When it comes to managing a business fleet, there’s nothing more important than the safety of your drivers. To cultivate a culture of safety in your company, you need to promote an effective driver safety training programme.
In this introductory article, we’ll explore the benefits of driver safety training, we’ll show you how to make your own driver safety checklist, and we’ll give you some tips and tricks for keeping your fleet safe on the road. We’ll also take a look at some of the most important driver safety rules in Australia.
Any time a driver is injured in an accident, they may experience downtime, reduced performance, and a hit to morale. If that wasn’t enough, damaged vehicles can also incur repair costs as well as increased maintenance costs after each incident. You also risk damage to your freight, which may affect your reputation with your clients.
Even if you have insurance for both vehicles and freight, every incident still causes downtime, or even re-evaluation of your insurance premiums. By ensuring the safety of your fleet, you reduce the occurrence of these incidents as well as their associated costs. You can also build a reputation for diligent safety protocols, which can be extremely valuable to your business partners.
An added bonus to driver safety is that safe drivers are generally more efficient drivers. Driving safely and according to road rules not only increases uptime on the road, but also increases fuel efficiency and reduces maintenance costs on vehicles.
Driver safety begins with following the rules of the road. In Australia, these are fairly similar from state to state, with minor variations. This is not an exhaustive list, but contains three of the most important rules you need to consider in fleet safety.
Mobile phone use is one hard rule that should be followed across the country. In most states, holding a mobile phone in a car is prohibited at all times, even when stopped at a traffic light. Mobile phones that are mounted in phone holders or cradles may only be used to accept or end calls with a single button press. The only time that a driver may use a mobile phone is when they have pulled over, or are parked.
Drivers should also avoid consuming alcohol on the job. Across the country, it is illegal to drive with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05 or higher – which equates to 0.05 grams per 100mL of blood. In New South Wales, the law specifically applies to drivers of vehicles which have a gross vehicle mass of more than 13.9 tonnes, or dangerous loads: a BAC limit of 0.02 is used.
Finally, wearing a seatbelt while driving or riding in a vehicle has been mandatory across Australia since the 1980s. When it comes to driver safety, the evidence is clear – according to Queensland’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety, correctly rel="noopener noreferrer" wearing a seatbelt may reduce the risk of fatal or serious injury by as much as 50%.
Lastly, the speed limit must be respected. In most states, the default speed is 50kph in urban areas and 110kph on freeways and highways. The Northern Territory has four highways with a speed limit of 130kph, but these are a rare exception. It’s important to note that the speed limit isn't a 'recommended' driving speed; it represents the fastest speed that anyone is allowed to safely drive on a given roadway. Your driver safety training should always emphasise how important these limits are.
Every person in the transport supply chain has a responsibility to ensure the safe and legal transport of goods on roads within Australia. With this in mind, it is important to have a driver safety checklist for every driver to review before heading out.
The first check a driver should do is a self-check. Am I intoxicated? Am I tired? These are important questions to ask not only before embarking, but also on the road. Intoxicated and fatigued drivers should relieve themselves of duty and rest until they are no longer impaired. There are plenty of opportunities to rest along the road – for example, in South Australia, ‘major rest areas’ for longer stays are spaced every 100km, and ‘minor rest areas’ for shorter stays appear every 50km.
Second, many major causes of vehicle accidents stem from their loads. This may be due to imbalanced loads, or overloaded trucks. By ensuring that drivers always properly check their loads before embarking, you reduce the risk of freight accidents. You may also opt to globally reduce your maximum freight weight, which will improve fuel economy as well as help prevent accidents.
Third, larger vehicles have their own unique fields of vision and blind spots. Drivers must be aware of these when driving, even if they are driving the same vehicle between new loads, as certain freight may obscure vision.
Finally, any time a driver takes their focus off the road, whether that’s fiddling with a radio knob or a phone, they are putting themselves at risk. Before a driver heads out, they should ensure that all potential distractions on their dashboard and mobile phone are suppressed. Turning off notifications and pre-setting one’s GPS route are all good steps to take to avoid having to use one’s device on the road.
This list is non-exhaustive, and should be added to after reviewing your own incidents and driver safety records.
Besides implementing driver safety training, you can employ these tips to get your safety numbers up.
Creating a fleet driver safety training programme is no easy task. The best ones are created based on years of experience in fleet management, informed by data and analytics to help make the best decisions for safety.
To make the most out of your safety, your best solution is to partner up with professionals. At Toyota Fleet Management, we can leverage our expertise and road-tested solutions to keep your drivers, freight, and fleet safe and secure.
Our goal is to develop long-term relationships with each of our clients, working with them to provide peace of mind through transparency and trust, and elevate their safety standards through proven management techniques.
Our head of sales says it best:
“We’ve strengthened our relationships with customers by becoming an irreplaceable business partner; a trusted fleet mobility partner” - Gavin Jackson, Head Of Sales at Toyota Fleet Management Australia
Enquire now with our fleet management experts and get a consultation based on your fleet needs. We’ll be happy to help you get started with safety.
The information provided by Toyota Fleet Management, a division of Toyota Finance Australia Limited ABN 48 002 435 181, AFSL and Australian Credit Licence 392536, is of a general nature and for your information only. Nothing in this article constitutes or should be considered to constitute legal, taxation or financial advice. Before making a decision about any product or service described, we recommend that you seek independent professional advice such as from your accountant, taxation or financial adviser or lawyer, who can advise you about your personal circumstances and what would be suitable for you.
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