Even if employers provide adequate training and oversight, drivers are effectively on their own when they’re out in the field. To help prevent distracted driving long after training is complete, fleets need to develop and implement a distracted driving policy. These policies are typically part of larger driver safety programs and promote safe driving practices through well-communicated initiatives.
While the specifics of policies may differ from fleet to fleet, they should include the following:
· A policy statement that clarifies your organization’s stance on distracted driving. This statement should specify the purpose and goals of the policy.
· A definition of distracted driving. This definition should highlight the dangers of distracted driving and the ways it affects your organization.
· A summary of whom the policy applies to. In general, your policy should account for all company employees, even if driving a vehicle isn’t a regular part of their daily duties.
· A list of what constitutes as distracted driving and actions that are strictly prohibited to ensure driver safety.
· A list of suggested practices to reduce the risk of distracted driving.
· A list of potential consequences if the terms of the policy are breached.
· A space for the employee’s and fleet manager’s signatures.
A formal policy is one of the best ways to defend against distracted driving. These policies should apply to everyone in your organization who drives a vehicle for company business. To make your policy even more effective, consider the following:
1. Testing—Distracted driving policies should be tested often to ensure they are accomplishing the fleet’s goals. When testing your policy, look for any gaps or exceptions you may need to account for. Be open to driver feedback and implement changes accordingly. Testing procedures should involve any and all departments that interact with drivers.
2. Communication—Distracted driving policies—and other safety initiatives for that matter—should be communicated on a regular basis. Fleets can accomplish this in a number of ways, but many educate their drivers through emails, newsletters, bulletin boards, driver training initiatives and signage. At a minimum, you should consider creating an acknowledgment form that drivers can sign to confirm that they understand distracted driving protocols and are committed to staying safe on the road. To ensure effective communication, ask yourself the following questions:
a. Do employees and/or paid contractors understand the dangerous nature of distracted driving?
b. Are drivers aware of the seriousness and potential consequences of ignoring your policy?
c. Is your organization providing distracted driving training?
3. Top-down involvement—When it comes to protecting commercial fleets from the risks of distracted driving, it’s important for management to lead by example. Under no circumstances should managers knowingly call or text their drivers during regular driving hours. Distracted driving policies apply to all fleet employees, including leadership. As such, managers should adhere to any established procedures.
4. Active monitoring—In order for an organization’s distracted driving initiatives to be effective, active monitoring is crucial. If and when a driver violates the terms of the policy, fleet managers must intervene and administer corrective action. Because distracted driving policy infractions often occur off-site, it can be difficult to monitor compliance. As such, it’s important for companies to reinforce positive behavior through formalized recognition and reward programs.
5. Policy updates—Distracted driving policies are living and breathing documents. Organizations need to review their policies regularly and adapt them to account for:
Managing distracted driving will only become more difficult as technology advances and individuals become more reliant on personal devices like cellphones and tablets. Regardless, commercial fleets have a duty to ensure a safe workplace and combat all forms of distracted driving. Commercial fleet accidents caused by distracted drivers can damage reputations and claim lives. To protect your drivers and your organization, it’s important for fleets to work alongside a qualified insurance broker. Not only can they provide advice on your company’s risk management needs, but they can also recommend specific insurance policies to keep you protected on and off the road. To learn more, contact Dominion Risk Advisors, Inc. today.