If you’ve landed on this page, there’s a good chance you place a high value on employee safety. Creating a culture of safety throughout your workplace makes employees feel valued, which naturally results in higher productivity, loyalty, and engagement.
The roads can be a dangerous place for drivers, and this is no exception when they are on the job. Between 2003 and 2018, nearly 30,000 workers died in work-related motor vehicle crashes (making this the leading cause of workplace fatalities in America).
A “safety-first” mentality is one of the many signs of being a strong leader so congratulations on taking the right steps to strengthen the safety culture of your company.
To keep your drivers as safe as possible, you’ll need a fleet safety program that is well-thought-out, clearly documented, and easily accessible by your team. Below, we’ve included everything you need to know when building your safety program and what needs to be included.
- What is a fleet safety program?
- What is a fleet policy?
- What does a fleet safety manager do?
- Considerations before drafting your safety program
- Fleet safety program template
What is a fleet safety program?
A fleet safety program is a set of policies and procedures put in place to protect your fleet vehicles and your drivers. These safety measures help establish and maintain a safe work environment for your staff, outline specific guidelines that should be followed, and actions needed if they are not followed. An effective fleet safety program should be reviewed often with the goal of improving the overall safety of your fleet operation.
What is a fleet policy?
A company fleet policy is an administrative agreement that outlines the usage guidelines of a company’s fleet vehicles. It includes which employees may operate fleet vehicles, what procedures and agreements must be followed to continue operating the vehicles, training that’s required in order to operate the vehicles, and actions or behaviors that would result in disciplinary measures, reprimands, or termination.
Fleet safety policies are carried out by the fleet safety manager and, at times, the owner.
What does a fleet safety manager do?
A fleet safety manager is responsible for the security of company fleet vehicles and drivers. They create a company’s fleet safety program (or enforce an existing one) and ensure that it’s being followed by operators. Their goal is to ensure drivers are operating in a safe work environment and fleet vehicles are well maintained and equipped with the necessary safety equipment.
Considerations before drafting your safety program
While drafting your safety program, it’s important to consider all angles. From operators to mechanics to your administrative staff, you’ll want to think about everything that could possibly go wrong and how to prevent, prepare, and resolve them. Draft up procedure documents for every scenario, share them with your team, and make them easily accessible.
Fleet safety program template
The following are key sections your company can include in your fleet safety program. Be sure to include any additional sections that are more specific to your small business.
- Driver qualifications
- Driver motor vehicle records
- Driver training
- General driving safety guidelines
- Personal use of company vehicles policy
- Accident/incident reporting
- Vehicle inspection and prevention maintenance
- GPS tracking policy
1. Driver qualifications
Your fleet safety program should have the qualifying documents of every driver on your fleet. This includes driver’s licenses indicating what class of license they have. This documentation should be collected before any driver operates one of your fleet vehicles. Your insurance agent will likely need a copy of each operator’s driver’s license to ensure your vehicles and the operators are covered properly under your company automotive plan.
2. Driver motor vehicle records
You should also be collecting a driving record report for every operator. This can be done in two ways: you can either pull the information yourself or the operator can pull this information and send it to you. Driving record reports can be pulled online for about $40 which will list an operator’s current driving status, license classification, suspensions, violations, fines, and more.
The person’s driving records should indicate a clean record for several years before they are considered for a driving position at your company. Once they’re hired, it should be stated within your policy that the driver is obligated to notify you if there are any changes to their license status.
3. Purchase the necessary equipment
This section helps you stay organized with the various safety training and retraining requirements you have in place for your drivers.
Driver training can include the following courses and training programs:
- Basic driving course: This type of training covers basic driving skills and comprehension of road rules.
- Defensive driving training: One of the most important courses a driver can take is defensive driving training. Operators learn how to improve their driving skills and minimize risks by anticipating situations and knowing what safe and well-informed decisions to make should a situation arise. Decisions are executed based on road and weather conditions.
- Winter and poor weather driving course: If your business operates in a state that experiences cold or wet weather, you may want to consider training your operators on how to drive in these types of conditions. Defensive driving courses will teach some of this information but there’s often a more advanced course that drivers can take for poor weather and road conditions. Many operators don’t know all the do’s and don’t to keep themselves, their vehicles, and others on the road safe during a storm.
- Company vehicle training: This training should be mandatory for all fleet operators. Each company will be using different types of vehicles as part of their fleet so before you hand over the keys, the driver should get a thorough walk-through of the vehicles.
- Incident response and emergency preparedness training: This type of training should be done in-house. Drivers will need to be trained on the procedures required should an incident occur. For example, who to call in the office, roadside assistance contact information, where to locate emergency equipment within the vehicle, what documents need to be exchanged and filled out, etc. (More on incident reporting below.)
- Basic first aid training: Having employees trained in basic first aid is a smart move for a fleet business. Accidents can happen on the road and in the field so knowing how to respond could go a long way in the end.
Post-incident retraining: You’ll want to include your re-training documents and information in this section of the program. For example, should an incident occur or a driver be reprimanded, their re-training requirements should be clearly listed and documented.
4. General driving safety guidelines
Include a section specifically addressing general driving safety guidelines. This includes things like obeying traffic laws, not driving while intoxicated, fatigued, medicated, or distracted, no smoking in the vehicle, and who may operate the vehicle at what times (if applicable).
This is also the section to include vehicle walk-around information and expectations. A vehicle walk-around is when a driver walks around the vehicle and performs a visual inspection to make sure there are no damages or hazards around or underneath the vehicle before turning on the engine and driving. If there are damages, these should be reported to the company immediately. If there are hazards, these should be removed (if safe to do so) before driving off.
This section should also clearly state which violations of your safety program could result in the suspension of driving privileges, termination of employment, or retraining requirements.
5. Personal use of company vehicles
Letting employees take company vehicles home is a big decision for some business owners. This policy outlines the specific guidelines around operators using their company vehicles for personal use. It includes considerations such as:
- Drive zones: Will operators be allowed to drive the vehicle outside of the city, state, or country? Or does your policy require the vehicle to remain within city limits? Can they take the vehicle down gravel or dirt roads or are they required to remain on the pavement? Placing some boundaries around where the vehicle can be operated can keep your driver and the vehicle safe.
- Parking: Parking will be different for every employee if they are bringing their fleet vehicle home each night. Is the available parking on the street, in a driveway, or in a garage or parking lot? This should be agreed upon during each operator’s individual driving agreement and ideally, the vehicle will be parked in a safe location each night.
- Security: This section should include information on what sort of security expectation will be placed on the driver during and outside of operating hours. This includes things like locking the doors, keeping valuables hidden, storing tools and equipment out of sight, parking in well-lit areas, and more. It’s up to the driver to do their due diligence to keep the vehicle and its contents secure.
- Fueling: Drivers should know exactly what type of fuel to put in their vehicles. For example, if they are driving a company vehicle that takes diesel, they’ll need to know to use diesel fuel when filling up at the gas station. They should also be advised to follow all safety protocols at the gas station such as turning off the vehicle before fueling up and not smoking or using their cell phone while pumping gas.
Loaning the vehicle: Operators should understand that lending the vehicle to an unauthorized driver is against your safety policy. Loaning the vehicle to an unauthorized driver voids the company’s auto insurance should anything happen. Loaning of the vehicle should only be considered in an emergency situation.
6. Accident/incident reporting
In this part of the program, you’ll want to include all the information relating to accident and incident investigation and reporting. Motor vehicle accidents and incidents include motor vehicles collisions, situations involving pedestrians or cyclists, break-ins, theft, damage, and more.
This section should include the procedures for staff to take should any of these incidents occur. For example, should an accident occur, employees will need to know who to contact within the company, how to follow legal guidelines for exchanging information with other drivers, how to report the incident to the police (if required), to never guarantee payment to the other driver or accept responsibility without the company authorization, and when and how to call for roadside assistance (should they need it).
You should also have a detailed list of the necessary documentation that’s required to be filled out. Documentation can include police reports, auto insurance company claims, Workers Compensation Board (WCB) documents, or your own internal incident reports.
7. Vehicle inspection and preventative maintenance
Vehicle inspections and preventive maintenance are a team effort. From drivers to mechanics, everyone can get involved. This section of your program should clearly outline who is responsible for what inspections and maintenance and how frequently each should be done. You can also choose to include a vehicle maintenance checklist in this section.
Some companies will ask their drivers to perform routine maintenance checks on their vehicles. This includes things like checking the oil, tire pressure, wiper fluid, air filters, etc. These basic maintenance checks ensure the vehicle runs smoothly and increases driver safety. It should be clearly established within your program which tasks the driver is responsible for and how often they should be checking. Employees should know how to do basic maintenance on their vehicles and who to report to if they notice an issue that they can’t easily fix (e.g. air conditioning not working, damage to the wheels or rims, corrosion on the battery, etc.). Employees should also be aware of which issues mean the vehicle is unsafe to operate and when other driving arrangements will need to be made.
Beyond basic maintenance and inspections by drivers, this section should also include information on scheduled maintenance done by fleet managers and mechanics. This includes a more in-depth look at the brake system, wheel alignment, and fluid levels as well as routine maintenance such as oil changes, new brakes, wheel alignment, etc.
Learn how to create a company vehicle safety checklist >>
8. GPS tracking policy
One of the most effective ways to ensure your safety protocols are being followed is to use GPS fleet tracking on your company vehicles. This allows you to see where your fleet vehicles are in real-time while collecting valuable data on driver behavior and vehicle health.
Visibility into your vehicles’ whereabouts can be incredibly beneficial in an emergency situation and having vehicle health information at your fingertips can help with safety management. For example, the tracking system will notify you if there are any recalls on the vehicle so you can address it right away before it causes any problems. It also gives you engine diagnostics in plain English.
Collecting driver behavior data allows fleet managers to better understand the driving habits of their operators and assess is safety measures are being followed on the road, without actually having to be there. You can see if your drivers are speeding, braking harshly, accelerating quickly, and how often and for what duration all of this is happening.
Request a demo with Force Fleet Tracking GPS Fleet Tracking to see first-hand how beneficial this type of system can be to your fleet safety program.
Keep your fleet safe with a comprehensive safety program
Use the sections above to guide the creation of your company’s fleet safety program. Be sure to include any additional fleet specifications that fit the needs of your small business and remember to review it often and make improvements whenever possible.