A long way from home? How to ensure your business fleet is safe

By Patrick Vernon
Published: 19 April 2018

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to keep your fleet safe. If one of your vehicles were to break down, it can cause loss of earnings from missing customer meetings and expensive downtime as a result of not being able to work. Here’s how you can ensure your business fleet is safe when drivers are on the road.

Breakdown cover
Keep your fleet safe on the road with the right amount of breakdown cover. As well as vehicle insurance, which is a legal requirement, it’s also a good idea to have fully comprehensive commercial breakdown cover. This works in a similar way to personal vehicle breakdown cover, except multiple vehicles are protected. If you ever call for breakdown support, you’ll need a cover that has a fast response time. This will ensure you’re back up and running as quickly as possible, reducing expensive downtime off the roads.

Vehicle maintenance
Before your fleet heads out onto the open road, check each vehicle for any faults. Check the tyre pressure, oil, water, brake lights, screen wash, window wipers and headlights. If you run through this checklist each time before every long distance journey, you’ll ensure the vehicle is safe to drive. As well as carrying out regular vehicle maintenance, you should get the vehicle serviced thoroughly.

This will help with safety, but also give you extra peace of mind that the vehicle is not going to break down.

Taking breaks
Make sure your drivers are taking regular breaks away from the wheel. Research suggests that almost 40% of sleep-related accidents involve commercial vehicles. If your drivers are travelling long distances, they will naturally become tired. It’s extremely important that you give them enough time for a break every couple of hours. This break needs to be a minimum of 15 minutes, ideally double that. You’ll need to allow time for them to stretch their legs, drink a cup of coffee and have a real rest. If they are driving overnight, providing them with sensible accommodation will ensure they are kept safer on the roads throughout the day.

Risk assessment
Before a new driver is allowed to take to the wheel, make sure you provide them with valuable training. Carry out regular risk assessments by joining your drivers on the road. By identifying the high-risk drivers early on and providing them with more training, you can minimise the risk. As well as a regular formal risk assessment, regularly check your team’s driving licences for any anomalies. You can do this quickly online through the DVLA database.

Regular training
To ensure your drivers are safe on the roads, you’ll need to give them regular training. Even the most experienced driver will need reminding of local road laws or protocol, from time to time. Create an open environment where your drivers clearly know what is expected of them. Let them know the safety risks that comes with driving and hold them accountable for their bad habits. With risks involved, you need to be strict but understandable in order to keep your fleet as safe as you can.