Quick Tips for Starting a Fleet Safety Program
Safety is among the top concerns for fleets. In addition to personal injury of employees and the costs of repairing assets, accidents also open up fleets to costly litigation.
While accidents are inevitable for vehicles that spend so much time on the road, the best way for fleets to reduce risk is to start a comprehensive safety program. It may seem like a big commitment at first, but the benefits of focusing on safety outweigh the costs on several levels.
However, it may not be obvious how to start or what to include. Here are some quick tips for designing an effective safety program.
Examine the current state of your safety program
The first step to designing a more effective safety program is to examine the safety policies that a fleet already has. During the assessment phase, a fleet should ask probing, challenging questions.
Is the current safety program effective? How committed to safety are management and drivers? Are policy and training having an impact on safety performance? How is driver safety being measured?
Once these questions are answered, the next step is to identify areas for improvement. A report from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute that addresses safety culture recommends the following steps to help fleets identify areas that need improvement:
Make a list of how your safety culture “should be” and list the areas that are in need of improvement. This will ultimately guide your strategies for improvement. For each group of employees (e.g., management, drivers, dispatchers, maintenance, etc.), list specific safety-related programs, policies, and procedures that need improvement.
- List the education, training, and reward/recognition programs that need improvement.
- List the data and analysis needs that will help you better understand safe driving.
- List the strategies that are needed to improve your drivers’ perceptions of empowerment.
- List new barriers to an improved safety culture.
- List the communication strategies that need improvement or should be developed.
Establish Safety Goals and a Plan for Implementation
During the planning stage, fleets need to develop a plan for what they want to accomplish with their safety program. Outline the safety policies that need to be included and design the program to make the policies a reality.
Identify common risky behaviors by drivers using available data and develop a plan to address the issues.
Next, try to define roles within the safety program. While the assumption is that management should take the lead in the safety program, it is good practice to include drivers as much as possible by including them in leadership positions.
This point is emphasized in the VTTI report, “The goal of a positive safety culture is to have all employees become safety leaders who take responsibility for their own safety and the safety of their coworkers.”
Commit to Being a Safer Fleet at All Levels
No safety program will have much of a chance without buy-in on all levels, particularly at the management and ownership levels. Simply telling drivers that they need to be safer but providing no support will be unlikely to make an impact. “An effective safety culture starts with commitment to safety. Management’s support and approval for the OSM program is critical,” states the VTTI report. “You not only need to voice your commitment to the OSM program, you need to show your commitment.”
If management can demonstrate that it values safety as much as it values productivity, that goes a long way to creating an authentic safety culture. Management should participate as much as possible in the safety program and lead by example, in and around the workplace.
Empower Employees to Take the Lead on Safety
Once you have commitment from the top, another critical step to setting up a safety program is to empower employees. Including drivers in the planning and implementation of a safety program is a great way to increase accountability. It also reduces resistance to policy implementation if drivers are allowed to have input in creating them in the first place. Individually it may be beneficial to allow drivers to create their own safety goals and strategies for achieving them.
Regular Training and Coaching for Drivers
A crucial aspect of maintaining an effective safety program is regular training and reinforcement for drivers. This includes teaching new drivers about the kinds of safety policies they are required to follow and regular remedial training for existing drivers. With telematics devices or dashcams, each driver can be tracked individually for specific safety metrics. Like GPS Trackit’s offering, many systems also include the ability to assign drivers a score that can be tuned to particular metrics that a fleet manager might want to specify.
It is essential to use these training sessions to emphasize safety goals with drivers and track their progress. Try to keep coaching sessions positive and not punitive in nature and even consider a reward system to recognize improving and stand-out drivers. Fleets should use the opportunity to continually emphasize the importance of safe driving and keep drivers.
Periodically Reexamine the Safety Program
Once implemented, a safety program will need to be reexamined regularly. By reflecting on changes in driver behavior after a period of time, a fleet will see if its policies are having an impact on safety. Policies, training, and coaching can then be tailored to real-world data with the goal of further improvement. Developing a culture of safety within a fleet takes time and commitment. But it remains the best way to ensure that your employees and assets stay safe and productive.
If you’d like to learn more about how GPS Trackit can help to improve safety, increase productivity and reduce costs for your business, speak with one of our knowledgeable Fleet Advisors at 866-320-5810 or get a quick Custom Quote.
“Effective Use of Commercially Available Onboard Safety Monitoring Technologies: Guidance for Commercial Motor Vehicle Carriers” – Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence
8 Elements of a Fleet Safety Program – Travelers www.travelers.com/resources/business-topics/transportation/driver-fleet-safety/8-elements-of-a-fleet-safety-program
How to Create an In-House Fleet Safety Program – Automotive Fleet www.automotive-fleet.com/156138/how-to-create-an-in-house-fleet-safety-program
How Can Fleets Turn Around a Sagging Safety Record? – Heavy Duty Trucking magazine www.truckinginfo.com/10138651/how-can-fleets-turn-around-a-sagging-safety-record
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