Managing the Financial Side of Commercial Fleets

Acres Group Focuses on Safety in Company Vehicles

June 22, 2010

WAUCONDA, IL - Maintenance and design firm, Acres Group, places a major emphasis on transportation safety. With as many as 300 vehicles on the road at one time, the company has a written company vehicle policy that includes motor vehicle records standards, and has standardized spotter hand signals that must be used when backing. It also publicizes the names of managers who have been trained in the National Safety Council's defensive driving course, and extensively trains all of its drivers and other field staff in defensive driving, according to Lawn & Landscape.

"With the number of trucks we have on the road plus the weight of the trucks, we enforce reducing the speed when drivers come to intersections. We also enforce being alert, and we demand and enforce that nobody can back up without a spotter," Human Resources Manager Miguel Castro said.

"We also train on the two-second rule, and on the four-second rule for trucks (to determine if a driver is following another vehicle too closely)," according to Maureen Scheitz, vice president of human resources. The Acres Group tells its motor vehicle drivers: "Always use the two-second rule. Pick a road marker. When the rear bumper of the vehicle ahead passes the marker, count one thousand one, one thousand and two. If your front bumper passes the marker before you're done counting, you're following too closely."

Other key elements of the Acres Group's program include:

  • Training at the season kick-off and at new employee orientation. The company holds weekly or biweekly tailgate safety sessions. The training curriculum is different for drivers than for production crews, but both learn about such issues as following too closely, backing, slowing down at intersections, and not driving too fast for road conditions. (See "Defensive driving,"  at left.)
  • Pre-inspection and post-inspection forms. A monthly vehicle inspection form must be filled out by managers. Completed forms are discussed at the company's monthly safety meetings. The company also requires daily pre- and post-trip truck/trailer inspections.
  • Drug and alcohol testing. Drug and alcohol tests are required for drivers involved in incidents resulting in damages of more than $1,000 and in all injury incidents that require treatment at an off-site medical facility.
  • Charges to employees involved in at-fault transportation incidents. If the employee is found to be at fault following an investigation, the person will pay $100 for incidents resulting in up to $999 in damages; $200 for incidents resulting in $1,000 to $1,999 in damages; and $300 for incidents resulting in $2,000 or more in damages. At-fault incidents resulting in $1,000 or more in damages also require the employee to attend a defensive driving course. "This has significantly reduced our number of incidents," Castro said.


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