Ensuring the safety and compliance of your fleet is paramount for any business. However, without regular, thorough fleet safety audits, the efficacy of your fleet safety program is left up to chance. Read on for our tips for a successful internal fleet safety audit that can help achieve your long-term goals.
The Importance of a Fleet Safety Program
A fleet safety program is a comprehensive strategy designed to promote safety, reduce risks, and ensure compliance. Businesses that prioritize safety not only protect lives, but also experience reduced insurance costs, lower accident-related expenses and improved overall operational efficiency. Neglecting fleet safety can have severe legal and financial consequences. Compliance with safety regulations is not just a legal obligation; it also safeguards your business from potential lawsuits, fines and reputational damage. A safe fleet is a more reliable and cost-effective one, and a well-implemented fleet safety program contributes directly to business success.
A Peek Below the Hood: Key Safety Audit Steps
Before getting started, it’s important to develop a realistic, non-biased perspective of your existing safety program. Conduct a comprehensive review of your current safety policies to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. Are they clear and detailed? Have you addressed all aspects of your operations? When a driver receives a violation, is there an intervention framework in place? Ensure that your safety policies also align with relevant regulations and standards, creating a strong foundation for the audit process.
Assess Vehicle Health
You might be most interested in driver performance, but don’t overlook equipment maintenance! Safe, reliable vehicles are the cornerstone of safe operations.
Check critical systems thoroughly, paying special attention to:
- Tire pressure and tread
- Fluid levels
- Lights, batteries and other electrical components
- Drive belts
- Brake pads
If you notice any errors, decommission the vehicle immediately and don’t approve it for additional use until it’s fully compliant with FMCSA guidelines. This will help ensure success during unplanned roadside inspections.
Select Data Sources Carefully
There’s no shortage of information at your disposal. There’s so much, in fact, that it can be challenging to make sense of it all. Not all data sources are created equal! Dedicate your focus to those that are most relevant to your business. The holy trinity of fleet risk management includes:
- MVR reviews
- Continuous license monitoring
MVR reviews and continuous license monitoring provide an overview of individual drivers’ behavior, offering insight into traffic violations, crashes and other key license status changes. Telematics devices, though, are the best way to gauge on-the-road safety. These devices will help you assess speed, acceleration, braking patterns and much more, providing near-real-time insight into trends.
Talk to Your Drivers
Driver data is valuable, of course, but it only tells part of the story. If there’s one group of people who can speak to the efficacy of your safety program, it’s those who are impacted by it every day – your fleet drivers. Fleet drivers can fill in the blanks and provide a more accurate glimpse into how your safety program performs.
A quick, informal survey is a low-effort but high-impact option. Make sure each driver is asked the same standard set of questions to maintain consistency. You’ll want to find out whether or not your policies are clear, if your drivers feel equipped to follow them and if they’re satisfied in their role.
This feedback isn’t just useful for goal setting. Two-way communication is a great morale booster, too, and can help improve employee engagement and retention rates. People want to work where they feel heard.
Gathering data is half the battle. Now, it’s time to read between the lines.
What stands out? Where is your organization most successful, and where is there the most room for improvement? Did the data reveal anything you weren’t expecting? Whether your team of drivers is big or small, you’re bound to notice some recurring themes throughout your fleet.
Successful risk management relies on a birds-eye view, so historical data should be included when possible. Compare and contrast last year’s trends with patterns from previous years. Metrics that haven’t shown significant improvement must be prioritized in the coming year. If you don’t have past metrics to refer back to, use this as an opportunity to start an ongoing database.
Set Quantifiable Benchmarks and Goals
The robust analysis should give you everything you need to set clear, actionable targets. Narrow your list down to three to five key performance metrics, emphasizing those that will have the most immediate impact on your business. Quantifiable goals – decreasing violations by 15% overall, for instance – will be easiest to measure going forward.
Your unique safety targets should be designed with DOT guidelines in mind. Of the many possible violations, those cited most often include:
- Moving violations (speeding, tailgating, improper lane changes, etc.)
- Using a cell phone while operating a CMV
- Failure to use hazard or indicator lights
Consider weaving their existing framework into your evolving safety policy to protect your drivers and your brand.
Once targets are set, share them broadly and often. All employees contribute to your safety goals one way or another, so to ensure ongoing success throughout the year, keep your KPIs top of mind across the business. Watch performance closely and make data-driven adjustments as needed.
Get a Jump Start on Your Safety Program Planning
A successful fleet safety audit is a multifaceted process that involves the implementation of a robust safety program, adherence to key process steps and the effective analysis of data and feedback. By prioritizing safety, businesses can not only comply with regulations but also reap the numerous benefits associated with a secure and reliable fleet operation.
Are you confident in your existing driver safety program? It’s always a good idea to re-evaluate your approach to risk management. Download our free guide, “How to Implement a Comprehensive Driver Safety Program,” to discover the six steps you need to take.