If you operate a work truck or manage a fleet of vehicles, safety should be the top priority — and safety can be improved by implementing proper protocols and standards that work truck operators follow completely.
The first step is having a plan you can communicate with others and follow yourself. As you develop a truck safety checklist, consider the following tips.
Truck Fleet Safety Tips
As you prepare drivers to join your fleet, there are a few ways you can get them ready for being out in the field. Drivers who are responsible for service trucks must be appropriately trained, and companies must take steps to make sure drivers are set up to succeed.
Below are some of the top truck fleet safety tips.
1. Online Training
As you prepare your drivers for their first day behind the wheel, the first place you should start is an online driving training course. This training can include videos, tests and interactive programs to help drivers learn best practices for driving their truck. By putting employees in these programs, they will become more knowledgeable about safety information before they hit the road.
2. Run Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) Checks
Before you let a potential driver get behind the wheel of a company vehicle, you’ll want to run a motor vehicle record (MVR) check first. An MVR check is fairly inexpensive and provides great value to employers.
Companies use these checks before they even hire an employee who will be using a company vehicle to complete their work. If the MVR shows that the applicant has a DUI/DWI conviction or a record of poor driving, the company may decide not to hire them. These sort of checks can help companies avoid hiring employees who will likely be a liability. Even after an employee is hired, MVR checks may be run to ensure they are still driving safely.
3. Behind-The-Wheel Training
Along with doing safety checks and making drivers complete online training, employees should always have behind-the-wheel training before they are allowed onto the roads. Though employees may be proficient drivers already, they can still benefit if they have never driven a service truck before and are unaware of the differences in operating that kind of vehicle.
For companies on a tighter budget, they can require driving training for those who have had a DUI or a number of preventable accidents on their driving record. Once a driver is out on the road for your company, you can also require different training sessions if they get into an accident.
For example, for the first accident, they may need to complete online training again, while a second preventable accident will result in the driver having to take behind-the-wheel training. Many companies will revoke driving privileges after a driver’s third preventable accident occurs.
4. Use Newsletters and Emails to Spread Safety Messages
Part of safe driving is to keep safety at the forefront of employees’ minds. One great way to accomplish this is by sending out regular safety updates in newsletters and emails that all of your employees will receive. If there are any updates to your policies for driving policy, you can include them.
In addition to updates, you can use the newsletters to include situational information. As it gets close to winter, for instance, you can devote time in your newsletter to discuss how to drive safely in the snow or ice. This sort of situational information can also be useful if there are have been a batch of similar accidents, and you want to help drivers know how not to make the same mistakes.
For enhanced readability, make your messages short and to the point. A good rule is to keep a newsletter somewhere between one or two pages. Set your employees up for success by making their learning as easy as possible.
5. Reward Good Driving
People respond well to positive feedback. Not only does it make them feel valued by your company, but it can also provide an incentive to continue the behavior — in this case, practicing good driving habits.
Some companies will offer financial incentives to recognize good driving. Some might offer a cash reward to drivers who do not get into an accident over a period of time. Others may reward paid time off to drivers who reach certain driving goals. Though these incentives do cost the company money, they can ultimately be a money saver, as they can prevent drivers from driving recklessly and opening the company up to liability costs.
Safety in the Field
With drivers sufficiently prepared to go out into the field, you’ll also need to have protocols and standards that keep workers safe while they’re doing their job:
- Inspect vehicles every day. Before you take your service trucks out, you’ll want to give them a quick inspection to ensure everything is working properly. As they’re hauling heavy machinery, equipment and tools, faulty breaks or a blown tire could cause a major accident that could harm your drivers and other motorists. Establish a truck safety checklist that workers must complete every day.
- Designate a spotter. At the worksite, if you need to move your vehicles or a large piece of equipment, don’t let drivers do it on their own. Instead, make sure they have a spotter to help them back up and navigate the worksite. The spotter should be wearing clothing that’s highly visible to the driver as an added precaution. Spotters should know where the vehicle has blind spots and communicate instructions clearly.
- Direct traffic away from workers. If your worksite has a lot of vehicles in it, you’ll want to keep your workers away from them. Keeping vehicles and heavy-duty machinery away from workers can help keep your crew safe from accidents. In addition, if you work on a busy street, you’ll want to find a way to keep everyday traffic away from the work you’re doing, such as shutting down a lane of traffic.
- Get rid of distractions. One of the biggest dangers on the worksite is distractions. Just like when drivers are behind the wheel, personal cell phones can put workers in harm’s way. The equipment that crews will be handling can often cause a great deal of harm if misused as well. Reducing the number of distractions on the worksite, like phone and headphone use, can prevent damage to equipment and injury to workers. It can also help workers avoid making mistakes that could delay the project.
- Include signage at the worksite. To keep work vehicles and workers safe, you can use signage to clearly mark where vehicles are acceptable and where they should be driving. Make sure everyone on the job site knows how to read the signs and understands what they mean.
Safety on the Road
Anyone who gets behind the wheel of a vehicle needs to have the proper training and knowledge to operate it effectively. However, proper safety is even more necessary for your drivers as they will likely be driving a vehicle with a lot of power that could do damage to other vehicles and drivers on the road. Additionally, you don’t want your drivers to open up the company to liability issues due to their poor driving.
Having rules in place and explaining those rules to drivers set the tone that unsafe driving practices will not be tolerated. Driving safety starts at the top, with fleet managers making it clear to drivers that they should take driving safety seriously.
Below are some work truck safety tips that every driver in your fleet should follow:
- Drivers must have the proper license. While it might seem obvious that a driver should have a license, you should check your state’s licensing requirements to see if any of your drivers will require a special license to operate your vehicles. Depending on the state, there are often requirements for trucks due to their type and size.
- Secure equipment. Work trucks often carry a lot of equipment, so your drivers will need to make sure their equipment is tied down and secured properly. Material that’s loose can become a dangerous projectile if it flies off the back of a work truck into traffic. Drivers should make it a habit to secure any equipment that they’ve loaded onto the side, bed or roof of their work truck.
- Don’t drive while distracted. Drivers should be trained from the very beginning to avoid distracted driving at all times. While a driver’s phone, GPS and two-way radio may be integral to their job, they should only operate them when the car is pulled over. If the driver has a crew with them, the crew can assist the driver with their electronic device, handling it while the driver stays focused on the road.
- Slow down. When drivers speed, they put themselves and those on the road at risk. If drivers do not have the time to make it to their destination, they feel like they need to speed. While some drivers will simply like to drive fast, you can cut down on speeding by ensuring drivers are aware of how long it will take to arrive at their destination and that they have enough time to get from jobsite to jobsite.
- Prevent drowsy driving. Over 70,000 accidents occur each year due to drivers who fell asleep at the wheel. All drivers should be aware of the dangers of driving without the proper amount of sleep, and any driver who appears to need sleep should not be allowed to operate a work truck.
- No tolerance for impaired driving. While employees shouldn’t be coming to work impaired in the first place, they should especially not be driving. Not only is driving drunk a criminal offense, but it can lead to the injury, or death, of other drivers on the road. Additionally, if workers are taking medication that impairs their ability to drive, they should not be driving one of your trucks. Make sure your drivers know about all the substances that could impair their driving ability.
- Wearing seatbelts should be mandatory. There’s a reason that wearing your seatbelt is the law. Seatbelt use can save lives, so drivers and their passengers should always wear them when they are in one of your work trucks. Along this same line, drivers should never try to fit more people in their work truck than there are seatbelts for passengers to wear.
Upfitting Options for Increased Safety
Truck ergonomics play a significant role in driver safety, but many work trucks — from big rigs to everyday service vehicles — have room for improvement. Finding the right customization options for you during the upfitting process can be a game-changer. Upfitting your trucks can make them more aligned with the drivers’ needs and help to prevent accidents.
Below are a few of our favorite options that can increase safety and prevent accidents from occuring:
- Recessed frame-mounted bumper. As crew members will be using the bumper to step on and off the back of the truck, it’s essential to have a sturdy and anti-slip surface. Reading Truck Body’s recessed frame-mounted bumpers meet those needs. Additionally, these bumpers come with LED marker lights for increased safety.
- Redi-Safe non-skid application. This roll-on non-skid application prevents surfaces from getting slick after it has become wet or soiled. The material is also not ignitable if it’s used in welding applications.
- External lighting. If people need to work at night or early in the morning, it will be important to have light while they work. Reading Truck Body’s trucks will often include external lighting that helps workers use equipment safely in the dark.
- Access ladders and steps. Getting up into the cab or the bed of a truck can be difficult if your truck is high off the ground. Reading Truck Body offers fold-away access steps and slide away access ladders to help workers reach areas of the truck that could be strenuous to access.
- Rear access doors. Sometimes you’ll need to keep your rear access doors open while you’re driving to fit larger materials in the vehicle. To make sure these doors don’t hinder safety, they are designed to not cover tail lights so that other drivers will be able to know when you’re braking or taking a turn.
Want to Make Your Work Trucks Safer?
If you’re interested in implementing any of the options listed above or exploring more of your safety options, Reading Truck Body can be of assistance. First established in 1955, we have experience working in all types of industries and can expertly handle your needs.