When it comes to roadway safety, Jack Hanley, executive director for the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), said employers often don’t know where to start. At the same time, Hanley said employers are key to improving roadway safety for both occupational drivers and the public at large.
“Engaging employers is the secret ingredient in increasing road safety in the United States,” he said. “There are roughly 310 million people living in the U.S. Of those, more than 155 million are employed.”
Employers can have a direct influence on the behavior of their employees. When those employees take that message home, employers in a fairly direct way can advocate for road safety on behalf of 310 million Americans.
“To take road safety seriously, employers need to start with their occupational drivers — the drivers who drive on behalf of the company — and NETS’ Comprehensive Guide To Road Safety is where to start,” he explained.
Detailed Information Available
The Guide is the product of NETS members’ road safety knowledge and draws on public documents.
“The Guide is a first source of referral for companies with no program or that are implementing a new program. For them, it’s a primer from which they can build,” Hanley said. “It’s an excellent audit tool for more established and advanced fleet safety programs as well. In addition, it applies to all sizes of fleets, all vehicle types, and all world areas.”
According to Hanley, cost and lack of knowledge are often barriers preventing employers from implementing a road safety program.
“The heart of the Guide can be found on fewer than 20 pages,” Hanley said. “These pages provide the fleet safety team with definitions, business case development, recommended metrics, and fully explained Road Safety Requirements.”
The Road Safety Requirements are divided into four sections: (1) Road Safety Management System, (2) Driver and Passenger Requirements, (3) Journey Management Requirements, and (4) Vehicle Requirements.
The mandatory elements of each are explained and, in many cases, additional guidance is provided in the appendix or readers are pointed to other helpful sources.
“In support of these pillars, the appendix offers sample policies, procedures, and guidelines for all major aspects of a road safety program,” Hanley continued. “Examples include driver fitness and training, identifying and managing high-risk drivers, cell-phone use policy, post-crash review process, and many more.”
Road-Safety Management Systems
The Guide’s Road-Safety Management System section outlines the following basics for a program:
- Leadership and commitment.
- Road safety policy, objectives, and targets.
- Organization, resources, roles, and responsibilities.
- Competence, training, and awareness.
- Road transport risk management.
- Communication process.
- Documentation of the management system.
- Operational planning and control.
- Emergency preparedness and response.
- Monitoring, measurement, analysis, and evaluation.
The Guide emphasizes that a road-safety management system must be implemented to ensure activities are planned, carried out, controlled, and directed to minimize road transport risks.
Elaborating on the basics, the Guide offers several helpful tools in the appendix, including an example of the organizational structure behind a road safety program, a sample road safety organizational chart and safety management model, and a sample incident investigation procedure.
Each tool goes beyond simple guidelines to demonstrate exactly how organizational structures and road-safety procedures play out, according to Hanley.
For instance, the sample incident investigation procedure defines preventable and non-preventable collisions and explains the purpose behind investigations. The guidelines are intended to help managers perform an investigation, determine how the incident could have been prevented, and learn what can be done to prevent future incidents.
The sample incident investigation procedure answers key questions, such as:
- When an employee is in a collision, what are his or her responsibilities?
- When an employee reports a collision, what are the manager’s responsibilities?
- How does the employee take proper photographs at the scene of a collision?
- What information should be gather ed at the scene?
- What information should be included in statements from involved parties and witnesses?
- How should the measurements and driving conditions be recorded?
- How is preventability determined?
When managers follow the step-by-step procedures outlined in the Guide, they will gather all pertinent information and provide their company with the necessary legal and financial documentation.
Driver and Passenger Requirements
Once a structure is in place for a road-safety management system, the Guide identifies driver and passenger requirements. These include:
- Seat-belt usage.
- Driver licensing policy.
- Fitness for work policy.
- Defensive driving training.
- Hazard awareness, including fatigue management and distracted driving.
As with the road safety management system section, the Guide provides samples companies can adopt for each of the listed requirements, including:
- Sample Mobile Phone Use policy.
- Sample Guideline for Road Safety Training Requirements.
- Sample Alcohol and Drug Use policy.
- Sample Driver Licensing policy.
- Example of New Hire Eligibility and Driver Requirements policy.
- Sample Guideline for High-Risk Driver Identification and Management.
- Example of a Two-Wheeler Driving policy.
For instance, the Guide outlines various types of recommended training, the requirements and time lines associated with each, and proper documentation. Recommended road safety training courses include:
- Universal training for all employees.
- Light-vehicle training for company drivers.
- Medium- and heavy-vehicle training for company drivers.
- High risk driver training.
- Assessment driver training.
- Peer drives.
In all, the driver and passenger requirements section answers these key questions:
- What policies should be in place for drivers and passengers?
- What training should our company require of drivers and all employees?
- How should training be tailored to the type of driver or type of vehicle driven?
- How can employees encourage each other to drive safely?
A company’s involvement does not end once drivers are properly trained. Employing a structure for journey management ensures drivers are fit to drive when out on the road.
The Guide defines journey management as, “a process for planning and executing necessary land transport journeys in compliance with all Health, Safety, Security, and Environment (HSSE) requirements.”
Journey management includes:
- Implementing fatigue management procedures and a duty, driving, and rest hours regimen.
- Ensuring drivers are physically and mentally capable of operating their vehicle.
- Giving drivers the right to avoid driving if they are not fully rested or alert and stop the vehicle and take a break if concentration is lost.
The Guide includes considerations for creating a journey management plan:
- Loading and discharge site (where applicable).
- Driver preparedness.
- Authorized route.
- Identification of route hazards and controls.
- Communication process.
In addition to offering guidance on journey management and how to create a journey management plan, the Guide’s appendix also takes a deep dive into managing driver fatigue. In doing so, they answer these questions — and more:
- What facts should we know about driver fatigue?
- How does one recognize fatigue?
- What strategies exist for managing fatigue?
- How do we plan proper drive times and rest periods?
- What should we know about driving after air travel?
- How can medications and medical conditions have an impact on safe driving?
- What food and beverages should drivers consume to stay alert on the road?
The Guide also points readers to a whitepaper on driver fatigue developed by The European Sleep Research Society as well as other resources provided by the North American Fatigue Management Program (NAFMP) and U.S. and European Union regulations on work and rest time.
With several guidelines dedicated to managing the people side of road safety, the Guide addresses the other side as well: vehicle requirements.
According to the Guide, company-owned vehicles must meet these minimum standards:
- Three-point seat belts.
- Head rest/head restraint.
- Air bag (for driver and front seat passenger).
- Side-impact protection.
- Anti-lock brake system (ABS).
- In-vehicle monitoring system (IVMS) based on risk assessment.
- Emergency response kit.
Additional standards may include:
- Towing capacity.
- Ergonomic considerations (e.g., ease of access, movement, ability to work from or in the vehicle).
- Safety features such as electronic stability systems, rear vision or detection devices, collision avoidance system, in-cab camera, and exterior mirror systems.
If a rollover risk assessment identifies a high risk of rollovers, NETS recommends using vehicles with rollover prevention or protection devices. NETS also recommended vehicles have at least four stars on the NCAP rating scheme or equivalent crash test rating framework.
Beyond vehicle requirements, NETS noted that vehicles must be maintained in safe working order, drivers should carry out pre-trip inspections to ensure vehicles are safe for travel, and should secure loose items in the passenger compartment.
Road Safety is Good for the Bottom Line
Although employers are often put off by the potential costs of implementing a road safety program, Hanley argued road safety is a sound investment. For the vast majority of employees, driving or being a passenger is the highest risk activity they’ll undertake each day. Ignoring fleet safety can result in injury to employees, high-cost liability lawsuits, and losses and reputational damage.
“The Guide is not a panacea. Along with the Guide, a company needs to have a leadership-led safety culture to make road safety successful and lasting,” Hanley said. “That’s an unbeatable and unstoppable combination. Most companies have the will. NETS’ Comprehensive Guide To Road Safety provides the way.”