In Memoriam: Coach's Insights

Are All Fleet Managers Secure on Safety Know-how?

OEMs and FMCs stress safety factors. Media and associations offer best practices on a regular basis. The question is: Are fleet managers listening?

February 6, 2012

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You may know that I sit in on and participate in some of the factory Fleet Advisory Boards. Except for me, they are populated with real pro fleet managers who control large volume fleets.

What stands out is that these pros consistently voice their interest and approval (with price a consideration) in anything that’s related to safety. They carry their corporate mantra of caring for their drivers and the specter of negligent entrustment liability exposure.

This distinct attention extends to any discussion even remotely related to safety. It includes a vehicle selection program for the selector vehicle(s) of choice to myriad options. The discussion could be about back-up alarms, collision avoidance systems, stability controls, the number of air bags, or any number of other components.

While these experienced and established fleet managers demonstrate that safety is paramount to them, it gives cause to wonder about the other 18,000-plus managers in fleet.

Consider the fact that our research shows that only half of the sum are “full-time” fleet managers. The rest spend less than three-quarters of their time on fleet.

Adding to this assessment, our own Audience Marketing people follow the entire market to meet yearly audit requirements. Last year, which was fairly typical, documented that 35.6 percent of fleet managers either changed jobs, were replaced, or changed titles or addresses. That’s a whopping one-third of the total in just one year.

Is it any wonder then that even an unbiased bystander would conclude the essential need for education? One also would surmise that learning within the company alone must have enormous challenges. These “new” fleet managers must hunger for avenues to gain critical knowledge to sustain their positions.

Fortunately, there are many resources for help. Fleet managers have access to an FMC or other outsourcer. The auto companies invest heavily in producing and distributing supportive materials. There are many vendors with experts in specific areas eager to assist. NAFA and AFLA offer broad educational values as well as AF publishing reports, such as the annual accident management survey, and news. Plus, there is networking with fellow pros.

Safety is an all-encompassing area that should be at or near the top of every fleet manager’s list of interests. Corporate demands that it is. Every driver deserves it.

So, if you agree (and I believe that I’ve made the case for it), you should focus on taking two days to educate yourself on fleet safety. (For your own protection and ensuring that your safety policies are among the best.)

You can see firsthand what real experts have learned about distracted driving, get best results from driver training, what NHTSA and IIHS ratings really mean, how to develop a company safety policy and driver accountability program, how to cope with a fatality in your fleet, and any number of other hot topics to arm yourself with knowledge.

I urge you to seriously consider and act on attending the first U.S. Fleet Safety Conference. Alert risk, HR, sales, and IT managers to share this productive experience. Log on to for the complete agenda, hotel, and registration information.

You, your drivers, and your executive management will benefit, as well as the industry.

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Author Bio

Ed Bobit

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Former Editor & Publisher

With more than 50 years in the fleet industry, Ed Bobit, former Automotive Fleet editor and publisher, reflected on issues affecting today’s fleets in his blog. He drew insight from his own experiences in the field and offered a perspective similar to that of a sports coach guiding his players.


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