Safe driving program for farm employees

The risk of the road is amplified when you’re driving a 60,000-pound truck-tractor pulling a full load of grain.

Truck

Today's farmers often have a much larger fleet of vehicles than in the past. This means more farm employees are involved in driving those vehicles, creating a huge need for driver safety programs. To keep the farm operation from an unanticipated increase in risk exposure, you must identify issues and manage employee driver behaviors. 

All farm employees - whether full time, part time or seasonal - and all members of the household on the farm should be included in a driver safety program. Failure to actively manage these exposures can result in lost productivity or sales, damaged customer relations, and increased insurance premiums. When the farm manager shows a proactive attitude to road safety, this often becomes embedded in the employees' attitudes as well. 

Driver safety starts with the hiring process. 

Are you hiring the right drivers? Consider the following when looking at new hires: 

  • Review background checks.
  • Review motor vehicle records (MVR).
  • Confirm a valid U.S. driver's license appropriate for type of vehicle to be operated.
  • Provide training on all vehicles to be operated.

Look for high risk drivers which could have traits such as: 

  • Youthful operators under the age of 25
  • Inexperienced drivers, with less than three years driving experience
  • Drivers with multiple violations or collision losses

It's important to identify emerging risks in drivers and take corrective action to prevent losses.

After hiring and as a refresher course for current employees, take the following steps:

  • Provide a tour of hazards on the farm such as LP tanks, overhead power lines, ditches etc.
  • Confirm familiarity with driving routes.
  • Review accident reporting procedures. 

Continue safety practices and build a culture of safe driving. 

The driver safety program doesn't stop after the hiring process. Regular safety meetings should be held to discuss topics such as: 

  • Cell phones - Avoid using communication devices while driving.
  • GPS units - These should not be allowed to distract the driver from safe operation of the vehicle. 
  • Emergency parking - Drivers should utilize proper warning devices such as traffic cones, emergency hazard lights, etc. 
  • Backing-up a vehicle or trailer - Great caution should be taken, particularly on larger vehicles where a visual of the surroundings may be limited. Take proper steps to make sure area is clear. If necessary, use assistance to back-up the vehicle by having one person give direction to the driver. The driver should have clear sight of the person offering assistance at all times.
  • Proper loading - All cargo being transported should be securely fastened in order to prevent pitching, shifting, or falling. Never overload a vehicle, please reference the vehicle's gross vehicle weight.
  • Weather - Certain conditions should result in pre-cautions such as reducing speed, increasing following distance, or using headlights in limited visibility situations.
  • Previous accidents - Review recent accidents, look for trends and make a plan to prevent or reduce future losses.