By Joseph Evangelist
Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange
We’ve all heard the phrase “safety is no accident.” The point of the phrase is that safety doesn’t just happen. No matter how much you want your fleet to operate in a safe manner, you have to do the work to instill safety as one of your key corporate values.
Clearly, drivers are the most important element in your safety plan. And the best way to ensure your drivers operate safely is to design a driver safety program for them.
Your driver safety program starts even before the driver gets behind the wheel of your truck. Safety actually begins in your hiring process. Even as we confront an industry shortage, driver selection is vitally important; now is not the time to lower your standards. Include minimum age and experience limits on your list of driver qualifications. Review prospective drivers’ motor vehicle reports and pre-employment screening results. Believe me, having no driver is better than hiring one with a spotty safety record.
Once you’ve found a candidate that meets your initial safety requirements, begin your safety orientation and training. This should include a minimum of four-hours of classroom-type training to discuss topics such as:
- Fleet safety rules
- Fleet safety policies
- Defensive driving
- Hours of service
- Vehicle inspections
- Accident procedures
- Security procedures
- Personal safety
Whenever possible, reinforce your safety message to your drivers in written correspondence and during driver meetings.
In the event of an accident, schedule remedial training to reinforce safe driving practices. When there are changes to rules and regulations that effect safety, set-up training sessions as soon as possible so that all your drivers are aware of the new rules.
Start a Safe Driver Recognition Program that honors drivers for reaching certain accident-free driving miles. To get the most out of programs like this, publicly announce the awards in the presence of other drivers and send announcements out to the local press and social media outlets. This is a good way to reinforce internally and externally that your company is serious about safety.
Should there be safety violations, set-up a progressive disciplinary program for drivers that violate company or federal safety rules. Let them know there are consequences.
Safety starts at the top of your organization, so make sure that you are constantly communicating the importance of safety to your business operation and to the personal well-being of your drivers.