Those not in the business might think that vehicle theft is the top issue for a typical fleet owner. But those in the know understand it’s the vehicles still in your control, yet being operated in an out-of-control fashion, that are the real liability risk.

The possibility that one of your employees, or company assets, could be involved in an accident — damaging property, causing injury, or, even worse, a fatality — is a very real risk for any business. While it’s not possible to prevent all accidents, there are things fleet owners can do to minimize risks, and thus be fully protected should something happen.

Danger ahead – See the warning signs.

Reducing risk begins with learning to spot warning signs: readily identified symptoms or trends that can increase the risk of something going wrong, even with safety systems already in place.

Common examples include:

  • Cheap or even free consumer navigation software where data may be out-of-date or incorrect for commercial vehicles
  • Equipment that isn’t regularly inspected for safety
  • A lack of training, particularly regarding heavy equipment and vehicles
  • An inability to spot obvious potential flags, like repeat DUI offences
  • An enforceable policy to minimize in-cab distractions, like excessive cellphone use
  • Missing or incomplete documentation
  • Lack of accountability re: company assets particularly outside of work hours

Telematics software with GPS asset tracking can help put proper controls in place, helping to prevent accidents.

Three key ways to reduce the chance of a company vehicle, or employee from being involved in a liability action, thereby minimizing the risk of the corporation being found liable:

1 – Proper record keeping

Require all employees to keep accurate and up-to-date documentation of all actions and practices, which helps to highlight gaps and identify trends. This will help to establish a baseline from which to gauge improvement and provide management with an actionable to-do list.

GPS tracking automates much of the record collection — from miles driven to unsafe driving events – automatically collecting all data, at which point companies can set parameters to automatically report incidents as required.

Certain jobs still require field workers to collect custom data, but today’s systems allow drivers to complete required tasks via mobile phone or tablet, with the data being automatically uploaded to a database.

Types of automated safety documentation include:

  • Safety hazards, accident or emergency notification procedures
  • New driver safety briefing
  • Vehicle safety check scheduling
  • Company policy re: utilization of company assets

Being proactive re: documentation is of paramount importance. Always take into account not merely the obvious, but also worst-case scenarios, helping to create a culture of safety focused on preventing accidents, rather than merely being reactive when events inevitably occur. Consider setting up anonymous hotlines or email accounts to let employees identify potential safety hazards without fear of repercussion.

See also: Lagging or leading – What safety indicators does your fleet use?

2 – Monitor vehicles and equipment 24/7/365

With GPS fleet tracking software, identifying patterns, trends, and issues is easier than ever.

An example: certain drivers may be identified as regularly exceeding the posted speed limits. By identifying and immediately addressing this issue with a combination of company training and in-cab coaching tools, you reduce both the safety risk and company exposure to liability, should an accident occur.

GPS tracking vehicles and equipment not only improves asset security, it provides you with a near real-time alert system for any issues related to the driver or the vehicle, including:

  • Vehicle entering pre-established unauthorized areas
  • Vehicles operated outside of authorized hours, helping to identify instances of moonlighting like working for a rideshare service (more on this topic)
  • Maintenance issues, like an overheated engine
  • Unsafe driving
  • Missed, but previously scheduled, service

Near-real-time GPS tracking identifies violations of safety protocols, which helps businesses proactively minimize exposure, versus the more traditional reactive approach, which uses less-effective lagging indicators.

See also:
3 ways technology improves fleet safety
5 tips to make your fleet safety program profitable

GPS tracking can also be used to access remote services,* such as remote unlock or remote engine start, which can help defuse emergencies in a timely manner.

*Available with selected telematics services (such as Telogis Fleet for GM).

3 – Better training

Training may take some time out of typically productive work hours, but it’s an investment that pays off over the long haul.

By establishing clear operating, record-keeping, equipment usage, and training policy, employees can always be certain of what’s expected of them.

By providing ongoing training with revolutionary new gamification-based apps such as Telogis Coach, training is made fun, helping drivers take safety seriously.

For fleets that worry about new, inexperienced drivers increasing the accident risk, consider establishing a mentoring program where more experienced drivers can record and share their knowledge, including custom navigation instructions, which can help alert new drivers of hazards throughout the entire journey.

So, how does this investment in training pay off?

Drivers that are better trained, and consequently take better care of your vehicles, also serve as good ambassadors for your brand.

“…if you’re not even taking care of your own trucks, then how are you handling the cargo?”
Scott Danner, CEO, Liberty Fruit (Read the full article)

Vehicles in good condition, driven responsibly:

  • Improve public perception of your brand
  • Lead to better CSA scores
  • Lower insurance premiums
  • Generate more leads for new business.

Driver Safety Solutions

The information contained in this blog may or may not be correct and/or complete at the time of reading and is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific professional or legal advice or opinions. No recipients of content from this blog should act or refrain from acting on the basis of content of the document without seeking appropriate legal advice or other professional counseling. Telogis expressly disclaims all liability relating to actions taken or not taken based on any or all contents of this document.