Provide your clients with a commercial vehicle safety program to promote sound driving habits
An effective commercial vehicle safety program should include:
- Management policy statement
- Driver selection
- Driver training
- Driver monitoring
- Driver supervision
- Accident investigation & reporting
- Vehicle maintenance
- Safety motivation & recognition
- Vehicle operating safety
Having an effective commercial vehicle safety program can help reduce not only vehicle accidents, but also business operating costs. Whether your client has company vehicles, or employees use their own vehicles for business, this program can help the drivers stay safe while on the road. This article, with information provided by Zurich, provides tips on implementing best practices and offering incentives for drivers who achieve safe driving records, so pass it along to your commercial clients.
Company policy statement for your commercial vehicle safety program
A commercial vehicle safety program is most effective when everyone feels they have a role in the process. Owners/managers must commit time and resources. Department managers must implement the program. Employees must be involved from the start. A safety program should begin with a clearly worded company policy statement saying:
- The vehicle safety program applies to all employees, departments, and operations.
- Cooperation of all employees is expected and required.
Strive to hire the most qualified person to drive company-owned vehicles. Management should define the specifications/requirements of the job and determine each driver’s ability to meet those requirements. Include:
- A completed application form by the applicant.
- A current drivers’ license for the state of vehicle operation.
- A check of motor vehicle records (MVRs).
- A check of previous employer references.
- A personal interview with department manager.
- A physical examination.
- A written test on traffic regulations and driving attitudes.
- A road test in a vehicle of the type to be driven over a similar route.
- Successful completion of probation period.
A crucial aspect of a commercial vehicle safety program is to ensure hired drivers receive proper training in safe vehicle operation. As a minimum, they should receive:
- Orientation on company policy for vehicle safety.
- Review of rules and procedures stressing the driver’s responsibilities for vehicle safety.
- On-the job training covering vehicles to be used, maintenance and safe work practices.
- Continued training as needed based on periodic performance evaluations.
By implementing a driver monitoring program and increasing driver safety awareness, you can lower accident frequency. Improved public image, lower maintenance costs and reduced fuel costs are other benefits of the program.
What does the program consist of?
Decals listing a toll-free “1-800” reporting number are attached to the rear of the vehicle. The stickers can have various messages on them, such as:
How am I driving? My vehicle # is ******. Call…
I am proud of my driving. My vehicle # is ******. Call…
Safe, courteous driving is my goal. How am I doing? Call…
The vehicle decals encourage the public to call a 24-hour monitoring service to report unsafe driving, faulty equipment, improperly loaded vehicles and other potentially hazardous conditions. The monitoring company contacts your client immediately and provides detailed reports of the “1-800” phone call. Some companies will also assist with driver pre-employment screening programs. They pre-qualify drivers by checking motor vehicle records, criminal records, and verifying educational background.
The monitoring company can produce management reports that can be used to evaluate phone call data. These reports may provide an overview of total numbers of calls; drivers with multiple complaints; actions taken by management (driver consultation); and provide an analysis of incoming complaints.
How does a commercial vehicle safety program benefit your company?
These programs proactively identify unsafe drivers to prevent accidents before they happen. Repeated phone calls and reports on a single driver may indicate poor driving habits or inadequate training. Since the drivers know that anyone can call and report their activities, they drive in a more safe and courteous manner. Managers and supervisors have more information available to them to evaluate and manage their drivers. The program can also help improve public perception of the company by showing their commitment to safety. Because drivers are more conscientious, maintenance costs are lowered and fuel consumption improved. Citations and traffic violations should also be reduced.
The real value of the program is derived from how the information provided by the monitoring company is used. The program’s effectiveness relies on management formulating policies and procedures for:
- Evaluating incident reports
- Conducting driver consultations
- Establishing incentive programs
- Instituting disciplinary action
Designed to reduce accident frequency, the program also results in stabilized insurance premiums, less equipment downtime (due to accident repair activities) and lower legal expenses.
According to the National Safety Council, vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death in the workplace. This commercial vehicle safety program is a big step towards making your workplace safer.
Your managers or supervisors are key players in your commercial vehicle safety program. As such, they should be held accountable for safety performance and manage with these tips in mind:
- Observation of the driver’s performance.
- Periodic reviews of driver personnel file/MVR.
- Listening to comments and/or complaints of others.
- Remaining alert to personality or performance changes.
- Evaluating vehicle use (or abuse) and maintenance practices.
- Always encouraging a safe and high level of performance.
Accident investigation will determine the cause of the accident, so that you can implement corrective action to prevent similar recurrences. It can also assist management to determine whether an accident was preventable or not. Suggested procedures are:
- All accidents should be reported, investigated and reviewed to standard procedures.
- Accident report forms, witness cards and list of persons/telephone numbers to contact should be in every owned vehicle.
- Initial investigation should be done by immediate supervisor of employee involved.
- Accidents should be reviewed by designated person or accident review committee to determine preventability and to recommend control measures.
An effective vehicle maintenance program can reduce mechanical failures that may contribute to potential accidents. Some criteria for a maintenance program are:
- As a minimum, enforce regular maintenance schedule which meets manufacturer suggested guidelines.
- Inspect vehicles pre- and post- trips.
- Schedule as a priority any safety-related deficiencies.
- Establish out-of-service criteria.
- Conduct scheduled and unscheduled reviews of vehicle exterior and interior conditions.
- Require individual maintenance records in each owned vehicle.
Safe driving deserves to be recognized by management to demonstrate their commitment to safety. One way to accomplish this is an awards or incentive program for accident-free driving over a period of time. Some guidelines are:
- Administer fairly to all drivers of owned vehicles.
- Awards of money, merchandise or plaques or benefits (vacation day).
- Use accident review committee to determine driver’s eligibility.
- Drivers should have right to appeal decisions of awards.
Vehicle operating safety rules to include in your commercial vehicle safety program
Some safety rules to pass along to your drivers:
- Do not take chances. To arrive safely is more important than to arrive on time.
- Do not drive faster than posted speed limits.
- Do not drive faster than road, traffic and weather conditions allow.
- Do not attempt to exercise the right-of-way. Let the other driver go first.
- Keep to right except when passing or getting into position to make left turn.
- Keep adequate distance when following other vehicles to make a safe stop (use 2-second rule for following distance rule).
- Always use turn signals to indicate turns and lane changes.
- Slow down for school zones and watch for children.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is prohibited.
- Drivers must have a valid drivers’ license on their person at all times for type of vehicle they are operating.
- Driver’s physical condition must enable them to operate vehicle safely.
- Vehicles are to be driven by authorized drivers only.
- Drivers must report all accidents immediately, or as required by law and company policy