From pre- and post-trip vehicle walkaround inspections to telematics programs with cameras in vehicles with a goal of reducing accidents and vehicle abuse, there are many ways to improve fleet...

From pre- and post-trip vehicle walkaround inspections to telematics programs with cameras in vehicles with a goal of reducing accidents and vehicle abuse, there are many ways to improve fleet safety. 

Photo: Government Fleet

A safety program can’t just be about compliance, according to Nicholas Bradshaw, director of fleet services for the city of Knoxville, Tennessee, fleet department. “I feel like that’s not sufficient because you’re checking the box, ‘I don’t want to get caught, I don’t want to have a violation,’ but that’s not the same as having a safety culture,” Bradshaw said. “We’re trying to prevent injuries, which is the real name of the game, so it’s both things. It’s creating a culture of being intentional and it’s about compliance.”

That culture extends to driver safety, as well.

Ross Jackson, CAFM, of the city of Fayetteville, Ark. places a heavy emphasis on pre- and post-trip vehicle walkaround inspections, and the fleet department will also soon roll out a telematics program with forward-facing and driver-facing cameras in vehicles with a goal of reducing accidents and vehicle abuse.

The department enforces existing policy to direct charge departments for operatorresponsible abuse and neglect, which also assists and incentivizes culture change.

“That kind of created the needed change for getting drivers on board,” said Jackson, who is fleet operations superintendent for the city. These fleets are examples of how safety programs are resulting in a culture of safer driving habits and safer shops.

Creating a Culture of Driver Safety: Drivers’ Expectations

When Jackson started his position with the city, he saw a substantial amount of equipment abuse, especially on the heavy truck side. The city’s fleet of 951 vehicles includes 750 motor pool units.

He began showing up in the early morning hours to see how drivers were performing their pre-trip walkarounds. “The program was lacking,” he said.

Jackson got together with department heads and supervisors to set walkaround expectations. The drivers now perform what Jackson described as “a pretty thorough commercial driver’s license walkaround. ““We keep it pretty simple,” he said. “We don’t really modify a whole lot to what they realistically have already been trained on, so it’s stuff they know. It’s just a matter of enforcing it and holding them accountable, but helping them to do the job that they need to do and also providing the tools to do it.”

The city of Fayetteville also operates an in-house driver training program for drivers, certifying them in house for their entry-level driver training, or ELDT, and provides full CDL and safety training. The city also offers its own third-party commercial driver’s license examination in house.

“I am the examiner, and we license our own drivers,” Jackson said. “It’s hard to find and get CDL driver applicants, so we raise them from within and teach them our safety expectations.”

Craig Croner, CPFP, the Glendale, Arizona, deputy director of field operations, said his department uses the Geotab GPS system, which ensures drivers that the department is tracking their vehicles in case they run into trouble.

The department receives immediate notification if an accident occurs with a G-force over 2.6. “We can use the system to investigate whether the airbag has been deployed and how the accident occurred,” Croner said. He added that the system had exonerated drivers accused of being at fault in accidents.

“We’re self-insured here in the city, so they’re able to avoid costly litigation because of that,” Croner said. “It keeps people safe. We have eyes on our vehicles, and it reassures the drivers that if something does happen, we’ll know the second it happens, and we can get them help as soon as possible.”

About the author
Daryl Lubinsky

Daryl Lubinsky

Freelance Writer

Daryl Lubinsky is a former managing editor for Bobit Business Media's Auto Group. He has written and edited content for publications in industries such as automotive, energy, and chiropractic. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from California State University, Long Beach.

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