Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

Senior Management Role Critical in Reducing Preventable Crashes

To effectively cut the rate of preventable accidents, fleet safety efforts require senior executive engagement in program development, funding allocation, communication, and leadership.

May 2010, by Cindy Brauer - Also by this author

Where the head turns, the body will follow." Fleet safety experts point to this adage in describing the critical element of senior management support in developing and maintaining a driver safety program effective in reducing the incidence preventable accidents.

"Where senior management goes, the employee will follow," emphasized Jack Hanley, executive director, Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), a nonprofit organization of member companies dedicated to promoting traffic safety on highways around the world. "If senior management doesn't practice safety, no amount of training or incentives will motivate employees who are quick to pick up on the sincerity and authenticity of the corporate commitment to safety."

According to the experts, such management leadership engages senior executives directly in fleet safety program development and participation, adequate fund allocation, and communication.

"Senior management must be involved and committed to the success of the program. They must be part of the committee to help organize the safety program and champion it to the highest levels for funding and other support," said Lou Mene, president of ITC Safety, a fleet driver safety services and training provider.

These senior executives must "understand and communicate the program's value to the company. The safety program is a profit center in returning value to the company's bottom line money saved in crash avoidance," Mene further stressed.

Effective safety programs also require full management participation, said Mene.   "Drivers must believe management is behind the safety effort 100 percent. Any other actions that prove otherwise will undermine the program's success," Mene explained. "If a driver must participate in an ongoing safety program, so should all other employees, including management. The risk and liabilities of driving on company time are the same no matter what the status in an organization."

Safety 'Always Top of Mind'

Safety is "always top of mind" among AmeriFleet senior management, according to Juan Perez, VP operations at the vehicle logistics services company.

AmeriFleet's senior management team meets weekly "to talk through safety-critical areas," said Perez. A core company value is continuous process improvement, which includes "continually looking at how to avoid crashes and safety issues."

The Alpharetta, Ga.-based AmeriFleet deploys more than 800 "service delivery professionals" who drive more than 55,000 vehicles, 12 million miles per year, said Perez.

Company employees move a variety of vehicles from typical passenger vehicles to work trucks 10,000 lbs. or more and covered by DOT regulations, throughout the U.S. and Canada and Puerto Rico, Perez explained.

Key to AmeriFleet's safety measures is "hiring the right person," said Perez. New hires undergo background and motor vehicle record (MVR) checks, drug tests, and references confirmation - leading indicators of the type of employee a candidate might be, Perez noted.

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