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Safety Technology Does Not Let Drivers off the Hook

You put the latest safety technology in your vehicles to reduce accident costs, but do your drivers think this lets them off the hook when it comes to their own driving?

More fleets are implementing crash avoidance technologies such as lane departure warning systems, adaptive cruise control and rear cameras to reduce accident occurrences. Unfortunately, some drivers are becoming too reliant on vehicle safety equipment and have become complacent in terms of basic safe driving techniques or skills. Also, safety technology is not infallible; if it’s damaged or not functioning properly, can you rely on your drivers to be the reliable backup?

If you’ve employed safety technology in your fleet, here are several additional steps you should take to keep your drivers committed to safety.

  • Continuously review vehicle policies – Review your policies to ensure they comprehensively deliver the company’s position on safety and incorporate best practices when applicable. Communicate the fleet policy to all drivers and enlist supervisors and management to reinforce it. Drivers should sign off on the policy annually as an indication that they understand the company’s expectations. In addition, some fleets test driver knowledge on key requirements for the fleet policy at set intervals, such as annually or at the time of vehicle replacement.
  • Train drivers on equipment – Drivers moving from vehicle to vehicle may have difficulty adapting to various features on the vehicle if they are not properly trained on basic safe driving techniques. Vehicle safety equipment can vary from model year to model year, even within a single manufacturer model offering. Unless each vehicle is assigned to a specific driver, each driver should receive training on all of the features in each vehicle type, as well as periodic refresher training for basic safe driving techniques. Fleets should also consider implementing periodic, proactive training for key areas and skills such as speeding, braking, accident/wildlife avoidance, backing up, specialized equipment handling, etc.
  • Develop preventative maintenance and inspection schedules – Adherence to OEM preventative maintenance and inspection schedules is critical to ensuring the safety features of your vehicles and equipment function properly. This also helps mitigate risk and unnecessary downtime. Communicate requirements for preventative maintenance and inspection schedules in your company vehicle policy. Consider implementing exception reporting to monitor compliance and target accordingly those vehicles that are not on schedule.
  • Expand driver monitoring – Expand your policy and training initiatives to include drivers on reimbursement or allowance programs. Strategies should also apply to an employee’s spouse/partner or other family members who operate a company-provided vehicle for personal use. Extend similar expectations for vehicle maintenance to those drivers on reimbursement or allowance programs. Some fleets require drivers to formally acknowledge the completion of OEM-required maintenance as part of the reimbursement/allowance process or implement periodic or random vehicle inspections.

Crash avoidance technology was developed to mitigate crash risks for both the company as well as the operators of the vehicles themselves. Fleets are wise to educate all drivers on the importance of receiving assistance from these technologies, but emphasize that drivers should avoid complete reliance on them. Fleets should also implement best practices to support drivers in their commitment to safety.

You can find more advice on vehicle safety technology in ARI’s 2015 Industry Outlook.Click here to request a copy.