Every time you get in a motor vehicle, you’re taking a risk. Even for the most skilled of drivers, operating a car, truck, or other automobile is inherently dangerous. Being safe isn’t about eliminating the risk of injury to yourself and others, because that’s simply not possible. It’s about limiting that risk, managing it to drive as safely as possible.
That applies just as much to those who drive professionally as to those who do it recreationally or simply for transportation. That’s why risk management throughout your business’ fleet of vehicles is one of the most important responsibilities a transportation or fleet manager has – because lives depend on it.
Here are some steps you can take to make sure your drivers and vehicles are as safe as possible.
Comprehensive driver training
Most of the people who are operating your vehicles and equipment are likely to be very capable and skilled drivers. Training can help keep those skills sharp, and help refresh knowledge of rules of the road and job site. But there’s more to it than just that.
No driver operates in a vacuum. A good training program will allow you to assess, critique, and improve how your drivers interact with other drivers on the road, and how they interact with their colleagues and surroundings on a job site. Being able to ace a closed-course test, after all, doesn’t mean a lot if aggression or recklessness take over in the real world.
Observe safety on the roads
And training doesn’t mean a lot if it doesn’t translate to actual driving. Aggressive and unsafe driving practices don’t just put your drivers and others at risk of injury, it can also cost you money.
Speeding is a fairly common offense, but it can do a lot of damage. It’s dangerous in and of itself. It can lead to other dangerous behaviors, like swerving through traffic and cutting off other drivers, and if an accident happens, it increases the severity by magnitudes. It also reduces fuel mileage and causes undue wear and tear on vehicles, which can mean breakdowns that shouldn’t be happening.
Monitoring fleet driving practices reduces the risk of collisions and injury, and reduces the risk of damage to vehicles and property. Knowing what your team is doing on the road and in the field is critical.
Limit unnecessary driving
The more drivers drive, the greater the risk. That’s just common sense, and beyond simply saving miles and money, it’s why limiting the amount of driving your drivers are doing is a smart move. That doesn’t mean turning down jobs or cutting service. It means helping your crew to drive more efficiently.
Information is key here. If you know the routes your drivers are using – meaning they’re planned, and there’s accountability for drivers who leave the route without a good reason – you can constantly analyze them, look for alternatives, and seek out the most efficient route. You can also look at vehicle use during off-hours, and set limits on what employees can and can’t do when they’re not on the clock to prevent further risk to them, your vehicles, and your business.
Breakdowns are inconvenient. They take vehicles off the road, and make it harder for your business to function and your jobs to get done. But when you look at your fleet through the lens of risk management, a breakdown can be a disaster. Poorly maintained vehicles can become unsafe to drive and use, and if a driver or manager doesn’t know maintenance is needed, a small problem can snowball into something big. A belt can snap, or an axle can break, or an engine can blow out. If that happens on the road, it could end in injuries – or worse.
Proactive maintenance helps prevent that from happening. Regular diagnostics on the engine, brakes, and other vital systems help catch trouble miles before it arrives. Monitoring vehicle emissions can also help locate engine trouble that might not be caught otherwise, and regular tune-ups and oil changes keep vehicles running longer and safer.
Protect your drivers, protect your business
As manager of a fleet, part of your duty is to manage risk and make your drivers as safe as possible. It protects them, it protects your investment in your vehicles, and it keeps you from ending up in insurance or lawsuit limbo. You need tools to be successful, though – and Synovia Solutions™ fleet management technology can do the job. It provides detailed location and diagnostic data that allows you to monitor routes, prevent breakdowns, and minimize risk as much as possible.