According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, 12 percent of all fatal car accidents in 2012 involved one or more large trucks or buses. What’s more, Time Magazine ranked driving a truck as No. 8 on its 2014 list of “most dangerous jobs.” Therefore, it’s obvious that fleet safety is a serious issue — and one that will only get worse without proper safety prevention planning. So with that in mind, to protect your drivers as well as your trucks and cargo, you need to take the proper precautions. How can you protect your drivers? What steps will help encourage driver safety in your fleet? Can proper planning make a difference in terms of how many accidents occur?
To help answer those questions, here are five specific strategies worth implementing in order to boost safety among your drivers.
- Practice Proper Vehicle Maintenance: In order to be as safe as possible, vehicles must be properly cared for and receive routine maintenance as necessary. Implement a consistent maintenance program as soon as you can. Likewise, train your drivers on how to give vehicles thorough checks each morning to spot any potential safety-threatening problems like low fluid levels, broken mirrors, low tires, etc. Anything that goes wrong with a vehicle’s systems reduces the driver’s protection — so to make sure you’re giving your staff the greatest chance of avoiding accidents or damage, take care of your trucks.
- Train Your Drivers in Weather Safety: Harsh weather conditions can make roads treacherous, so it’s vital that all your drivers are thoroughly trained and prepared to know how to respond. From hail to snowstorms to tornado warnings, weather can change road conditions and visibility drastically, enough to send drivers off the road or into other vehicles if they aren’t prepared. Provide some kind of in-depth training to your drivers before sending them on the road unprepared. That way, they’ll be able to make fast, safe decisions on the road
- Take Care of Your Drivers: One of the biggest threats to a driver’s safety is being too tired or sick to make proper judgments on the road. When a driver falls asleep at the wheel or stops focusing on the road, the results can be disastrous. Take steps to protect your drivers from poor judgment: require that they make regular stops, don’t allow drivers to work back-to-back shifts without sleep and encourage healthy habits like exercise on the road. Healthy, rested drivers will be best able to make smart decisions and stay safe.
- Implement GPS Tracking: Know the real-time location of your drivers through GPS tracking that you place on every vehicle. Today’s technology can allow you to see precisely where your drivers are at all times. Should a driver need support, you have easy access. Should a driver be behaving erratically, speeding or otherwise driving recklessly, your tracking can tell you that, allowing you to pull that driver off the road before he or she injures anyone else.
- Discourage Distractions: Your drivers need to have their full attention on the road in order to make smart decisions and protect themselves and others. To keep your drivers from getting distracted on the road, institute strict policies. Don’t allow drivers to use cellphones, cigarettes or portable electronics while driving — and have a zero tolerance policy for drinking alcohol while on the job.
Whether you have a fleet of five cars or 500 trucks, safety is paramount. Roadside accidents are too serious of a problem to take lightly — and with as many as 3,702 fatal car accidents in 2012 involving at least one truck or bus, this is especially true for fleets. That’s why you need to take the appropriate safety measures to protect your trucks and drivers. The above strategies are an excellent start for trying to keep your drivers alert, protected and secure, and keeping your trucks and cargo safe.
Robert Hall is the President of Track Your Truck, headquartered in New Lenox, IL. Track Your Truck is the leading provider of real-time vehicle tracking systems for companies across a variety of industries.