Distracted driving is becoming an increasingly serious problem in today's society. Distracted driving accounts for approximately 25% of motor vehicle fatalities--and yet nearly 30% of drivers between the ages of 21 and 34 believe that texting while driving has little to no impact on their ability to successfully drive the vehicle. You want to make sure that your fleet is made up of safe drivers who will not be a danger to themselves or to others on the road with them, and that means creating a company-wide policy that will encourage safe driving. Following these best practices for implementing safe driving practices across your fleet will help encourage safe driving, decrease distraction on the road, and keep your team--and others on the road with them--safer.
Best Practice #1: Embed Your Policies in Company Culture
At Unilever, the stance against distracted driving is so deeply embedded that anyone who has worked for the company can immediately tell you about it when asked. Their MOMO policy--motor on, mobile off--isn't just a line in the company handbook. It's something that every driver in the fleet knows they have to follow--and they aren't just doing it when they're driving in company vehicles during the work week. This policy is a critical part of Unilever's stance in favor of safer driving, and all of their drivers are willing to take the steps necessary to follow those rules.
Best Practice #2: Make the Rules Clear
In order to create an effective safe driving policy, it's important to clearly lay out the company rules in a way that everyone can understand. Consider the most frequently-asked questions regarding mobile usage and other distracted driving habits, including:
Are Bluetooth devices acceptable to use while on the road? Can company drivers take calls as long as they do it hands-free? What about using a talk-to-text program: is that acceptable as long as they aren't actively handling the device?
Are drivers allowed to use their devices in parking lots or when they are sitting idle beside the road? Can they pull off the road to answer calls or deal with text messages, or must they wait until they're in a parking lot?
Do company drivers need to turn their phones and other mobile devices off altogether when they're in the car, or is it acceptable to leave them on as long as they aren't in use?
What devices are impacted by the rules? Is it just mobile phones, or does this also include tablets and other devices?
What about GPS and other devices that can help with the drive?
Do the rules only apply during company time, when employees are on the clock, or are they an issue no matter where employees are, if they're on a company phone or device?
Are passengers able to operate mobile devices on the behalf of the driver?
Best Practice #3: Set the Consequences--and Stick With Them
Some people believe that the rules simply don't apply to them. After all, they're still a safe driver while they're using their mobile phone or other device on the road, and they're being careful. Perhaps a driver believes that they have a valid reason to answer their phone or send off a quick text at a red light. Your company policy, however, needs to include the consequences for failing to follow the rules--and you need to stick with them. Unilever, for example, gives a heavy warning for the first offense. A second offense may lead to dismissal from the company. You may choose to include fines, unpaid time off work, and other consequences in your company's policy. What is critical, however, is that the policy is clear and easy to follow and that the consequences are the same for every driver.
Best Practice #4: Monitor Drivers' Records
How often do you check drivers' records? Are you going to be notified immediately if a driver receives a ticket, or is the driver going to have some leeway before the next time their record is pulled? In order to ensure that your driver safety policy is followed effectively, make sure that you're regularly monitoring records. This will help you create better awareness of what your drivers are actually doing on the road--and allow you to react quickly when your rules aren't followed.
Best Practice #5: Keep It Simple
Your driver safety policy needs to be simple and easy to understand. While you may have a complex series of frequently asked questions that need to be addressed alongside your simple rules, creating a list that is simple and easy to understand will increase the likelihood that drivers will remember and follow directions. Keep in mind that mobile devices aren't the only things that cause distraction on the road--and texting isn't the only mobile phone distraction that can cause accidents! Create a policy that is simple, easy to follow, and easy to remember. This might include telling drivers that when they're in the car, they're only supposed to be driving: no eating, using technology, or fiddling with paperwork. You might remove all technology use from your company vehicles. Carefully consider how you can phrase your restrictions simply in order to make them stick in employees' minds.
Best Practice #6: Implement Regular Training
Training isn't something that happens only when a new employee is brought into the office. It's an ongoing process that helps remind drivers about important safety regulations, company policies, and more. Make sure that training is a key part of your regular schedule. Provide employees with access to handbooks, handouts, and materials that will help them review the information provided during training when necessary. Regular training helps ensure that every employee knows what is expected of them and how to attain those goals--and that means no complaints of, "But I didn't know!" when employees violate those policies.
Creating a safe driving policy is one of the most effective ways to increase driver safety throughout your company as well as decreasing the risk of accidents and the expense that could cause your company. By following these best practices, you can keep your policy in front of your employees and increase the odds that they will follow it every time they're behind the wheel.