Every single day, there are more than 16,000 car accidents in the United States alone. In half of them, someone suffers an injury. As an employer, you may not be able to completely mitigate the risk of car accidents among your employees and fleet drivers, but you can take precautions to make sure that your drivers are as safe as possible.
One such precaution is the creation and enforcement of a safety policy for everyone who drives a vehicle on the clock for your company. You don’t need to have a fleet of commercial drivers for these safety tips to apply to you. Any company whose employees or contractors operate any vehicle, including personally-owned vehicles, for work is liable for their actions and behaviors.
Here are some important tips to help employers build and enforce a good safety policy.
Regardless of which rules you put in place, your safety policy will rely on transparency and communication if it’s going to have an impact. Just as safety is paramount in every piece of a factory’s operations, your company’s commitment to safety and the terms of your driving rules need to be in the front of your employees’ minds every time they get behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Small reminders can also help employees keep safety top of mind . A safety slogan in an email signature, mentions of driver 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 that safety is a priority.
Make A Fleet-Wide Policy
If you want your drivers to embrace a culture of safe driving, your policies need to be universal. A comprehensive driving policy should include a no-exceptions seat belt policy, continuous motor vehicle record (MVR) monitoring, a clear explanation of your MVR review policy for both new and ongoing drivers, the training that’s expected and available to your employees, the process by which infractions are reviewed, and whether the policy extends to personal vehicle use.
Furthermore, you need to ensure that the policy is written clearly and accessible to anyone and everyone that it covers, including new hires. You don’t want any room for confusion when it comes to the exact wording of a policy, how it will be enforced, or to whom it applies. Rules and the consequences for breaking them should be clear, simple, and consistent.
It’s also important that rules be consistently enforced. No one gets a pass on violating the safety policy — it doesn’t matter if you’re just driving around the corner, if you’re in a hurry, or if you’re the CEO — rules are rules. Inconsistent enforcement will lead to resentment and a lax attitude on safety.
Institute a Seat Belt Policy
Seatbelts are one of the simplest ways to foster a culture of driver safety, but nearly 30 million Americans still don’t buckle up on a regular basis. Make no exceptions 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 work vehicles and personal vehicles alike.
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. Some companies even go so far as to put cameras on their premises so they can track what percentage of their employees arrive at work wearing a seatbelt. They then publish the results and incentivize compliance for everyone.
Emphasize Safety When Selecting Vehicles
Not every company owns their own vehicles, but if you do, you have the opportunity to 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 can keep them safe and optimize their safe-driving practices.
If you do purchase your own company vehicles, be sure to emphasize their safety features to your employees and customers. Calling attention to the safety of your vehicles will remind your drivers that safety is a priority, encouraging a culture of conducting business as safely as possible.
Offer Recognition For Safety Accomplishments
Last year, a Cleveland bus driver made the news for driving 40 years — and 1.2 million miles — without a preventable accident. The standard set by the Cleveland RTA is that drivers have fewer than 14 preventable accidents per million miles, so his accomplishments were rightly celebrated.
You can do the same at your company, celebrating mileage and time milestones without an accident, moving violation, or unsafe behavior. Recognition can come in many forms — mentions in company newsletters, press releases to local news, commendations from executives, or even gifts — and drivers who see such recognition will know that safety is valued, emphasized, and rewarded.
Know The Value Of Continuous Driver Monitoring
Many companies only pull motor vehicle records for their drivers at the time of hire. For commercial drivers, they might pull records once a year. But a lot can happen in the other 364 days of the year between MVR checks.
If one of your drivers gets into an accident and injures someone, the other party’s lawyer will likely check their driving records. If it turns out that they had a DUI and an accident in the last few months, since the last time you checked their records, it will call into question why you were allowing this employee to drive for you in the first place.
That’s why continuous driver monitoring is so important. Rather than manually pulling (and paying for) a new MVR every month, SambaSafety monitors MVRs for changes. If a change is submitted to a monitored driver’s record, we pull a new one and let you know. If no change occurs, you don’t have to waste time and money checking a new MVR.
Make sure your drivers know that their MVRs are being continuously monitored. Not only will this policy create a culture of responsibility and accountability, but it will emphasize to them that your company will not tolerate unsafe driving practices.
It bears mentioning that an unenforced safety policy is almost worse than no safety policy at all. Not only creating a policy but also enforcing it uniformly without bias, automatically without human error, and in a timely manner is crucial.
You should also have practices in place to review new violations, assess their severity, and determine an appropriate consequence. Remember, enforcing safe driving habits isn’t just about avoiding a lawsuit — it’s about encouraging your employees to be positive members of your community and stewards of safety. A culture of safety is part of most other corporate functions, and driving should be no exception. Take the next step by reviewing Continuous Driver Monitoring: The Legal Landscape.