If your business has any company-owned vehicles, you’ve no doubt had an employee walk up to you with that sheepish look on their face to tell you about a new dent or scratch. Or, even worse, you’ve discovered damage to one of your vehicles and no one will take responsibility for it!
Investing in the prevention of damage to your company vehicles can have significant payoffs for employee safety, operational efficiency and your bottom line.
Whether you have trucks for heavy loads or compact cars for home deliveries, here are some things your business can implement to prevent company vehicle damage and promote safe driving:
1. Create a Written Driver Safety Policy
While it goes without saying that all rules of the road for your region must be followed while driving a company vehicle, additional company policies should be implemented for further safety. They should include rules such as who is authorized to drive and be a passenger in company vehicles, driver responsibilities and procedures for reporting incidents.
It’s critical that your company vehicle policies are in a written document that is reviewed and signed by all relevant employees. This ensures clear and consistent communication between all drivers and management, as well as written proof that the employee has agreed to follow the protocols outlined in the document.
2. Allow Employees Enough Time to Drive Safely
4 deliveries in an hour, each one in different corners of your city? Neglecting to account for rush hour traffic? Don’t make your drivers feel that they have to sacrifice safety or the rules of the road to meet delivery times.
While it can be tempting to squeeze as much as possible into a trip, proper scheduling will help ensure safe driving can always be the number one priority. Don’t forget to account for factors such as rush hour, construction on the route and some buffer time for when the unexpected occurs.
3. Create a Culture of Safety
Creating a culture of safety means promoting and modelling safety practices at all levels of the organization and creating an open environment where employees feel comfortable asking questions and reporting incidents.
Rules and regulations are important, but creating a true safety culture goes a step further in preventing company vehicle damage and ensure your rules are upheld.
How do you create that culture? Management needs to model the same safety rules they expect their drivers to adhere to. Employees need to feel free to ask questions or raise concerns without any fear of repercussions. Safety training should also be conducted on a regular basis to remind drivers of your policies, provide updates on any new rules and provide them with another venue to ask questions.
4. Implement a Backing In Parking Policy
If you’re looking to reduce the risk of collisions, you should definitely be looking at parking. Parking lots are a common place for incidents to occur, thanks to cars moving in different directions, pedestrians mixed in with vehicle traffic and restricted vision. Many of these parking lot incidents occur when vehicles are backing out of parking spots.
When you back into a parking space, you’re able to drive past it, check that the space is clear and then back in when you know it’s safe. It can be a hard habit for drivers to form, as most people are used to driving into spots, but it will quickly become second nature once you’ve committed to it.
When you back out of a space, the driver’s view is restricted by other parked cars and the vehicle’s blind spots, increasing the risk of hitting pedestrians, vehicles driving by or other obstructions. You’re also driving into an unknown environment, with pedestrians and other cars often unaware that you are pulling out, unlike when backing into a spot.
Back up cameras, while helpful and becoming more common, don’t entirely eliminate the risks of backing out of a parking spot. When in doubt, always back in and then drive out.
In the event the vehicle needs service while parked, such as a battery boost, backing in will also typically make the engine much easier to access.
5. Ensure Every Vehicle Undergoes Regular Preventative Maintenance and Inspections
Another important task is to ensure every vehicle undergoes regular maintenance and inspections. This will help you stay ahead of issues to prevent the risk of a sudden mechanical failure while the vehicle is on the road, endangering the driver and those around them.
For example, it’s much safer (and cheaper!) to top up the air in a tire than replacing a blown-out tire at the side of the highway. Preventative maintenance instead of emergency repairs will also help prevent lost revenue from the disruption of having a vehicle unexpectedly pulled off the road.
Zero Tolerance for Distracted Driving
Distracted driving poses a significant risk to your drivers and vehicles. In fact, according to the National Safety Council, about 26% of all car crashes involve phone use, including hands-free phone use.
A zero-tolerance policy for distracted driving will help protect your drivers and their vehicles, other people on the road and avoid fines for distracted driving.
Similar to allowing your employees enough time to drive safely, as an employer, you need to go beyond policy to enable your employees to drive safely. The best solution is to not use a phone at all while driving.
If this can’t be avoided, provide them with hands-free or voice-activated devices so they can keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. You also need to schedule breaks in their day, particularly on longer trips, not only for rest but for a chance to check up on phone messages to eliminate the temptation to do so while driving.
Damage to company vehicles is not only costly and inconvenient, it can pose a serious health and safety risk to your drivers and other people on the road. The right policies, procedures and preventative maintenance will go a long way in protecting your vehicles and creating a culture of safety.
When problems just can’t be avoided, that’s where Cayuga Mutual comes in. Contact our agents today to get started with an auto insurance plan customized to your business’ needs.