Safety doesn’t happen by accident. Taking the time to prioritize and implement fleet safety certifications protects your employees, your vehicles, and your business. They can also help bring down your insurance premiums, decrease incidents and motor vehicle accidents, and position your company as a leader in your industry.
This article will cover fleet safety certifications and the training required to become certified. We have also included some helpful resources to get you started.
- What does fleet safety certified mean?
- What is a fleet safety policy?
- How to get fleet safety certified
- How can fleet safety be improved?
What does fleet safety certified mean?
When people use the term “fleet safety certified”, it refers to a company’s fleet safety program and the internal training and certification they provide their employees. At the moment, there is no official fleet safety certification that is recognized nation-wide. That means you have full control over what type of fleet safety training you’d like to implement within your company.
In planning for your fleet safety certification program, it can be helpful to reference existing systems, such as the North American Transportation Management Institute. These programs can highlight how to communicate safety information effectively. However, building your own program means you can ensure the quality and learning outcomes of all your fleet drivers. It’s more simple than you might believe.
Before diving into building your certification program, we recommend starting with a fleet safety policy that every employee reads and signs in agreement before they start training and driving your company’s fleet vehicles.
What is a fleet safety policy?
A fleet safety policy is a set of guidelines that employees must follow to maintain the highest level of safety during fleet vehicle operations. Any employee that drives a company vehicle is required to review, sign, and comply with the terms of the fleet safety policy to continue operating a company vehicle.
Terms included in a fleet safety policy should include (but are not limited to):
- Driver’s license and driving record checks
- Safety training and retraining standards
- Vehicle use (e.g. who may operate the vehicle and when)
- Responsibilities (the driver vs. the company)
- Safety checks and maintenance agreements
- Traffic violations
- Vehicle accidents reporting and investigation
- Write ups, penalties, and disciplinary action should it be required
Once an employee has read through the policy and agreed to the terms, they can begin the training courses required to get fleet safety certified.
How to get fleet safety certified
In order for drivers to become fleet safety certified, you must first create a fleet safety training program for them. Your safety program should include relevant training that will improve driver and vehicle safety.
Here are the main safety training courses to include in your certification program:
- Company vehicle training
- Basic driving course
- Defensive driving training
- Incident response training
- Basic first aid training
1. Company vehicle safety training
Fleet vehicles are unique and your employees should be properly trained on the specific vehicle they are operating. This should cover basic training like safety checks (how to check the fluids, tires, etc.), as well as where to find the spare tire, extra fluids, first aid kit, and relevant documentation like vehicle registration and insurance.
Employees should walk away from this training feeling confident that they know the ins and outs of the company fleet vehicle they will be operating.
2. Basic driving course
If you have an employee who is exceptional at their job but is not an experienced driver, offer them a basic driving course so you can feel confident handing over the keys to a company vehicle.
When looking for a basic driving course, look for one that covers nighttime driving and driving in different weather conditions. Most basic driver training courses will also cover defensive driving so this could be rolled into any defensive driving courses you include as part of your safety program.
Thinking Driver Fleet Safety offers a comprehensive basic driving course that is available online and costs just over $100 per student. Although a higher price tag than most, this particular course also covers defensive driving; other more basic driving skills courses will come at a lower cost.
3. Defensive driving training
Defensive driving courses teach drivers different strategies to avoid collisions, manage distractions, and share the road. It equips them to recognize hazards, practice safe following distances, and understand impaired driving laws.
Including a mandatory defensive driving course for your employees as part of your fleet safety certification has many benefits including:
- Keeping employees safe on the roads
- Decreasing the risk of traffic violations, tickets, and accidents
- Lowering insurance premiums
- Maintaining company fleet vehicle health and safety
There are a number of companies that offer defensive driving courses online including the NSC, Thinking Driver, and Danatec. You might also want to consider going through the DMV website to find a defensive driving course that is officially approved by them in your state of operation. Many of these courses cost under $20 per enrollee, depending on the state you’re operating in.
4. Incident response training
Your incident response training should give employees the proper information needed to deal with incidents such as traffic violations, vehicle breakdowns, and motor vehicle accidents.
a. Traffic violations
If an employee gets pulled over for a traffic violation, your training program should cover the process of reporting the violation to human resources, how this impacts their driving record, and any training that is required to correct this incident (e.g. a safe driving refresher course).
b. Vehicle breakdowns
If a company vehicle breaks down while being operated by an employee, they should know the procedures to deal with the situation.
For example, employees should understand:
- Who to contact for help (e.g. roadside assistance or someone at your company)
- What to do if the vehicle breaks down in an area with no service
- What the company’s protocol is for flat tires
- What paperwork needs to be filled out following a breakdown
- Where to find emergency supplies like jumper cables, fluids, flashlights, etc.
If an employee is involved in a motor vehicle accident while operating a company fleet vehicle, they should know how to proceed.
For example, employees should understand:
- What paperwork to fill out
- What information to collect from the other driver
- Where to go and when to fill out a police report
- Who to contact at the company to report the accident
- What internal reports they will need to fill out
- How this impacts their driving record
- How this impacts their job and driving privileges at work
- What training (if any) is required afterwards (e.g. a safe driving refresher course).
5. Basic first aid training
Job sites are unpredictable and having some basic first aid information as part of your fleet safety program can help employees deal with emergency situations, should they arise.
The Red Cross offers online training courses in basic first aid that are available to anyone in the United States. The training process takes a few hours to complete and you receive a two-year certification once completed.
How can fleet safety be improved?
Once you have your certification program in place, you can improve your fleet safety by incorporating a GPS tracking system to your company vehicles. This type of software helps improve the fleet safety training course in three ways:
- Increases driver and vehicle safety: GPS tracking allows you to see exactly where your motor vehicles are located, the vehicle’s health, and the driver’s behavior.
- Decreases insurance premiums even further: When a GPS system is installed, it aids in the recovery of stolen motor vehicles.
- Helps improve future safety training: When you can collect data on driver behavior, you can see key areas that need improvement and incorporate this into your safety training program to ensure it is the best in your industry.