An essential part of operating a fleet is having a strong risk management strategy in place, with clear policies and regulations that set out expectations and responsibilities for the business and its individual drivers.
In this guide, we’ll cover what risk management is, what the expectations are for the business, expectations for drivers, and how you can effectively reduce risk for your fleet.
What is Risk Management?
Risk management for a fleet is the process that a company puts in place to ensure their drivers, other employees and road users, and vehicles are safe for use and securely looked after. It also involves strategies and plans to mitigate the possibility of risks and their impact if any do arise.
Effective risk management is essential to:
- Reduce accidents and their related costs
- Reduce other fines
- Ensure all vehicles being operated are safe
- Ensure drivers are aware of their responsibilities
- Be compliant with legal, regulatory and insurance requirements
What Are the Benefits of Risk Management?
There are many benefits to having an effective risk management policy in place, not just to make sure you are meeting your legal, ethical and moral requirements for your employees and general safety.
It will help reduce costs for vehicle care and maintenance saving you money overall, as well as making sure that repairs are completed promptly to reduce vehicle downtime and drivers being without a vehicle.
Effective policies can also help you with driver engagement and foster better relations with drivers which gives them a better working environment.
The Four Areas of Risk Management
In order to have a truly effective risk management strategy there are four areas that you will need to cover in detail.
What Responsibilities Does Your Business Have?
Under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, businesses must ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, the health, safety, and welfare of all their employees while at work.
This means that there is a legal obligation for the company to ensure any company vehicles are roadworthy, drivers are safe and have received the necessary training to ensure they are qualified to drive the vehicle and are confident to do so, and that there is a risk management strategy in place for the fleet.
How to Manage Risk for Your Fleet
It’s important that you have an effective fleet risk management policy in place and so we wanted to advise on some of the best practises that we have learnt from our 15+ years in the business.
You should have a comprehensive fleet risk management policy in place, that covers any potential risk and how it should be handled, no matter how unlikely you might consider it.
Regularly carry out risk assessments and reviews of these to identify, understand and measure the level of risk for each vehicle, driver and be aware of common situations where there’s the potential for risk.
Even if you utilise a fleet management company, such as Wessex Fleet, we advise having one point of contact within your business to oversee the fleet risk management policies and any activities associated with them. This means there’s one responsible person who builds up the knowledge of information, or knows where to find it, to answer any questions that drivers might have. It also reduces the risk of miscommunication between your business and the fleet management service.
Keeping a record of data on risk and compliance and then analysis this to update and amend the policies as needed to create a more tailored strategy for your business.
Ensure drivers are entitled to drive and have the necessary qualifications, as well as supporting them with any additional training needed or requested. You should also ensure they are aware of their responsibilities, any potential risks and how to avoid and minimise their impact.
There are also a number of tools that you can use to help manage fleet risk and these include:
Regular maintenance and the correct insurance will also help you to manage your fleet correctly.
One of the most common tools used by businesses is GPS tracking.
GPS lets you monitor and keep a record of vehicle activity so that you can ensure drivers are complying with schedules, routes and any regulations that they have.
It is also an effective method for keeping the vehicle safe and knowing its whereabouts. If it is stolen you will be more likely to be able to recover it.
Telematics is not just limited to GPS tracking though, there are other devices that can be added to increase safety and mitigate risk to the business if there is an incident.
You might also consider adding dash cams to vehicles which not only record any accident if your driver is involved in one to help create an accurate record of the incident, but recordings can also show any potential areas of concern from your drivers in general.
Dash cams can also encourage more responsible driving from your employees as they are being recorded.
Another telematic you might invest in is a speed recorder or limiter. Again, monitoring the results of these can highlight any areas of concern from your driver and also encourage them to drive a little slower and so reduce the risk of an accident by increasing the response time available.
Other telematics systems can monitor braking, acceleration, and various other aspects of driving in order to give you a more complete overview of your drivers’ habits. This can help you tailor driver training for the specific needs of your drivers.
Data from telematics systems can be pulled into easy to review reports that can then be reviewed and used to update policies for your business.
Fleet Management Software:
If you are managing your fleet internally then you might want to invest in fleet management software. This will help monitor drivers and vehicles, keeping track of performance, maintenance schedules and pull reports to review and adjust policies based on.
Most software systems will also allow you to integrate data from your telematics devices, like GPS tracking for vehicle locations and movements, journey speed data and driver habits in order for more detailed analysis.
Regular maintenance is an essential part of any fleet and so it is also an important part of any risk management policy.
Regular maintenance means that any defect in the vehicle should be detected quickly, reducing the risk of it causing further damage or accident.
We recommend requesting your drivers do regular checks of the vehicle to detect any required work, and you can find out more about what to include in your vehicle maintenance checks here.
Alongside these regular checks of the vehicle we also advise that you keep track, whether through a fleet manager, fleet management system or company records of all servicing, MOT and maintenance work so that you know when they’re next due and able to arrange the work in plenty of time.
As part of our fleet management Wessex Fleet can also support your business with maintenance packages, to ensure that any work is completed as quickly as possible.
It’s essential that you get the right insurance for your fleet to help cover your business for any damage caused to your's or a third party’s property, legal and medical costs and business losses due to an incident.
You can find out more about fleet specific insurance if you do not already have this here.
What’s Expected of Drivers?
Although there is a responsibility on the business there is also a responsibility that each individual driver has to act safely and competently.
They should notify you of anything that could affect their ability to safely operate a vehicle, any maintenance work required on company vehicles, and areas of concern they may have about their or another employee’s driving habits.