According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 40 percent of work injuries involved transportation incidents in 2016, the most out of any other major event. As a transportation company with numerous fleets out on the road daily, it’s important to understand how to empower drivers to practice better habits while at the wheel. By providing drivers with the tools and information they need in order to understand how to be safe on the road, companies can sustain a safe work environment for their drivers, and it can save time and money by reducing the number of crashes due to distracted driving.
By implementing safe driving standards and practices for your employees, whether they are new to the company or have been loyal employees for years, you’re ensuring that you’re protecting your drivers, your business, and others on the road. Below are a few tips on how management can support and implement these safe habits for fleet drivers.
Creating a Safe Environment Right from Day One
Promoting safe driving begins right at the hiring stage. By discussing safe driving habits with your employees right from the start, you’re reinforcing a zero-tolerance environment when it comes to unsafe driving. This not only avoids dangerous behavior but also saves your company potential costs around accidents and injuries.
- Start with Good Hiring: Before you even hire someone, it’s important to do your due diligence in making sure that the person you hire will practice safe driving. Before you make a job offer, be sure to run driver history, participate in preliminary ride-along, look at the state of this person’s own personal vehicle and run all necessary background checks.
- Set Clear Policies: Creating and implementing clear policies allows employees to have a full understanding of what is and isn’t acceptable behavior. These policies should cover cell phone use, substance abuse, accident and violations, and parking and vehicle use, and should be reinforced on an ongoing basis.
- Create a Safe Schedule: It’s easy to tell employees that they need to become safe drivers, but if you’re packing in their schedule above and beyond what someone is capable of, you are not setting them up to be safe. It’s important they have a schedule that is efficient, but also ensures that drivers can travel with caution in between appointments, and travel along a route that is safe.
- Optimize your Routes: Creating an efficient and optimized route using routing software is important to make sure that drivers have the tools they need to get from A to B safely – If routes are not planned properly, a driver may be inclined to speed from one site to another, or take a less safe route. Route planning not only boosts productivity but creates an extra layer of safety.
- Be Proactive with Feedback: If your drivers get in any sort of accident, it’s important you sit down together and discuss what went wrong, and pull data on their speed, stats, etc. As their manager, it’s critical to show that you’re involved in this process, so that the driver understands what went wrong and how to fix it for the future. Make sure to document this information in their respective files.
Staying Connected with Your Drivers
Whether managing a fleet of 10 or 100 vehicles, it’s critical that fleet managers stay connected with their drivers. This fosters a positive, safe, and productive work environment that your drivers and customers will appreciate. Here’s how you can build a more personal relationship with your drivers, while also keeping a pulse on their driving behaviors:
- Participate in Ride-Alongs: One way to fully understand the pain points of drivers is to spend a day in their shoes. By participating in ride-along, managers can get a feel for what a driver’s day really looks like. Although many think they already know how a driver’s day looks based on the route plans they put together, they may not be fully aware of some of the safety roadblocks drivers face every day – like challenging scheduling, distractions in the vehicle, unsafe maintenance issues that should be taken care of, etc.
- Invest in Driver GPS Tracking: Implementing GPS tracking hardware and software can be an extension of an in-person ride-along. This is not only critical in understanding driver behavior patterns and ensuring that drivers stay on route and on schedule, but it also shows drivers that their company is involved in the day-to-day processes and is using the data it receives to try and help make the workday better and safer for drivers.
- Hold Regular 1:1 Meetings: Holding a regular meeting with each of your drivers is critical to ensure that the lines of communication remain open. It’s a good opportunity for managers to set policies, set expectations, and review those expectations on a weekly basis. These meetings should also highlight positive feedback – rewarding drivers who are adhering to the policies and to safe driving procedures.
- Provide Ongoing Training Courses: Coming up with new and fresh training isn’t always easy, but it’s important to have monthly check-ins with your fleet. Holding training is a great way to re-establish what your policies are, and ensures that your fleet is aware of any new best practices.
Drivers are the face of your business, and their driving on the road is a reflection of your brand. Investing in safety is not only beneficial to your employees, but it can also save you money and can keep up your positive brand reputation. Whether it be through hiring practices, making sure that drivers are empowered with the right tools and knowledge, or implementing certain policies and procedures, companies can ensure that they are proactively creating a safer work environment for their drivers, the company as a whole, and for others on the road.