For organizations with a mobile workforce or fleet, safe driving behaviors have never been more critical or challenging. The average direct costs of an automobile collision continue to rise, and indirect costs of collisions total 4-10 times more than direct costs. Employers can expect the average crash to cost $16,500, exceeding $74,000 if injuries occur. A fatal crash can cost more than $500,000.
While the direct costs (and some indirect costs) are covered by insurance, many indirect costs further impact the company, employees, and families involved, as well as the community as a whole. Lapses in driver safety can have lasting effects—both financial and non-financial. An organization’s efforts to boost safety behind the wheel are critical for business continuity and success, workforce health and well-being, and community relations.
Behaviors Impacting Safe Driving Driving Safely—Not Everyone’s Priority
While safe driving has never been more important for your business, recent data shows that drivers are focusing on other priorities. Key behaviors associated with increased collisions—notably speeding and distracted driving—are prevalent and rising.
According to data compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in 2018, excessive speed was a factor in 26% of all accidents. The higher the speed (especially in larger commercial vehicles), the greater the damage to people and property. That year 9,378 deaths resulted from speed-related collisions, a 6% drop from 2017. While the downward trend in speeding-related accidents is a good sign, speeding should always be avoided. Speeding puts everyone on the road at risk, not just the vehicle’s occupants. Besides breaking the law, there are:
- Greater potential for loss of vehicle control.
- Reduced effectiveness of occupant protection equipment.
- Increased stopping distance after the driver perceives a danger.
- Increased degree of crash severity leading to more severe injuries.
- Economic implications of a speed-related crash.
- Increased fuel consumption/cost.
NHTSA also states that nearly 400,000 people were injured in crashes involving distracted driving in 2018. Distracted driving is not just cell phone usage. It also includes eating while driving and figuring out navigation systems. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. From eating behind the wheel, to changing music, to talking to a passenger, distractions are extensive.
Aggressive driving behaviors like tailgating, speeding, and cutting off other drivers put others in immediate danger and should be avoided. Harsh braking, sudden acceleration, and speeding can be monitored through third-party solutions. Keeping your most important asset—your people—safe is difficult when you can not be with each one 100% of the time. A few ways to mitigate risk when other drivers on the road exhibit aggressive behaviors are to maintain safe speed and distance, use turn signals, and allow others to merge. Your team represents your business, even while on the road.
The Importance of Driver Safety Programs
Adopting a formal program that puts a strong focus on safety, with support from all levels, is a crucial step toward establishing a culture that values it and achieves it. Effective programs typically include:
- Communicating and reinforcing program goals
- Training in regards to safe driving behaviors
- Communicating expectations
- Establishing individual responsibility
- Monitoring driver safety
- Recognizing safe driving or coaching unsafe behavior
- Consistently applying consequences for workers that do not improve
A thorough safety-focused program includes all areas of the business.
Advanced diagnostics and reporting make assessing vehicle health and driver performance easy. Driver scoring ensures you and your drivers know how safely they are—or are not—driving.
Prevent & Coach
With Azuga Fleet tools in hand, address specific areas of vulnerability—from vehicle maintenance to individual driver coaching.
Gain greater insight into your operations, from efficiency to safety. See how your fleet stacks up against industry standards and best-in-class fleets.
In addition to drivers, Azuga Fleet extends the benefits of safety to your entire staff—managers, safety directors, accountants, and operations specialists—and partners, such as insurance providers and lenders.
Not all safety programs are created the same way. Of course, you’ll want to tailor yours to your company’s needs. However, there are four specific areas that all safety policies should address.
Why is a formal safety policy important? These policies should address personal use of vehicles, defensive driving, distracted driving, and other safety issues. Fleet managers should keep these policies up to date and review them often for changes based on driver behavior or the needs of the business.
Vehicle maintenance is another significant part of keeping drivers safe on the road. It is not only crucial for preventing accidents but for keeping vehicles in good shape longer.
Good fleet maintenance means fleets can get more use out of their vehicles. Well-maintained vehicles are more efficient and can impact the fleet’s reputation and well-being. Fleet managers should have a fleet maintenance checklist for all of their fleet vehicles and adhere strictly to it. Pre- and post-trip inspections are vital to fleet maintenance and regulatory compliance. They should be performed before and after each trip to ensure vehicle safety.
Of course, fleet managers should know who is driving their vehicles. Defining employees who are authorized to drive company vehicles and for what purpose is necessary as part of keeping track of a fleet’s vehicles, especially those authorized to use vehicles off the clock for personal use. It is essential to keep track of everyone in the fleet so people can be held accountable for bad habits or rewarded for good behavior.
Thorough Screening Process
Hiring drivers can be a tricky job. However, fleet managers want to ensure their team is safe and dependable. Run thorough background checks on drivers that include criminal history checks, checks for traffic violations, drug and alcohol violations, and Motor Vehicle Reports (MVRs). Fleet managers must weed out any issues before they reach the fleet. Otherwise, it can be a hassle to get rid of bad hires later on, and they can impact the fleet’s safety score and community reputation.