If you’ve been involved with fleet management for any amount of time, you’ve likely heard the words “fleet safety certified.” You may not have given it any further thought because this certification isn’t absolutely necessary to be a fleet manager.
It is, however, one of the best ways to protect yourself, your drivers, and your fleet from incidents that could cause significant problems for your business.
For that reason alone, most managers would do well to take the class and apply the information to their drivers and vehicles.
In this article, we discuss what it means to be fleet safety certified, how it compares to driver safety training, and how you can earn a certification for yourself.
Table Of Contents
- What Is Fleet Safety Certified?
- Fleet Safety Certification Vs. Driver Safety Training
- How To Become Fleet Safety Certified
- Common Fleet Safety Programs
- Other Fleet Safety Training Programs
- Put Your Fleet Safety Certified Status To Work
What Is Fleet Safety Certified?
Safety on the road doesn’t happen naturally. It requires advanced knowledge, training, and practice. Becoming fleet safety certified provides fleet managers and owners with that knowledge, training, and practice.
The various programs teach participants a variety of skills — including defensive driving and safety best practices — that will help them supervise drivers and vehicles in the best way possible.
Managers also learn about topics such as:
- Fleet liability
- New technology
- How to establish a driver training program
- Implementing an accident response plan
- Preventative measures that mitigate accidents
Fleet safety certification programs even teach managers how to make use of driver and vehicle tracking data to boost fleet efficiency and improve the business’s bottom line.
All of that can have a profound effect on the way your fleet operates and the overall success of your company.
Fleet Safety Certification Vs. Driver Safety Training
While fleet safety certification and driver safety training sound very similar, they are actually quite different.
Drivers receive a modicum of safety training when they take their driver test — be it for a work van that only requires a regular license or a semi truck that requires a CDL — but, after they pass, they may forget the majority of what they learned.
Fleet safety certification, on the other hand, means that a manager has been trained to understand the dangers associated with driving and to identify dangerous driving behaviors that can cause accidents and reduce the safety of the fleet on the road.
While it may sound like everyone and anyone can benefit from such information — and they can — these classes are primarily directed at fleet managers.
Once they’ve completed the curriculum and passed the class, they can take what they’ve learned, create policies for their fleet, and train their drivers for the better.
More likely than not, the safety program that results will be more thorough and better implemented than the training the drivers received when they got their licenses.
In addition, it will likely be much more relevant to the type of fleet vehicle or commercial vehicle the driver operates. Such targeted training can reduce the likelihood that a driver will be involved in an accident and that your business will have to cover the costs that come with it.
The benefits of certification like this far outweigh the time, effort, and money that you’ll have to put in to complete the class.
How To Become Fleet Safety Certified
To become fleet safety certified, you’ll have to:
- Take a certification class
- Complete the necessary classroom training
- Complete the necessary hands-on training
- Pass any relevant tests
Once you’ve finished the class, you’ll take what you’ve learned regarding the compliance and safety requirements that are relevant to your fleet and train your drivers accordingly.
While material covered does differ somewhat depending on the certification you choose and the type of fleet you manage, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recognize a number of programs.
Common Fleet Safety Programs
1) DriveSafe Certification
The DriveSafe fleet safety certification focuses on establishing safety requirements for drivers in order to improve fleet management, minimize accidents, and reduce insurance premiums.
The course is available online and takes about an hour to complete. Topics covered in the course include:
- Common driving distractions (and how to avoid them)
- Driver fatigue (and how to prevent it)
- Avoiding collisions
- Identifying dangerous situations before an accident happens
The solutions to these problems may seem like common sense — eating before driving and recognizing the signs of drowsiness, for instance — but, often, drivers are so focused on getting the job done that they’ll ignore the simple solution in favor of getting farther down the road.
That’s when accidents happen.
The DriveSafe certification can help you create a training program that addresses these issues before they affect your business for the worse.
2) NAFA Certification
The National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA) offers two ways to become fleet safety certified: the Fleet Discipline Certificate Program and the Certified Automotive Fleet Manager (CAFM) program.
The Fleet Discipline Certificate Program allows you to focus on exactly the skills that are relevant to your business and take one discipline (module) at a time.
- Asset Management
- Business Management
- Financial Management
- Information Management
- Maintenance Management
- Professional Development
- Risk Management
- Vehicle Fuel Management
The Certified Automotive Fleet Manager program, on the other hand, encompasses all eight of those modules and is geared toward those who need exposure to all aspects of fleet management.
3) NSC Defensive Driving Certification
The National Safety Council (NSC) has trained over 80 million drivers to be safer on the road.
Their fleet safety certified program offers a cost-effective online solution to help you:
- Keep your drivers safe on the road
- Decrease the risk of collisions
- Decrease the risk of traffic violations
- Minimize exposure to liability risks and expenses
- Lower insurance premiums
- Reduce accident claims
- Decrease vehicle repair bills and replacement costs
If you need specific safety training, NSC offers a choice of four curriculums to help you improve certain skills, including:
- Safety Training
- Workplace Safety
- Roadway Safety
- Community Safety
Regardless of your needs, the type of business you run, the size of your fleet, or the types of vehicles you operate, the National Safety Council has a course that can benefit you and your drivers.
4) NTSI Certification
The National Traffic Safety Institute (NTSI) offers a variety of fleet safety certified programs to help managers run safe, efficient, and successful teams.
They offer on-site training, train-the-trainer programs, and online solutions for businesses of all sizes and types. You can even customize the course curriculum to meet specific fleet needs.
Standard training includes:
- SAFER Driver™ Challenge
- Van & High Profile Vehicles
- Golf Cart & Utility Vehicles
- CDL Refresher
- Law Enforcement
- Fire Department
- Court Diversion (i.e., defensive driving for ticket dismissal)
The goal of these programs is to empower fleet managers to give their drivers the information they need to make safe and educated decisions behind the wheel.
To that end, the NTSI emphasizes personal responsibility and positive attitudes that change driving behaviors for the better.
5) OSHA Fleet Safety Certification
Becoming fleet safety certified through the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) involves learning about a wide range of local, state, and federal legal topics specific to fleet management.
The training is recognized as the national standard of safety for businesses of all types and is used by government agencies, colleges, technical schools, and individuals across the country.
Topics covered include:
- How to transport people and equipment in the safest way possible
- Reducing the costs associated with that activity
- Driver qualification standards
- Driver screening
- Background checks
- Company liability when it comes to vehicle accidents
The OSHA fleet safety program will teach you how to manage the various components of your company’s safety policy — both on-the-road and off — while minimizing the liability and costs associated with such activities.
6) NATMI Certification
The North American Transportation Management Institute (NATMI) offers fleet safety certified programs to help improve the performance and productivity of those directly responsible for effective fleet and driver performance.
They have specific training programs for:
- Risk managers
- Safety directors
- Security directors
- Maintenance managers
- Commercial driver trainers
The purpose of these programs is to help fleet managers:
- Reduce accidents and injuries
- Lower vehicle maintenance costs
- Improve driver retention
- Improve operations efficiency
- Implement better management systems
Courses are available online but still minimize lecture time and maximize active involvement and engagement of the participant.
To that end, programs are designed in the context of the participant’s work environment to be “application-oriented” through the use of case studies, practice exercises, and hands-on projects.
7) DOT Compliance Help
DOT training is a great idea for trucking companies, fleet managers, drivers, and any organization that must adhere to transportation regulations.
The mission of DOT Compliance Help is to assist its clients in establishing proper safety management controls in order to minimize accidents, injuries, and fatalities. To that end, they offer a wide variety of fleet safety training — both online and in person.
Their online webinar training is available throughout the year, relatively inexpensive, and you can easily sign up to attend the webinars that are relevant to your business.
In addition to online training, DOT Compliance Help offers four-day in-person compliance certification conferences in cities throughout the United States. They also offer in-person training at your location if this is more convenient.
Fees will vary depending on the type of class you take, but the program also offers a wide variety of free reference materials on its website.
Other Fleet Safety Training Programs
If you don’t have the time or the means right now to become fleet safety certified, you can still get safety training through several online programs.
You won’t receive a certification when you complete the program, but you may be better prepared to then go through the programs that do offer certifications.
8) Grainger DOT Online Training
Grainger and AdvancedOnline Solutions teamed up to provide online Department of Transportation (DOT) safety programs. Grainger offers various courses on compliance, safety, and HAZMAT transportation.
These courses are generally geared toward the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program administered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the DOT agency responsible for preventing crashes and injuries related to commercial motor vehicles.
The four main courses include:
- CSA Drivers Courses
- CSA Manager Courses
- Transportation Courses
- DOT Hazmat Courses
Along with the four core courses listed above, you can also find specialized training in:
- Management systems
- Compliance monitoring
- Cargo securement
- Hours of service compliance
- And much more
If your fleet is in any way involved in the construction industry, you can find a variety of OSHA Construction Safety online courses on the Grainger site as well.
Pricing for the Grainger programs can range from under $50 to as high as a few thousand dollars depending on the number of people you want to put through the program and the type of training they need.
If you’re not quite ready to go all-in, you can take advantage of their 14-day trial to see if one of their many modules pertains to your specific needs to become fleet safety certified.
Although not entirely focused on fleet safety and compliance training, Udemy does offer several useful courses related to fleet management that can help you prepare for some of the larger programs mentioned in the previous section.
Choices include options such as how to start a trucking company, business structure, development, office productivity, personal development, and more.
These resources can be useful for fleet managers and business owners looking to improve their overall operations and maintain a motivated workforce.
Put Your Fleet Safety Certified Status To Work
Once you’ve achieved fleet safety certified status, it’s time to put that knowledge to work. Here are some suggestions for implementing the knowledge you’ve gained for the betterment of your business.
1) Invest In Monitoring Tools
One of the first steps in putting your certified status to work is investing in various vehicle-monitoring tools. The data you gather from these systems can help you make changes that benefit both your drivers and your business as a whole.
- Dash cams
- Backup cameras
Keep in mind that you don’t have to incorporate all of these tools at the same time.
Depending on the age of your fleet, it may be enough to add dash cams or GPS to the cabs as a way to gather data. Or if you’re ready to buy or lease new vehicles, you may need to install telematics to monitor all the major systems.
2) Identify Problem Areas
When you’ve gathered enough data from your monitoring tools, the next step is to identify problem areas within your fleet.
To do this, review all of the safety-related incidents your fleet has experienced in the last six months, including:
- Claim payouts
- Behavioral issues
- Distracted driving
- Aggressive acceleration
- Aggressive braking
As you examine the data, do your best to identify trends and patterns — both good and bad — in the above areas.
3) Set Specific Goals
After identifying the areas that need work, set specific goals to shoot for. Write down two or three benchmarks that will help improve the trends and patterns that you see in the data.
For example, if your insurance premiums have increased, you may want to set goals to:
- Decrease your fleet’s at-fault accident rate
- Minimize costs associated with accidents
- Decrease fleet CSS scores
- Exonerate innocent drivers from false claims
Depending on the severity of the problems and the difficulty of changing a specific behavior, you may choose to aim for a relatively small improvement (e.g., a 5% reduction) or a large improvement (e.g., a 50% reduction).
However you choose to address the problem, make your goals realistic so you have a better chance of accomplishing them. Shooting for an 85% reduction in your premiums right away may be a bit aggressive at first.
Consider starting small and working your way up from there.
4) Create A Plan
Next, create a plan to help your fleet achieve its goals. A comprehensive plan includes not only the steps necessary to make improvements, but also the time it will take to realize the milestones you’ve set.
As you put together your plan, don’t be afraid to rearrange things so that you give priority to the benchmarks that matter the most and that will get you to your goals faster.
5) Train Your Team
Training your team to implement your new plan may seem like a massive undertaking — and, in some cases, it is. But you can reduce the difficulty somewhat by training your team in phases rather than all at once.
In many cases, it can be more efficient to start by training the trainers first. Empower your core team and supervisors with your new knowledge and plan, then instruct them in the best ways to train your field staff and drivers.
As you do this, always keep the goal of this training front and center — to be consistent with a safety policy that your entire team can enforce.
6) Improve Driver Behavior
Once you’ve trained the trainers, turn them loose to improve driver behavior on the road. Think of these managers as coaches that are there to get the best from your drivers.
To make their job easier — and to produce better results — give them access to telematics data and video footage.
A data-driven approach to safety that backs up knowledge with real-world examples can be much more effective at improving driver behavior, reducing accidents, and lowering safety-related costs.
You might also consider putting in place real-time alerts that can help train your drivers to exhibit the behaviors that will get you to your goals sooner.
Examples of real-time alerts include text or email messages that notify a driver when they exceed the standards you’ve set for aggressive acceleration, aggressive braking, rolling stops, high speed, or other safety-related events.
With certain telematics systems, you may also have the option of providing immediate feedback with in-vehicle alerts. Dash cams can be set to play a recorded message to remind drivers of things like fast cornering or an unbuckled seat belt.
Such alerts are often more effective than text messages or emails because the recording is more closely associated with the behavior (in both time and relevance) and doesn’t distract the driver from the job they’re doing.
7) Establish Consistent Safety Workflows
Some risky driving behaviors are more serious than others. As you train your drivers, determine which behaviors need a short conversation and which behaviors need something more involved, like an in-person meeting at the office.
As part of your safety workflow and training, you can maximize its impact by regularly coaching all drivers in group sessions.
Set up a scoring system for your fleet and reserve one-on-one training sessions for drivers whose performance drops below a predetermined safety score threshold.
In the process, record your best practices in a master document and provide trainers with a standardized script for responding to different types of safety events so that the feedback they provide isn’t biased.
8) Create A Safety-Minded Culture
One of the best ways to maximize the impact of the work you do after becoming fleet safety certified is to create a safety-minded culture that permeates everything your drivers do on a daily basis.
To build such a culture, consider introducing gamification into the process (to foster a sense of competition) as well as performance rewards, such as bonuses, plaques, special privileges, company gear, or gift cards, to the drivers that exhibit the safest driving behavior.
Managing Your Fleet Operations
While becoming fleet safety certified is an important part of managing your operations effectively, other components — such as tracking driver activity and controlling expenses while they’re on the road — play an equally important role.
Coast is here to help. The Coast fuel card provides controls and visibility that work for your business, as well as an online expense management platform that empowers you with real-time information related to your fleet.
For more information on how Coast can help you control fleet costs and streamline your fleet management program, visit CoastPay.com today.