Fleet accidents can cost your company thousands of dollars in damage, repairs, or workers’ comp claims. Fleet safety programs can help prevent these costly incidents from happening in the first place.
A clear fleet safety policy helps drivers understand their responsibilities and makes it easy for management to enforce the rules. The best fleet safety programs have simple guidelines and regularly conduct training and evaluations.
1. Saves lives
Fleet managers have an obligation to keep their team members safe, as well as other road users. Having a formal safety program is one of the most effective ways to accomplish this. Fleet safety programs establish the policies and procedures needed to protect companies against liability from vehicle accidents, ensure a safe work environment for drivers and support staff, and improve fleet efficiency.
Most fleet safety programs start with a clear goal in mind, like reducing at-fault accidents or risky driving behaviors. They then use a set of tools and technologies, like driver behavior monitoring, to track and identify the root cause of the problem. For example, telematics systems enable fleet operators to automatically receive alerts if their drivers are speeding or showing signs of harsh driving, which can save lives by prompting them to modify their habits.
Many fleets also use technology to monitor driver compliance with state and federal laws, such as DOT Hours of Service regulations. This allows managers to prevent drivers from operating vehicles while they’re fatigued, a leading cause of accidents. Fleet companies can also reduce costs by leveraging telematics systems to receive alerts when vehicles are due for maintenance. Performing routine maintenance can prevent more expensive repairs down the road, such as engine failure or transmission issues.
Another area where fleet safety programs can save businesses money is by reducing fuel costs. Unsafe driving habits, such as speeding and acceleration irregularities, can increase fuel consumption by 30 percent or more, which can lead to costly repairs. Similarly, poor vehicle maintenance can lead to inefficient operation and reduced fuel economy. To maximize fuel efficiency, fleets can install onboard telematics devices that alert drivers to inefficient driving habits and provide real-time feedback to encourage them to make improvements.
2. Reduces insurance costs
Fleet vehicle accidents result in costly injuries that lead to loss of productivity, expensive damage to vehicles and cargo, and liability claims. A well-run fleet safety program can significantly reduce these expenses and minimize the impact of collisions on the company’s bottom line.
A solid fleet safety culture starts with a clear plan that’s easy to understand and follow for drivers and managers alike. Periodic training and updates for all drivers are important to keep the focus on safe driving. In addition, rewards programs that recognize good driver performance are great for increasing driver retention and prioritizing safety in the workplace.
Moreover, safety technology like dashcams and ELDs that constantly deliver data help to improve vehicle safety, reduce the likelihood of accidents, and lower insurance costs. For example, many companies are implementing truck blind spot monitoring systems that alert the driver to other vehicles in their vicinity. Similarly, companies that train their drivers on the proper use of ladder racks and drop-down ladders can prevent unsafe practices that have been known to cause accidents in the past.
Lastly, keeping up with FMCSA compliance standards is another key factor that can significantly decrease insurance premiums. A fleet that maintains a high CSA score by offering frequent training sessions and by lowering their claims frequency will likely see significant reductions in the cost of insurance. This can be a huge savings for companies that operate multiple vehicles or those with a large number of employees who are all required to carry a commercial truck license. In addition, employees who feel that their safety is a top priority are more engaged and industrious, which leads to improved productivity and quality work for the company.
3. Reduces downtime
Fleet safety is one of the top concerns for fleets of all sizes. A vehicle collision can cost a company in the form of negative press, damage to their vehicles, and potential lawsuits. It can also result in downtime, which costs companies money due to lost productivity. A robust safety program can help prevent these incidents, reduce liability and downtime costs, and improve productivity.
The best way to minimize downtime is by reducing risky driving behavior and improving overall driver safety. Efficient fleet safety policies require a strong commitment from upper management to create and implement standard operating procedures that employees can follow. This can be achieved through orientation materials, regular check-ins, and clear communication to ensure everyone understands what is expected.
Safe driving habits also reduce operational costs by reducing wear and tear. By implementing driver safety tools, like video-based telematics from CalAmp, fleet operators can keep an eye on vehicle performance and prevent issues before they become major problems. This reduces downtime, maintenance costs, and fuel consumption, which can lead to a better return on investment for the entire fleet.
In addition to reducing downtime, safety programs can help companies avoid legal issues that could result in large settlement payouts. This is important because it takes a lot of time and resources to resolve these issues, which can affect the bottom line. Video evidence, which is available through advanced telematics solutions such as CalAmp’s video-based fleet safety tool, can prove that a driver was not at fault for an accident and can help mitigate costly legal proceedings.
There are other reasons why fleets should prioritize safety, including increased productivity, lower fuel costs, reduced vehicle maintenance and repairs, and higher insurance premiums. Creating and maintaining an effective fleet safety program is a long-term investment that pays off in the form of improved accountability, fewer accidents, reduced insurance costs, lower downtime and maintenance costs, and improved productivity.
4. Increases productivity
When companies prioritize fleet safety, they can rest assured that their employees and vehicles are performing well. This is crucial in achieving productivity goals and eliminating wasted time due to accidents or broken equipment. Fleet managers should strive to create a culture that supports safe operations by making the effort to communicate expectations, provide regular training sessions, and lead by example. This will increase employee morale and encourage them to abide by company policies.
A strong safety program begins with comprehensive training programs that teach new drivers the essentials of driving safely and refresher courses and workshops to keep current on the latest safety protocols. This is critical to reducing the number of collisions caused by inexperienced drivers and is one of the best ways to incentivize safe driving behaviors. Driver rewards programs such as financial bonuses, plaques, and gift cards can also help drive home the importance of a safer fleet and improve driver retention.
Poor driving habits like speeding, harsh braking, cornering, or distracted driving increase the risk of collisions, leading to lost productivity. A telematics solution that detects these unsafe driving patterns can identify recurring trends and provide fleet, operations, and safety leaders with real-time alerts and meaningful driver scorecards for performance-based feedback, coaching, and training.
Vehicle breakdowns are a major cause of lost productivity, and the good news is that they are also preventable with routine maintenance. Using an online tool like CalAmp allows fleet managers to automate reminders to schedule and track vehicle inspections and maintenance. This reduces the amount of time spent manually checking vehicles, leaving more room for error, and allowing fleet managers to focus on their core business.
5. Increases customer satisfaction
Keeping the freight you’re transporting safe from damage and theft reduces your shipping costs, which you can pass on to your customers. Fleet safety solutions like cargo tracking and aerodynamics also reduce fuel consumption, which helps to lower your carbon footprint.
Whether the truckers are hauling a shipment of frozen meat or delivering electronics to customers, your business’s reputation depends on how well your drivers can maneuver vehicles and deliver goods without incident. An effective fleet safety program can save companies thousands of dollars in repairs, lost productivity due to vehicle downtime, and legal issues brought on by accidents caused by driver misbehavior or poorly designed vehicles.
The cornerstone of any fleet safety program is a well-trained driving team. This includes establishing clear guidelines for drivers to follow, conducting regular training sessions and workshops, and evaluating your driver on a regular basis. Establishing a safety culture throughout your company will help ensure that employees consistently adhere to fleet safety standards, which in turn will lead to fewer accidents.
Efficient fleet safety guidelines and the right tools can curb dangerous driving habits like speeding or harsh braking that increase the risk of collisions. For example, a fleet management system that incorporates dashcams and video telematics can enable operators to set up alerts when drivers exceed speed limits, allowing them to coach drivers immediately on the specific behaviors that need improvement.
It is important to note that despite the benefits of an effective fleet safety program, many companies struggle to make it happen due to budget restrictions or resistance from senior management. This is why implementing a safety committee with representatives from every department in your organization, including fleet, human resources, and legal, is critical. This committee can discuss and implement telematics software, provide feedback on existing policies, and create new ones to enhance your fleet’s safety program.