Compliance and risk management is an important consideration for fleets…
But how can you ensure that all requirements have been met?
For fleet operations, minimizing risk is essential for avoiding costly fines, reducing accidents and associated legal fees, and ensuring the safety of your employees and other motorists.
Effective fleet risk management practices are also driven by compliance with a growing number of regulatory and insurance requirements.
Running a compliant fleet poses challenges – there’s a legal minefield to navigate and risk assessment needs to fill, however, most importantly you need to understand what is expected of you, and what need to be done to meet those all-important management obligations.
So, we know that both are important, but what do these terms actually mean?
Compliance is a requirement for vehicle operators and the companies that employ them, often driven by a growing number of federal, state and local regulations, as well as demands of insurance providers. It’s often viewed a burden but is crucial to the running of any business.
For fleet operations, compliance produces benefits in lower costs for insurance; accidents and fines & violations; replacement vehicles; workers’ compensation and legal fees.
Risk management is the practice of identifying issues that could make a fleet non-compliant or unsafe, determining a framework of programs and practices for making improvements. The ultimate goal of any risk assessment is to ensure safety – specifically in the case of fleet, for it’s drivers and other motorists.
It’s fair to say that, much like other highly debated fleet topics, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to compliance and fleet risk management, however, adopting a common set of tools, programs and practices is a very good place to start.
What makes a compliant fleet?
In order for your fleet to become (and remain!) compliant, there are four key variables that must be treated with the highest priority. These are:
Whether issued as a company car or personally owned by your employee, any vehicle that is used for business purposes must be fit for purpose. Additionally, it must be inspected regularly, maintained correctly and equipped with the correct safety provisions.
All employees who operate a vehicle for business purposes, no matter how infrequently, must be fully trained to operate the class of vehicle to which they are allocated. Made aware of your Company’s safety policies and standard before even setting foot in a vehicle, they must also be in good health and – perhaps most importantly – hold a valid driving license.
Trips involving both company and personal vehicles must be planned in advance, routed and structured to help ensure safety and minimize risk. Work schedules must be realistic, with reasonable working hours and rest breaks allocated for each individual driver. Consideration also need to be given to unforeseen variables such as adverse weather conditions and other operational delays.
All vehicles used on company business, drivers and operations must be managed based on pre-established and documented rules and regulations. Such documents should outline responsibilities; routines; tasks and processes, while employing effective monitoring and analysis capabilities.
Identifying the right tools
Even with a comprehensive approach to compliance and risk, your efforts in each of these areas can too easily fall short of expectations, however, if you put the right tools and technologies in place, compliance and risk management does not have to be complicated…
For example, commonly used GPS tracking solutions can be highly effective for monitoring and recording vehicle activity and whereabouts – information that can then be used to identify compliance with schedules, routes and regulatory requirements.
The growing number of telematics systems on today’s vehicles enables driver behaviour to be monitored too, which provides an opportunity to proactively address unsafe practices – such as speeding and harsh braking – which can cause accidents.
Fleet management software also plays a key role here, as enterprise systems can integrate data from tracking systems, making it possible to generate detailed analyses. In turn, that information can form the basis of compliance management processes that are implemented by Companies looking to minimize risk.
REMEMBER: tools that empower drivers and managers to take control of compliance should be easy-to-use, both on the road and back at the office. They should also enable ease of access to required documentation, for roadside enforcement activity.
And risk, how should this be assessed?
While fleet operators have a responsibility to assess and manage risk associated with workplace activities, risk assessments do not have to be complicated, overly technical or time-consuming.
Simply, all it takes is a common-sense approach that includes:
A close look at work activities that could potentially cause harm, especially those involving vehicles and drivers
An evaluation of whether your safeguards are enough to prevent harm or injury
An analysis and regular review of your findings and a process for implementing revisions to practices
A competent, knowledgeable person who manages your risk assessment and compliance processes
Can fleet data play a role here?
Put simply, yes!
With the right data management tools, managers and drivers can monitor compliance and safety information simultaneously, and in real time. While this level of access to information can lead to significant improvements in terms of lower risk and better compliance, data can play an even bigger role behind the scenes…
Conducting analyses of the vehicle, driver and operational information, for example, is a sure path to minimizing risk and ensuring compliance which, in turn, improves safety.
This data can include employee license information; medical certificates; training and competencies.
In addition, it can cover details of vehicles and equipment; internal policies; highway regulations; accident histories.
REMEMBER: fleet safety, risk and compliance data should be accessible to your managers for assessing whether any drivers or vehicles have issues that need to be addressed.
Bringing it all together
Several steps lead to more effective risk management and compliance for fleets, including:
Having a responsible person in charge of overseeing all fleet risk management activities and programs
Becoming highly informed about common vehicle and driver related workplace risks
Developing a risk management policy for all vehicle and driver-related activities in the workplace
Carrying out risk assessments to fully identify, understand and measure levels of risk and exposure
Establishing and implementing procedures to eliminate and control known risks associated with workplace activities
Training drivers and other employees on how to work safely
Recording data on risk and compliance, before analysing information to enable actionable results
Meeting compliance responsibilities and regulatory requirements can improve vehicle and driver safety by reducing risk and lowering costs for accidents and fines.
Making vehicle and driver safety a priority for your business means addressing risk thoroughly and never underestimating the possibility of unforeseen circumstances.
Simply ensuring vehicles are roadworthy and that drivers hold a valid license is not sufficient. Companies must also strive to promote a culture of safety among employees to ensure an understanding of and adherence to compliance policies.
With the right tools, programs and practices in place, lasting improvement to your risk profile and more effective risk management and compliance in fleet operations can be realized.