“Grey” fleets get their name for a reason. They’re murky areas of responsibility. Your company doesn’t own the vehicles, so you may not know much about the journeys. They’re easy to ignore.
But a grey fleet means employees are driving for business, and that puts the company at risk. In the U.S., OSHA estimates that motor vehicle crashes cost employers $60 billion per year.
If you have employees who drive for work, whether those are quick delivery trips or regular client visits, you should have policies for your grey fleet. Here are five areas to cover.
1) Assign oversight
Making sure someone manages your grey fleet is the first step to ensuring it won’t get overlooked. Someone from human resources or the health and safety department should be tasked with developing and supporting policies. This person can also track and manage costs, measure program effectiveness, and maximize productivity.
2) Collect data – about journeys,
distances, and drivers themselves
Even before you develop policies, you’ll benefit from collecting data about how much your employees drive. How many employees drive each day? When they drive, how far do they go?
The distance traveled helps you determine whether you want to reimburse for fuel consumption or provide rental cars. Each employee can record mileage for each trip, or, better yet, you can use a driver behavior app like iDriveAware to automate the data. iDriveAware tracks individual journeys through the employee’s smartphone, and it provides that data in cloud-based software you can review.
Data on driver behavior helps you assess the biggest threat to grey fleet safety – drivers themselves. Apps like iDriveAware will log any distracted driving during each trip, as well as measure other aspects of driver behavior that alert you to potential incidents.
3) Develop a written policy
Your company should have a formal policy on traveling for work and using one’s own or a rental vehicle. You’ll need to cover two broad areas: the vehicle and the driver.
For the vehicle, you can identify minimum safety standards such as age, mileage, and the presence of features like air bags. You may want to include a vehicle checklist before each trip, including items such as fuel, tires, lights, oil, etc. Finally, you’ll want to cover in-vehicle safety, such as ensuring that tools and equipment are secured and wearing seat belts.
Drivers should have minimum requirements as well. These include valid driver’s licenses, clean driving records and appropriate insurance that covers business use. Policies should also cover driver behavior and expectations for safety. Drivers are at risk from fatigue, impairment, and, of course, distracted driving.
Drivers using cell phones are four times more likely to crash than those not using one, regardless of whether it’s hands-free. Policies should not only advocate zero-tolerance but also provide company-supported guidelines for alternatives –such as not being expected to take work calls while traveling, and staying in a hotel if someone is too tired to drive.
4) Assess and reduce risk – don’t wait for incidents
Preventing incidents costs far less than compensating for them. You can mitigate risks first by conducting background checks on employees’ driving records. An astounding 90% of vehicle crashes are caused by human error.
If driving is an official part of a job description, then you will likely screen driving records before people are hired. If not, you may find situations where employees are driving for business and you have not checked their driving record.
If you find a problematic record, you can start by discussing the issue with the employee. You may want to recommend courses or tests to improve their driving behavior.
Driving records, however, only report incidents after they’ve occurred. The best option is to evaluate driving behavior each time people drive. The iDriveAware app measures speeding, braking, cornering, harsh braking and other actions for each trip.
5) Communicate regularly back to your drivers
Insights about the actual behavior of your drivers helps you support a safety program that’s effective because it’s specialized for your company. You can provide drivers with tips, mitigate journey issues and reward good behavior.
For instance, one iDriveAware client found that their drivers’ scores tended to decrease late in the day on Thursdays and Fridays – as the weekend approached. They were able to respond to this knowledge with Thursday reminders about safe driving habits.
iDriveAware lets you broadcast messages directly to phones. If there’s a weather alert or accident that will affect traffic, you can alert your employees and thus help them modify their travel plans rather than increase their likelihood of an incident.
Taking a carrot-versus-stick approach, you can also frequently reward good driving behavior when you have regular data. Weekly or monthly prizes challenge employees and ensure they pay attention to their driving scores. iDriveAware compares each driver to others in the company and motivates people to improve.
Driving is the most dangerous activity employees do, accounting for 41% of workplace fatalities. Ensuring that your safety program covers grey fleets will help protect your employees and your company – and avoid the high costs of neglect.