Unsafe driver behavior dramatically impacts fleet operating costs, which is one of the top expenses for corporate budgets. From a purely business perspective, the financial impact due to lost productivity, medical expenses, and liability exposure is considerable. But getting drivers to change their behavior can be a challenge. It takes more than just asking them to be more careful. It requires a comprehensive approach that encourages and reinforces safe driver behavior, including:
- Check driver performance during the employment screening process and at least once a year for every driver in the fleet, including eligible non-employee drivers if applicable.
- Prescriptive action, such as training or coaching, should be taken immediately upon notice of an infraction.
- For fleets operating in Canada, a license check should also be performed at least once a year to confirm the validity of the drivers’ licenses.
- Conduct formal driver policy and safety training upon employment. Driver policy testing should require 100% correct answers in order to pass.
- Assign safety awareness classes regularly to increase safe driving and to reduce litigation exposure.
- Training should be given on any vehicle changes such as safety equipment, load requirement changes, etc.
- Reactive and target training are important for drivers who have been in accidents.
Proactive Driving Evaluation
- Test drivers on their ability to anticipate events via simulation.
- Target drivers identified as medium- and high-risk and modify their behavior through supplemental means to help reduce the likelihood of accidents and litigation.
Road Safety Observation Program
- Enroll in a road safety observation program. Fleets have experienced reduced incidents once drivers are aware the public can report on their driving behavior from the road.
- Prohibit the use of all mobile devices while driving a moving vehicle. While some states, provinces/ territories, or jurisdictions allow the use of hands-free devices, we recommend disallowing the use of any electronics while operating a company vehicle.
- Clear communication should be given on drowsy driving and how to prevent it.
- State the company’s position and consequences on aggressive driving and road rage.
Safety and Compliance
- A formal program should be in place with an appropriate manager to ensure drivers are compliant with DOT, federal and local safety regulations.
- Determine what compliance means, as well as the consequences for non-compliance and obtain senior management support for enacting those consequences.
- Motivate safe driving behavior by providing recognition, rewards, or privileges for good driving behavior.
Mitigating Potential Liability
These items would not appear in the policy, but should be taken into consideration when creating one:
- Proactive Safety Initiatives – Fleets demonstrating a proactive approach to improving driver behavior may see a reduced insurance premiums.
- Safety Technology Integration Plan – The rate at which new vehicle features are released and the complexity surrounding these decisions continues to grow as technology advances. It is important to establish a plan for how decisions will be made on evaluating and adopting safety technology, as well as identifying any need to prepare for potential liabilities resulting from accidents.
The development of such a plan usually involves key stakeholders within an organization such as fleet, risk management, legal, human resources and safety. The plan should be a living document that is used for managing and improving vehicle safety, as well as a reporting and a documentation process to monitor compliance and assist in protecting against litigation claims. The plan should be flexible and scalable while being able to demonstrate the reasonability and prudence of the company in equipping its drivers with safe vehicles and appropriate training, and proper maintenance of the vehicles. A written plan should be available to demonstrate this was completed.