Whether your company has 50 wrapped vehicles or two trucks with your logo and number painted on the door, fleet management and safety must be a priority. Not only is it potentially a matter of life and death, but your company vehicles also represent your business—often reflecting, through the drivers, how competent, honest, and trustworthy you are. Plus, the way your vehicles are operated obviously has a significant impact on the safety of your workers and the community in which you work. Finally, your drivers will, ultimately, play a role in your insurance rates. 

Donna Conley, Senior Risk Management Consultant for Builders Mutual, has a background in fleet management and shares her insights about this often overlooked—and misunderstood—topic.

Fleet management defined

Simply put, fleet management is monitoring your fleet vehicles (maintenance) and your drivers in a way that keeps your company productive and profitable. Effective fleet management ultimately helps you mitigate the risk of the business when factors (in this case, company vehicles) are beyond your control. It is your vehicle, you put the driver in that vehicle, and you identify the task at hand. But once he or she drives away, things are no longer in your control. Proper management means taking sufficient care and custody of the vehicles and drivers your company puts on the road.

Depending on how many vehicles are in your fleet, it’s smart to have a fleet manager to handle all aspects of both your vehicles and drivers. These tasks include supervising drivers, maintaining and repairing vehicles, monitoring telematics equipment, and managing the datapoints and insight from telematics. 

Safety first

Good fleet management starts with fleet safety. Think of your company vehicles as mobile billboards for your organization. When you have that kind of commercial exposure, which can be profitable in and of itself, it’s imperative to ensure every driver is a safe driver. It’s rare that someone will call to complement your drivers, but the calls will arise when a dangerous situation—like aggressive driving or tailgating—is witnessed. 

The first step for effective fleet safety is to have a written program in place, a guidebook for expectations regarding vehicle upkeep and driver behavior. Having a program will establish the rules and boundaries for using the vehicle—from day one. If you don’t know where to begin, Builders Mutual has created a sample fleet safety program (along with other driver safety documents) as a foundation. Here are the key elements:

    1. Establish eligibility criteria for drivers. Consider driving record, company screening criteria, and even health/medical history. This step includes employer responsibility for checking those criteria on a regular basis.
    2. Define “authorized vehicle” and what terms and parameters of use are included.
    3. Address the vehicle telematics in use (speed alerts, geofencing, dashcams, etc.) to make drivers aware of them.  
    4. Establish protocol for accident reporting.
    5. Clearly define safety regulations (obeying traffic laws, impaired driving prohibitions, vehicle condition, etc.)
    6. Provide driver training. Improve the safety of all your drivers with the driver safety program offered by Builders Mutual.
Tracking safety

Telematics are valuable fleet tools that provide data about driving habits and vehicle use. When drivers know they’re being monitored, behavior changes for the better. Depending on the need, there are various levels of telematics, including the ability to track location, speed, hard breaking, and even when the car is running but not moving. Often, new vehicles have onboard safety telematics at purchase, including autobraking, blind-spot warnings, adaptive cruise control, and more.

Another highly impactful tool for fleet safety is the dashcam—specifically the dual-facing type. Dashcams are particularly important post-accident, as fault is often clearly identified through the lens. There have been countless cases where companies have gone from tens of accidents annually to zero just by adding dashcams. 

Note, adding dashcams and telematics won’t directly affect your insurance premium, but it will reduce accidents, which will ultimately have a positive impact on your rates. For a more in-depth look at fleet telematics and dashcams, check out this blog post from Builders Mutual.

Auto or Workers’ Comp?

Your specific fleet management and safety programs will depend upon your fleet size, vehicle use, and geographical parameter of use, to name a few. It’s also important to understand that if an employee is injured in a motor vehicle accident in a company vehicle while on duty, or even in their own personal vehicle on behalf of their employer, it is a Workers’ Compensation exposure, in addition to an auto claim. For more information about the differences, contact your insurance agent or your Builders Mutual Risk Management Consultant.

How can you determine your optimal fleet safety program? First, look at every decision with the understanding that your vehicles are a direct representation of your business. Next, reach out to Builders Mutual, and we can help you determine your fleet safety needs.

Builders Mutual also partners with FleetWatch Systems Inc., the nation’s leader in driver and fleet monitoring programs designed to increase safety and improve your company’s bottom line.  FleetWatch products and services are available at a 25% discount to Builders Mutual customers. Contact Darryl Tolentino toll-free at 1-800-515-9902, directly at 778-401-4100 or by email at dbt@1800howsmydriving.com.