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Educating drivers

Cars sorted? Now it’s time to tackle the greatest variable in your fleet force, your team of drivers

So you’ve chosen your cars, got the funding sorted out, you know how much tax you’re going to pay, you’ve worked out the best way to fuel them, you’ve even thought about the fleet’s safety and environmental credentials, but now you have to let your staff behind the wheel. Unlike cars, people’s behaviour is not predictable and so they need far greater management. This means it’s vital to get your communications spot on to ensure your business fleet runs smoothly.

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LET’S TALK

Possibly the best thing to keep in mind when communicating with company car drivers is that the car is either a perk or a tool for the job. In both instances, it is unlikely that drivers will care for the vehicle as much as they would if it was their own investment. This is just human nature and numerous surveys have shown that damage to company cars always happens at a higher rate than in privately-owned cars. This makes communication of your expectations even more important.

BY THE BOOK

We’ve discussed legislation and risk management previously, but communicating on these vitally important areas is essential.

All drivers should be given a copy of your company’s fleet handbook and asked to sign to confirm that they have read and understand it. The best way to ensure that this is achieved is to incentivise staff.

So, while no one really wants to wade through a hefty rule-book, if you periodically run a quiz to see which of your drivers knows the most and then offer a prize for the winner, you can achieve a positive company culture.

This technique can also be used to ensure other messages are being taken on board by drivers. For instance, some fleets offer a temporary upgrade in vehicle for drivers who obtain the best fuel consumption, or purchase the lowest average per litre fuel price. Being rewarded with driving the best car in the fleet is often a tangible ‘perk’ among company drivers.

At the other end of the spectrum, the person responsible for managing the fleet will also have to monitor vehicle accident rates and then offer help in the form of advice and training to those drivers that need it.

POSITIVE SUPPORT

The best communication policy is to ensure that there is a supportive company culture that allows drivers to report vehicle damage without fear of recrimination.

However, this should be monitored closely and acted upon as minor damage is often a sign of poor driver skill which could lead to a more significant accident in the future. Drivers should know that training, both theoretical and practical, is there to help those with the worst records, and be encouraged to use it.

Fleet managers should also take on board comments from drivers about why accidents happen, as well as the accident data itself. For instance, if drivers report that the office car park is difficult to navigate, then perhaps either the site may need redesigning or special measures for drivers are needed in this area – such as making everyone reverse into parking spaces.

CLEAR POLICY

Beyond safety, fleet managers should also communicate why certain decisions are made. For instance if you’ve put a CO2 cap in place, explain why – it will cut tax bills and help the environment. If you are busy with other areas of the business, or communicating with your drivers on a daily basis just isn’t practicable or cost-effective, there is an alternative approach. Talk with one of the many fleet management companies who are able to implement and maintain a fleet driver policy on your behalf.