Fleet managers must constantly assess risk in many different areas, but almost all the situations that can lead to potential liability involve driver performance. Developing a driver risk management program is a smart step toward lowering risk, improving safety, and avoiding liability lawsuits.
Modern, innovative digital tools can help fleets better manage risk through automated systems that monitor driver records, track vehicle performance, and ensure fleets stay compliant with regulations. High quality fleet driver coaching programs also benefit fleets by teaching drivers how to develop stronger behind-the-wheel performance. Both can help you improve your driver safety policy.
Important Issues in Risk Management
On any given day, a fleet is one mistake away from a costly crash, a fine from a regulatory agency or a liability lawsuit caused by a driver’s poor decision while at the wheel. Other potential negative outcomes include asset damage and injury, or even death, of an employee.
These risks underscore the critical need for a driver risk management program. This is especially the case as the nation’s roads become more hazardous, governments at all levels impose more regulations, and the cost of fines and jury awards in lawsuits grow (including so-called “nuclear verdicts” from juries that surpass $10 million).
Factors to Consider in a Driver Risk Management Program
Fleet managers must take many factors into consideration when developing a driver risk management program.
Driver training. This ranks as the most important item because good drivers are the key to fleet risk management. Fleet managers today can tap into a wide variety of driver training resources. They include online training programs with virtual instructors, in-person instruction for groups of drivers and eLearning lessons designed to refresh the skills of veterans or for use in remedial fleet driver training.
Compliance. It’s a handful these days to keep track of all the government regulations and required reports for different agencies. This is an area where telematics can provide substantial support. Modern systems track the data needed to file a wide variety of reports to government agencies, including Hours of Service and International Fuel Tax reports.
Telematics. In addition to regulatory compliance, telematics systems can help fleets better manage drivers. Systems that use dash cams provide drivers real-time alerts when they engage in unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding, sudden braking or cornering too fast. Software systems also can provide MVR (Motor Vehicle Report) checks on potential hires and current drivers so fleet managers always know when something changes with a driver’s license status.
Maintenance. Properly maintaining vehicles cuts down on the number of breakdowns on the road or any issues that could increase the risk of a crash. Telematics systems can monitor maintenance schedules, ensuring routine maintenance stays on schedule. Software also can monitor the status of engines and provide early detection of problems before they lead to breakdowns.
Benefits of a Driver Risk Management Program
A driver risk management program engages drivers because it signals that the company culture includes making driver safety a top priority. This often results in better drivers as they better understand their value and the importance of honing their skill. Other benefits include:
- Fewer injuries. The main goal of any fleet risk management policy is to lower the chances of injuries to drivers.
- Fewer lost workdays. A reduction in crashes means fewer days off the job for drivers.
- Lower insurance rates. A risk management plan that lowers the number of crashes and fines each year can lead to lower insurance rates. Some insurers actively support the creation of a risk management plan.
- Better maintained vehicles. This leads to lower maintenance costs in the long run.
- Avoiding liability lawsuits. By putting a risk management policy in place and following it closely, fleets reduce the risk of becoming the target of costly liability lawsuits.
A driver risk management program is a smart step for fleet managers who want to have better control over costs and improve the safety of their drivers. Through driver training and telematics, they can more easily achieve their risk management goals.