Driving a vehicle is among the riskiest activities in our daily lives. For a business, that risk is compounded by the number of vehicles and drivers they are responsible for. Fleet vehicle accidents are among the costliest of injury claims for business. The average cost of a loss related to vehicle accidents is approximately $70,000. This is almost twice the cost of the average workplace injury ($36,592). ¹
As a business owner, you may be putting the welfare of your employees and company at risk if you are operating without a formal safety program. A generic safety program is better than none. But it is far more effective to specifically design a program for your company and your fleet. Your insurance company may have some generic safety programs to download from their loss control section. As a business owner, you set the tone of your company. If you make safety a priority for your employees, they will make it a priority when they drive. A fleet safety program establishes the policies and procedures that are needed to help ensure a safe work environment for employees. It can also help protect against liability from vehicle accidents.
No safety program can guarantee that an accident will not happen. The road is one of the most dangerous places for your employees², so establishing a formal and ongoing program of screening, testing, inspection and training is essential.
The Payoff, Where the Rubber Meets the Road
For any company with a fleet of vehicles of any size, a formal fleet safety plan can provide a number of advantages, including improved safety, employee satisfaction and the potential to improve fleet efficiency.
8 Essential Components of a Fleet Safety Program
Anyone that drives on behalf of your company, from the receptionist to sales and professional drivers, the safety program it important to helping the employee learn and exercise safe practices. Your effective fleet safety program must be comprehensive, up-to-date and instituted as a part of your company’s safety culture. It should be thorough, reaching each employee who gets behind the wheel. The commitment to safety must start at the top.
Identifying all your drivers.
Businesses may not be aware of the full extent of their non-owned vehicle exposure. You should identify everyone who drives on behalf of the business, even those employees that use personal and/or rented vehicles. Many business owners overlook this important risk because the vehicle being driven belongs to the employee. Non-owned auto protects the business from liability arising from a borrowed, rented, or non-owned vehicle being used in the commission of the company.
The owner and supervisors must be actively committed to the program. Leadership support of the program can help assure that the program is used. One of many ideas is to maintain fresh safety postings that are updated quarterly or semi-annually so employees see the commitment from management.
Screening and selecting drivers carefully.
It is unfortunate to hire someone and realize their driving record does not pass underwriting. We recommend talking to your insurance broker to have an idea of acceptable “underwriting driving records” as a start. You can always have a stricter screening criteria. Once you determine your company’s minimum standard, stick to it. This can help create a reliable, safe team. Without safe drivers, no organization is likely to have a good long-term safety record. Train drivers. No matter how long someone has been driving, safe driving practices must be reviewed for everyone in order to establish a safe company culture. There are several online and interactive safety programs. This can help to ensure that all drivers understand vehicle safety policies and procedures. All drivers should have access to information on safe driving strategies and techniques, including instruction in defensive driving. Check with your fleet insurance and workers compensation insurance company for access to loss control and safety training resources. Continuous driver management on an ongoing basis. Safety communication should happen daily or weekly and part of a regular schedule. This is essential in helping to ensure that drivers follow your company’s fleet safety rules.
Train drivers on how to manage accidents, when they occur. Drivers may panic after an accident and may react emotionally. It is imperative accident response is part of your fleet safety training. This can help mitigate accident costs. It also helps you to understand your exposures and can reduce the potential for future losses.
Policies and procedures must be in writing. Just like your employee handbook is in writing, your driver safety policies and procedures must also be in writing. We recommend having the policies and procedures included on your employee portal, if you have one as well as posting in the break room. The actual policies and procedures must be reviewed periodically in order to sets clear consistent expectations.
Vehicle inspection, repair and maintenance must be a formalized plan. Vehicles are expensive, dangerous machinery. The plan to inspect, repair and maintain the vehicle should be on a formal log and reviewed periodically. This can help reduce costly, unexpected breakdowns, and can assist in avoiding accidents due to faulty equipment. At Coast General Insurance Brokers, we take advantage of our deep risk expertise and extensive experience to help our customers design their fleet safety programs and help protect what is important to their business.
Sources: ¹National Safety Council 2014 Injury Facts Key statistics ² http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cfoi.t01.htm