Did you know that every 12 minutes, someone dies in a car accident?
Even more shocking, there’s an injury caused by a motor vehicle accident every ten seconds. Every five seconds, there’s a car accident.
The most dangerous time of day to drive is during rush hour traffic, between 5 PM to 7 PM. As someone who manages a fleet of drivers, how are you supposed to reduce employer liability if one of your drivers gets into an accident?
Employment claims are expensive and difficult to defend, but thankfully, there are several steps that you can take to reduce employer liability if one of your drivers does get into an accident. If you’re curious to learn how you can reduce your liability and help to keep your drivers safe, keep reading.
An employee is considered to be driving for work if they’re driving on the road as part of their work in a vehicle that’s been provided by their employee, if the vehicle that the employee is owned by the company the employee is working for, or if the employee receives a payment (or allowance) from their employer for the distance that they’ve traveled.
While commuting to work isn’t considered to be classified as driving for work, it does count when an employee’s journey starts from their home and they’re traveling to a location that isn’t their normal place of employment (such as a different branch location).
Driving is one of the most dangerous activities that an employee can do for a company, with nearly 40,000 collisions involving drivers who were driving for work last year.
As someone who manages a fleet, it’s your responsibility to assess, train, and supervise your drivers, as well as to manage the conditions under which your drivers are working under, to reduce the risks that your staff is facing (or creating) when they’re driving for your company.
The majority of car accidents are caused (or involve) human error. Some of the most common causes of car accidents include:
- Loss of control of the vehicle
- Failure to give way
- Reckless driving
- Lack of judgment of own path
- Failure to observe surroundings properly
- Poor turn maneuvering
There are several simple steps that you can take to ensure that you’re properly selecting, assessing, training, and supervising your drivers in order to reduce the risk that your drivers are exposed to and create on the road.
Employer Liability: What You Can Do
By making sure that you put safe driving policies into place, as well as creating a safety culture in your company, you’ll gain a better understanding, as well as to help your drivers to better understand:
- How your drivers use the road (what vehicles they use and the struggles your staff faces while on those journeys)
- The risks that your drivers are facing
- The risks that your drives are creating for other people
- Consequences of the risks they’re making and creating
- The steps that you need to take to better manage the safety of your drivers by reducing risks
As an end result, this will help you to:
- Save money by reducing the number of accidents and other related incidents
- Protect your drivers and other people on the road
- Keep your employees and vehicles safe
- Improve fuel efficiency and reduce your environmental impact
- Avoid negative publicity that’s associated with accidents
Keep in mind that vehicle accidents aren’t just caused by errors of your driver. Accidents are also included by the nature of the driving that your driver is required to do, such as distractions, time pressures, the vehicles they’re driving, and the schedules that they’re having to meet.
Ways to Minimize Exposure to Liability Risks
To decrease the liability you have as an employer in case one of your drivers get into a car accident, it’s important that you focus on creating a corporate safety culture, enrolling your fleet into a defensive driving course, and regulate your driver’s behavior.
Not sure how that will help you to limit your exposure to liability? Keep reading for more:
Create a Safety Culture
Developing a culture that prioritizes the safety of your employees and finds ways to educate them on how to remain safe while working will decrease employer liability if an accident were to occur. A safety culture is a way a working environment handles safety issues and how they’re handled.
By listening to your employees, asking questions about how you can provide better safety support is one of the easiest ways to address safety in the workplace, as well as how you can go about creating an everlasting safety culture. Safety culture includes the beliefs, perceptions, values, and attitudes that employees have in relation to the safety of their place of employment.
As an employer, you can define safety responsibilities for each level of drivers your company has, such as the safe driving policies your company has, as well as safety goals that your employees should aim for. When you’re establishing your safety goals, make sure that everyone has an understanding of what you’re aiming for.
Providing a safety incentive for your employees to work for is a great way to get everyone on board towards working for a safer place to work. Building trust and celebrating success will help to keep your employees motivated towards a safety culture.
However, you should also develop a process that enforces accountability for errors. Providing multiple ways for drivers to bring forward their concerns or problems they’re facing will help to show your employees that they’re being listened to.
You should also take time to educate your employees on the importance of reporting near misses, accidents, and any injuries they get while driving. Work on rebuilding your investigation system for these injuries and accidents, as well as it’ll help your company get to the root cause of any accidents and incidents.
Regulate Driving Behavior
As an employer, you should expect safe driving. You need to make sure that all of your staff, including people who aren’t drivers, understand that they are expected to drive legally, safely, and responsible.
Make sure that your staff is fully aware of the driving policies that your company has on safe driving. Ensure that you go over the policy periodically during safety meetings.
You can regulate driving behavior by including driver training and assessments. While some drivers may find the training or assessments unnecessary or intimidating, it’s important that you positively communicate with your drivers why the assessments are important.
The name and image of your company can be affected (either negatively or positively) by the way that your drivers operate your vehicles, especially if your vehicles have your company name on them. As part of the process of hiring new drivers and training your current, it’s important that you:
- Assess the driver for the specific type of driving that their position depends on (such as city vs highway)
- Take a look at the competence and risk that each driver creates, even if they passed the test
- Observe who your highest risk drivers maybe, depending on the type of driving that they do, their attitudes, and their driving capabilities
Take the time to bring up common driving problems in team meetings, as well as take feedback about any problems that your drivers are experiencing and ensure that you address the problems to find a solution.
Defensive Driving Course
Mandating that your employees take a defensive driving course will help to educate your drivers on defensive driving, as well as make them aware of the Highway code, and common causes of car accidents.
Defensive driving courses aren’t just about focusing on how to control a vehicle and increase the skills of a driver, but it also highlights how personal characteristics influence the risk of an accident, as well as how to properly plan for a journey.
Something such as a divorce, a bereavement, health problems, or extra stress can have a negative impact on the way a person drivers. Enrolling your drivers into a defensive driving course can help your drivers to recognize how they can manage and minimize their own risks.
What Is Defensive Driving?
Defensive driving is a way to operate a vehicle that uses safe driving strategies to provide drivers with the ability to identify road hazards in a predictable manner. This type of driving is a skill that had to be taught, as it goes well above basic traffic laws and average driving procedures.
Classes for defensive driving will teach drivers how to improve their driving skills by reducing the driving risks that they create. Drivers are taught how to anticipate situations, how to properly react to situations, and how to make safe decisions when they’re out on the road.
While all of the benefits that defensive driving classes have to offer to vary by state, most states include a reduction in points off of your driver’s license if you receive a ticket. In addition, it’ll also ensure that your insurance rates don’t increase. Plus, some states offer a reduction in your insurance rates if your drivers do take a defensive driving course.
Understanding the Benefits of Defensive Driving
Enrolling your drivers into a defensive driving course offers several unique benefits. Having your drivers take a defensive driving course will help to teach them safe driving techniques that’ll help them to control your company’s vehicle while they’re in emergency situations, how to handle fatigue and emotional stress while driving, and other important steps towards ensuring driver safety.
Here’s some of the benefits that come along with your drivers taking a defensive driving course:
Refresh Driver’s Law Knowledge
Unless you’re hiring a bunch of new drivers, it’s likely been a while since your fleet drivers have had a refresher on driving regulations and driving laws. Having your drivers take a defensive driving class will help to provide your drivers with a refresher on the laws on the road, as well as rene their road safety confidence.
Learn Techniques to Avoid Accidents
Roadway hazards are always present, no matter if your drivers are doing local deliveries or are traveling across the United States. The best way to keep your drivers safe is to make sure that they avoid potential threats.
Techniques that are part of a defensive driving course will teach your derivers how to proactively anticipate and safely react to a large variety of hazards in the roadway. Some of these hazards include poor visibility, road rage from other drivers, careless driving of other drivers, poor road conditions caused by dangerous weather, fatigue while driving, emotional or physical distress while driving, and other potential hazards.
Importance of Safe Driving
To reduce employer liability and keep your drivers safe, you need a driver safety program to save the lives of your drivers, to reduce the risk of life-changing injuries on your team, to protect your company’s reputation and your financial resources, as well as to keep your company guarded against any liabilities that come with car accidents that involve your employees.
The program that you develop should not only focus on keeping your driver but, but to keep the people that your driver is sharing the road with safe. Building a safety culture that’s based on basic safe driving ideas and rewarding behaviors that are safety-conscious, you can ensure that your employees and your company stay safe.
Are you looking to find an online defensive driving course for your fleet? Click here to learn more!