Building an effective fleet safety program
June 15, 2023
Establishing safety policies and creating a safety culture within your company that comes from the top down, where employees feel like safety matters, is vital to building an effective fleet safety program. Partner with Element Fleet Management to make your fleet safer, save money, and to lower your risk exposure.
Measuring the cost of an accident
According to the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), the average employer’s cost of an accident is $5,483 for physical damage and $75,176 for injuries.
The impact of an accident is wide-reaching, with effects seen across Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors. The environmental impact includes greenhouse gas emissions from accident-related traffic jams and non-recyclable vehicle waste. The social impact involves the injuries and fatalities of your drivers and others, use of medical and emergency response resources, and lost wages. While governance factors include implementing proactive policies to reduce the severity and frequency of crashes.
Fleet vehicle accidents can be very costly to a business and impact the world in several ways, but many accidents are preventable. A formal and effective safety program is critical for fleet driver safety, vehicle safety, and the safety of other road users.
Components of a fleet safety program
- Develop a holistic strategy - Establish a comprehensive fleet safety program that is up to date, to mitigate risks and reduce accidents. Support and commitment of leadership will help instill a strong safety culture and ensure the success of the program.
- Create clear, written policies and guidelines – Set policies and enforce them. Outline expectations and consequences for not adhering to policies and guidelines. Your fleet safety policies should always be evolving, so evaluate them annually, and make changes, as necessary. Some specific safety policies that fleets should consider, as applicable, are:
- Electric Vehicle (EV) safety policy – Provides guidelines on EV charging and driving, including optimizing regenerative braking safety.
- Winter tire policy/tire replacement policy – Requires winter tire usage during the winter season and provides parameters such as tire size based on the asset and tire brand/quality.
- Snowbelt policy – Defines snowbelt regions, safety procedures, and driver eligibility for a snowbelt-compatible vehicle.
- Cell phone policy – Outlines cell phone usage: Are drivers allowed to interact with mobile devices while driving?
- Maintenance policy – Keeping up with preventative maintenance is an important part of fleet safety. Good driving behavior is important, but it does not matter if vehicles are not safe. Regular vehicle inspection, maintenance, repairs, and recall compliance will reduce accidents, fatalities, as well as driver and vehicle downtime.
- Determine management and driver accountability – Drivers and managers play a role in fleet safety management. Managers should be aware and engaged in fleet safety management and provided with the tools to support those efforts. Drivers should be aware and engaged as well and take ownership by following safety procedures and policies.
- Identify authorized drivers – Be aware of all drivers who drive on behalf of the company, or who at any time drive a company asset. Select drivers carefully and determine who is approved to drive company vehicles. Also define the vehicle’s intended use and if drivers are permitted to access the vehicle for personal use.
- Train drivers – All drivers should participate in frequent training courses on driving best practices and the dangers and costs associated with unsafe driving behavior. Training should be timely and topical to have the maximum impact. Proactive and corrective training is necessary to promote a safer fleet. It is paramount for drivers to be able to access, understand, and comply with safety procedures.
- Monitor driver behavior – Continuously monitor driver behavior, including ongoing motor vehicle record (MVR) checks, to reduce fleet exposure to high-risk drivers. Instead of only pulling an MVR when a driver is hired or once a year, the driver's record should be monitored on an ongoing basis to capture events such as driving under the influence (DUI) or reckless driving, so that appropriate action can be taken in a timely manner. Companies should be aware of historical events from a risk assessment point of view. Periodically posting safe driving tips can encourage safer driver behavior.
- Manage collisions – Drivers should know who to notify within the company in the event of a collision. When an accident does occur, it should be managed effectively, to support the driver and minimize disruption to the business.
Strategies to enhance fleet safety
- Partner with a fleet safety expert to identify areas of opportunity to keep drivers safe and bring costs down. Clients can harness Element’s benchmarking data to boost fleet safety and reduce preventable collisions. We have strong technology and industry expertise and will consult with you to help find improvement, no matter where you are on your safety journey.
- Adopt advanced safety features, including crash avoidance technologies. Many clients who have implemented safety features have reduced crash rates. Fleets with internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles and EVs can benefit from advanced driver-assistance systems. Vehicle safety features should complement a robust fleet safety program.
- Leverage telematics to get real-time visibility of driver behavior and predictive analysis. Monitor and address risky driving behaviors such as hard braking, harsh acceleration, hard cornering, distracted driving, and speeding. Telematics can help to inform areas for training and coaching. Data from crashes can also be used to improve fleet safety.
Element's DriverCare Risk Manager program serves as the foundation for a strong fleet safety culture that engages drivers and promotes safe behavior behind the wheel. It gives fleet and safety managers the insight that they need to remediate or reward employees based on driving behavior. Through advanced data collection, analyses, and visualization, Element turns disparate data points into insightful driving behavior trends, making risk identification easy, and driver safety more attainable than ever. Clients who have fully embraced this program have experienced a 15% reduction in crash rates over a 3-year period.
Case study – Safety program lowers collision rate and avoids millions in employer costs
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