Driver policy and company handbook

How to put together driver policy and a company handbook

A lot goes into managing a fleet — operators need to ensure the safety and security of their vehicles and drivers and that they meet compliance regulations while maintaining operational efficiency
Learn what goes into putting together a thorough driver policy and company handbook that ensures overall fleet compliance.

Putting together a driver policy and company handbook: The basics

Understanding Compliance

Compliance is a pillar of a successful fleet as not adhering to these guidelines has a knock-on effect on the safety and efficiency of your operations. 

Maintaining compliance is crucial in the transportation industry because it helps keep your drivers, vehicles and assets safe by ensuring your vehicles are roadworthy and reducing the likelihood of any incidents on the road. As driver fatigue is responsible for 1 in 5 crashes, avoiding this doesn't just safeguard your fleet but protects other road users. 

As much as compliance is a priority for fleet managers, it can be challenging to keep up with changes in regulations and the complex admin work that comes with it. From monitoring a driver’s hours and fatigue, refining the driver identification process, ensuring electronic logging is accurate, and preventing device tampering, there are a lot of moving parts to focus on. This is where telematics solutions like MiX Hours of Service, Vehicle Tracking, and Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) come in handy.  

Being compliant can benefit your operations in multiple ways, such as: 

  • Improved asset utilisation
  • Reduced timesheet fraud
  • Accurate customer billing
  • Lower maintenance costs

What makes up a compliant fleet?

Comprehensive fleet compliance has many moving parts that you need to take note of.  Key variables to take note of include:

Fleet Managers 

Fleet managers are integral to the operations of your fleet and play a key role in ensuring its compliance. Management is responsible for implementing the company’s rules and regulations and ensuring that all vehicles and drivers adhere to these policies. They also take charge of monitoring and evaluating performance to prevent any violations of company policies. 

Drivers

Fleet Drivers, regardless of how frequently they work, need to be fully trained to operate the vehicle they’re working with. They also need to hold a valid driver’s license and be aware of safety policies and compliance regulations.   

Vehicles

If your vehicles aren't in tip-top shape, your fleet won’t operate efficiently. Ensuring that vehicles are fit for use is crucial — this means having them serviced on time, ensuring they meet safety guidelines and that they’re inspected on a regular basis.  

Daily Operations

Being compliant in your business’ operations helps you mitigate risk and safeguard your fleet. To ensure compliance in this regard means that your employees should work realistic hours, have fair working conditions and take regular breaks. 

From a management perspective, operators need to ensure routes are planned in advance and that they consider any unanticipated variables that may impact operations. 

Policy Writing Tips: Where to Start

Do thorough research

When implementing new policies for your fleet, researching your industry and considering all aspects of your business is essential. Look for information anywhere you can find it to enrich your documentation. 

As changes in policy affect everyone who works for you, you should enquire with your employees to see how current policies impact them. 

In the same breath, take note of your peers’ policies. Find out what they learned when implementing these guidelines and how it impacted their operations. Being informed from all angles will guide you when assembling your own documentation, helping you put together more comprehensive and inclusive policies. 

Ask around for input 

As you gather insight from your employees in the research process, ensure that you’re getting input from all departments as you compile your documentation. 

As you build a clearer outline of what your policy and handbook will cover, ensure that you’re keeping executive management in the loop. Getting company-wide input will help you leave no stone unturned, assuring that all challenges and opinions specific to your business are included. 

Refine your documentation

Your driver policy and company handbook should be all-inclusive but not repetitive. As you flesh out your framework, ensure you’re not repeating yourself and that all information you include adds value. 

As you edit it will become clear which areas you may need to elaborate on, or those you should cut out completely. Also pay attention to the readability of your policies, avoid being convoluted and stick to simple language. Remember, all employees need to read and understand these documents, so the information needs to be as clear as possible. 

Carefully review your policies

To add another notch to the refinement process, it is crucial that your policies are carefully reviewed before it’s distributed. 

This documentation should pass through the following parties before being finalised

  • Supervisors
  • Managers
  • Legal representatives
  • Union officials

The more eyes you have on this documentation, the better. This will help catch any last snags before the document is submitted to senior-level management to be approved.  

Futureproof your policies

Whether you do it annually or whenever there’s a change in regulations, ensure your policies are up to date. You can do this by staying in tune with industry news and taking further employee feedback once the policies are implemented. Stipulate who employees can contact if they have any queries or suggestions regarding documentation and use this to bolster your documentation. 

Aspects of a Driver Policy and Company Handbook

Introduction 

The introduction of your driver policy and company handbook should begin with explaining its purpose, who it applies to, and delve into the terms and conditions. Start with unpacking your company’s mission statement so the reader has context on why your business provides fleets. 

From there you can go into defining industry terms and explaining the roles and responsibilities of different departments. It is essential to define the duties of key business players like fleet managers, executive management, vehicle users/drivers, head of departments, and managers. Your policy should also define industry-related terms. It would also be useful to outline your code of conduct, the different types of employment contracts offered, the recruitment process, attendance mandates, and governmental policies in this section of your manual.

Beginning with contextualisation will give the reader a solid understanding of your core business practices and goals. 

Fleet Administration

This section of your manual should explain all fleet-related admin activities. Outlining this will give the reader further information on your operations and how they will fit into its structure. 

This includes information regarding:

  • The overall responsibilities of the fleet department
  • How your business selects, allocates, and acquires vehicles
  • Training on safe driving practices
  • Mandates for communication between drivers and fleet managers
  • Your business’ recordkeeping and database systems
  • Grounds for loss of eligibility/employment

This section should also detail any telematics solutions being used by your company, such as fleet tracking software. This needs to be outlined in the driver policy so all employees are aware that they’re used and to avoid breaches in privacy. 

Driver Eligibility

Driver Eligibility expands on the driver’s permit requirements for any employees operating company-owned vehicles. 

Your policy must stipulate that the driver provide a motor vehicle record (MVR), which is a document detailing an individual’s driving history. Information regarding traffic violations, crashes or vehicular crimes will be indicated here. It is mandatory that all prospective drivers submit this information to ensure they meet employment requirements. Additionally, disability guidelines and the minimum age for employment should be included here.  

Driver Safety

Ensuring driver safety is integral to your fleet’s wellbeing. If any harm comes to your drivers, it will have a domino effect on other aspects of your operations. 

In this section of your policy you must define which behaviours could put your drivers at risk and the steps they need to implement to protect themselves while driving. Rules to mention here include: 

  • Disallowing driving while intoxicated and stipulating the repercussions of doing so, like the termination of the employment contract if found guilty 
  • Cell phone use while driving should be avoided
  • No driver should operate a company vehicle while fatigued, ill or medicated
  • All drivers and passengers must wear a seatbelt when in a company vehicle
  • All laws and rules of the road must be followed
  • Drivers must ensure that the engine is turned off, the doors are locked and the keys are taken out of the vehicle if it is left unattended
  • Headlights must be used at night or in moments of low visibility

Vehicle Use

This section of your manual will likely be the most substantial as there is a great deal to cover regarding vehicle use for your fleet. Here your policy should unpack driver behaviour guidelines and restrictions. 

From a personal use perspective, your driver policy should cover the basics — only authorised personnel may operate company vehicles, passengers are limited to those that need to ride in the vehicle to complete a job and any restrictions, such as smoking, should be clearly stated. If your fleet utilises personal vehicles or rental vehicles, usage guidelines pertaining to this should be stipulated as well. 

This just scratches the surface regarding what you need to detail in the vehicle use section of your manual. Including an explanation of fuel purchasing and administration, processes to follow for accident reporting and outlines for vehicle care and security is key. 

Vehicle Maintenance

If your fleet is not functioning optimally, it won’t be efficient. First and foremost, your vehicle needs to be roadworthy and secondly poor maintenance will just lead to vehicle downtime and costly repairs.  For this reason it is key to have comprehensive documentation regarding vehicle maintenance.This includes outlining guidelines regarding vehicle operation, vehicle lifecycle, fuel management, risk management procedures and data collection.

A great place to start is outlining the vehicle inspections and safety checks that drivers should conduct before every trip. This should include checking vital aspects of the vehicle like brakes, tires, lights and wipers. Clearly stipulate how often these checks should be done. From there you must specify how often oil changes, tire rotations and other servicing must be done.

Drivers and fleet managers must be aware of all the nitty gritty details regarding vehicle operation, including:

  • Vehicle’s maintenance program 
  • Software used for vehicle operations
  • Systems in place to reduce fuel consumption
  • Which suppliers are used, and more

For record-keeping purposes, all maintenance done on the vehicle must be recorded in mileage reports. 

Accident Procedures

Accidents happen, and in the unlikely event that they do, your drivers need to know the processes to follow after-the-fact to prevent any further damage or injury and to report the incident correctly. 

Drivers must not engage in arguments or discuss the accident with external parties, this must be solely discussed with the police and fleet/security officers.

Procedures to outline in this section of your manual include:

  • Reporting the accident to the police, regardless of its severity
  • Calling for medical aid if required
  • Taking down the names and details of anyone involved in the collision, as well as any witnesses
  • Giving the other party their name, details and insurance information
  • Informing fleet managers and security officers of the collision 
  • Providing a comprehensive written report of the accident to fleet operators

On the business’ side, you need to ensure you have a form ready for drivers to complete in the event of an accident that records details on the other party’s vehicle and insurance, as well as the date and time the collision occurred and the conditions when it happened. Following this, an investigation must be done to review the incident to determine the cause, this information can help prevent this happening again in the future. 

How to put together driver policy and a company handbook
Driver policy and company handbook
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