As insurers continue tightening their underwriting for commercial auto insurance, they are inquiring about companies’ fleet management programs.
If a company lacks a program, some insurers are asking them to implement one if they want coverage. With this trend likely to continue as the number of traffic accidents and injuries continues to rise, it’s imperative for any company with a fleet – or even just a few vehicles – to identify opportunities for improvement and take any appropriate remedial action.
Areas to focus a fleet management program on include:
One key element that’s often overlooked is senior leadership support, the lack of which can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including getting mixed messages from what is emphasized in training and performance feedback provided to drivers from supervisors. You should also:
- Continually reinforce safety priorities in regular driver feedback.
- Use annual performance reviews as training opportunities.
- Have employees sign off on areas targeted for improvement or development.
Focus on distracted driving
If you have a fleet or any individuals driving for you, it’s of utmost importance that you have a strict policy for avoiding distracted driving. In your fleet manual, you should document that you continually reinforce rules on avoiding distracted driving.Focus on the use of hand-held mobile devices, the use of which increases the potential for accidents by 23%, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
You have a choice to make:
- Use technology-based measures, such as those used to prevent vehicles from starting when mobile devices are in use, or
- Establish strict protocols on the use of mobile phones or other hand-held devices.
The latter may be sufficient in your case.
Tracking systems and litigation defense
Enhanced tracking systems, including video and telemetry, can help strengthen litigation defense, improve outcomes and reinforce training. Companies implementing telemetry systems with dash cams can verify what caused an accident. By using these systems, some operators have reduced litigation costs and court awards by 90%.
Logistics software can be used to enhance safety and improve efficiency in routing and job distribution. Even field vehicles can be equipped with shock sensors, operator requirements to complete inspections prior to movement, tracking and other features.
Review your coverage
On an annual basis, you should talk to us to ensure your insurance levels for drivers are adequate and appropriate.For contractors with fleet operations, commercial automobile insurance policies should have a minimum of $1 million in liability limits. Higher limits of $3 million to $5 million are typically required for transporting passengers or hazardous materials.
Driver screening and safety
Screen and monitor drivers by:
- Obtaining an annual motor vehicle record for each driver with a points qualification system.
- Administering DOT 7- or 10-panel drug tests with standard cut-off levels for pre-employment, random, reasonable suspicion and incidents that warrant testing.
- Requiring that drivers complete online or in-person driving courses annually.
- Requiring that drivers wear high-visibility reflective vests when outside the vehicle.
- Identifying personal protective equipment for drivers in the right situation (plan for rain, snow, footing, etc.).
- Supplying polarized sun/safety glasses to reduce glare.
Generally, from a risk management perspective, candidates applying for driver positions that have DUI offenses, reckless operations and suspended licenses are considered unacceptable, as are those with two tickets and one accident in a five-year period. Many firms try to keep drivers to below three minor tickets in a five-year period.
All fleet drivers must be trained on what do after an accident. The top priority is to ensure all people are safe and taken care of. The next aspect is to collect all necessary information and take as many photographs of the accident as possible.
Subsequently, there should be follow-up to ensure everyone is safe and the incident report is completed correctly. Require that all incidents must be reported by the end of the shift, and set a 24-hour deadline for getting the claim into your system.
Inspect vehicles prior to each usage. Pre-trip inspections typically include visual checks of tires and lug nuts, windshield, windows, wipers, lights and mileage.
Oil levels and tire pressure should be inspected weekly or more often, depending on weather conditions and vehicle utilization.