Fleet Asset Safety Guide: Best Practices to Boost Driver and Vehicle Safety

Fleet Asset Safety Practices to Boost Driver and Vehicle Safety

For fleet owners and managers, the safety of their fleet drivers and vehicles is everything. After all, fleet asset safety is directly proportional to fleet operations’ productivity and efficiency, which further contributes to the business ROI. However, not all fleet officials understand what fleet asset safety entails and how it can be strengthened across an organisation.

If that’s the case, we are at your rescue. In this fleet asset safety guide, we discuss the common challenges in fleet asset safety, the benefits of improving fleet safety, and its best practices. Let’s dive right in.

What is fleet asset safety? 

Fleet asset safety is essentially the strategies, techniques, and policies deployed to mitigate the risks associated with utilising fleet vehicles and machinery, their maintenance, and management.

It ensures safety related to the vehicles, drivers, cargo, and operational processes in order to minimise events of accidents, injuries, theft, and damage.

In other words, asset safety helps maximise fleet efficiency and reliability. Here are the key objectives of fleet asset safety — 

  • Reduce accidents and injuries 
  • Enhance operational efficiency 
  • Protect assets (drivers, vehicles, and cargo) 
  • Ensure compliance 
  • Promote sustainability 

Common challenges in fleet asset safety 

Here are some of the most common challenges fleet managers experience when managing fleet safety —

1. Lack of experience/training 

Indeed, to err is human. However, fleet operations might experience detrimental impacts of human errors caused due to lack of training, driver fatigue, distraction, and inexperience. Even making mistakes while maintaining/servicing the fleet vehicles can lead to on-road mishaps.  

2. Mechanical failures 

The fleet vehicles might experience mechanical issues, which could have been triggered by regular wear and tear or by issues neglected earlier. Ensuring proper fleet vehicle maintenance is imperative to running timely and smooth fleet operations. 

3. Environmental factors 

Factors like weather conditions and road infrastructure are not in fleet managers and owners control. However, they do lead to fleet asset safety challenges as they directly impact fleet drivers’ and vehicles’ ability to safely make the set trips. 

4. Security threats 

We have covered the security threats in much detail in some of our previous posts on the “Cargo Theft Safety” series. Theft, vandalism, and cyberattacks are security-related challenges and risks associated with modern fleets.  

Read more: Cargo Theft Tactics 

Key benefits of fleet asset safety 

Here are some of the most compelling benefits of introducing asset safety programs for improved fleet operations —

1. Enhanced workplace safety

Fleet managers are always looking to reduce the number of near-miss events inside and outside the facility. This is achievable only if the managers deploy fleet safety practices and mitigate risks to drivers’ health. Moreover, it ensures the fleet machinery is safe to use and quality checked to reduce the chances of mishaps. 

2. Greater equipment reliability and productivity

Fleet vehicles and machinery need to be working reliably to improve fleet operations productivity and efficiency. Fleet asset safety makes sure the fleet vehicles function the way they are meant to. As long as the machinery/vehicles function properly and operators/drivers are well-trained to maximise their utilisation, the probability of fleet safety events will remain low.  

3. Longer fleet vehicle lifespan

How can fleet managers ensure high ROI on the acquired fleet machinery? While maximising their utilisation is always an aim, increasing the fleet vehicles’ lifespan will help get the most out of them. However, this is only possible if asset safety policies focus on regular analysis and maintenance. 

4. Lower maintenance costs

As we focus on ensuring fleet asset safety to increase fleet vehicle lifespan, this will also lead to lower maintenance costs over a period of time.

Fleet safety policies push drivers to utilise the vehicles in a way that doesn’t impact their functionalities i.e., not red line the machinery or not use it in a rough manner.

Moreover, the tracking technologies help optimise the routes, reduce fuel consumption, and minimise idle times. 

5. Better regulatory compliance

While drafting fleet asset safety policies, managers need to consider the relevant local, state, and central fleet operation regulations. This also leads them to maintain comprehensive records of vehicle maintenance and driver performance, behaviour, and hours of service. Legal compliance also helps with insurance purposes.  

Fleet asset safety best practices 

Here are the fleet asset safety best practices we recommend fleet managers consider when planning asset safety programs —

1. Driver training and education 

An aware, well-trained, and vigilant workforce makes it easier to run fleet operations and achieve the set productivity and efficiency standards.

One of the best ways to ensure fleet asset safety is by investing in driver training and education related to hazard perception, driver distraction, fatigue management, eco-driving, and more.

This involves walking the workforce through potential events and incidents and regularly conducting training programs. Key elements of an effective driver training and education program  — 

  • Theoretical knowledge 
  • Practical skills 
  • Vehicle familiarisation 
  • Driver-specific instructions’ 

This will result in enhanced safety, increased productivity, reduced operational costs, and strengthened company reputation. 

2. Regular maintenance and inspections

Fleet vehicle maintenance and inspections are critical to a fleet’s smooth operation. It will help improve asset safety as it involves establishing a baseline, i.e., knowing the current status of the fleet maintenance schedule.

To achieve increased fleet asset safety, you will have to determine the maintenance intervals (preferably using fleet management software), implement driver monitoring systems (for inspection and reporting), and develop a preventive maintenance service checklist exclusive to your fleet requirements. Here’s what a preventive maintenance service checklist looks like —

  • Changing engine oil and filters 
  • Transmission fluid 
  • Inspection of cooling and fuel systems 
  • Inspecting engine and transmission mounts 
  • Inspecting and changing (if necessary) drive shafts, CV joints, belts, and hoses 
  • General tune-ups 
  • Inspecting electrical system components 
  • Inspecting the brake system and replacing brake pads and rotors as needed 
  • Inspecting the steering and suspension system 
  • Inspecting tires, wheels, and rims 
  • Replacing tires in a timely fashion (including seasonal changes as appropriate) 
  • Inspecting the exhaust system 
  • Evaluating the condition of the undercarriage and frame 
  • Inspecting both interior and exterior lights 
  • Replacing the windshield wipers and filling windshield fluid 
  • Inspecting seat structures and seatbelts 
  • Checking for fluid leaks 
  • Addressing the auxiliary systems 

Note: Make sure the checklist caters to the type or class of fleet vehicle as different types of vehicles require different levels of inspections. 

3. Data collection and analytics

As a fleet manager or owner, can you afford to make high-risk business decisions without concrete proof? This is one reason why we suggest fleet data aggregation on a regular basis and conducting extensive analysis.

As we collect fleet asset data through AI and IoT-driven telematics solutions, it becomes easier to streamline fleet maintenance, boost driver safety, reduce risk, and improve overall customer satisfaction.

Making data-driven fleet safety decisions will even help gain a competitive advantage by analysing key performance indicators such as fleet asset utilisation rates, idle times, and route efficiency. Moreover, accurate fleet data allows fleet managers to develop driver safety programs, and incentivise proper driving behaviour while rewarding high-performing drivers.   

4. Legal and regulatory considerations

For a fleet to function safely and effectively, it must adhere to the key regulations and compliance certifications. Here are the top regulations and certifications to consider — 

  • Local, state, and federal regulations involving Hours of Service, vehicle maintenance standards, and driver qualification. 
  • Deployment of electronic logging devices (ELDs), driver safety programs, and hazardous materials transportation policies. 
  • Driver training qualification requirements include a commercial driver’s license, driver background checks, and regular training and certification. 
  • Check for Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards and regulations to ensure a safer working environment. 
  • Prevent impaired fleet asset handling by conducting drug and alcohol testing. 
  • Consult Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) and local environmental agencies to adhere to emissions standards. 
  • Appropriate insurance policies that include liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage. 

5. Prioritise most critical assets

As you scale fleet operations, the need to increase the number of fleet vehicles will push you to set asset utilisation priorities. This is because treating all the fleet assets, in the same way, will cause utilisation imbalances since different assets have different capacities.

As a fleet manager, you’d need to focus on assets that are either more valuable or more hazardous and deploy a data-driven prioritisation strategy. As a result, the probability of asset availability when it is required the most increases. In other words, predictive, preventative, and reactive actions ensure effective control over fleet safety. 

6. Monitor driver health and wellness

Your fleet is as good as your drivers unless you decide to go completely autonomous (a future possibility). Therefore, a huge chunk of fleet asset safety strategy should be devoted to monitoring and improving driver health and wellness. Here are some of the ways you can monitor and boost driver health and wellness — 

  • Use driver safety monitoring systems as these are quite helpful in detecting the signs of driver fatigue and alerting drivers and fleet managers about the same.
  • Health and wellness programs can push drivers to understand what it takes to improve their health, keep their physical fitness, get mental health support, and ensure regular health screenings.
  • Education and training allow fleet managers to extend regular training and teach safe driving practices, defensive driving techniques, and proper fleet asset usage. 

7. Enhance security measures with technology

Asset safety is evolving as we speak. This is why we recommend you introduce technological advancements like Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS), Advanced Driver Assistance System (ADAS), telematics, fleet management software, and more to your existing fleet operations and boost fleet asset safety. Here are some of the technologies modern-day fleets use — 

Read more: Impact of Cargo Theft

8. Gamify fleet asset safety 

Fleet safety doesn’t have to be boring. As a fleet asset manager, you can ensure that your workforce, especially drivers, is more engaged and encouraged to adopt fleet asset safety practices. Gamifying asset safety is your best bet. Here’s how you can achieve fleet asset safety gamification —

  • Set safety performance metrics and leaderboards 
  • Create achievement badges and rewards 
  • Develop quizzes and interactive training modules 
  • Introduce challenge-based learning 
  • Track progress and incentivise participants 
  • Conduct feedback surveys and put them into action 

9. Tighten hiring standards

This is one aspect of fleet safety and fleet asset management that most managers overlook. How about nipping the problem in the bud?

Well, while training the workforce for improved fleet asset safety is quite achievable, hiring candidates who are already trained and aware of fleet health and safety is not a far-fetched approach.

We highly recommend you tighten the hiring standards and induct people who are aware of the risks involved and can be trusted with accountability. Here are some of the steps you can take —

  • Check for prior experience and key fleet safety qualifications.
  • Ensure a rigorous interview process that maps candidates’ behavioural aspects by asking scenario-based questions.
  • Conduct comprehensive skills testing with the help of driving skill tests and written tests on road safety rules, safety policies, and general driving understanding.  

10. Have patience and keep going

When it comes to ensuring asset safety, patience can help you go the distance. While these fleet asset safety best practices will help you reduce the number of incidents and near-misses, it’s important to not lose patience throughout the strategy development and implementation phases.

Make asset safety a continuous quest to make the machinery and vehicles safer to use and boost driver health and performance. At the same time, learn from the mistakes by collecting data and using it to tighten up the fleet safety policies.  

Conclusion 

Fleet asset safety is an aspect of fleet operations that, if gone unnoticed, can have a detrimental impact on fleets’ productivity and efficiency. This is why we focused on helping you define fleet asset safety and realise the key challenges revolving around it.

The comprehensive guide went further to ensure you have a complete list of best practices and strategies that can help bolster fleet safety.

However, implementing the best practices and coming up with an advanced fleet asset safety strategy would be key to making your fleet logistics company safer to work at. We highly recommend you stay tuned to our blog to keep up with the upcoming fleet safety advancements.

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