A critical part of the manufacturing business is transportation logistics management. Commercial vehicles, especially large trucks and tractor-trailers, are responsible for getting your manufactured goods to the retailers that will sell them. Managing these vehicles and their drivers is a complex job, and at the top of that list is fleet driver safety. Here's why fleet driver safety is imperative for many reasons, and how you can improve driver safety in your company.
Why Fleet Driver Safety Is an Important Part of Transportation Logistics Management
The safety of tractor-trailer and motor vehicle drivers that work for your company is critical for several different reasons. First and foremost, you want to keep your drivers safe and free from harm. According to OSHA, the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, a motor vehicle accident occurs every five seconds in America. Every ten seconds, a serious injury occurs as the result of a collision, and every 12 minutes, someone dies as the result of a motor vehicle accident.
Often, these victims are the commercial truck and motor vehicle drivers who were injured or killed during product delivery. Making fleet driver safety a priority for your company helps to save lives and reduce the chances of injury.
Another important reason for including fleet driver safety as part of your transportation logistics management program is that collisions don't only cost lives—they cost your company money. Truck and other motor vehicle collisions cost companies billions of dollars every year, including legal expenses, medical expenses, loss of productivity, hiring new drivers, and damage to company property. It's in the best interest of everyone involved to actively work to improve fleet driver safety and continually assess what new practices can be implemented to keep drivers safe on the road.
Ways to Improve Fleet Driver Safety
There are many ways to improve fleet driver safety, all of which require your company to instigate processes and follow through with the management of the programs. This can be costly up front, but reducing the cost burden of motor vehicle accidents and keeping your drivers safe is well worth the investment.
- Train Your Drivers—and Keep Training Them
It's critical that your drivers be trained before ever getting behind the wheel of a company vehicle. Your training program should be comprehensive and include all applicable safety practices. A good training program consists of both classroom work and hands-on training, helping the driver to learn how to deal with heavy traffic, inclement weather, and hazardous road conditions. Most companies do have a training program that drivers go through before they start driving. Unfortunately, many do not provide continuous training. Require your drivers to refresh their training courses yearly or every two years, and provide continuing education and training opportunities for them.
- Make Your Stance on Distracted Driving Clear
Distracted driving is becoming more common as smartphones become what seems a necessity for daily life. Over-the-road truck drivers are especially susceptible to distracted driving because hours in a truck with no one to talk to can get lonely. However, distracted driving is a top cause of motor vehicle accidents, and it's also illegal in most states.
Create a policy that prohibits the use of smartphones, tablets, and other handheld devices while driving. Device use must be limited to when the vehicle is parked or outside the vehicle at all times. Explore ways to reinforce this policy, such as monitoring devices installed in company vehicles and administrative action when the distracted driving policy is violated.
- Maintain Fleet Vehicles
The onus of fleet safety is not always on the driver. Your company bears a great deal of responsibility to ensure that all fleet vehicles are in safe, working order when they are being driven. Make sure each vehicle receives regular routine maintenance and encourage drivers to report potential problems with trucks or trailers as soon as possible.
Don't discount driver reports of squealing brakes, difficulty operating controls, breakdowns, or other problems. Remove the vehicle from the fleet for maintenance as soon as a report is received and only allow drivers to operate equipment that has been adequately maintained and is safe to drive. Ensure you are working with a quality maintenance team who is also dedicated to driver safety and proper vehicle maintenance.