There is plenty of information online about fleet driver safety, but not enough reasoning why it is so important. Fleet drivers literally keep the SA economy running and in today’s competitive market ensuring driver safety gives you an edge over the rest.
For many decades the safety and well-being of fleet drivers was treated as an afterthought. Many businesses stuck to the bare minimum in regarding driver safety and were reluctant to invest more.
Thankfully, this is changing. The past few years have made it clear that South Africa will continue to rely on road freight as our main form of goods transport. Declining rail networks and the lack of alternatives means most sectors rely heavily on our road network, albeit steadily deteriorating in some places, to transport goods around the country.
The declining economy has further highlighted the need for fleets to do everything possible to remain efficient and competitive. And fleet drivers are the cornerstone of any successful fleet, and many companies are investing in their drivers to reduce turnover and improve fleet performance. The results are impressive with many companies seeing notable cost reductions in fleet costs and an uptick in customer satisfaction.
Businesses that treat their fleet division as an expert and crucial part of the organisation are reaping the rewards.
The best place to start is identifying what type of training your drivers need and ensuring they receive this. Fleet partners such as EQSTRA use various systems to monitor driver performance which helps identify the training gaps and where refresher courses might be helpful.
Well-trained drivers are an asset. They have the experience and ability to:
- Take care of vehicles and avoid unnecessary fuel costs.
- Drive efficiently and lower your fleet fuel expenses.
- Monitor and manage tyre and brake wear – and raise any concerns before it becomes a costly problem.
- Understand that they represent your company when they are out on the road and act (and drive) professionally.
- Understand the risks of speeding and driver fatigue.
- Know how to mitigate the risk of hijacking and cargo theft.
When you consider the costs associated to the above-mentioned risks and compare it to the cost of quality driver training, it’s clear that training is the best way to reduce unnecessary fleet costs. Typically these costs would be recouped within 4 to 6 months with some ongoing benefits.
Drivers who receive training, competitive salaries and benefits are less likely to leave and fleet managers are able to build a team of excellent drivers. This allows you to create a reliable and low-risk fleet operation that will benefit your business in the long run.
The wellbeing of fleet drivers is a much-neglected topic but is receiving increased attention as more companies see that investing in their drivers leads to notable financial benefits to their business.
It’s fairly logical: high staff turnover, vehicle accidents and damage, high risk and insurance premiums can all be reduced by improving work conditions for drivers.
Eugene Herbert, CEO of MasterDrive, advises that there is another factor to consider is road safety: drivers who are tired or ill are much more likely to cause accidents and vehicle damage. This affects the entire transport industry and if more businesses invest in driver wellbeing there the risk will reduce across the board.
Points to consider:
- Many drivers don’t have access to, and can’t afford, regular eye tests and glasses if needed.
- Many drivers don’t have access to, or can’t afford, basic medical care. This means many risk driving when they are ill and likely not fit to do long distances.
- Many treatable diseases such as diabetes go unnoticed without medical care, but can have catastrophic consequences if a driver loses consciousness behind the wheel.
These are just a few examples where basic medical care provided by the company can decrease fleet cost and risk while improving driver wellbeing. Weighing the costs vs risks is an exercise every fleet manager should undertake if the goal is to improve fleet performance.
We recently addressed the quality of truck stops around the country. In many cases it’s possible to amend routes to include safe and reputable truck stops with no added cost. This is another point to consider when reviewing your driver wellbeing policy.
The main role of most fleet managers has become finding ways to cut costs without sacrificing fleet performance. An increased focus on driver wellbeing should be the starting point as nearly all fleet operations start and end with the driver.
Fleet drivers are the cornerstone of any successful fleet, and many companies are investing in their drivers to reduce turnover and improve fleet performance. Contact us to see where your business can benefit from improved driver wellbeing programmes.