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On the Safe Side: Keeping your Vehicles Operating Safely

  • By Ryan Skidmore

Where Safety Starts

Safety minded drivers will be safer with well-maintained vehicles. There is a limit to the bounds of precaution even the most conscientious workers can muster without having safety minded changes made to their work place. In regards to vehicles, such changes should go far beyond safety measures taken by consumer grade drivers. Driving more, like fleet drivers are bound to do, means more is likely to go wrong on the road. The difference between a private citizen and a professional fleet driver going about their business on the road is akin to a do-it-yourself home owner and a professional handyman. Both fix things, but the latter will be exposed to a higher volume of dangers and has more to lose, their livelihood, should an accident or incident occur. Fleet vehicles should never be treated like personal vehicles no matter who uses them, friends/family members working for the business, or how small a business is. No matter how informal it might feel, anyone beyond the business owner driving a vehicle for business reasons is a fleet and the list of consideration and responsibilities is long. The business owner suddenly becomes acutely responsible for that driver’s safety and the safety of others that the driver interacts with on the road. Anyone who has ever driven a car in rush hour, or any, traffic can see they are surrounded by cars. The number of “others” becomes hundreds by the end of the day and thousands by the end of a week for a fleet driver.

Keeping Safe

  • Upkeep. Make sure that every safety feature works. Turn signals, defrosters, brake lights, emergency lights, etc. As soon as something breaks, get it fixed immediately.
  • Emergency Equipment. Items that may seem nice to have for a consumer grade driver are essential for professional fleet drivers. Items like jumper cables, road flares, an emergency warning triangle, first aid kit, etc. These can make the difference between an incident and a catastrophe.
  • Driver Inspections. Having drivers inspect the vehicle before driving it can reveal potentially hazardous conditions. Under filled tires, low oil, burnt out head lights, there are numerous inspection lists online from which to draw inspiration. Frequency of inspections can vary, per drive, daily, or weekly, but drivers will begin to know their vehicles and catch unsafe conditions before they become a serious issue. The key is to setup a daily vehicle inspection program for your company. Have an inspection list in each vehicle and the first driver must go through the list before going for a drive.  In the long run this is going to reduce risks and save money for your company.
  • Manager Inspections. Managers will catch things that drivers may have missed and know if their drivers are performing quality inspections. Again, how often inspections are performed is less important than performing them consistently, at least initially. It is recommended that Managers inspect vehicles once a week.

Proper Vehicle for the Job. Selecting the right vehicle for the job negates many unnecessary dangers. Cars, trucks, and vans are each made to do certain things. Cars perform well in small areas and trucks in harsh conditions. If the duties of the business should change all that much, get a different vehicle to adapt to the changing conditions. The key is to have the right vehicle for the job.

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