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How to Improve Your Driver Safety Policy

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The goal of having driver safety policies is to prevent accidents and injuries while reducing your liability. You likely already have some safety policies in place, but it’s time to take a critical look at them. Is anything missing? Are you or your drivers exposed to unnecessary risk?

If you’ve been reading our blogs, you know how we feel about rules, compliance, and policies. They are not the same thing as safety. You increase safety by changing human behaviors through training and education. That being said, effective and comprehensive driver safety policies are still important.

A thorough driver safety policy can help influence your employees to reduce risk and prevent accidents.

What Should a Driver Safety Policy Cover?

We covered this topic in a past blog. Follow this link for a few basic policies such as drug & alcohol testing, seat belt usage, distracted driving, and journey management.

However, those alone are not enough. There’s still exposure for accidents, injuries, and litigation.

We recommend that any company with employees behind the wheel also covers these important points in their safety policies:

  • Minimum requirements for driving non-CDL vehicles
  • Reporting requirements for incidents
  • Emergency/accident procedures
  • Defensive driving practices

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Company Vehicle Requirements

If you give someone keys to a company vehicle, you’re putting the company’s finances in their hands. One wrong or unsafe move could cost your company tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Worse yet, it could cost someone their life.

With that in mind, it’s important to be selective about who is allowed to drive company-owned vehicles. We recommend you implement the following policies:

  • No one under 21 years old is allowed to drive for the company
  • No one with any DUIs may drive for the company
  • Employees must submit their MVR annually - any accidents or violations might prevent someone for driving company vehicles

Unfortunately, even someone who meets all of these requirements could still cause an accident, but the entire company’s risk will go down with this policy in place.

Reporting Requirements For Incidents

While you may collect MVRs at the time of hire and annually, that doesn’t cover you the rest of the year. Leaving the policy at that means you’re blind to anything that happens in between MVR checks.

That’s why you need to have a policy on reporting violations.

You need to mandate that your employees report the following violations within 24 hours to you:

  • License suspended or revoked
  • Accidents
  • Speeding violations
  • Violations for distracted driving
  • Violations for reckless driving
  • And more if your company deems it necessary

Failure to comply with this policy should result in punishment up to termination.

Emergency/Accident Procedures

The goal of your safety policy and safety training is to prevent accidents. Even so, you must be prepared for the unexpected.

Your drivers face the risk of accidents and other emergencies when they’re behind the wheel. That’s why it’s important to have clear policies on how your drivers are to respond to emergencies.

For accidents, you must clarify how your drivers should:

  • Protect themselves and others from further injury at an accident scene
  • Cooperate with law enforcement
  • Inform the company of the accident
  • Act towards other people involved in the accident
  • Handle any passengers your drivers may have

It’s also important you have policies for other vehicle emergencies such as:

  • Vehicle breakdowns
  • Fires in the engine or in the vehicle
  • Extreme weather events such as tornadoes, floods, landslides, etc

For help on creating a driver policy for accident response, check out this blog.

Defensive Driving Practices

As we mentioned before, policies don’t prevent accidents. Education and training does. Accidents happen when people take too much risk or perform unsafe behaviors. As such, your company needs a clear policy on mandatory defensive driving practices.

Your company should mandate that drivers must:

  • Drive at or below the speed limit
  • Always drive with their low beam headlights on
  • Never drive without a seat belt and require all passengers to wear their seat belts as well
  • Maintain a safe following distance
  • Never yell at or gesture towards another driver or pedestrian
  • Always use their turn signal before changing lanes or turning
  • Always get out and look around the vehicle just before backing

Of course, you need to train your drivers on how to put these policies to use, but having them in writing sends the message that they are important.

Walk The Walk & Talk The Talk

A comprehensive driver safety policy sets the stage for accident and risk reduction. It sends a clear message to your employees about what the company’s expectations are and what happens if those expectations are not met.

Without safety training, though, you’re talking the talk without walking the walk.

An effective driver safety training program will:

  • Guarantee a reduction in accidents
  • Save your company more money than they put into training
  • Save you and the company time otherwise spent dealing with accidents
  • Protect people from serious injuries

Your safety training program and driver safety policy work in sync to reduce cost of loss and save lives.

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