three years, to which you’ll compare all applications. Hire only those applicants who meet these criteria.
- Administer a written driving quiz and a road test using the type of vehicle and roadways an employee would drive.
Having well-maintained vehicles can reduce the chance of accidents, breakdowns, and time off the road due to unplanned repairs.
Follow these recommendations to keep your vehicles in good condition:
- Maintain vehicles according to the manufacturer’s specifications and document when maintenance was completed.
- Train drivers to inspect their vehicles daily to look for problems, such as underinflated tires and fluid leaks.
- Require drivers to immediately report any defects.
- Insist on the proper maintenance of any personal vehicles used for company business, and reserve the right to inspect them.
Prompt reporting of accidents is an important part of a fleet safety program. Follow these recommendations to help ensure timely crash reporting:
- Require that all crashes be reported immediately — with no exceptions. Delayed reporting can expose your business to additional liability.
- Place crash report forms in all vehicles, and train drivers on how to complete the forms.
- Investigate all crashes and incidents, and identify measures that will help prevent similar crashes.
- Review all crashes with those involved, not to assess blame but to identify all possible causes.
Effective fleet safety programs measure driver behaviors in addition to crash frequency and severity. Measuring and managing driving behavior and activities can help reduce the risk of accidents. The following behaviors are indicators of driver attitudes and performance:
- Hard stops and hard lateral steering
- Over speeds
- Fuel mileage
- Tire replacement
- Seat belt use
A Final Note: Driver Training
Training, whether through group discussions or in the classroom, can help provide drivers with additional knowledge and sharpen existing skills. However, driver behaviors (and not a lack of knowledge) are responsible for many crashes. Training programs are much more effective when used in conjunction with other components of a safe driving program.
Taken together, you can create a program that will help keep your drivers safe and your vehicles in shape.