Resources - Fleet Safety

Fleet Safety Management Guidelines

The Fleet Manager is responsible for the implementation and enforcement of a safety and health program. The program should be coordinated with safety and health staff, where available. Supervisors are responsible for ensuring that employees are trained in their safety and health responsibilities. Employees should advise the Fleet Manager of any suspected hazards which they cannot correct. In addition, each employee should be held responsible for working in such a manner as to prevent injury to self, others and for safeguarding property from damage.

Fleet Managers focus primarily on motor vehicle accident prevention and, if fleet maintenance activities are in-house, on maintenance shop safety.

According to the National Safety Council, a standard of safe-driving performance is no preventable accidents.  Most accidents are preventable.

Motor Vehicle Accident Prevention

In most fleets, vehicle accidents represent one of the largest areas of financial loss. Fleet Managers can work closely with activities such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Safety Council to promote safe vehicle operation through the use of ongoing safety programs, instruction and displays featuring safety posters and accident awareness charts.

A vehicle safety inspection program should be established and vehicle operators should be provided training on safe driving techniques.  Each driver should be impressed with the important of good driving habits and the hazards of bad ones.  Good driver education programs expose each driver to useful driving information, establish a sense of traffic responsibility, develop favorable attitudes and most importantly, tech techniques for avoiding accidents.

Adequate planning to prevent accidents is essential to the efficient, economical and safe operation of the vehicles and support services. 

Injuries, illnesses, fires and other accidents are expensive from the standpoint of personal hardship, medical/compensatory costs and the costs of replacement/repair of damaged materials or equipment.  They may also result in costly delays in providing service. 

It is important to note that accident prevention requires an understanding of the interdependence between safety and these key areas of professional fleet management:

  • Driver Education and Performance Monitoring
  • Vehicle Age and Condition
  • Scheduling, Routing and Loading Procedures
  • Maintenance and Repair
  • Accident Investigation and Corrective Action Management

In-House Maintenance Shop Safety

Shop safety programs can minimize job-related injuries and lost time, improve job efficiency/productivity/morale and save money. A job safety analysis, commonly referred to as a JSA, identifies the sequence of basic job steps, the potential hazards and the recommended action or procedures to eliminate the hazard and provides a systematic and logical analysis of all work steps and hazards which could lead to injury or death.

Improving Safety On the Road and In the Shop

Certain activities result in safety improvements both on the road and in the shop. These activities are enforcement of laws and regulations, traffic engineering, education, information and promotion publicity, incentive/award programs and accident investigation/analysis/reporting and appropriate disciplinary action.

Maintaining interest in motor vehicle safety may be accomplished through the use of:

  • Management interest and example
  • Safety meetings
  • Awards for safety
  • Safety contests
  • Posters
  • First aid training.

Top management has the ultimate responsibility for the safety performance of the fleet. This responsibility extends directly to the Fleet Manager and the supervisors, drivers and other employees.  To maximize, the safety performance of the fleet, everyone must believe that accountability for safety is as important as any other job responsibility.

Motor Pool Safety Programs

It is the Fleet Manager's responsibility to develop and implement programs to maintain vehicles in safe operating condition

A vehicle should be assigned to use only after a determination that it is in safe operating condition and has been properly cleaned and inspected.

Operator Walkaround Inspection

Operators should be encouraged to check the vehicle's safety related equipment often and to ensure that necessary repairs are accomplished in a timely manner.  Consider making sure your operator's utilize this checklist:  

Weekly Passenger Motor Vehicle Walkaround Inspection

  • Check tire pressure and tire condition
  • Check brake fluid, power steering fluid, coolant, oil, transmission fluid,
  • windshield washer fluid
  • Check headlights, high beam lights, parking lights, reverse lights,
  • tail lights, brake lights
  • Check turn signals
  • Check instrument panel lights (oil, temperature, engine, brake lights)
  • Check horn, windshield wipers, windows, mirrors, seat belts, door locks, brakes and emergency brake
  • Check for leaks, drips and inspect hoses for condition
  • Check that emergency kit and tools are in trunk and operator's packet is in glove box.

Commercial vehicle inspections are governed by the requirements of Title 49 Transportation Chapter III - Federal Highway Administration, Department of Transportation Part 306.17 Periodic Inspection.

Occupant Protection - Safety Belts/Air Bags

It is recommended that all new passenger vehicles acquired be equipped with an automatic occupant protection system. Three-point safety belts are required at rear seat outboard positions. Use of seat belts all employees occupying the front seat of a motor vehicle on official business should be required.

Vehicle operators should not start the engine of a vehicle until all occupants have properly fastened the occupant safety belt. When it is economically feasible, air bags should be procured.

Fueling Safety

Fleet Managers should make sure that their drivers are aware that static electricity at gas pumps is a real hazard.

  • Drivers should NEVER use cell phones when pumping gas.
  • Drivers should NEVER get back into their vehicle while filling it with gas.

If drivers absolutely HAVE to get in the vehicle while the gas is pumping, when they get out, they should close the door TOUCHING THE METAL BEFORE PULLING THE NOZZLE OUT so the static from the driver's body will be discharged before the nozzle is removed.

Safety Inspections of Vehicles

Each vehicle should be inspected at 12 months or 12,000 miles whichever comes first.  Perform safety inspections at the same time as scheduled reliability inspection in accordance with manufacturer's recommendations. Deficiencies should be corrected before returning the vehicle to operating status

Accident Reports

Accident reporting procedures and forms provide the information necessary to manage the accident, analyze its cause(s) and determine appropriate corrective and/or disciplinary action.

Company-Owned or Leased Vehicles

Company policy should provide for the reporting of motor vehicle accidents involving any company-owned or leased vehicles. In addition, there may be specific accident reporting procedures to be followed for company-owned or leased vehicles.  Fleet Managers should also have procedures in place to assure there is an accident packet in the glove box of all company-owned-or-leased vehicles.

Operator Responsibilities

In general, operators of company-owned or leased vehicles involved in an accident should:

  • Check for injured persons
  • Check for witnesses and get the name and address of anyone observing any portion of the accident.
  • Notify his/her immediate supervisor
  • Call the police and obtain and on-site local police report if such report is required by local law for the type of accident involved (Note: On-site police reports are not always required for minor accidents without personal injury). 
  • When no on-site report is written, inform the local police of the accident immediately after the fact
  • Get information from the other driver(s), if appropriate, to include name, address, phone, insurance carrier, policy number for all non-Federal vehicles involved
  • Secure the vehicle and its contents if the vehicle is towed
  • Ensure that the vehicle will be stored in a secure area
  • Report the accident

In addition, operators or their supervisors may be required to:

  • Obtain estimates of the costs of repairs to all non-Federal vehicles and property
  • Obtain estimates for damages to all vehicles involved in the accident
  • Obtain photos of the damage to all vehicles involved in the accident
  • Complete required injury reports

Supervisors should review the on-duty driving record of the employee involved in the accident in terms of frequency and accident patterns to determine whether any corrective action should be taken.

Fleet Vehicles

In accordance with company policy, the operator of a fleet vehicle may be required to notify the following persons immediately, either in person, by telephone, or by fax, of any accident or fire in which the vehicle is involved:

  • The vehicle maintenance center
  • The employee's official supervisor
  • State or local authorities, as required by law.

When local/state or federal police are at the scene of the incident or accident, copies of their report(s) should be provided to the fleet safety manager. Copies of Police Reports are of particular importance where third parties are involved; they greatly assist in recoveries and assignment of fault. 

When fire results from a motor vehicle accident, the total extent of damage from fire and collision shall be reported on the investigation report.

Accident Investigation

Accidents should be investigated by an independent accident investigator.

Statements of witnesses police reports, photographs, interviews with witnesses to include drivers and passengers in all vehicles involved and by-standers, pedestrians or other motorists who witnessed any portion of the accident and physician's statements should be gathered and used by the independent accident investigator. 

These reports often play an important role in claims for compensation or in cases where litigation results.

A properly documented accident investigation may serve to support or refute such claims.

It should be possible to reconstruct an accident situation long after the occurrence because the details have been accurately recorded

Accident Responsibility and Claims

Claims by the Company

Whenever there is any indication that a party other than the company's operator of the vehicle is at fault and that party can be reasonably identified, the fleet manager should submit all original documents and data pertaining to the accident and its investigation to its legal staff unless company procedures require otherwise.  The legal staff will initiate the necessary action to effect recovery of the company's claim.

Claims Against the Company

When the company operator of the vehicle is at fault, the person responsible for investigating the accident should submit all original documents and data pertaining to the accident and its investigation to its legal staff unless company procedures require otherwise.

Whenever an company vehicle is involved in an accident resulting in damage to the property of, or injury to, a third party, and the third party asserts a claim against the company based on the alleged negligence of the vehicle operator (acting within the scope of his or her duties), it shall be the responsibility of the company to make every effort to settle the claim administratively to the extent that the it is able.

Source: Adapted from the Federal Fleet Management Desk Reference

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Copyright ©2000-2019 Geigle Safety Group, Inc. All rights reserved. Federal copyright prohibits unauthorized reproduction by any means without permission. Disclaimer: This material is for training purposes only to inform the reader of occupational safety and health best practices and general compliance requirement and is not a substitute for provisions of the OSH Act of 1970 or any governmental regulatory agency. CertiSafety is a division of Geigle Safety Group, Inc., and is not connected or affiliated with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).