OSH 2305: Fleet and Driver Safety

Unit Lesson


The role of the safety manager is recognized as an important part in the execution of all safety processes within an organization. There are many parts of fleet safety management that include everything from vehicle maintenance to effective safety training. Coordination within any company is very important; therefore, knowledgeable safety managers and experienced supervisors are the support system to assist the frontline drivers to perform safely each day.

The fleet safety process begins with sound fleet safety management. A strong fleet begins with regular maintenance on vehicles and vehicles that are correctly chosen for the tasks that they will be expected to perform. A company must consider the types of vehicles that are needed and the length of time they will be used.

There are many different classes of commercial vehicles. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Commercial Driver’s License Program outlines the various classes. There are three classes of commercial driver’s licenses in addition to various endorsements utilized by fleet drivers to operate vehicles specific to an operation (FMCSA, n.d.). The different classes and endorsements for commercial drivers licenses can be viewed on the FMCSA website.

Drivers must be qualified based on the specific determinations outlined in the classes in order to transport the organization’s materials and products. Drivers are hired who are qualified to drive the specific fleet vehicles of the company and who have driving records that meet federal and company specifications. These drivers will be further trained by the company to safely operate these vehicles.

Safety Features of Fleet Vehicles

Critical components of safety include vehicle features that not only protect the driver but also protect the vehicle when in use. These safety features, as shown in the graphic, help protect both the vehicle and the driver. Drivers must be trained in the operation of these safety features in addition to being trained on speed control and traffic monitoring to mitigate the possibility of an accident.

Additional Considerations

In addition to fleet safety measures, management must consider not only the type of vehicles that are necessary to meet organizational needs but also the economic results of these vehicles. Companies are constantly challenged to reduce overhead costs and improve productivity while complying with federal safety guidelines.

Long-term solutions are more beneficial than short-term ideas in successfully managing an effective fleet. Low maintenance costs are one of the key factors in managing a fleet because cost projections are based on current financial analyses and can determine long-term usage by drivers.

The type of engines available for fleets are also important given that, if chosen correctly, they can extend the life span of a vehicle and can increase fuel efficiency for drivers. Fuel is an important feature in ensuring the
economically sound use of a vehicle. Not only can it be expensive, but if used correctly in alignment with proper vehicle maintenance, it can also lower overall vehicle costs. Diesel engines are good engines for most companies to use because of their proven longevity, which can allow a fleet vehicle to last longer than most.

If the life span of the vehicle has been reached or if upgrades are necessary because of changes in usage, management must also consider whether it is more financially viable to continue with the use of the vehicle with upgrades or if it is time to retire it. Within transportation, environmental factors, such as vehicle-use modification when the seasons change, need to be addressed. For example, if a company vehicle operates where heavy snow falls in the winter, upgrades must be made to ensure safety, such as the purchase of snow
tires and chains.

All types of safety measures are important in successfully managing a fleet and maintaining efficiency of all fleet vehicles. A checklist is required by the FMCSA that all drivers must complete prior to beginning (i.e., preoperation inspection list) and upon completion of their workday (i.e., post-operation inspection list).

These checklists are also called the Driver-Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR). These daily inspections contribute to both the safety and operating efficiency of the fleet (Haight, 2015). After the workday ends, the driver can utilize the post-operation inspection list to document all working capabilities of the vehicle for the next day and communicate to the maintenance department what needs to be repaired. In addition, these checklists provide a detailed record that the safety and maintenance managers can utilize to document vehicle maintenance and operations.

Accident Investigations for Fleet Vehicles

When an accident involving a fleet vehicle occurs, a safety manager must understand and implement the necessary accident investigation process. The goal of a successful accident investigation is to prevent future accidents. Vehicles must be prepared for any potential investigation with the correct documentation always onboard.

This documentation includes the driver’s license, the vehicle registration, and other necessary documents. This is where officials start their investigation. As mentioned before, drivers must always be able to show accurate documentation of their credentials, pre-operation inspections, post-operation inspections, vehicle insurance, and vehicle registration.