Resources - Fleet Safety

Driver Training, Awareness and Performance

Vehicle life can be extended through a program which teaches drivers to improve their driving skills and to be aware of the driving differences for different types of vehicles (passenger, van, pickup, tractor/trailer, utility). Improvements in driver training, awareness and performance can lower maintenance costs as well as the costs associated with accidents. To increase fleet safety, track driving performance and report throughout all levels of the organization.

Driver Training

Driver training should provide instruction in the proper, safe and efficient operation of vehicles. Training should include written examinations and hands-on exercises to ensure driver proficiency. According to the National Safety Council, the most effective time for extensive, systematic training is right after the driver is hired but before the driver is assigned to a vehicle. Besides initial training, refresher, remedial and ongoing training in an effort to expose drivers continuously to safety ideas and information and to stress that safety matters. Driver training should emphasize improvement in hazard recognition, vehicle handling, space management and speed management.

How does your driver training program measure up in training your drivers in these key areas?

  • Scope, direct and indirect costs and safety performance measures currently in use in your organization
  • Specific state and municipal driving regulations that affect drivers; teach the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations if interstate commerce is conducted
  • Appropriate Hazardous Materials training (the third most frequent OSHA citation is failure to train)
  • Causes of Accidents to include the driver's physical, mental and emotional condition, the vehicle's mechanical condition, acts of pedestrians and driers of other vehicles, road surface, lighting and weather conditions
  • Personal traits affecting driving to include the physical, mental and emotional well-being of the driver
  • Specific defensive driving training for cars, vans, emergency vehicles, buses and medium to large trucks
  • Accident preventability
  • Two vehicle collision prevention - vehicles can collide from six positions and there are defensive measures applicable in each situation
  • Backing accident prevention - the cumulative costs of accidents occurring while the driver is backing up can mount up; backing around corners or out of driveways is especially dangerous and should be avoided
  • Stopping Distance - the importance of maintaining a safe distance
  • Mechanical Defects - Drivers should be able to recognize mechanical problems
  • Basic driving maneuvers
  • Driving in traffic
  • Boarding and deboarding procedures for vans and buses
  • Handling freight
  • Procedures in case of accident
  • Operating procedures and requirements of the Federal Agency's current motor vehicle safety program.

Commercial Drivers License Training

Known as CDL, there are Commercial Drivers Licenses in the following categories: Air Brakes, Cargo Vehicles, Combination Vehicles, General, Hazardous Materials and Passengers. State and Federal regulations govern the qualifications and standards for truck drivers. All drivers must comply with Federal regulations and any State regulations that are stricter than Federal requirements. Truck drivers must have a driver's license issued by the State in which they live and most employers require a clean driving record.

Drivers of trucks designed to carry at least 26,000 pounds, including most tractor-trailers, as well as bigger straight trucks, must obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL) from the State in which they live. Federal regulations governing the CDL exempt certain groups, including farmers, emergency medical technicians, firefighters, some military drivers, and snow and ice removers. In many States, a regular driver's license is sufficient for driving light trucks and vans.

All truck drivers who operate trucks transporting hazardous materials must obtain a CDL, regardless of truck size. Training for drivers who transport hazardous materials is required within 90 days of employment with recurrent training to be done semiannually. Drivers may also be trained as first responders in the event of a spill with separate training requirements.

To qualify for a commercial driver's license, applicants must pass a written test on rules and regulations and then demonstrate that they can operate a commercial truck safely. A national databank permanently records all driving violations incurred by persons who hold commercial licenses. A State will check these records and deny a commercial driver's license to a driver who already has a license suspended or revoked in another State. Licensed drivers must accompany trainees until the trainees get their own CDL. Information on how to apply for a commercial driver's license may be obtained from State motor vehicle administrations. Fleet Managers should assure that all drivers have correct and current licensing for the type of vehicle they drive.

Special Emergency Vehicles Training

Additional training shall be provided to all operators of police vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks, crash rescue vehicles, motor cycles and all vehicles used principally to convey groups of passengers.

Drivers of police vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks and crash rescue vehicles must also complete the National Highway Safety Administration's Emergency Vehicle Operator Course (EVOC). An EVOC refresher course training must be accomplished very three years to retain a license for operating these emergency vehicles.

Fleet Managers should assure that all drivers of emergency vehicles meet these licensing requirements.

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).