If you consider your company’s drivers to be your greatest asset, know that they also have the potential to be your greatest liability. Every day, there are more than 16,000 car crashes in the United States. Half the time, someone in those 16,000 crashes suffers from an injury.
With 100 million people driving for work-related activities in the U.S., according to Brookings, and 94 percent of crashes the result of human behavior, it’s simply not worth it to leave your driver risk up to chance. As an employer, you may not be able to completely mitigate the risk of car crashes among your employees and fleet drivers, but instead can take steps to make sure that your drivers are as safe as possible.
Combatting overall risk
The best way to combat driver risk is by creating a culture of safety that speaks to all in your company, whether drivers or not. A perpetually ongoing effort that requires consistent dedication, optimization and enforcement, building a culture of safety is done by propping up a set of safety-related morals, values and initiatives your company believes in.
Whether your company has a fleet of commercially licensed drivers, personal drivers, contractors or someone who makes the occasional coffee run, know your company could be deemed liable for any negative actions, only furthering the importance to have an established safety culture. With hidden risk lurking and a focus on safety always needed, we’re here to give you six important tips on how to create a safety culture.
Creating a driver culture of safety in six steps
Implement a company-wide driver safety policy
If you want your drivers to embrace a culture of safety, your policies need to be universal. A comprehensive driver safety policy should include things like a:
- No-exceptions seat belt policy
- Clear explanation of your MVR review policy for both new and ongoing drivers
- Driver training that’s expected and available to your employees
- Process for how infractions are reviewed
- Your company’s parameters on personal vehicle use
Furthermore, you need to ensure that the driver safety policy is written clearly and is accessible to all that it covers, including new hires. You don’t want any room for confusion when it comes to driver safety policy wording, how it will be enforced or who it’s applicable to. Rules and consequences for breaking the policy should be clear, simple and consistent.
It’s also important that rules be consistently enforced. No one gets a pass on violating the driver safety policy. It doesn’t matter if you’re driving around the corner, are in a hurry or even are the CEO — rules are rules. Inconsistent enforcement can lead to resentment and a lax perspective on safety.
Open communication is key in keeping employees happy as organizational buy-in is critical when building a culture of safety. A Harvard Business Review study found that 70 percent of employees reported feeling more engaged with their organization when leadership provided staff consistent updates and communicated more openly.
Regardless of which rules you put in place to encourage a culture of safety, transparency and communication are critical if it’s going to have an impact. Your company’s commitment to safety needs to stay top of mind for employees, and those propping up such initiatives are typically the best evangelists.
Small reminders can also help employees keep safety top of mind. A catchy and memorable safety slogan in an email signature, brief or subliminal mentions of safety in meetings, recognition of great drivers and company-wide emails or newsletters with an emphasis on safety are all good ways to remind employees of their new workplace culture.
Institute a seat belt policy
Seatbelts are one of the simplest ways to foster a culture of safety, but nearly 30 million Americans still don’t buckle up on a regular basis. Make no exception to this rule. Whether it’s for short drives or long hauls, every person in a vehicle has to buckle up before it moves. Emphasize this policy in both commercial and personal vehicles.
A seat belt policy isn’t the end-all, be-all of driver safety, but it serves as an excellent example of personal and corporate responsibility, as well as responsibility for the safety of others. Seat belt policies are an ample reminder that, every time a driver chooses to buckle up, they’re fulfilling the culture of safety fostered at your company.
Emphasize safety when selecting vehicles
Not every company owns their own vehicles, but if you do, you can choose vehicles that prioritize safety for drivers, passengers and communities. Safe driving is a two-way street. It’s hypocritical to demand safe driving practices from your employees if you’re not offering them vehicles that keep them safe and optimize safe-driving practices.
If you do purchase your own company vehicles, be sure to emphasize safety features to your employees. Calling attention to vehicle safety will remind your drivers that safety is a priority, encouraging a culture of safety as a result.
Offer recognition for safety policy accomplishments
In 2018, a Cleveland bus driver made the news for driving 40 years — and 1.2 million miles — without a preventable crash. The standard set by the Cleveland Rapid Transit Authority is that drivers must have fewer than 14 preventable crashes per million miles, so his accomplishment was rightfully celebrated.
You can do the same at your company, celebrating mileage and time without incidents. Recognition can come in many forms — mentions in company newsletters, press releases, commendations from executives or even gifts — and drivers who see that recognition know that safety is valued, emphasized and rewarded.
What creating a culture of safety could mean for you
Now that you know how to create a safety culture, why such efforts are no small feat and how they require immense time, effort and dedication, you may be feeling invigorated and ready to change the core of your company. If done right, you’ll find yourself reaping the benefits.
That’s why we recommend starting with your drivers, as they’re the best example of what actionable safety can look like at your company. Are you ready to take the plunge into building a culture of safety but aren’t sure where to start? We recommend seeing if your safety policy is up to par.
Download our white paper, Driver Safety Policies: Best Practices and Drafting Considerations to find out.