Fleet safety might not be the sexiest topic, but it’s one of the most important things that a fleet manager can focus on. And if you’re going to improve safety across your entire fleet, it’ll require a concerted effort on all fronts.
Fleet Safety: A Top Concern for Managers
Safety is by far one of the biggest challenges fleet managers face in today’s industry. This includes concerns about both drivers and vehicles.
According to Automotive Fleet, the annual accident rate for commercial fleets is somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 percent (with certain industries, like pharmaceuticals, experiencing even higher rates).
“One reason for the high frequency of accidents for fleet drivers is because of the number of miles they drive per year,” Automotive Fleet mentions. “A typical non-fleet driver in the U.S. travels 12,000 to 15,000 miles annually, and each year has a one in 15 chance of being involved in a vehicle collision. Most fleet drivers, however, travel 20,000 to 25,000 miles or more each year, and thus have a greater exposure to crash risks.”
The biggest concern with accidents is obviously the health and safety of fleet drivers and the other individuals involved. However, the consequences extend far beyond this. The average cost related to these accidents is around $70,000 (when you take the vehicle, medical bills, and other factors into account).
Powerful Fleet Management Safety Tips
While you can’t prevent all accidents from happening, you can lower your fleet’s accident rates by implementing smart and proactive solutions that put your drivers and their vehicles in the best positions to be successful. Here are a few tips:
Prioritize Vehicle Maintenance
We’re going to cover some of the ways you can train your drivers to be safer on the road in the following sections, but before we get to that, let’s begin by discussing how you create a safe fleet. Because if you don’t have safe vehicles, it really doesn’t matter how safe your drivers are.
The best fleet maintenance strategy is a preventive one. Preventative maintenance focuses on regular inspections, upgrades, and replacements. It requires staying up to date on vehicle recalls and addressing key systems before the breakdown. This stands in stark contrast to the reactionary approach that most fleet managers take.
In order to excel with preventative vehicle maintenance, you should integrate fleet maintenance software into your organization. This will automate some of the mundane back office tasks and give you an organized and streamlined platform through which you can schedule maintenance, organize warranties, and digitize other aspects of maintenance.
Educate Your Drivers
Drivers must be trained and educated on an ongoing basis. This isn’t something you can do once during a driver’s first week and then forget about it. You need to do it over and over again.
Defensive driving courses are a must. By training your drivers to act defensively, you can help them prevent and avoid accidents. There are plenty of resources available online, or you can hire a certified trainer to come in and equip your team.
Implement a Safety Program
There are obviously certain safety standards that exist in the industry. (This includes state, federal, and local compliance regulations and guidelines.) In order to meet these requirements and keep your drivers safe, try implementing a safety program.
A good safety program starts with training, but takes it a step further. It actually holds drivers accountable for their actions. This helps cement the ideas in place, as opposed to just regurgitating recycled ideas.
As part of this safety program, you may want to develop a system by which you incentivize good behavior. While money can be a good incentive, consider looking beyond strict bonuses. Instead, look at things like vacation time, in-cab equipment, casual dress days, and even public recognition. These are all powerful yet low-cost ways to encourage your drivers to adopt safer behaviors.
Put Your People First
At the end of the day, people come first. The number one reason for improving fleet safety is to protect your drivers and other individuals on the road. However, the good news is that by improving driver safety, you’re also simultaneously lowering costs and improving efficiency. The ball is in your court!
Interesting related article: “What is Training?“