June is National Safety Month, when the National Safety Council (NCS) promotes ways to increase safety at work, on the road, and in homes and communities. When fleets invest time and money on promoting safety, the best-case-scenario is that nothing happens — making it difficult to get buy-in on new safety measures when everything seems fine. Of course, the alternative — dealing with accidents or violations — is something that all fleets want to avoid.
The general consensus for vehicles that have not been in critical events, even if there is risky driver behavior involved, is to not fix what isn’t broken. When presenting or auditing the return on investment for safety solutions, it should be expected that you will have to project the savings from what didn’t happen — making safety investments a tricky topic of conversation.
Improving your fleet’s safety shouldn’t just be a matter of reacting whenever an accident occurs. Implementing safety procedures and policies before a negative event takes place can go a long way toward avoiding accidents — and saving time, money, and, most importantly, lives. To help protect your drivers and vehicles, here are four secrets to boosting safety in your fleet:
1. Involve your Truck Drivers’ Families
Drivers’ family members would like to be able to connect with them on the phone while they’re away from home. However, staying off the phone during working hours is a key factor in avoiding distracted driving, which is the cause of far too many accidents.
Instead of blindly enforcing this rule, it can be much more effective to reach out to your drivers’ families through a newsletter or even at family-friendly company outings to explain the reasoning behind the policy. Every driver’s family wants them to stay safe, and developing a meaningful relationship can make them partners in your safety efforts, rather than adversaries.
2. Develop Real Relationships with your Drivers
No one is perfect. Every driver has areas in which he or she could improve. However, when that area affects safety, it’s simply a must that they receive training to help reduce their risky behavior — for their own good and the good of the company. Although the coaching process may be fair and equitable, having one’s faults pointed out and then being made to undergo additional training because of them can be a sensitive situation.
Fleet managers can mitigate the embarrassment and resistance to this situation simply by getting to know each driver on a personal level. By taking an interest in your team and ensuring each driver knows they have an actual connection with you, when the need arises for some safety coaching, it feels more like a friend looking out for them (rather than a supervisor pushing them around).
3. Create a Culture of Safety Within your Company
Safety can’t be an afterthought; it must be a core focus of your business. Taking every measure possible to keep your fleet safe not only increases the safety record of your fleet, but also attracts the right kind of drivers. Fleets can help make safety a focus by putting reminders on the walls and referring to safety in every email, meeting, and call.
One of the most effective ways to showcase a commitment to safety is by implementing a fleet management software solution that monitors driver performance and reports back to let you know which kinds of risks you need to address with your fleet.
4. Defend Your Fleet with Video
Not all accidents can be avoided, even with your safest drivers. A recently-published Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) report showed a rise in large-truck crashes and an increase in the number of trucks involved in fatal crashes (up three percent from 2015 to 2016). Unfortunately for fleets, it doesn’t matter who was at fault. If an accident requires litigation, 95 percent of those costs will be borne by commercial carriers.
To protect your fleet when accidents do occur, video is the best witness you can have in court. An accurate video, such as what Omnitracs’ Critical Event Video can produce, depicts what actually happened. This allows fleets to not only protect themselves, but also identify risky drivers and reduce dangerous behaviors.
Fleets using in-cab video solutions report twenty percent fewer accidents on average. When drivers know that they are being monitored, they are less likely to practice unsafe driving. Even in cases where drivers still exhibit dangerous driving, fleets can use the video as a tool to help coach and train drivers to correct their behavior.
This National Safety Month, and throughout the year, put safety at the forefront of everything your fleet does.