9 secrets of successful fleet safety programs

As a fleet manager, one of your most important responsibilities is identifying ways to reduce risk and keep your employees safe on the job. Safety programs and a strong safety culture are the backbone to good fleet operations, but do you know the difference between the two?

Your safety culture centers around the actions your drivers are taking when no one is watching, whereas your safety programs outline the values, policies, and procedures for safe operations. Essentially, your safety program sets the stage, but your safety culture is what’s happening in practice.

We all want to get to the point where our drivers are following safety programs and policies 100% of the time and living a culture of safety in everything they do, but it all starts with how you set up your policies or programs.

Read on to discover nine secrets of successful fleet safety programs and learn how to make 2020 the year of safety in your fleet.

1. Identify where you’re at now

Do you have a policy? Are new employees trained correctly on it? Do you have safety policies for all departments of your organization?

These are questions you need to ask to figure out where you’re at now with your safety program and identify what you can do to improve. As you benchmark where you’re at now, some important things to track so you can tell if you’re making progress later include:

  • Accidents
  • Speeding violations
  • Safety policy violations (seatbelt compliance, cell phone compliance, etc.)
  • Customer complaints
  • Unnecessary repairs or maintenance needs
  • Geofencing violations

2. Start small

Now that you know where your fleet sits in terms of compliance with its safety policies, it’s time to set goals and think of ways you can improve. The most successful programs start small and change one or two things at a time.

Identify what’s the most important thing you need to address with your safety program, let’s say it’s seatbelt compliance. Make that the focus for next year instead of trying to change 10 things at once. By being able to achieve these smaller goals, your employees will feel more empowered to take on bigger challenges and smaller changes are much easier to adapt to.

3. Get everyone on board

Be honest and transparent about the changes you’re making and the why behind them. It’s not about disciplining your employees but about improving safety for all and getting your employees home to their families every day.

There needs to be accountability from all in your fleet to make your program successful. Make sure your goals or changes to your safety program are understood and accepted by everyone before rolling them out and assuming everyone will fall in line.

Often, front-line employees don’t want to speak up if they’re unsure about changes as they don’t want to be the only one asking questions or rocking the boat. Provide opportunities, whether it’s anonymously collected questions before a team meeting or informal conversations with each employee to make sure everyone is on board.

4. Regular coaching and regular rewards

Defensive driving is a skill any fleet driver must master, but old habits die hard so regular coaching or driver training is imperative for the success of your safety culture and program.

Schedule time for consistent coaching, which could be in a one-on-one setting, a classroom style, or even bring in guest speakers for a lunch and learn type of training.

Drivers also need to be recognized and rewarded when following the safety policies to reinforce good behaviors. This could be accomplished in the form of a driver of the month program, a quarterly safety award, or tying safety compliance to their annual review process.

5. Be timely

If a driver does have a violation or transgression, then it needs to be addressed immediately. Letting small incidents go by today could lead up to a big problem tomorrow. This brings back the idea of accountability, you can’t hold drivers solely responsible for unsafe driving habits if you’re not holding yourself accountable to train or discipline them.

6. No distractions 

Distracted driving is a real concern for today’s fleet managers, especially when a driver’s whole world is accessible at their fingertips. Set out specific policies related to distracted driving, like cell phone use, smoking, eating or drinking in the vehicle, and so on.

Many fleet managers are turning to Distracted Driver Prevention (DDP™) solutions that lock drivers out of their phones while behind the wheel, or video telematics to keep an eye on drivers on the road.

7. Scheduled “me” time 

We live in a world that’s connected 24/7 and that impulse to check our phones is almost impossible to say no to. Schedule break time for drivers to check their phones, connect with their families, get something to eat, use the restroom, or even get some sleep. The time spent letting the driver refresh and reconnect with their personal life is time well spent and can help them avoid bad driving behavior or breaking the rules.

8. Use your data

Your data is only as good as what you decide to do with it. You can collect as much data about your fleet as you want, but it’s useless if you’re not analyzing it and putting it into action.

  • Look at causes, not effect: Hard braking is an effect but the cause could be tailgating or a driver checking their phone. Look beyond the event and see what made it happen to identify areas you need to address.
  • Find patterns: Don’t zero in on one-off situations and assume it’s a problem across the board. Use different data points to paint a picture of what’s really going on, how often it’s happening, and who it’s happening by.
  • Use your baseline: Create a baseline of your average safety score and look for spikes or dips outside the normal range to identify problems or drivers that might be breaking the rules.
  • Segment data: Have national operations? Then each territory has unique challenges to overcome in terms of safety and its daily conditions. Segment your data to tailor safety training to the right location and right driver.

9.  Communicate results

Finally, communicate the fleet’s results with the whole team. This brings us back to accountability and rewarding drivers, and showing other drivers that they too can follow the program and be successful in their job. 

Be sure to communicate the results in a variety of formats so everyone knows what’s going on. You might hold a company-wide staff meeting, then send a letter to their home, and even sending out an internal employee newsletter.

Interested in a helping hand when it comes to safe operations in your fleet? Learn more about our fleet speed control solutions to reduce speeding incidents, accidents, and tickets.