Is Your Safety Policy Keeping Up with Your Evolving Fleet Program?
By Kerry Mooney
November 16, 2022
The world changes, your fleet changes and so does the composition of your driver pool. So with all of these adjustments, have you reviewed your safety policy recently? Better yet, do you have a schedule for reviewing it? Let’s consider safety policy alignment and modernization, and take a look at five tips to keep in mind when updating your safety program.
1. A safety policy should always reinforce the core values of your company—and be up to date!
As the world is always changing, have you reviewed or changed your policy according to current values, laws and technology? For example, now that we are living in a post-COVID world, have you adjusted any outdated pandemic policies? You may be mandating passenger limitations or time-consuming disinfection procedures that are counterproductive. Do the rules of two years ago still apply to your fleet today? Or, perhaps some new business practices or new laws necessitate a review.
2. Be certain that your drivers review and understand updated policies
A well-considered policy is great, but it must be communicated. Do your drivers have reasonable access to the policy and fully understand it? Do you have a process for confirming that they’ve read it?
Be certain that your new policy is translated into easily envisioned, real-world scenarios. For instance, most fleet policies include rules on cell phone usage. But do your drivers fully understand the extent of the danger and the accompanying liability to both your organization and to themselves? You need to be explicit in detailing laws, insurance requirements, and the commonsense behind your policies.
Be certain that your policies cover other household drivers, personal use driving, and impaired driving—alcohol, legal and illegal drugs.
3. Introduce New Hires to Your Safety Culture Immediately
Pre-hire MVR’s are fairly standard, but are you also aligned in all departments, so that HR and Fleet have common review criteria? Setting all stakeholder expectations for new drivers is key to the safety of the organization and most importantly for the drivers themselves.
It’s always a good idea to educate new hires beginning on day one. At-hire policy acknowledgement, comprehension and sign-off should be the starting point. This gives your drivers a clear understanding of your expectations. One way of doing this is through a customized training module that ends with a knowledge check.
Online training is a great way to connect new drivers with best safety practices. Start your drivers off on the right foot and assign specific modules addressing the issues most relevant to new drivers. Training assignments can be automated to ensure that no assignments are missed. And, as always, incentivize completion, create deadlines, so that new hires make it a priority.
4. Look for, and act on, leading and lagging indicators.
One legal concern that has come to the fleet world in recent years is that of “negligent entrustment”. Most states impose liability when an employer knew or should have known that a company driver was unfit to operate a vehicle, or that the vehicle was unsafe to be driven. Using this standard, organizations must be able to prove that they followed all reasonable safeguards to prevent an accident. Actions or precautions not taken can be interpreted as negligent entrustment.
We suggest having the right combination of leading and lagging indicators in place to extract the necessary insights for identifying, knowing and averting risk. Closely monitoring driving behavior and taking action is the best way to keep your drivers safe and protect your organization.
The leading indicators to monitor include frequent MVR checks, violations management (those not covered by MVRs), preventative maintenance compliance, recall compliance and telematics monitoring. Lagging indicators, those that cause and determine actions, are driver performance, crash analysis and training.
5. If you are relying on annual MVR checks, increase the frequency.
Running regular motor vehicle checks is one of the best ways to monitor driver behavior and identify your risky drivers. Continuous monitoring allows you to address any risk or issues in a timely manner, so that you can take action right away. Don’t wait for the annual MVR run to learn of any issues—a lot can happen in a year. You will be protecting both your drivers and your company.
Having all the right services in place to support a risk program is certainly critical—but so is what you do with all of that information. Acting on your measured data is what really separates an average program from a best-in-class program. If you think it’s time to review your current practices, speak with your fleet representative for guidance.