Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

10 Steps in Building a Safe Fleet

Ask any fleet manager about safety, and it will undoubtedly top the list of priorities. Here are 10 ways to create a safety culture.

March 2012, by Chris Wolski - Also by this author

Thanks to a combination of advanced materials, technologies, and shifts in cultural attitudes, the roads are safer than ever.

However, these safety technologies and attitudes can only go so far. They have to be matched by driver behavior. This is doubly so for fleet drivers, who spend the majority of their time on the road, benefiting the entire business.

“A well-managed safety program helps control expenses, prevents lost productivity from vehicle downtime and bodily injuries — or worse — and reduces or even prevents substantial settlements and penalties from negligent entrustment and vicarious liability,” said Randy Shadley, CAFM, account manager and fleet safety specialist for Corporate Claims Management (CCM). “You want to make sure that if your employer is in the news, it’s because of something good that happened, not because an unqualified driver put it there.”

While there are many ways a fleet can build a safety program, here are 10 that can form its core:

No. 1: Get Management Buy-In

Since a safety program may mean making fundamental changes to the way drivers are managed, it is imperative to get management buy-in from the start, according to Shadley. “Ideally, the safety policy will show that it has the full support of your senior management — having a key executive distribute the policy to your employees shows that it is to be taken seriously, and it gives you the authority you’ll need to enforce it,” he said. “The policy should make drivers aware that because safety is important to the company, their continued employment depends on maintaining an acceptable record and meeting all program requirements.”

Brian Kinniry, manager of risk & safety solutions of the CEI Group, echoed Shadley, emphasizing the active involvement of top management.

“Everyone throughout the organization needs to know that safety is a strategically important objective from the very top and why,” Kinniry said. “That’s something that can only be articulated by the most senior officer. And, unless field management reinforces that message and actively evaluates their employees’ driving behavior, it will be difficult to change their behavior for the better.”

Allison Lanzilotta, vice president of business development for Fleet Response, recommended the first step that should be taken to create a safety culture is forming a corporate fleet safety committee.

“This committee’s strategy should be to review the existing fleet safety policy and determine if all elements are common practice, uniformly enforced by management, and uniformly followed by drivers,” she said. “A safety committee should be comprised of representatives from human resources, fleet management, risk management, sales management, accident coordinators, and other necessary parties.”

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