Driver safety training is an essential component of fleet management to ensure public safety, driver safety, and company assets protection. To ensure your drivers – and others they share the road with – reach their destinations, training and proactive defensive driving are critical.
With a simple search for “driver safety course near me,” you’ll come across various schools, programs, and defensive driving videos for employees.
However, to help streamline the process for you, we’ve compiled a guide that will explain the needs, benefits, and minimum requirements for a comprehensive national safe drivers program for carriers.
Types of Driver Safety Training
There are a variety of defensive driving training venues available to private truckers and large fleet operators. Several organizations and private companies, such as the National Safety Council defensive driving program, can help round out your company’s driver safety training.
You can seek established services, such as the National Safety Council defensive driving course online, one-on-one in-person driver safety training, or can incorporate your protocols with the aid of defensive driving training materials like Tenstreet’s own training content library modules.
Regardless of the method you choose to educate your employees regarding workplace driver training, some core principles need to be addressed by the program.
Components of a Driver Safety Training Program
When establishing a safety program for your employees, you will want to incorporate the following guidelines.
Written Policies and Procedures
There should be publicly posted written statements showcasing the company’s commitment to preventing unnecessary driving-related accidents. The document should be written in simple, easy-to-understand language that dictates the company’s safety policies. The company should communicate it to the workforce with clear incentives for following the procedures and consequences for negligence.
Example of written policies include:
- Rules regarding alcohol and drug use
- Rules established around seatbelt safety
Supervisors should communicate these policies during any driver safety training and when they receive their contracts and agreements.
Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) Checks
Every employee who operates a motor vehicle should have their driving record examined for any irregularities. Past driving performance can shed light on future performance, and businesses should avoid those with a poor driving record as they pose a risk to other drivers’ security on the road and the company’s future success.
This check of an MVR record should be done regularly to ensure that drivers are maintaining an impeccable record.
During the company’s driver safety training, the minimal requirements that must be maintained need to be communicated to all employees.
Crash Reporting and Investigation Procedure
Fleets should establish a defined and thorough crash reporting and investigation procedure.
Every incident needs to be recorded within a reasonable amount of time, no matter the degree of severity of the crash. Once the collision has been notated, a thorough investigation into the accident’s circumstances must be executed to determine the causes and liabilities.
Management can use this fact-finding scenario to establish further guidelines that may help prevent future incidents.
Vehicle Choice and Maintenance
An essential part of establishing a driver safety training program is determining which vehicle is best suited for the task. By reviewing the vehicle’s safety features, a company can choose one that is adept enough to perform the mandatory functions while also offering protection to the driver and other motorists.
With a properly selected vehicle, coupled with regular maintenance, a company is taking steps toward preventing foreseeable accidents and financial losses.
Incentives and Consequences
As illustrated in the driver agreement, fleets must establish an incentive and disciplinary system to deter minor driving infractions and preventable accidents.
A typical strategy assesses points to the driver for any traffic violation they incur while on duty. Managers should communicate the offenses and consequences in plain language.
Within the same parameters, managers should also communicate a reward program to drivers to reinforce defensive driving.
Driver’s who exhibit safe driving practices help maintain profitable business operations and should be incentivized to continue doing so. Whether the reward is issued through monetary gain, public recognition, or potential advancement is up to the individual company.
Continuous Driver Safety Training
As with regular vehicle maintenance, drivers also need a refresher when it comes to safe driving habits. Many truckers spend most of their day on the road, which can easily create a sense of complacency. At this point, a driver is most likely to make a mistake that can lead to disaster. With continuous driver safety training, the company can ensure that its employees are reminded that drivers should always practice awareness.
The Importance of Training
There are several reasons to integrate driver safety training into a company’s operations. An obvious example is that operating a motor vehicle can pose a serious risk of bodily injury or even death. According to a report from OSHA:
- Every 12 minutes, someone dies in a motor vehicle crash
- Every 10 seconds, an injury occurs
- Every 5 seconds, a crash occurs
As it stands, motor vehicle accidents account for the leading cause of death and injuries across all demographics, with an estimated 40,000 fatalities each year. It’s easy to substantiate this figure given that the U.S. averages 17,300 vehicle accidents that result in over 8,000 injuries daily.
However, the critical takeaway from these figures is that many of these crashes are preventable.
Aside from securing employees’ physical well-being, a company can help reduce its bottom line by instituting a driver safety training program. Motor accidents account for the leading cause of lost time within the job environment.
With adequate, and in some cases, specialized driver safety training, unnecessary costs to the company can be drastically reduced.
Specialized Driver Safety Training
There are certain driving occupations and circumstances that require specialized training to meet minimum state and federal standards.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has created a mandate for certain Department of Transportation driving jobs. Depending on the type of vehicle, the contents of the freight, or if they hold a specific position within a company, a driver may be required to complete either:
- Entry-Level driver training
- Longer Combination vehicle training
- Hazardous Materials training
- Reasonable Suspicion Training for Supervisors
Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT)
The ELDT regulations, as the name implies, are the first level of driver safety training necessary for truckers applying for:
- A Class A or Class B CDL
- An S, P, or H endorsement
- Upgrading a Class B CDL to a Class A CDL
The training will cover a multitude of aspects governing a driver’s occupation, including:
- Required qualifications
- Health, wellness, and fatigue
- Whistleblower protection rights
The course will need to encompass both theory and practical behind-the-wheel training. Once the procedure is complete, the driver will receive a certification that can be used to take the CDL skills tests.
Hazardous Materials Training
Whenever hazardous material (HAZMAT) is being transported, special precautions need to be undertaken to ensure that people and the environment are adversely affected due to exposure.
As such, drivers who are hauling HAZMAT need to receive the appropriate driver safety training and the proper H endorsement on their CDL.
The training a driver receives needs to be specific to the hazardous contents they will be transporting. Place focus on:
- General familiarity and awareness of the HAZMAT
- Safety and preventative training
- Security awareness
Training and certification last for three years. Once the period has elapsed, the affected parties and drivers will need to be retrained.
Reasonable Suspicion Supervisor Training
While this training isn’t specific to drivers, it does affect the carrier company as a whole. A supervisor must be trained on identifying the signs and behaviors of a driver under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance.
If the supervisor suspects that a driver may be in an altered state of mind, they should conduct a reasonable suspicion test.
A common practice is for the supervisor to retrain every two to three years.
As stated, one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce foreseeable fleet expenses is through the incorporation of driver safety training.
Establishing an effective program can safeguard a company from contributing to the nearly $60 billion annually attributed to damages, medical and legal bills, and operational costs incurred due to crashes.
It’s estimated that the expenses caused by a single motor vehicle accident cost the company more than $16,000. This cost is quadrupled if the accident results in an injury and can exceed over $500,000 if a fatality occurs.
However, with proper safety protocols in place, trained drivers can avoid many of these accidents and the subsequent expenditures.
Driver safety training is a valuable tool that can safeguard a company from unexpected catastrophes. We offer a variety of solutions that help you to keep training drivers – contact us by clicking the button below.
To check out the full list of Tenstreet training courses available (which cover many of these key safety areas), take a look at our Training Content Library cutsheet.