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Fleet Training Tips

Driver safety and training: 8 training tips to protect your commercial drivers

February 6, 2024

If you manage a group of people who are out on the road in your company’s vehicles, safety is probably on your mind, and for good reason. In 2021 alone, there were more than 39,000 fatal motor vehicle crashes in the United States, killing nearly 43,000 people, based on the most recently available data from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety.

Moreover, motor vehicle accidents are the cause of 38% of all work-related deaths in the U.S., according to the National Safety Council (NSC).

If you run a commercial fleet of any size, the safety of your drivers and others on the road is, to an extent, in your hands. Even if your organization has a strong fleet safety program in place, and an overarching safety culture, regularly reexamining your training programs and taking advantage of any new tools that are out there can help prevent accidents and save lives.

Read on to learn eight fleet safety tips that can help strengthen your safety protocols and reduce the possibility of a fatal accident occurring for anyone on your team.

The importance of commercial fleet driver safety

The protection of your vehicles, the safety of your drivers, and that of any passengers riding along with them is an important part of running your business. Fleet safety extends beyond the individual safety of each driver to encompass the overall well-being of the entire fleet operation, including vehicle health and operational efficiency. This involves implementing robust measures to prevent accidents, reduce risks, and enhance the overall well-being of your business’s fleet. Here’s why it’s so important:

  • Driver and passenger safety: The primary concern here is the well-being of drivers, passengers, and other road users. Fleet safety measures aim to prevent accidents and minimize their impact on individuals and your business when they do occur.
  • Legal compliance: Adhering to safety regulations is not only ethical but also a legal requirement in most states. Compliance with local, state, and federal safety standards helps avoid legal issues and potential fines.
  • Protecting assets: Fleet vehicles are valuable assets. Safety measures help protect your investment and prolong the lifespan of vehicles, reducing operating costs over time.
  • Cost savings: In general, effective fleet safety can help reduce the number of accidents your drivers are involved in, equaling lower repair costs, reduced insurance premiums, and fewer legal fees.
Watch this video to learn more about driver safety for different times of year.

8 Driver Training Tips to Protect Your Fleet

Driver and fleet safety is something you consistently need to be focused on, but if it means that fewer drivers will get injured and your vehicles will stay safer and serviceable for longer, then it’s worth the effort. Here are eight tips to keep your fleet safe:

1. Diversify the fleet training program for your small business, large fleet, or government fleet

An effective training program should comprise multiple types of training. Classroom training is a valuable method to convey lots of information to drivers, but practical training is just as important to apply and solidify what was learned in the classroom. Classroom, online, and on-the-road sessions all contribute to a complete understanding of a driver’s duties.

For example, using new technologies to your advantage, such as online driving simulators, is becoming increasingly popular. These 3D simulations can help new drivers learn to navigate dangerous situations before they ever get behind the wheel of a real company vehicle. In addition to ensuring new drivers have multiple hours of training under their belt, it’s wise to institute a yearly refresher course for all drivers to brush up on safety and good driving habits.

2. Know the limits of new technology when overseeing driver safety for your small business, large fleet, or government fleet

Most new vehicles use Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). While ADAS have increased safety significantly, blind-spot monitoring, emergency braking systems, and collision warnings are meant to assist drivers — not replace the need for defensive driving.

As the NSC points out, “Even the most advanced safety features cannot replace a safe, focused driver in the car.” Train your drivers not to become over-reliant on safety technology, and educate them on the limits of ADAS. 

According to a report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, only about 50% of drivers who bought a new vehicle from a car dealership recalled being offered training on how to use ADAS technology. However, of those who were offered training, 90% took advantage of the opportunity and completed the course.

When it comes to your fleet, it’s important to ensure that every one of your drivers is trained on how to properly use ADAS technologies.

3. Hire a pro to train your small business, large fleet, or government fleet

Fleet managers have enough on their plate without trying to create and deliver a driver safety training course from scratch. Identify the needs of your drivers and find a training program that’s right for your fleet.

Advanced Driver Training Services (ADTS) and the NSC are two of many services that offer comprehensive and affordable safety training programs. If neither of those fits the bill for your organization, try asking other fleet managers in your region for their driver safety training recommendations.

4. Incentivize safety for your small business, large fleet, or government fleet

While consequences for violations are a necessary aspect of a safety program, a few incentives can go a long way to improving driver safety.

Incentivizing drivers for good behavior can mean anything from public recognition to financial rewards and even paid time off. When drivers see how others are being rewarded for safe driving, it can encourage them to practice that behavior themselves.

5. Have a strong emergency response plan for your drivers

While completely eliminating injuries and fatalities on the road would be ideal, accidents do happen and will continue to happen no matter how strong of a fleet safety program you have. Because of this, it’s helpful to be proactive and prepared. How? With an emergency response plan.

Fleet managers should develop and communicate a clear emergency response plan for accidents or breakdowns. A solid plan should include instructions about what to do in different situations and who to contact.

As part of an effective fleet safety program, ensure drivers are familiar with the procedures to follow in case of an emergency.

6. Implement a telematics system for your small business, large fleet, or government fleet

It’s impractical to assign every vehicle in your fleet someone to monitor driver behavior — and completely unnecessary. Fleet managers are only one person, after all, and there’s technology available to help track and organize vehicle-level data about driver performance, fuel efficiency, and more.

Using telematics and GPS fleet tracking technology, you can monitor and track vehicle performance and driver behavior, and using the collected data calculate overall fleet efficiency. This can help you identify risky driving habits, optimize/personalize driver training, and determine areas for improvement.

 7. Keep up with routine maintenance of your fleet of commercial vehicles

The culmination of effective safety policy and training should result in reduced unscheduled maintenance for each company vehicle in your fleet. That said, routine, scheduled maintenance plays a huge role in driver safety.

Vehicles that are serviced regularly are, in general, safer, more reliable, and will last longer than vehicles that are neglected.

Schedule routine maintenance checks for all fleet vehicles to identify and address potential issues before they become major problems. This includes checking brakes, tires, lights, and other essential components.

Fleet safety solutions that take advantage of telematics can enjoy the benefits of automated data collection, so you’re always privy to the current state of all your vehicles that are on the road, making it easier to know when they need service.

8. Hold regular safety meetings and retraining sessions for your fleet of commercial drivers

Fleet and driver safety is not a one-and-done deal and requires consistent upkeep and refreshers. 

Conduct regular safety meetings to discuss new safety protocols, address concerns, and reinforce the importance of driver safety.

If you’ve collected particularly interesting telematics data, use it during training and retraining sessions to drive points home and encourage safer, more efficient driving practices.

Creating a culture of safety for your commercial fleet

A good driver training program improves driver attentiveness, reduces the chance of accidents, and protects your vehicles and your business from costly risk and liability. But safety doesn’t stop at training.

Fleet managers should include safety in their overall organizational culture so that driving best practices and good behavior become second nature.

Need some ideas on how to get started? Learn how to create a culture of safety for your fleet.

Curious about how telematics can optimize and enhance driver safety training within your organization? Contact WEX to learn more.

WEX speaks the language of small business operators. Whether you’re looking to modernize your insight and reporting efforts, save on fuel costs or take advantage of the latest GPS tracking technologies, WEX offers solutions to simplify the business of running a business. To learn more about WEX, a dynamic and nimble global organization, please visit our About WEX page.

Apply for a fleet card today!

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS)
National Safety Council
AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Advanced Driver Training Services (ADTS)

Editorial note: This article was originally published on September 19, 2019, and has been updated for this publication.

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