Want to increase the productivity and safety of your fleet? Implement a driver management program into your standard operating procedures.
Such programs create safer drivers, minimize the risk of accidents, and reduce the overall cost of operating a fleet of commercial vehicles.
In this article, we discuss how to create a driver management program that works for your business.
Table Of Contents
Driver Management: Selection
The best driver management programs start before you put someone behind the wheel of your vehicles.
1) Set Qualification Standards
One of the first steps in creating a strong driver management program for your fleet-based business is to set qualification standards for potential employees — both driving and non-driving positions.
Start with the minimums that each applicant must possess before you will consider them for an interview. Be sure that the standards reflect the qualities that you want your business to be known for.
For inspiration, examine the qualities of the best drivers in your fleet and use those as the foundation for your driver management program.
- Physical requirements
- Required job knowledge
- Applicable government regulations
- Work experience
- Vehicle operating skills
- Driving record
- History of stable employment
In addition, build the standards so that they provide the same opportunity for all capable applicants.
2) Attract Skilled Applicants
The best driver management programs — and the fleets they govern — aim to attract the most skilled applicants possible.
To do that, announce your job openings in a variety of ways, including to:
- In-house personnel (e.g., promote an employee to a driving position)
- Business associates
- Driver training schools
- Trade publications
You can also ask your current drivers and employees for the names of skilled applicants they might recommend for the job.
3) Select The Best Candidates
The foundation of an effective driver management program lies in selecting the best candidates you can find.
Hiring an unsatisfactory driver can put your whole fleet at risk, so it’s worth the time, effort, and money you put into the selection process.
At the very minimum, make sure that the candidates you intend to consider meet — or, even better, exceed — the qualifications you set for your business.
That way, you’ll have a pool of good drivers from which to select the best fit for your team.
4) Use Effective Hiring Tools
Depending on the position you’re hiring for, there are a lot of tools that can help you get the right information to make an informed decision.
These tools include:
- Your business’s application form
- A preliminary interview
- Written examination
- Road test
- Pre-employment medical exam
- Past employment investigation
- Motor vehicle record check
- Initial performance evaluation
Use these tools in whatever combination works for your business to find the right candidate for the job.
Driver Management: Training
With the selection process behind you, it’s time to train your employees to operate according to your business’s high standards.
When it comes to driver management, this is where the rubber meets the road because the training you provide both new and long-time employees prepares them to handle your commercial vehicles with control and safety in mind at all times.
5) Identify Risky Behaviors And Habits
Training isn’t just reserved for new hires. Offering training to existing drivers can help sharpen their skills and improve the way they operate their vehicles.
During the initial interview and testing process, watch for high-risk behaviors, such as distracted driving, bad driving habits, and aggression behind the wheel. Then, design a training program to eliminate these risky behaviors.
You can even implement the same process for existing drivers by conducting ride-alongs every few months or so and then setting up on-the-job training to address any issues that may come up.
6) Educate Your Drivers
Ongoing education is one of the most effective methods of driver management for creating better, safer vehicle operators.
Periodically engaging your employees in education that makes them aware of the dangers of distracted, fatigued, and impaired driving goes a long way toward making them safer on the road.
Education of this type can also serve to protect your business if an accident does occur.
An established training program proves that your business is in compliance with all local, state, and federal safety standards — and educates drivers to maintain those standards at all times — can go a long way toward mitigating claims of negligence aimed at your fleet.
7) Emphasize Company Policies
In many cases, your company policies may go above and beyond what has been set forth by organizations like the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA). And that’s OK. High standards make for safer drivers.
If your company policies are different in some way from the common standards, be sure to emphasize this information to your drivers whenever possible so they are fully aware of what you expect them to do and how you expect them to act while on the road.
8) Enforce The Rules
Company policies are only effective if they’re backed up by real consequences.
Drivers won’t change their driving habits just because you put a policy in place. In many cases, changes only come about if you enforce the rules you’ve established.
Fleet managers should do their best to enforce good practices regardless of any challenges or resistance that comes about from doing so.
Driver Management: On The Road
After you’ve trained your drivers to pilot company vehicles, it’s time to turn them loose on the road. Effective driver management is never more important than when your drivers are away from base.
To that end, here are some solutions to help you monitor your fleet and keep your drivers safe behind the wheel.
9) Encourage Good Communication
Open and effective communication is the heart and soul of driver management.
It doesn’t matter if you employ one driver or one hundred, without good communication, it can be extremely difficult to keep your fleet on the road to success.
Take the initiative to keep the lines of communication open and set the example for your employees. The more you try to maintain good communication, the more they will too.
Encourage good communication in your business by:
- Choosing the best method for the job (e.g., phone call, text, push notification, etc.)
- Striving for clarity in everything you say and write
- Offering and asking for explanations whenever possible
- Meeting one-on-one periodically
With these habits as the cornerstones of your communication, you and your drivers will have a solid foundation on which to build an effective driver management program.
10) Implement Checklists
Checklists make executing complicated jobs much simpler.
Implement process checklists for your fleet and then encourage drivers to use those forms whenever they’re on the road for tasks and items such as:
- Beginning and ending procedures
- Risk mitigation
- Anything else that’s important
Checklists will help your drivers keep track of everything so they don’t forget something along the way.
11) Install Telematics
When it comes to driver management, one of the best ways to gain insight into what they’re doing while on the road is through telematics.
Telematics is a set of systems and add-ons that use the Global Positioning System (GPS) and on-board diagnostic (OBD) equipment to monitor movement on a computerized map.
Once you’ve installed the components, the telematics hardware processes and analyzes a vast array of information about the vehicle, including:
- Distance traveled
- Total mileage
- Trip time
- Idling time
- Harsh braking
- Rough driving
- Seat belt use
- Fuel consumption
- Engine data
- System faults
The onboard computer then transmits the data via a cellular network into fleet management software where you can view and export reports, gather intelligence about your fleet, set performance and safety benchmarks for your drivers, and much more.
12) Give Drivers The Best Tools For The Job
When it comes to driver management, one of the largest expenses they and your business will face is fuel costs.
You can keep those costs under control by giving your drivers tools that will help you and them monitor and manage such variables as:
- Vehicle operating condition
- Driving behavior
- Type of vehicle used for a particular job
- Vehicle aerodynamics
A fleet fuel card is the ideal way to gain insight into driving behavior and reduce the total cost of keeping your vehicles on the road.
For more information on tracking and controlling fuel costs, take a few minutes to read these articles from the Coast blog:
- How To Choose The Best Business Gas Cards For Your Fleet
- The Business Owner’s Guide To Fleet Gas Cards
Effectively Manage Your Fleet
A strong driver management program can help you manage your fleet better than ever before. But the training you provide and the policies you set can only go so far once your drivers are out in the field.
To get a more accurate picture of what’s going on with your fleet vehicles, add a fuel management solution to the tools your drivers take with them.
Coast can help. With our fleet card and expense management platform, you get real-time information so you can manage your fleet efficiently and effectively. For more information, visit CoastPay.com today.