While fleet operations are an essential facet of many nonprofit organizations, they also open them up to dangerous and potentially expensive accidents.
Backing-up claims or rear-end collisions are the most common accident claims involving nonprofit fleet vehicles. Because nonprofits often utilize large passenger vans or minivans, drivers regularly find themselves in congested areas with frequent starts and stops that contribute to common insurance claims. Distracted driving also has a significant impact on fleet-related incidents. From resident or client conversations inside the vehicle to the use of cell phones and other technology, there is a high potential of a driver being distracted behind the wheel.
Promoting fleet safety throughout a nonprofit organization begins long before the driver steps inside a vehicle. Nonprofit leaders should think about the following when approaching fleet safety:
• Screen: Employee screening is the first line of defense in fleet safety. Before beginning the hiring process, nonprofit leaders should establish standards of acceptability that will help hold drivers accountable. Once established, nonprofit leadership should screen every potential employee’s driving record against those standards of acceptability. Driving records of existing employees should also be reviewed annually and compared to the standards of acceptability to encourage ongoing accountability for driver safety.
• Training: Once a driver’s record has been screened and the driver has been hired, they should complete a comprehensive orientation and training program. While driver protocols will vary by organization, at minimum drivers should be made aware of the organization’s expectations, general safe driving practices and training specific to the vehicle they will be operating and in what conditions they will be operating it. Drivers need to be trained on specific information such as the operational differences between a 12-passenger van and a minivan, any potential distractions that could inhibit their driving ability and how to safely maneuver and transport passengers during weather-related hazards. After employees have completed the initial course, they should complete training at least annually thereafter. Consistent driver safety training will also help organizations defend themselves against potential accident litigation.
• Technology: While proper screening and driver safety training are effective practices for nonprofit organizations, technology can further encourage fleet safety. Tools such as telematics and video-based monitoring can help an organization monitor behaviors in real time. When leadership is made aware of potentially dangerous behaviors, they can talk to their drivers, perform a ride-along and/or call for additional training to address the behaviors at issue. Nonprofit organizations should work with their insurance agent to help navigate the wide range of technology options available and ensure they are utilizing the most effective tools for their safety goals and expectations.
Proper insurance coverage is a must-have for nonprofit organizations operating fleets. A fleet needs to be insured per state requirements and nonprofit leaders should ensure every single vehicle used by the organization is insured. Additional coverage should include personal injury protection, underinsured motorist coverage and more. An insurance broker can help develop a thorough insurance portfolio tailored to the needs of the organization.
While nonprofit leaders cannot control what happens when drivers are out on route, they can ensure they are set up for success and protected on the open road.