In the modern era, you basically can’t operate a business without a fleet; at least, not one that pushes the product out of anything besides a curbside window.
However, that raises some concerns. You have to hire drivers, and those drivers can mess up. Not only that, but they can cost you tens of thousands of pounds. If you’re starting out, just a single wreck with an employee injury involved can destroy your business without you being able to do anything about it.
So, safety should be your number one priority.
Today, we want to cover ten safe driving tips fleet managers can use to better prepare and protect their drivers and ensure that the company is as safe as humanly possible.
1: Issue Reminders
It doesn’t matter if someone has been on the road professionally for twenty years without an accident. Bad habits do form. Even the best drivers will consistently overestimate how much room they have to manoeuvre, push themselves too hard, or do something else that can cost them their health and the company a ton of money.
To prevent this, you need to issue constant reminders and communicate with your employees.
A monthly or bi-monthly meeting can accomplish this, periodic tests or outreach attempts can help, and anything else that drives home the key principles of safe driving can dramatically reduce the risk of wrecks.
In the end. This isn’t just a pro-employee move. Not only are you protecting your employees, but you’re protecting the company.
2: Put it in Writing
Now, this can be beneficial for employees, but it’s mostly a pro-company move. You should always have an extremely detailed list of standard driving practices and procedures available to you and all your employees.
A proper standards and practices write-up should include every possible detail. This includes pre-driving practices that ensure that employees are entering and preparing their trucks and vehicles as well as possible before getting on the road, the long list of things they should be doing to ensure safety while on the road, and complete instructions on what to do in every possible situation when things do go wrong.
If an employee doesn’t know what to do when their motor blows or they get pulled over, something is wrong. The same goes if they don’t know how to properly prepare for a long day of driving.
Putting your policies and detailed instructions in writing does two things.
First, it ensures that your drivers know exactly what they’re doing. If they don’t, it’s because they didn’t pay attention during your proper training program, and they didn’t bother to read the written guidelines. At the very least, that removes responsibility from the company for the errors of drivers.
At the same time, putting it all in writing is good for drivers, too. As you probably know, we don’t always maintain knowledge just because someone told us it. That knowledge can dissipate and disappear seemingly at random. Even something as important as safe driving practices is forgotten in exchange for bad habits from one’s civilian driving experience.
Sometimes, a driver who is trying to do their best can forget a key point of protocol, and they might need a reminder. If they have all of the information in writing nearby, they can easily find their way out of situations where they might be confused about how to respond. This makes this an idea that is not only good for protecting the company against liability but also to keep drivers safe and making the right moves at all times.
3: Vehicle Inspections
Wrecks are extremely dangerous for drivers, and they’re extremely costly for companies. Unfortunately, a lot of them are caused by drivers leaving the dock with unsafe vehicles prone to malfunctioning.
Accidents aren’t 100% avoidable. They’re called accidents for a reason. However, performing full vehicle inspections frequently can help prevent accidents caused by malfunctions. If that’s not enough to convince you, they can also increase productivity by greatly reducing the number of time drivers spend on the road waiting for repairs.
4: Vehicle Maintenance
This goes hand in hand with vehicle inspections. You can’t just work to anticipate potential problems. You need to maintain your fleet to ensure that production continues as much as possible.
Doing regular tire and oil changes, having full tune-ups performed at set periods, and general performing maintenance on the fleet will ensure that each vehicle is in the best shape possible.
5: Classroom Training
Just like when you go through high school driver’s education, you need to ensure that every new driver has some time put into a classroom before they hit the road.
Commercial vehicles, whether they’re small vans or semi-trucks, are extremely dangerous in the hands of untrained drivers.
By putting every new hire into a classroom-style learning environment, you have an opportunity to ensure the driver is road-ready and teach them company-specific expectations.
6: Telematic Data
Telematic data is data gathered via a technology involving the speed and frequency of acceleration and deceleration, idle periods, and extreme speeds. The information is gathered in real-time, and is then relayed to fleet managers such as yourself to tip them off to unsafe behaviour.
This allows fleet managers to monitor the behaviour of drivers remotely, and when they see unsafe behaviours, they can correct them promptly.
7: Hands-On Training
Classroom training is great, but even with that, it’s necessary to get your new drivers in a vehicle for the first time with experienced team members. This “coach driving” can do a lot to improve driver performance among new hires.
8: Customer Reactions
Placing the phone number of your company on the rear of trucks allows other drivers, and potential customers, to call your headquarters and report exceptional or unsafe driving.
This allows you, if reports are good, to reward drivers, and if they’re negative, you can take action to correct their behaviors or remove them from the roads.
9: Situational Awareness Training
Situational awareness is a huge part of driving, but it’s not worked on nearly enough in school environments.
It’s worthwhile to implement stand-alone situational awareness courses into your training program.
10: Enforce Policies
Of course, almost none of the practices provided above are useful if they’re not enforced. Employees that are allowed to continuously get away with dangerous behaviour will continue to do so if they know it doesn’t matter.
If you notice standards are being broken, have a detailed set of reprimands in place to ensure the behaviour is responded to promptly.