In order to operate a safe fleet, it requires the entire organization to make its commitment to safety a top priority. I don't think there is a trucking company out there that would say that safety doesn’t matter. However, saying safety is important and then taking steps to act on making the fleet safe are two different things. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of daily operations, safety does not get the attention it deserves.
Fleets that want to truly live up to their commitment to safety must take steps in a variety of areas.
It starts with buy-in from the very top of the organization and needs to filter down to all managers. Members of the C-suite and managers set the tone for the organization, and employees take their cue from what they see management doing. If they see managers taking shortcuts when it comes to safety, the takeaway will be that safety is not all that important.
Today’s fleets are lucky because there is a myriad of safety equipment that can be spec’d on a truck. Investing in things like lane-departure warning, collision mitigation systems, automatic emergency braking, etc., will assist the driver in staying safe. It is important to remember that these systems are there to assist the driver, not to take the place of safe driving practices.
That brings me to driver training. Your driver onboarding process should cover expectations about safe driving practices. You need to spend time going over your safe driving practices and make sure drivers understand your policies on cell phone use and other driver distractions.
But talking safe driving practices should not just take place during the onboarding process. Drivers should get regular reminders about safe driving practices, and those who reach safe driving mileage milestones should be publicly acknowledged and rewarded.
Technology in today’s trucks can monitor driver behavior. Fleet managers can get reports on things such as hard braking and fast accelerations, as well as reports that tell them how often the automated driver assistance systems deployed. The information from these reports can be used to coach drivers on how to drive safely.
Your technicians also play a role in your fleet’s safety culture. Technicians that pay attention to and address concerns expressed on Driver Daily Vehicle Inspection reports are also contributing to your fleet’s safety and are sending another message to drivers about just how seriously the fleet takes safety. During preventive maintenance inspections, technicians can also spot developing safety-related problems and quickly fix them.
Being a safe fleet takes a commitment across the organization, but it is well worth the effort. Take time to review your safety practices and adjust them as needed. Then make sure everyone in your organization sees just how committed you are to safety and understands their role in living up to your safety goals.
Jane Clark is vice president of member services for NationaLease. In this position, she is focused on managing the member services operation as well as working to strengthen member relationships, reduce member costs, and improve collaboration within the NationaLease supporting groups. Prior to joining NationaLease, Clark served as area vice president for Randstad, one of the nation’s largest recruitment agencies, and before that, she served in management posts with QPS Cos., Pro Staff, and Manpower Inc.