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Associate, North America Environmental Risk Consulting

Size does not matter, at least where fleet safety is concerned. A company-owned mid-size car can pose as much risk as a semi-trailer truck if safety protocols are ignored.

Businesses have seen commercial auto insurance rates rise, largely due to increased severity of accident losses. (Read more about this trend - Commercial Auto Commercial Auto Insurance Market Trends) That’s why businesses are wise to tighten up their fleet safety practices no matter what size of vehicles comprise their fleet. Here are a few things businesses with any size fleet can do.

1. Set strong safety procedures
The purpose of a safety policy is to ensure that individuals who use company vehicles are safe and being guided with the necessary procedures to minimize any risks. Accidents can be costly to a company so having policies for passenger fleets is just as vital as commercial fleets.

All drivers, for both commercial and passenger vehicles, need to meet minimum qualifications to operate. Companies often only create safety programs for commercial drivers, but if they include passenger drivers it will improve personal driving skills and employees will feel safer. These policies are to protect not only the company but their employees. Having strong safety protocols shows that the company cares for its workforce.

2. Decrease driver distractions
Distracted driving is very common, and most drivers experience it to some degree. There are many things that we don’t even realize are a distraction and it can be very dangerous if a driver's attention is taken away for too long. The biggest distraction to a driver is other passengers. Passengers in a vehicle are usually having conversations or maybe talking on the phone. These activities have the ability to take the drivers attention away from the road. When a driver is distracted it often leads to swerving or speeding, which could potentially cause an accident.

Other common distractions include:

  • Cell phone use
  • GPS units
  • Eating
  • Reading
  • Loud music

The NHTSA has also reported that distracted driving claimed 2,841 lives in 2018 that involved drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Over the past few years, the push for “hands-free" devices has been adopted by car manufactures, and corporate polices have endorsed those devices for traveling employees. Hands-free devices have helped eliminate some risks in distracted driving, but it's important to note they are still distractions that can take the driver’s focus away.

Safe driving is the first line of defense against accidents, but if and when they do happen, it’s important to have thorough accident procedures.

3. Set up protocols for reporting accidents
Safe driving is the first line of defense against accidents, but if and when they do happen, it’s important to have thorough accident procedures. When in an accident, remember to remain calm and follow the protocol in a timely manner.

Here are steps that should be taken after an accident:

  • Stop the vehicle, turn off engine, check on driver and passengers' physical conditions.
  • Set up warning devices to alert other motorists.
  • Call the correct authorities.
  • Inspect the scene, look to see if anyone is severely injured or if there are any exposed hazards.
  • Provide authorities with necessary information, driver’s name and license, company’s name and address, and vehicle registration and insurance.
  • Do not admit fault and limit additional conversations.

Once information is shared, remember to fill out any company accident reports; they will need the names and addresses of witnesses and the first persons on the scene. Reporting needs to be done timely to ensure personnel and vehicles are safe and protected.

4. Keep up on vehicle maintenance
Vehicles are complex machines that need to be serviced frequently. If someone is driving a vehicle that hasn’t had routine service it becomes dangerous for the driver, the passengers, and even other vehicles surrounding it. Preventive maintenance should be performed as recommended by the manufacturer.

Typical preventive maintenance includes:

  • Oil and oil filter changes
  • Lubrication
  • Tightening of components
  • Engine tune-ups
  • Brake replacement
  • Tire rotation and replacement
  • Steering alignment
  • Fluid replacement

Drivers should become familiar with the vehicle they are driving by reading the owners handbook to learn about safety measures and servicing requirements.

To learn more about passenger safety, read AXA XL’s Environmental Risk Bulletin – Passenger Vehicle Safety Programs.

Christopher O’Neill
 is a Risk Control Associate with AXA XL’s Environmental insurance business. He can be reached at

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