The average American driver spends 293 hours on the road each year. That is just the average driver, with an average commute. It equals approximately seven 40 hour weeks on the job. Fleet drivers, on the other hand, spend upwards of 60-70 hours on the road each week, year-round. Now consider this, there were roughly 121 million fleet vehicles on the road in 2011. With that many fleet vehicles on the road, driving so many hours, we can see the importance of fleet safety.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at your risks and how to mitigate them with a fleet safety management system.
What is Motor Fleet Risk Management?
Fleet safety management is the adherence to regulations and practices to reduce risk. This includes driver safety, vehicle maintenance, training, and monitoring with telematics systems. The overall goal is to control your liabilities.
By assessing risks, adhering to regulations, and using safety systems, you can mitigate exposure. Companies that fail could face crippling payments for:
- Injury recovery/medical bills
- Workers compensation
- Vehicle damage
- Business losses as a result of delays or lost/damaged product
- Fines for noncompliance
The average accident costs employers $15,000. If the accident results in injury, those costs shoot to over $70,000. Often the costs can run upwards of half a million dollars in the case of a fatality. Risk management is an active attempt to promote safety and avoid costs by lowering liability.
Why Should You Have a Fleet Safety Program?
For fleet companies, there is already an incredible amount of regulation. Why should you go beyond compliance?
Regulations keep your business, your drivers, and everyone else on the road safe. However, they can’t go far enough to protect your company’s individual needs. Also, as a business, every potential loss should be a concern. This includes the loss of your employees to other companies.
Employee Retention and Safety
By focusing on safety, you are creating a more secure place of employment for your drivers. In turn, they feel safer and are more likely to stay with your company longer. This is a huge benefit, since turnover costs employers an average of $15,000 per person. This focus on safety also provides them with the tools and skills they need to stay safe on the road. This benefits everyone.
Insurance companies would rather insure safe drivers than unsafe drivers. This is why they offer discounts for safety measures, even for average drivers. These safety measures include things like:
- Alarms for theft protection
- Dash cams and security cameras
- eLog systems or other telematics devices that monitor driver behavior
- Automatically adjusting lights
- Back up cameras
This applies to all vehicles on the road, but for fleets, the discounts are often greater.
Impact on Business
The average cost to an employer for an accident is anywhere from $15,000 to half a million. This isn’t considering the indirect costs such as loss of productivity, replacing employees, a tarnished company reputation, and training. A direct loss of $15,000 could turn into an actual cost of $200,000.
With that said, it’s vital to reduce liability and potential costs at every opportunity. First, you must assess your risks.
Assess Risks to Your Fleet
The risks of being on the road, for the average driver, are relatively minor. They’re heightened for fleet drivers who spend most of their days on the road. Fatigue induced by long hours and distractions increases the risk. The potential for accidents is high, and it can be both costly and fatal. Because of this, fleet risk management and safety is an absolute must. It should be a priority for your entire company.
Every year, fleet companies lose approximately $60 billion due to accidents. This includes damage to property, legal and medical expenses, and lost productivity. It does not include the loss of life and the damage to families and communities. Any party can cause an accident, but you can reduce the risks to your fleet and company, and to others on the road. The first step is knowing the risks:
The use of alcohol and/or drugs was the cause of approximately 30% of all fatal accidents in 2017. Even with a good substance abuse prevention program for your fleet drivers, this is still a concern as other drivers may pose this risk. It’s important that fleet drivers know the risk, and know how to respond to aggressive drivers.
Nearly every driver gets distracted by something at times, even on a short commute. But when driving all day, the distractions present themselves much more frequently. A driver may avoid the distraction of phones, but there other, smaller distractions. Whether it be eating, drinking, or operating a navigation device, distractions will always be present. Sadly, these driving distractions resulted in 3,166 deaths in 2017.
Drowsy driving is the number one cause of road accidents in the United States. In 2017 alone, 795 fatalities and 90,000 total accidents were a result of drowsiness. It is one of the largest reasons why regulations have capped driver hours. It is also why the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, under MAP-21, created the ELD Mandate. This fleet compliance mandate requires fleet companies to log driver hours. The mandate is an attempt to limit tired driving and accidents by ensuring drivers don’t go over their hours. It’s one step in the right direction, but it is not nearly enough alone.
Aggressive driving, such as hard braking, over-acceleration, swerving, and speeding, is truly dangerous. In fact, speeding alone claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in 2016. You cannot control other drivers, but you can ensure that your drivers follow the rules. Monitor their driving behavior with telematics systems. Then, apply appropriate training to reduce the liability to your company.
In addition to safety training, you should also try to get to the root of the behavior. For example, one of your drivers is consistently speeding in the morning. All other times of the day his/her driving is exemplary. A deeper investigation might show that their scheduled stops are too far apart in the morning hours. Making adjustments to help lower the risk of accidents and fees benefits everyone.
Vehicle Fleet Management Safety Planning
We’ve mentioned that the first step in creating an auto risk action plan is to know your risks. We've listed the most common and obvious risks above, but you need to know the risks to each of your drivers.
To do this, you need the right tools. Fleet tracking systems provide real-time data on your fleet. This includes each driver’s location, driving behavior, idle time, engine data, hours, and so much more. From this data, you’ll be able to apply fleet safety training that meets the needs of the individual. This training is the key factor in reducing the risk to your fleet.
Motor fleet management is essential to the longevity of your company. With the right tools, data, and training, you can avoid thousands or even millions in losses.
To get a more in-depth look into risk management planning, check out our article on Building a Fleet Safety Plan. To implement telematics into your fleet risk management, visit Azuga. We have dash cams, eLog devices, and telematics systems to keep your fleet safe & compliant.