Owning and operating commercial

Drive to Succeed by Lowering Vehicle Risks   vehicles comes with a variety of responsibilities and expenses. Insurance is one of these.

Your commercial insurance agent is the best resource for determining what policies will best meet the needs of your business and what discounts may be available. But what many business owners don’t realize is that once your coverage is in place, there are many additional steps you can take to protect your assets and employees. These can help you reduce accidents, keep insurance premiums lower, and save precious time and money.

Consider the following risk-reducing measures:

Business-only – Limit the use of business vehicles to work-related travel only.

Phone-free zone – Texting and talking on cell phones are common causes of accidents. Establish and communicate a corporate policy of not allowing phone use while driving.

Mandatory seat belt use – This is the law in most states. Require all employees to wear seat belts.

Zero drug and alcohol tolerance – Even one drink can impair driving abilities. Make it crystal clear to employees that there is no drinking while or before operating company vehicles. (And, of course, that also includes recreational drugs.)

Secure vehicles – Park vehicles in well-lit, secure areas, and require employees to lock them at all times. Also consider alarm systems for company vehicles. (A bonus: car alarms may also lower your insurance rate.)

Healthy pace – Don’t push yourself or your employees. Drivers in a hurry are more likely to cause accidents. Allow plenty of travel time between jobs or appointments.

Background checks – In addition to screening for criminal history, check all employees’ driving records. If an employee has a history of violations or accidents, do not allow him or her to operate company vehicles.

Best behind the wheel – Consider employees’ personalities when assigning driving duties. Does anyone have a bad temper? Is someone impatient? These traits can increase risk of accidents. Choose employees who will be the best drivers to entrust with company vehicles.

Drivers’ education – It can be helpful to provide a refresher course to anyone who will be driving company vehicles. Proper safety practices regarding backing and following distances should be covered in these courses.

Specialized training – If your business uses any specialized vehicles, ensure individuals operating these machines are properly trained and licensed or certified. Don’t make exceptions, even if another employee could step in to cover for a missing employee or in times of heavy workloads; if they aren’t qualified, they don’t use the vehicle.

Scheduled maintenance – Ensure your vehicles are well maintained. Require all employees to report any suspected maintenance issues. Preventive maintenance and timely repairs will increase vehicle longevity and decrease costly last-minute repairs and accidents.

Driver rewards – Make efforts to recognize safe drivers. Reward those who remain accident-free for a certain period of time. If the entire company has an accident-free period, celebrate.

Regular review – Check with your insurance agent every six months to ensure your coverage is appropriate. You may be eligible for discounts for safe driving or green vehicles. Be sure to ask.