June 2017

Road Ready: Revisit Your Driving Policy

Tips from your industry experts at Builders Mutual.

Builders Mutual

For most contractors, the margin between success and failure on a project is small. You can’t afford to have issues that negatively affect your equipment or your employees. According to the Builders Mutual Focus Four report, vehicle collisions take the fourth spot in claim frequency and severity.

Keeping your automobiles in safe operating condition not only extends the life of each vehicle but also ensures your employees are in a safe mode of transportation and the tools, equipment, and supplies they carry will make it to and from the job-site safely. Having an effective driving policy keeps your employees in a “safe operating condition.” Here are three tips to jump-start a driving policy with an all-encompassing plan and to help your team get onboard.

1. Set clear expectations, and consider monitoring services.

To manage your company’s risk on the road, set clear expectations with a written driving policy that is distributed to and understood by all workers. Here are some areas you should consider including in your policy:

Use of phones while operating a company vehicle is unacceptable at any time.

It’s contractor culture to make calls while driving, but every call takes precious attention away from the road. It’s no surprise that collisions with other vehicles account for 44% of all vehicle injuries. The average cost of a workers’ compensation vehicle collision claim is nearly $35,000. To prevent distracted driving and protect the safety of your drivers, your driving policy should specify that drivers must park a vehicle to make any necessary calls, to text, or to search for information.

Emphasize following driving laws and company policy.

For crews traveling together, clearly dictate who has driving privileges. Reiterate that drivers must obey all traffic laws, including speed limits and seat belt usage. Seems like common sense, right? Accidents can be catastrophic in company vehicles because there’s often inadequate seating and a shortage of seat belts for large crews.

Keep business and personal use of vehicles separate.

Think twice about allowing employees to use company vehicles for personal use. Preferably, drivers should commute to and from the place where company vehicles are garaged. You don’t want your business’ insurance policy to respond to an auto accident arising from an employee’s personal activities.

If that is challenging to achieve based on circumstances, consider how a Virginia contractor made an exception for the employees who were on call 24 hours. He allowed his crew to take vehicles home, but he had a GPS device installed on each vehicle to trigger an alert for any travel outside of the designated work area.

Implement ways to detect drivers’ habits.
For companies with fleets, consider fleet management vendors that offer services like GPS or driver monitoring using toll-free numbers and websites. If speed is a concern, consider installing governors on vehicles. For positive reinforcement, monitoring services allow you to reward employees for safe driving with awards and incentives.

2. Consider vehicle rotation and maintenance on a larger scale.

Take this example from a Builders Mutual customer. He provides the new company vehicles to the repair team first. This means the vehicles are in pristine condition when parked in front of a client’s house, which is great for his company’s image. After two years with the repair team, he turns the vehicle over to his installation team. They do installs on dusty job-sites more often than not, and a slightly used vehicle hardly matters to a client who’s nowhere in sight. After two more years, he trades in the vehicles, and the cycle begins again.

The following policies are also helpful to implement:

Establish a regular maintenance timeline and stick to it.

Beyond vehicle rotations, your vehicle maintenance schedule should run like clockwork. Schedule routine maintenance for vehicles and trailers, and keep documentation so you can track what was done and when. With regular maintenance, vehicles are less likely to break down.

This process can even decrease the likelihood of an accident. Tires are a great example. When you keep a careful eye on tread depth, a rainstorm won’t catch any of your drivers unable to grip the road because of nearly bald tires.

Secure everything.

Ensure your vehicles also have the accessories they need, from fog lamps and brush guards to winches. Tie-down points are no exception. Use them as they’re intended, and properly secure your loads. Use heavy-duty straps—because wire doesn’t cut it.

For vans, use the tie-offs on the rack. Be careful that the vehicle doesn’t become too top-heavy, though. Siding contractors are especially at risk. With ladders, pump jack equipment, and siding materials, the weight adds up.

Cages should be installed in all vans with materials stored inside so the materials don’t shift forward and impair the driver if the driver needs to slam on the brakes. This is just as important in a pickup truck so materials don’t crash through the rear glass.

3. Ensure workers share their records before they share the road.

Do your best to hire responsible drivers. During pre-hire, find out what your candidate’s driving record looks like by running a Motor Vehicle Record (MVR). Simply make a copy of the candidate’s license, and submit it to your insurance agent. Either the agent or your insurance company will run an MVR.

MVRs show things like speeding tickets, accidents, DWIs, and points. Typically, insurance companies run MVRs annually to check for any changes in people’s driving records. Employment pre-screening services are also available for a fee, and vendors may package services such as a credit check, a background check, and a drug test with the MVR.

With these tips, you can get your company’s driving policy ready before an accident occurs. If you found this article helpful, check out our other accident prevention posts.

Resources:

“Focus Four” Builders Mutual. N.d.

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