3 Steps to Improving Driver Safety - Rekerdres and Associates

Your auto fleet is an important asset to your company, but commercial vehicles carry significant risk-exposures.  

Whether you’re driving pickup trucks or heavier DOT-regulated trucks, it’s extremely important for any business with vehicles to develop a fleet risk-management program.


Two Separate Risks

Think of your fleet as two separate risks:

1) the driver, and

2) the vehicle itself.

To control unwanted incidents, each needs maintenance and proper attention.

This article addresses ‘driver risks’. We’ve written a separate article addressing ‘vehicle risks’.


3 steps to Improving Driver Risks

Three core elements provide a solid framework for enhancing driver safety…

  1. Understanding types of driver training
  2. Developing an effective training program
  3. Implementing MVR processes


Step 1 – Understand Types of Training

Three types of driver training should be applied to a driver training program.

  • Initial training should be given to new personnel so that each employee is ready prior to starting work. Even drivers with many years of experience have a need for orientation due to differences in types of cargo, vehicles, and operations.
  • Refresher training can be useful for regular drivers to update information on new routes, cargo, equipment, and government regulations, and to reinforce defensive driving awareness.
  • Remedial training is useful for improving substandard performance. Needs for remedial training may be identified by customer complaints, complaints from the public, accident involvement, moving traffic violations, or reports of vehicle misuse.


Step 2 – Develop an Effective Training Program

An effective driver training program addresses the risks of day-to-day operations, as well as handling emergency situations. Below covers most aspects of driver training…

Company Rules and Policies Company rules and policies should be clear, concise, and provided to drivers in written form. Revisions to this information should be given to drivers on a timely basis.
Equipment Familiarization A newly hired driver (even experienced drivers) needs full demonstration of how to operate the vehicle, special controls, loading and unloading devices, maintenance items, and any other specific equipment.
Routes and Schedules Routes should be established to avoid congested areas, poor road conditions, high accident frequency areas, and roads with restrictive conditions…such as low or narrow overpasses or bridges with restricted weight limits. Routes and schedules should be included in the company rules and policies.
Defensive Driving Techniques Defensive driving is, by definition, driving techniques that prevent accidents in spite of adverse driving conditions (ie – bad drivers, weather, traffic, lighting, vehicle or road condition). When conducting a pre-employment road test, defensive driving techniques should be evaluated, and bad driving habits corrected.
Regulations Applicable traffic and safety regulations should be explained to a new driver, with specific emphasis on regulations peculiar to a company’s operations. Drivers should be kept well informed of any changes in regulations that might affect them.
Cargo Handling Dump trucks, tank trucks, hazardous materials, and other load-types require specialized knowledge and skills to load, transport, and unload. To minimize cargo losses, equipment damage, and third-party claims, new drivers need to be made aware of specific cargo hazards and how to deal with them.
Emergency Procedures In case of mechanical problems with the vehicle, the driver should know what to do with the disabled vehicle, the proper placement of emergency warning devices, and the person(s) to contact for assistance. A clear and concise information packet containing instructions, procedures, and/or forms should be available.

Step 3 – Implement MVR processes

A recent study found that prior traffic violations were the second best predictor of future accidents, second only to prior accident history.

Studies also have shown that almost 50% of job applicants understate their accidents, convictions, and auto incidents on their application.


What to look for

If driving is part of the job, MVRs that are clean or acceptable should be a condition of employment.

Your safety manager should establish clear standards for what constitutes an acceptable MVR, and the penalties for not having one.

Below a sample guideline for MVR standards…


Unacceptable Criteria

  • Suspended or revoked license—currently suspended or revolved
  • Drag racing within last 5 years
  • Driving Under Influence/Impaired within last 5 years
  • Reckless driving within last 5 years
  • Assault involving a motor vehicle within last 5 years
  • 3 or more moving violations within the last 3 years
  • 2 or more at-fault accidents within the last 3 years
  • Violations and accidents combined: More than 1 at-fault accident and 1 moving violation within the last 3 years when not the same incident

Acceptable Criteria

  • MVR is clean
  • The driver has violations but is not ‘unacceptable’ criteria


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