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October 18, 2019

 

Ensuring Road Safety for Field Technicians in the Home Services Industries

Don't overlook road safety considerations when working in the field.

When you think about safety in the home services industries, you probably think about preventing falls, electrocution or other hazards present at the work site. But field technicians spend a lot of time on the road driving from customer to customer, and this poses dangers as well. Ensuring your team members stay safe behind the wheel requires rules, proper training, and the supervision of driving habits whenever possible.

Have Clear Expectations and Rules

You probably take your time training new employees to handle service calls in a way that reflects well on your company. New techs need to offer good customer service and follow any special protocols you request before they can truly reflect your company values. During tech training, take the time to establish your driving expectations and rules. Don’t just say, “Drive safely.” Include specific driving rules in the employee handbook. 

When a new employee does a ride-along with a senior employee, the senior employee must demonstrate and reiterate those driving rules. This will help the new employee understand how seriously they should take road safety expectations.

Suggested Driving Rules

Fortunately, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to ensuring road safety for field technicians in the home services industries. Take a look at these common driving rules and choose the ones that make the most sense for your team and company. 

  • Only make phone calls or write texts with the vehicle in park. Driving while talking on a cell phone is driving while distracted. This makes it more likely for drivers to have slow reaction times. As field technicians, your employees juggle a lot of phone calls. They might feel tempted to call customers while driving in order to save time. Reiterate that safety always comes first. Technicians should never cut corners just to save time. Require all phone activity to be completed with the vehicle in park. 
  • Always follow the speed limit. The most basic road safety rule that all drivers should know doubles as the one easiest to ignore. Without realizing it, we tend to “follow traffic” and go faster than the posted speed limit. This affects our vehicle’s ability to maneuver around curves and to stop quickly in an emergency. Field technicians who want to arrive to a job site on time may feel the need to speed, but the nature of home services trades require technicians to remain flexible in terms of project timelines. 
  • No aggressive or offensive driving. Drivers should adopt a defensive driving strategy, which means proactively avoiding other drivers instead of assuming that other drivers will see you and get out of your way. This means no tailgating, no weaving in and out of traffic, and always using a blinker to indicate intentions. Drivers should also slow down and make room as needed for merging traffic. (Cutting another driver off in a vehicle with company art plastered on it makes your company look particularly bad.)

Your Responsibility as an Employer

The driver is only part of the equation for road safety. The integrity of the vehicle also plays a crucial role. Service vehicles must remain in good working condition to ensure driver safety. For example, the tires need to have good treads to avoid hydroplaning and to handle different types of road conditions. The brakes and brake pads need regular maintenance to prevent accidents. 

And don’t forget that a broken down vehicle causes service delays that can cost you far more money than you may realize. Service the engine regularly to avoid this situation. 

You also need to equip each vehicle with safety gear, like traffic cones and reflective vests. Technicians should use these any time they need to park on the side of the road to help ensure that other drivers can see them. The vehicle’s safety lights should also remain in good working order. 

Monitoring Road Safety

As with other safety protocols, monitoring technicians in the field can prove challenging for many employers. However, GPS-enabled tracking devices exist to allow you to collect data about service vehicle use. Among other functions, these can tell you whether or not the driver follows the posted speed limit. 

You can also sign up for a “How’s My Driving” service or app. Place a sticker with a phone number and an identification number on the back of each service vehicle. This allows other drivers to call and make a complaint in the event that the driver behaves recklessly on the road. Simply knowing that this sticker exists on the back of their vehicle may help your technicians drive diligently. 

Although you can’t ensure that your technicians follow completely safe driving practices without sitting right next to them, their driving record can also help prove that they already know how to stay safe on the road. You can look up this information during the hiring process. Combine a safe driving record with additional training about your expectations and a safe vehicle with monitoring devices, and you’ll know you’ve done your best to ensure your technicians stay safe on the road. 

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