Loss Control Insights
The Role of Driver Training in Reducing Motor Vehicle Crashes
One of my responsibilities as a loss control manager is to conduct driver safety training programs for schools, municipalities and businesses in the Midwest. I often wonder whether they will make a difference in the estimated 5,419,000 crashes that are reported annually, and the more than $60 billion in direct and indirect costs employers face.
Although several studies have been conducted on this very question, few are able to directly connect the dots between driver safety training and a reduction in accidents. From experience, I know that these training sessions start the conversation about driver safety and keep it at the forefront of employees’ minds. A police chief who attended a class six months ago told me how beneficial the class was to him and how it stimulated a discussion with his family about the dangers of tailgating.
Training Is One Step in a Comprehensive Safe Driving Program
Changing driver behavior goes beyond simply starting the conversation. According to the Network of Employers Traffic Safety 10-Step Program for Employers to Minimize Crash Risk, driver training is number nine on the list of activities employers should undertake to help reduce vehicular accidents.
- Step 1: Senior Management Commitment and Employee Involvement
The safety of an organization’s employees as they drive for work and to and from work is important and requires the attention of top-level management. Senior management can provide leadership, set policies and allocate resources (staff and budget) to create a safety culture. Actively encouraging employee participation and involvement at all levels of the organization is a good practice to help your efforts succeed.
- Step 2: Written Policies and Procedures—A written statement emphasizing your organization’s commitment to reducing traffic-related deaths and injuries is essential to a successful program. Create a clear, comprehensive and enforceable set of traffic safety policies and communicate them to all employees. Post them throughout the workplace, distribute copies periodically and discuss the policies at company meetings. Offer incentives for sticking to the rules, and point out the consequences of disregarding them. For example policies, check out EMC’s fleet safety program templates.
- Step 3: Driver Agreements—Establish a contract with all employees who drive for work purposes, whether they drive assigned company vehicles or personal vehicles. By signing an agreement, the driver acknowledges awareness and understanding of the organization’s fleet safety policies, procedures and expectations regarding driver performance, vehicle maintenance and reporting moving violations.
- Step 4: Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) Checks—Check the driving records of all employees who drive for work purposes. You must screen drivers who have poor driving records since they are most likely to cause problems in the future. MVRs should be reviewed periodically to ensure that drivers maintain good driving records. Clearly define the number of violations a driver can have before losing their work-related driving privilege, and provide training when necessary.
- Step 5: Crash Reporting and Investigation—Establish and enforce a crash reporting and investigation process. All crashes, regardless of severity, should be reported to the employee’s supervisor as soon as possible. Company fleet safety policies and procedures should clearly guide drivers through their responsibilities in a crash situation. All crashes should be reviewed to determine their cause and whether or not the incidents were preventable. Understanding the root causes of crashes and why they are happening, regardless of fault, forms the basis for eliminating them in the future.
- Step 6: Vehicle Selection, Maintenance and Inspection—Selecting, properly maintaining and routinely inspecting company vehicles is an important part of preventing crashes and related losses. Organizations should review and consider the safety features of all vehicles considered for use. Only those vehicles that demonstrate “best in class” status for crash-worthiness and overall safety should be made available to drivers. For the latest information on crash test ratings and other important vehicle safety information, visit www.safercar.gov. To report a concern about a defect or problem with your vehicle, contact the NHTSA Auto Safety Hotline at 888-DASH-2-DOT (888-327-4236).
Vehicles should be on a routine preventive maintenance schedule for servicing and safety-related equipment checks. Regular maintenance should be done at specific mileage intervals consistent with the manufacturer’s recommendations. A mechanic should inspect each vehicle at least annually with documented results placed in the vehicle’s file. Personal vehicles used for company business are not necessarily subject to the same criteria and are generally the responsibility of the owner. However, personal vehicles used on company business should be maintained in a manner that provides the employee with maximum safety and reflects positively on the company.
- Step 7: Disciplinary Action System—Develop a strategy to determine the course of action after a moving violation and/or preventable crash. There are a variety of corrective action programs available; the majority of these are based on a system that assigns points for moving violations. The system should provide for progressive discipline if a driver begins to develop a pattern of repeated traffic violations and/or preventable crashes. The system should describe what specific action(s) will be taken if a driver accumulates a certain number of violations or preventable crashes in any predefined period.
- Step 8: Reward/Incentive Program—Develop and implement a driver reward/incentive program to make safe driving an integral part of your business culture. Safe driving behaviors contribute directly to your bottom line and should be recognized as such. Reward and incentive programs typically involve recognition, monetary rewards, special privileges or incentives to motivate the achievement of a predetermined goal or to increase participation in a program or event.
- Step 9: Driver Training/Communication—Provide continuous driver safety training and communication. It’s easy to become complacent and not think about the consequences of our driving habits. Even experienced drivers benefit from periodic training and reminders of safe driving practices and skills.
- Step 10: Regulatory Compliance—It is important to clearly establish which, if any, local, state and/or federal regulations govern your vehicles and/or drivers. These regulations may involve, but may not necessarily be limited to:
Start the Conversation With Training and Continue It With a Comprehensive Safe Driving Program
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sums it up best—every 12 minutes someone dies in a motor vehicle crash, every 10 seconds an injury occurs and every 5 seconds a crash occurs. Whether you manage a fleet of vehicles, oversee a mobile sales force or simply employ commuters, implementing a driver safety program in the workplace can greatly reduce the risks your employees and their families face while protecting your bottom line.
EMC offers a variety of helpful resources available in the Fleet and Driver Safety section on our website.