Navigate Your Fleet Toward Safety:
6 Steps to Master Driver Safety
Despite this focus and the real progress made, many fleets still have accident rates in the double digits. In fact, the national average hovers around 20%, and some industries, such as pharmaceuticals, post even higher accident rates.
Did you Know?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) estimates that 94% of all traffic collisions are a result of driver error, with many of those a result of distracted driving.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates large trucks and buses accounted for 155,585 crashes in 2020, 76,705 injuries, and 4,751 fatalities in 2020.
According to the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS) the average fatal crash involving those large trucks costs $761,000, with jury awards hitting as high as $1 billion.
Master the Safety Steps
If your organization doesn’t have a driver safety program in place, you’re missing a significant opportunity. Safer drivers cost less by getting fewer citations, using less fuel, reducing wear and tear on their vehicles…and getting in fewer accidents.
Successful fleets have mastered the steps they need to take to reap the rewards:
Improving your driver safety program begins with data. You need cold, hard facts to have any chance at addressing ongoing challenges with your drivers and vehicles.
According to the U.S. Mobile Resource Management Systems Market Study, more than 50% of the commercial vehicles in the U.S. now use telematics devices. If your fleet is not, you’re not going to master the steps—you’re not even going to get in the club.
Telematics provide vehicle locations, detect speeding, automatically send email or text alerts about unsafe driving, track incidents, and collect data that can help you coach drivers.
Dash cams are another key tool for fleet managers. A basic dash cam can provide evidence in an accident, while more-sophisticated AI-equipped solutions like our Driveri camera can provide multiple views from the cab. This can help put triggering events like hard lane changes into context, while also proving that your drivers were alert and paying attention.
Data from your telematics devices or smart cameras help identify missteps and give you concrete proof of your fleet’s top safety issues. You’ll learn how many of your drivers speed, who runs red lights, who tailgates, who is on their cell phone or otherwise driving distracted, and much more.
Having real data makes it much easier to discuss these problems with your drivers. It allows you to focus on facts. The data might also reveal issues that you weren’t expecting, especially if you’ve only been using telematics for a short time.
Once you’ve identified your fleet’s safety challenges, you can use that information to formulate your overall goals.
There are numerous possibilities for goal setting: You can have individual drivers aim to lower their incidents of speeding, strive for 100% seat belt use, or eliminate rolling through stop signs, just to name a few.
Telematics and camera data provide hard facts that will be far more effective than hunches or suspicions when communicating with your drivers. The data also points the way to improvement. You can set achievable goals that can guide your drivers.
Setting expectations is always a smart endeavor. Creating a driver policy will set the baseline for what’s expected of your drivers. Review it monthly or quarterly to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Typically, these policies discuss what data telematics collect and how the organization will use the data. Many policies also set expectations for vehicle use, maintenance, training, authorization for a background check, and an employee acknowledgment.
It’s also smart to address new technology in your driver policies. That means addressing tools like dash cams or any other emerging technology that your organization might deploy. This can pave the way for getting buy-in from drivers or unions.
If you need help, we have tips and a downloadable driver policy template to get you started.
Once you set your goals, the next step is checking in regularly to see how your drivers have improved. Your data provides a platform to see where they’ve excelled or fallen short.
Safety can’t just be punishment or criticism of unsafe behavior. It must also reward those drivers who are excelling. This can also be a way to encourage drivers by rewarding the best drivers in your fleet, or even those who show the greatest improvement. Fleets that have strong fleet safety programs often give gift cards or other tangible rewards to their top drivers on a regular basis.
Using your drivers’ safety program to coach and reward sends a message that you support your employees and want to invest in them.
Every fleet has a safety culture. The difference is whether you have a good safety culture or a bad safety culture.
There is a difference between a safety program and a safety culture. The former is a set of rules and guidelines. The latter is a core principle that creates expectations. Concentrate on building a culture of whole-person safety within your organization to make driver health and wellness a permanent focus. Educate drivers about ways to side-step health risks as part of your onboarding process and create ongoing communications through regular emails or alerts to remind your drivers to prioritize health and well-being.
To build a good safety culture, it must be the top priority and have buy-in from the decision-makers of the organization. It can’t just be a slogan; it must be the underlying fundamental of the organization and reinforced consistently. If you’re going through the motions and just halfway doing it, drivers will quickly realize that other priorities are really the most important.
Make Driver Safety a Reality
Improving the safety of your fleet begins by putting in place a system that captures severe and moderate driving activities. Understanding risky behaviors and how to address them is the key to success in modern fleet management. Making driver safety an organization’s top priority is simply good for business. It can help driver recruitment and retention, protect vehicles and drivers on the road, and help prevent accidents rather than simply reacting to them.