As a fleet manager, can you really know how your drivers are behaving on the road? Getting better visibility into how your drivers perform behind the wheel can help you identify and re-train those who exhibit dangerous driving behaviors. It can also help fleets cut down on wasteful—and costly—driving habits such as idling.
On the flip side, understanding driver behavior can allow fleet managers to reward good driving behavior and retain their best drivers. With the truck driver shortage expected to get worse over the next decade, the last thing fleet managers need is to lose good drivers.
In this article, we will look at which laws regulate driver behavior, including distracted driving laws and hours of service (HOS) regulations. In addition, we will explain how fleets are affected by driver behavior, including the risk of a safety event, vehicle depreciation, fuel costs, and reputation on the road. Then, we will highlight how fleet tracking provides visibility into driver behavior.
Which Laws Regulate Driver Behavior?
Fleet drivers are regulated by the same laws as all other drivers, including distracted driving legislation and seat belt laws. However, commercial driver behavior is also legally regulated by laws specific to fleets like Hours of Service regulations.
Distracted Driving Laws
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), handheld cellphone use while driving is banned in 22 states, Washington D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In all of these places, the ban is taken very seriously. The laws that prohibit handheld cellphone use while driving are primary enforcement laws. This means an officer can pull over a driver for using a handheld cellphone while driving without any other offense having occurred.
The GHSA also notes that 48 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands have all passed legislation banning text messaging while driving. In most of these jurisdictions, the laws banning text messaging while driving are primary enforcement laws.
Distracted driving laws may seem onerous but they can save lives. According to the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine, every year in the United States over 3,300 people are killed and 400,000 are injured in distracted driving crashes.
The few states that don’t have distracted driving laws may not be that way for long as there is a Distracted Driving Grant for states that enforce distracted driving legislation.
Hours of Service Regulations
Fleet drivers in the United States have to abide by Hours of Service regulations. These laws dictate the working hours for everyone operating a commercial motor vehicle. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issues HOS regulations designed to reduce the number of accidents that occur as a result of driver fatigue.
Hours of Service rules govern the number of weekly and daily hours a driver can work. They also dictate the minimum amount of time drivers must rest in between shifts. Since the implementation of the ELD Mandate, fleets must record HOS data using approved electronic tracking devices.
How Fleets are Affected by Driver Behavior
Driver behavior can have a major impact on a fleet’s operations. Bad driving behavior can be especially costly and dangerous. Here are some of the ways that bad driving behavior can get your fleet into trouble.
Risk of Safety Event
Bad driving behaviors put fleets at risk of having an accident. Collisions—especially those involving injury or death—can be extremely costly for fleets. On the other hand, drivers who exhibit responsible driving behavior behind the wheel should be seen as star players and rewarded. This is an excellent way to ensure good driving behavior is encouraged.
Driver behavior can have a big impact on the depreciation of fleet vehicles. Rapid acceleration, hard braking, and other undesirable driving behaviors can damage the long term performance of fleet vehicles as well as their longevity.
Fuel is one of the largest single costs for the majority of fleets. Unfortunately, bad driving behaviors like idling and speeding can hurt fleet vehicles’ fuel efficiency and increase their fuel usage and associated costs.
According to Automotive Fleet, driver behavior has an impact on 30% of a vehicle’s fuel efficiency. The same source found that changing driver behavior can reduce fuel consumption by 5% to 30%.
Reputation on the Road
Undesirable driving behaviors can have an impact on your fleet’s public perception. Bad driving behaviors look unprofessional and can be dangerous. When people see your company’s logo or name on a vehicle that is driving aggressively, they relate that driver’s behavior to your company. The last thing a fleet needs is to be associated with poor driving behavior.
How Fleet Tracking Provides Visibility into Driver Behavior
Fleet tracking software can help fleet managers gain visibility into driver behavior in a number of different ways. Fleet tracking is powered by GPS and can collect data in real-time. Here are some of the ways fleet tracking software can provide visibility into driver behavior.
Fleet tracking can eliminate check-in calls to drivers. Fleet managers know exactly where each of their drivers is in real-time. This means less wasted time for management and fewer distractions for drivers on the road.
Idling costs fleets in wasted fuel. Fleet tracking software can provide reports that identify drivers whose engines idle more than the fleet average. It can also determine when and where the behavior is occurring, allowing managers to determine which incidents are appropriate and which are excessive. This allows fleet managers to address the issue and coach their drivers.
Fleet tracking software can provide alerts to fleet managers when drivers are engaging in dangerous driving behavior such as hard braking or speeding. It can also notify managers in the event of a collision or other traffic incident.
Driver behavior has a major impact on fleets and should not be underestimated. Bad driving behavior can cost fleets in a number of ways. Speeding wastes fuel, accidents increase insurance premiums, and harsh braking can cause extra wear and tear on fleet vehicles.
Luckily, fleet tracking software can help fleet managers obtain visibility into driver behavior. One of the best fleet tracking software options on the market is made by Azuga. Azuga fleet tracker offers plenty of options for monitoring driver behaviors within your fleet. Many fleets make use of driver safety scores to keep track of risky behaviors. There is also an Azuga program called DriveSafe that can reduce distracted driving by allowing managers to monitor and block drivers’ use of cell phones. Contact Azuga to learn more about all of the ways Azuga Fleet can improve your fleet’s operations.