Often, at least on this blog, we opt to focus on the sunnier side of driving a car. The small thrill you get when shifting into a higher gear, or the wind whipping through an open window. But there’s a serious side to driving as well, one you can’t exactly neglect, especially not if you oversee or are part of a commercial fleet. Cars, as awesome as they are, have the capacity to inflict a lot of damage, both on the driver and those around.
To that end, we decided we should discuss vehicle safety. But we’re not discussing just any old vehicle safety; with business car leasing programs across the country and a nationwide inventory of fleet vehicles, we wanted to focus particularly on commercial driving. While safely driving a private vehicle and safely driving a commercial vehicle aren’t all that different, there are special additional considerations for business driving.
In this post, let’s discuss a few of the essential safety tips for business fleet driving. You’ll find that most of these tips assume a basic understanding of vehicle safety on the driver’s part (i.e. you won’t find tips on how to keep hands 10 and 2 on the wheel!) and are more concerned with administrative and cautionary measures. Let’s take a look.
Create a Program for Safe Driving
Maybe the most top-down administrative “tip” on this list, creating a safe driving program is nevertheless a fantastic way to foster a safer work environment. Start with a general overview of vehicle safety. We all know this stuff pretty intuitively, but everyone – from the seasoned veteran driver to the 18-year-old intern – could use a bit of brushing up on the rules of the road.
From there, offer concrete guidance and specific instruction for the particular type of driving your business does. At AUTO ONE Group we work with a lot of different business types, and they each have their own needs, challenges and methods of operation.
A catering company transporting vats of hot soup, for example, might want to avoid cutting corners or accelerating through turns. A company that transports products overnight might want to give a presentation on the hazards of driving tired. You get the idea.
Lease Safe, Reliable Vehicles for Your Fleet
A driver can be as careful and well informed as possible, but if the car they are driving is old and unsafe, it may not matter. It’s imperative, therefore, that you stock your fleet with reliable, well-made cars. One of the reasons we advocate for leasing, especially where businesses are concerned, is that lease terms are short, and a company can routinely (every few years) swap its fleet vehicles for newer ones. This keeps the whole fleet safe and up-to-date.
If you want to come chat with us about switching over to leasing with your new fleet vehicles, and the cash flow it will save, AUTO ONE has 3 dealerships across Canada – in Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax – and our representatives there will be happy to chat.
Remember: When They’re on the Road, They’re Unreachable
As much as you, or any employee of the business, want to make sure operations run smoothly, refrain from calling or texting a driver while they’re on the road. Or, at the very least, foster an environment where drivers understand that, when they are at the wheel, they should never feel obligated to pick up a buzzing phone. You can text them, but you don’t expect a response until they are safely stopped.
Alternately, if you anticipate needing to have access to drivers when they’re driving, look into setting up hands-free Bluetooth calling in your fleet vehicles. It can still be distracting, but at least it’s within the law.
Consider a Driving Record Check
Driving record checks aren’t mandated, but they’re a fine idea, especially if yours is a company that relies heavily on its drivers. Aside from confirming that they are legally allowed to drive (an essential prerequisite, obviously), it tells you whether they have prior accidents or violations on their records.
It can be helpful throughout the hiring process to help weed out the candidates who you deem untrustworthy on the road. Obviously, no piece of paper is a perfect judge of character, but if your nightly truck driver, for instance, has three DUIs to their name, you want to know about it.
Besides, they’re inexpensive: $12-$18 depending on whether you get them certified.
Never Over-Work a Driver
Being tired at the wheel is dangerous, not only to the driver but to everyone sharing the road. Double-shifts, “clopen” shifts (when you close the store, then open it the next morning) and overworking of any kind can cause drowsiness at the wheel.
Check in with hard-working employees and ask them how they’re feeling before they hit the road. As part of your training program (as mentioned above) get serious about discouraging drowsy driving. Make it clear that there will be no negative consequences if a driver has to forego driving because of tiredness.
Because we offer equipment leasing made easy as well, we understand the danger of heavy equipment use while drowsy. In all cases, offer employees a program on sleep education as well, to avoid drowsy driving.
Make Use of Reduced Maintenance Costs
As part of AUTO ONE Group’s spectacular fleet leasing program, we offer reduced maintenance costs, of which your business should make use. Defective or deficient parts can, at best, be a nuisance to drive with; at worst, though, they can be a safety hazard.
When that check engine light comes on, pay attention. You might consider investing in scan tools for better diagnostics, so your drivers have a better sense of the vehicle’s issues. In any case, regular maintenance is key to keeping the fleet safe.
Sometimes, money isn’t the bottom line – employee safety is. Lease your fleet to keep it up-to-date and safe, and regularly maintain each vehicle. Develop a safe driving program at work in which you set clear expectations and guidelines surrounding vehicle safety. Only safe, happy drivers can get your business where it needs to go.