Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

10 Ways to Increase Driver Compliance to Fleet Policy

July 2008, by Staff

Establishing fleet policy is a good thing. Outlining and publishing a document that spells out the rules and regulations attendant to the assignment, acquisition, use, and replacement of company vehicles is the foundation of a successful fleet program.

The mere existence, of course, of such a policy is certainly no guarantee of success, any more than a law against robbing banks ensures no banks will be robbed. Compliance with the policy brings success to the fleet program, and this is where some fleet managers become frustrated. 

Tracking compliance among hundreds, if not thousands, of drivers spread out over a large geographic area is no small task, particularly when little or no staff are available to assist and when some stakeholders actively work against it.

Fleet managers can take action, however, that will help maximize compliance, beginning before the policy is implemented and continuing in the normal course of fleet operations.    

1. Include All Stakeholders When Developing Policy

Different companies may have different stakeholders pertaining to fleet policy, but every company has several of them. The fleet manager is the subject expert in developing the policy. However, there are usually a number of disciplines and/or departments that have a stake in its implementation. For example:

  • Sales/Service: Most fleets fit into either of these categories, some into both. No one knows better than drivers what they require in a vehicle and its mission.
  • Human Resources (HR): When the entire vehicle or a portion thereof is compensatory in nature, policy issues are raised that interest HR departments. Charging for personal use, MVR checks, and penalties for policy violations are just a few such issues.
  • Risk Management: Inevitably fleet vehicles will be involved in accidents. Some will be the driver’s fault, and a fleet policy must address all of them, i.e., how they are reported and how physical damage is repaired.
  • Legal: All policy issues carry the potential for legal action or review.
  • Senior Management: At the very least, senior management should review a policy document prior to implementation.

The overall point is that avoiding compliance problems in the future is far easier if policy development is a team effort, involving all stakeholders.

2. Obtain Policy Endorsement at the Highest Possible Management Level

The logic behind this recommendation is very simple. When senior management (the so-called “C-level,” CEO, CFO, COO, etc.) has reviewed and endorsed a fleet policy document, the consequences of noncompliance become far more serious.

It becomes more difficult for a mid-level manager to excuse a driver’s policy violation if the fleet manager can simply point to a memo or e-mail from the company president approving the fleet policy and charging the fleet manager with full authority to carry it out. Better still, make certain a copy of the endorsement is the first page in any electronic or hard copy of the policy.

3. Make Certain the Policy is Easily Accessible

In fairness to drivers, not all policy violations are willful, i.e., the driver knows the policy and chooses to ignore it. Some infractions result from innocent ignorance — drivers who, when faced with a decision, make the wrong one simply because he or she isn’t aware of the right one. Fortunately, today’s fleet managers have far more sophisticated tools at their disposal than their predecessors of just 10 or 15 years ago.

It wasn’t too long ago that a fleet policy was only published in hard copy as a booklet or other document kept in the vehicle’s glove compartment. Today, though still a good idea, fleet policy can be made accessible to drivers, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • Intranet. Many, if not most, companies have a Web site accessible to employees, on which various departments’ policies can be viewed. Posting fleet policy documents online not only provides ready access, but it also facilitates changes to the policy (as opposed to updating a printed policy manual kept in the vehicle).
  • Fleet Hot Line. One creative way policy can be made more accessible to drivers is via a fleet “hot line,” an automated, toll-free number drivers can call for policy guidance. A prompted recording can ask if the question concerns maintenance/repair, what to do when involved in an accident, how to place an order for vehicle replacement, how to get pricing for out-of-service vehicles, etc. Nearly all drivers carry cell phones, so calling the line for policy clarification is a simple matter.
  • E-mail. E-mail has made mass communication fast and easy. Fleet managers can use e-mail to highlight various fleet policy matters. An e-mail blast entitled “What to do in case of an accident,” for example, can remind drivers of policy mandates in handling crashes. These e-mails can be sent at the fleet manager’s convenience. Further, a fleet manager can add to his or her e-mail signature a phrase such as “Questions about policy?” with a hot link to the online policy site.

The more accessible the policy document, the less likely a driver will inadvertently violate policy simply out of ignorance.

 

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