Even if you provide training and guidance, once your fleet drivers are out on the road, they’re on their own and must take responsibility for their actions.
Developing and implementing a distracted driving policy can help maintain the safety procedures and guidelines you’ve introduced. This type of policy will typically form part of your wider driver safety programme to promote good driving practices through well-communicated initiatives.
Any policy should reflect the nature of your business, including the type of vehicles and driving patterns. For example, a policy for a haulage firm will differ significantly from a IT company where employees have company-owned vehicles to drive to sales meetings or site visits.
As a guide, a distracted driving policy should include the following:
- A policy statement that clarifies your company’s stance on distracted driving. This statement should specify the purpose and goals of the policy.
- A definition of distracted driving. This definition should highlight the dangers of distracted driving and the ways it affects the business.
- A summary of whom the policy applies to. In general, the policy should account for all company employees, even if driving a vehicle isn’t a regular part of their daily duties.
- A list of what constitutes as distracted driving and actions that are strictly prohibited to ensure driver safety.
- A list of suggested practices to reduce the risk of distracted driving.
- A list of potential consequences if the terms of the policy are breached.
- A space for the employee’s and fleet manager’s signatures.
How to make a distracted driving policy effective
Having a policy in place that sets out the required driving behaviours is one thing – making sure it’s understood, adopted and embedded within your company’s culture is another.
Questions to ask yourself as an employer or fleet manager
- Do your employees and/or paid contractors understand the dangerous nature of distracted driving?
- Are drivers aware of the seriousness and potential consequences of ignoring your policy?
- Is the business providing distracted driving training?
Here’s our top 5 tips for delivering and embedding a distracted driving policy:
- Testing—Distracted driving policies should be tested regularly to ensure they are achieving the fleet’s goals. When testing a policy look for any gaps or exceptions that need addressing. Be open to feedback from your drivers and make changes accordingly. Testing should involve any and all departments that interact with your drivers.
- Communication—All company policies, guides and updates should be communicated on a regular basis. Delivering a distracted driving policy, especially for the first time, needs the engagement of your team. Of course, you can send out an email, but think about having a staff tech talk or meeting, so you can answer any immediate questions. This can be followed up with email or newsletter reminders, staff noticeboard items and driver training initiatives. As a minimum create a form that drivers can sign to confirm that they understand distracted driving protocols and are committed to staying safe on the road. This should be updated and re-issued at least annually to take account of any changes and to ensure it stays in the minds of your driving employees.
- Top-down involvement—When it comes to protecting your fleet from the risks of distracted driving, it’s important for management to lead by example. Under no circumstances should managers call or text their drivers during regular driving hours. Distracted driving policies apply to all fleet employees, including leadership. As such, managers should adhere to any established procedures and encourage engagement and co-operation throughout the business.
- Active monitoring—In order for distracted driving initiatives to be effective, active monitoring is crucial. If a driver violates the terms of the policy, fleet managers need to intervene and administer corrective action. Because distracted driving policy breaches will usually occur off-site, it can be difficult to monitor compliance. As such, it’s important to reinforce positive behaviour through formalised recognition and reward programmes.
- Policy updates—Distracted driving policies are living and breathing documents.
Make sure you review your policies regularly and update them to take into account areas such as:
- Changes in driving laws
- New risk exposures
- Changes in technology – whether vehicle equipment or personal devices
- Driver feedback
- Organisational changes
To receive a distracted driving policy template, click here.
And if you’ve missed any of our previous articles and tips on preventing distracted driving, they can be found here.
How Partners& can help you with your fleet risk management
Managing distracted driving will only become more difficult as technology advances and individuals become more reliant on devices like mobile phones. Regardless, commercial fleet managers have a duty to ensure a safe workplace and combat all forms of distracted driving.
Our team of experienced fleet insurance advisers can help you understand the challenges of fleet risk management and insurance how to build resilience to protect your business and your employees. Talk to us to find out how we can help.