By Chris Villella, Vice President, Strategic Relationship Management
A lot of moving pieces are at play in every organization, and the success of a fleet safety program relies on agreement among those pieces. Fleets need a united mindset and the cooperation of everyone involved if the safety program is going to bring down the fleet accident rate, cut costs, protect drivers, and guard against liability. The industry realizes today that it is insufficient, and irresponsible, to operate a fleet without a safety program in place, but it is not enough just to have one, you need to use it.
So, what does the fleet manager need to do to ensure the success of the safety program they are fighting so hard to implement? From the very beginning, the fleet or risk manager needs to involve all levels of the organization. The legal, sales, human resources, finance, and risk departments should not only accept the safety program, but they should champion fleet safety. This is because when the program runs smoothly, it will protect the company from liability, save money, reduce accidents, allow productivity to be reliable, and help maintain a good public image. Everyone wins.
Remember, it is our job to teach people that they can still do a good job while also doing a safe job. We need to teach the entire organization the value of the program before we can teach our drivers proper safety, dissuade them from risky behavior, and influence change. Doing so will make sure the initiatives chosen for the fleet match the industry and culture of the organization.
Create a Safety Committee
Take representatives from every department that will be affected by fleet operations and form a committee to include every viewpoint before, during, and after the safety program is implemented. The committee will help gain the trust of all parties involved and make sure everyone is on the same page.
Rein in Expectations
Once you get the entire organization on board with the idea of a fleet safety program, you will need to rein in expectations. With long-term CEI customers, we see accident rates at an average of 20 percent, with some as low as 10 percent. But we know many fleets seek out help when their accident rate is around 40 percent. While there are fantastic success stories out there – and every safety provider has at least one – it is crucial to explain what the accident rate should look like along certain milestones.
With a full suite of safety services and a safety culture that is supported by management, a fleet should expect to see a 15 percent reduction in their accident rate over the first three years.
The most proactive fleets are collecting data from every possible source and looking for trends that can help change the behavior of drivers and reduce the accident rate. Force accountability amongst the fleet and executives by looking for key performance indicators (KPIs) that will highlight where and how any issues came to be. Once you implement and launch the program, analyze the available data to assess the program results and make sure everything is running smoothly.
The safety provider should be able to provide accident data, consulting, and visibility of problem areas in a proactive manner. Some data for things like injuries and medical costs may need to come from insurance carriers to provide visibility for those trends as well. Once issues come to light the process of remediation should begin for at-risk drivers to address the root causes of individual driver behavior.
Remember to garner support, create a safety committee, rein in expectations, and measure everything. Following these four habits of proactive fleets will help get your organization off on the right foot when implementing your own safety program. Every organization has unique needs, but we should all share the honorable mission to protect our employees and communities.