Your fleet policy is your fleet's most important document, as it is necessary in order to maintain a safe and efficient fleet as well as uphold driver accountability. With that in mind, developing a comprehensive fleet policy can be challenging as well as overwhelming. However, if you steal some tips from a successful fleet manager, it makes this process much more manageable.
But what exactly goes into developing an effective fleet policy, and how do you enforce adherence to the policy? One Donlen customer, Sonya Garrepy, fleet manager at IDEXX (pictured right), has successfully implemented a robust fleet policy that both meets their company’s objectives and increased policy compliance.
Now, we’re going to share tips and tricks from this successful fleet manager so that you can effectively develop and implement your own fleet policy. While stealing is generally frowned upon, these five tips for putting together a top-notch fleet policy are the exception to this; in fact, we encourage it...this time.
1. Define the purpose of a fleet policy
The first thing fleet professionals must do when introducing new employees to the fleet policy is set their expectations by defining the purpose of the fleet policy. ”The purpose of a fleet policy is to provide guidance to drivers regarding the proper use of the company vehicle, outlining what is expected of them, outlining policies and procedures, and defining consequences for not adhering to policies,” said Garrepy.
The assigned driver of the vehicle must operate their company-provided car in a responsible, safe, legal, courteous, and non-abusive manner. Additionally, their actions while driving must comply with the fleet policy, state, provincial, and federal laws. It is imperative to get your employees to acknowledge and accept the fleet’s policy terms and conditions.
Clearly lay out the expectations and rules to avoid confusion. Define who is and who isn’t allowed to drive the vehicle, and administer the necessary training requirements. If the fleet policy is descriptive and easy-to-understand, then employees will more happily comply with and follow the policy.
2. Get input from other departments
Fleet managers should consult internal departments such as Human Resources, Risk Management, and Finance to create the guidelines for the fleet policy. These departments can have insightful suggestions pertaining to cell phone usage, traffic violations, safety guidelines, revocation of company car privileges, acceptable personal use, defensive driving, and alcohol and substance abuse. This will allow consistency in the fleet policy language as subject matter experts can impact the guidelines that specifically apply to their position or department.
According to Garrepy, “By including others in policy development, you can gain buy-in and support from those departments and senior leaders to help drive compliance from the top down. Additionally, you can leverage their knowledge and expertise to build the best policies that meet legal requirements while still meeting your company’s culture and the needs of your drivers.”
3. Communicate policies in various ways
Communicating your fleet policy to eligible or active drivers is imperative to ensure that all drivers are familiar with each policy and will follow its guidelines. This can be done in a number of ways.
Of course, there is the actual written policy that each driver must acknowledge and sign.
It is also recommended that drivers be given a quick reference guide to turn to if ever they have a question concerning the fleet policy.
If necessary, drivers can participate in online driver training courses in order to assess their risk as a safety hazard or obtain the proper certification to drive a company-provided vehicle.
Videos and multiple platforms
When reviewing the fleet policy, it may help eligible drivers to see video clips of proper adherence to fleet policy guidelines. Additionally, drivers may be reminded or notified of policy guidelines and updates via e-mail, text message, and social media posts.
Garrepy recommends communicating the fleet policy often, across multiple platforms in order to ensure that, no matter what way your drivers prefer to learn and be communicated with, they receive pertinent information regarding the fleet policy. “It’s not enough to just distribute the policy and expect they’ll read it,” said Garrepy. “Follow it up with training, e-mail tips and more. Be creative when communicating your policies because everyone learns differently."
4. Use data to hold drivers accountable
Fleet managers can use their fleet’s data to hold drivers accountable and increase compliance via fleet management software, such as Donlen’s FleetWeb.
If your fleet policy requires that your drivers submit their monthly B&P mileage, you can run a report to identify drivers who have not submitted their mileage in order to track compliance. You can also use fuel and accident reports to hold drivers accountable for different fleet policies you may have in place for those areas.
In addition, you may use telematics, such as Donlen’s DriverPoint® Telematics, to track driver behavior such as speeding, idling, and harsh accelerations and decelerations. If your fleet policy requires that drivers obey the posted speed limit or only leave their car idling when necessary, you can identify drivers that are not in adherence with the policy and hold them accountable. For drivers who are not following the rules outlined in your fleet policy, you can assign safety training, fleet policy training, or determine other corrective action.
5. Update your fleet policy on a regular basis
The world of fleet is being propelled into the future as a result of new technologies and regulations that constantly demand quick, fluid action and adaptation. As vehicles become more integrated with communication technologies like smart phones and tablets, your fleet policy must also take such enhancements into account. For example, 42 states have a prohibition on texting while driving. It's important be aware of that information when updating your fleet policy.
“In order to stay on top of these changes and advancements, you should review and update your policy at least once per year,” said Garrepy. By updating your fleet policy on a regular basis, fleet professionals are better prepared to enforce guidelines and educate their drivers.
Fleet policies don’t just bring structure to the way you manage your fleet and treat your vehicles; they also serve as a guide for your drivers to refer to if ever they have a question they can’t answer. These tips can ensure that your fleet policy is as comprehensive as possible and allows your drivers to become more knowledgeable about how they should treat their vehicles.