Managing a fleet is a big responsibility. Fortunately, there is a lot of guidance for fleet managers. There are also high-quality tools to collect, process, and analyze the data you need to inform your decisions. Here are some points all fleet managers should consider, provided by experts in the fleet industry.
Keep in Mind That You Have Multiple Duties of Care
You have a duty of care to your shareholders/owners, your staff, and the public in general. Breaching even one of those duties can have serious consequences. What’s more, breaching one duty of care can often lead to another duty of care being broken.
For example, if you allow a driver to go on the road in a vehicle that is not roadworthy, you breach your duty of care to them. This could lead to an accident that would breach your duty of care to the public. The consequences would probably breach your duty of care to your shareholders/owners.
Be Aware That Prevention is Better Than a Cure
It’s one of the oldest clichés around, but it’s also true. The cost of implementing effective safety measures is usually far less than the cost of dealing with safety issues. That’s even before you consider the potential for reputational damage. This is effectively unlimited, particularly in these days of smartphones and social media.
Some companies but signs on their vehicles with a number to call if a person has an issue with how it is being driven. In reality, however, you don’t actually need to do so. These days most people have everything they need to capture all the details of an incident right in their pocket.
Manage Risk Effectively
Risk management is essentially thinking ahead about what sort of challenges you might encounter. In fleet management, the three main challenges are driver safety, vehicle roadworthiness, and physical security.
Physical security does qualify as a safety issue because it has direct implications for driver safety and the public’s safety. You don’t want to see a driver stranded, and you don’t want to see a stolen vehicle either being used in a crime or causing an accident.
Remember That Data Is Everything
Good decisions are generally based on a combination of good judgment and good data. One of the great benefits of living in the modern world is that it’s much easier to obtain high-quality data at high speed. In fact, you can get some data in real-time or close to it.
Access to high-quality data is so important that it’s worth investing in the best data-collection and data-processing tools you can reasonably afford. It’s also worth taking whatever steps are necessary to integrate them with any other systems you use.
The good news is that there are some excellent fleet-management tools out there at prices even SMEs can afford. What’s more, it’s increasingly common for these tools to be designed with integration in mind. This means that getting them to work with other key systems can be more straightforward than you might have thought.
Be Proactive About Driver Safety
In the context of fleet management, driver safety has two meanings. One is keeping the driver safe. The other is making sure that the driver drives safely. These two issues are often interlinked, so they need to be looked at both separately and together.
Keeping the Driver Safe
You need to know where your driver is at all times. If they have passengers in the vehicle, then you need to know who they are too. Ideally, you’ll keep track of the driver, any passengers, and the vehicle both separately and together. That way, if anything does happen to the vehicle, you’ll still be able to keep track of the humans.
Depending on your industry and the area(s) you serve, you might also want to consider whether you should have any no-go areas for drivers. Even if you don’t, then route planning should be undertaken based on safety first and economy second. You should also have the ability to update routes based on new information.
There are additional considerations for people undertaking long journeys, driving at night, and/or driving in poor weather conditions. If any of these situations apply, you need to make arrangements for them to have appropriate breaks, including sleep breaks. You also need to ensure that they eat and drink properly and have access to bathroom facilities.
Driving safety starts by ensuring that the driver is legally qualified to drive, appropriately insured, and aware of safe driving practices. It does have to be said that while anyone with a driver’s license should know how to drive safely, it doesn’t always mean that they do.
By definition, recently qualified drivers lack experience, while more experienced ones may have picked up bad habits. This means that the safest approach, literally and figuratively, is to organize your own driver training.
What this means in practice will depend on your industry. In some cases, it may simply mean producing a policy setting out what is (and is not) expected from drivers. In other cases, it may mean arranging more in-depth training with third-party vendors. In other cases, it may mean complying with compulsory retesting requirements.
Ensure All Vehicles Are Roadworthy
A valid MOT is a minimum standard, not a target. In addition to ensuring that all vehicles are mechanically sound, ensure that they are equipped for any likely issues they may encounter. In the UK, this typically means bad weather and potential breakdowns.
Be aware that “bad weather” can occur in summer and at cooler times of the year. Not only are “summer storms” a real issue, but excess heat can also be a serious problem. In other words, remember that the UK has a very variable climate. This means that you always need to be prepared for whatever the weather can throw at you.
Please note that “all vehicles” means exactly that. If employees are using their own vehicles for company purposes, you have to make sure that they are meeting appropriate safety standards. This applies regardless of how often they are used.
Take Security Seriously
In many parts of the UK, safe parking is notoriously difficult. Whenever possible, organize parking in advance. Ensure that your drivers know how to park safely for those occasions when parking can’t be organized in advance. Provide them with any necessary security equipment such as immobilizers.
Obviously, make sure that your own on-premises parking is as secure as it can possibly be.
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