In OneBeacon Government Risks’ latest published article “Managing a Local Government’s Fleet Risk,” Kenny Smith details the challenges risk managers face when balancing the necessity of maintaining a fleet with the various risks associated with fleet management.
A risk manager knows that fleet management is about more than just checking records and inspecting vehicles – it’s also about driver management.
“Poor driver behavior is one of the major contributing factors in the majority of auto accidents, underscoring the necessity to establish clear operational boundaries for driving entity vehicles and provide some level of training.”
–Excerpt from Managing a Local Government’s Fleet Risk published in the August 2015 issue of Public Risk Magazine.
Let’s dive into the details on how best to manage your public entities’ fleet drivers.
- Set clear vehicle operating rules. A clear and defined set of rules should be established and communicated to all employees receiving the privilege of regularly operating a fleet vehicle. The overarching message should be clear that safe automobile operation is the rule and is management’s expectation, and therefore is the driver’s responsibility to carry out.
- Due diligence before you hire. To avoid negligent hiring accusations, government entities should always check the driving record of anyone who drives for entity business and be sure they can operate their assigned equipment; don’t take their word for it.
- Send new drivers to orientation. Getting started on a positive note is critical with drivers because you have one chance to make a good first safety impression. Carefully select orientation leaders or employees who mentor or train new fleet operators, as their attitudes, habits and outlooks will likely shape the viewpoint of the new driver.
- Continue the training. Best practices call for at least annual training on defensive driving; be sure to also include whatever specific accident trends are affecting your organization, such as “hit vehicle ahead” and more specifically, while in or near intersections.
- Supervision. How do you supervise drivers that are usually out of sight? Assign responsibility and accountability. It is human nature to be motivated to meet or exceed expectations when we realize performance is being monitored.
- Maintenance. In court cases where the mechanical condition of a vehicle is alleged to be a contributory cause of an accident, all repair records and inspections become very important. If you have good documentation you are likely to come out better than if your records are incomplete.