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10 habits of the most successful fleet safety managers

By: Lisa Dorn, Associate Professor, Cranfield University
By: Lisa Dorn, Associate Professor, Cranfield University

For companies, road traffic crashes have a significant adverse effect on your fleet operations in many ways, not least of all your operational efficiency. There are about 35,000,000 vehicles driven for work purposes in the UK (Automotive Fleet Magazine, 2014) and one in three crashes involve a vehicle being driven for work at the time (Roadsafe, 2015). It is estimated that there is an annual cost of road crashes to UK businesses in excess of £14 billion (DfT, 2014). Minimising the number of incidents helps maintain public trust, reduce the financial burden of crashes and assist companies in achieving its legal obligations.The question is, how do fleet operators achieve this?

For fleet operators, research shows that organisations with a good safety record have developed a culture which pays particular attention to the effect of managerial and environmental influences on incidents. Safety culture is the way in which safety is guided and managed in the workplace. Companies with a positive safety culture are characterized by a commitment to safety, shared care and concern for hazards including a willingness to reflect on practice. The way in which a company manages safety can be assessed in its policies and practices but more importantly, how it communicates the message that safety is a priority. 

In our experience, fleet safety managers need to ensure that they develop ten habits in order to develop a positive safety culture:

1. Ensure that you recruit and select experienced drivers with safe records

2. Ensure that your workforce complete a DriverMetrics profile to implement targeted interventions to manage driver behaviour

3. Ensure that all people who drive a company vehicle are legally entitled to drive with a current valid licence 

4. Ensure that so far as is practicable all drivers are fit to drive.

5. Ensure company vehicles are mechanically safe and any vehicle defects reported are rectified promptly 

6. Ensure that routes risk assessments have been conducted where reasonably practicable 

7. Ensure that your fleet drivers are trained in vehicle-handling skills and coached to address behavioural risks using the DriverMetrics profile.

8. As far as practicable ensure that anyone driving a company vehicle complies with policies and procedures and drives in a safe manner.

9. Ensure that you monitor driving standards and safety performance and strive for continual improvement.

10. Ensure that you investigate all incidents to determine the immediate and underlying reasons as to why an incident has occurred and amend your fleet risk management programme accordingly.

Without these ten habits, your fleet drivers may think that the management has a general lack of understanding, or appreciation of difficult driving situations including the effect of schedules, shift patterns, routes, traffic and increasing time pressure. A negative safety culture is often found in a stressful and unsafe work environment and not surprisingly such situations lead to higher crash rates.

The key to a positive safety culture lies in a demonstrated commitment to safety by fleet safety managers and their leaders. This commitment helps to create an atmosphere where involvement in safety by the entire workforce is the norm.

If you'd like to learn more from Dr Lisa Dorn, please sign up to our CPD-certified online course on safe fleet management today.