Fleet managers have a ton of responsibilities to take care of, but at the end of the day, it is driver safety that takes top priority. Accidents are increasing at an alarming rate with each passing year, so it is imperative to ensure that safe driving practices are implemented without fail.
What are the most common reasons for accidents?
As per Automotive Fleet, distracted driving is the most significant ongoing risk that fleet managers have to mitigate as it is the No. 1 cause of preventable fleet accidents. Drivers can get distracted because of multiple reasons such as calling or texting while driving, being tired due to lack of sleep, etc. However, fleet drivers are not the only ones potentially driving distracted on the road. Other non-commercial drivers could exhibit similar behavior, putting your drivers at risk.
Following a vehicle too closely is illegal in states like Indiana and Illinois – it can lead to severe crashes and deaths. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) explains that the tailgating vehicle can’t avoid a collision if the driver in front brakes suddenly. The situation is even more dangerous if both vehicles drive at high speeds.
When drivers exhibit careless, hazardous or aggressive behavior on the roads, it is referred to as reckless driving. Although the term is used interchangeably with careless driving, it isn’t the same – the latter occurs when the driver operates a vehicle carelessly, which leads to property damage or accidents.
Reckless driving is much more dangerous, because the person is fully aware of the consequences, but doesn’t follow the traffic and road safety rules. For instance, not wearing a seatbelt is considered reckless as one does it with full awareness they did not put it on before driving. Taking sharp turns, breaking speed limits, hard braking, and even tailgating, falls under this category. Road rage is also common as it leads to erratic driving and other unsafe behaviors like lane changing and ignoring traffic signals. These are all risky acts because they lead to accidents and deaths.
Drivers often spend long hours behind the wheel, which makes them prone to fatigue. Not getting sufficient rest means they are more vulnerable to harmful driving behavior. They don’t have the energy or alertness to drive defensively and act according to the situation. As per the National Sleep Foundation, drowsy driving has caused 6,400 deaths in the US.
Driving under Influence
Yet another risky behavior is to drive under influence. When drivers spend days on the road, traveling long distances, and away from loved ones, they often feel the need to relax. Bars on highways present quite the temptation indeed! However, drinking clouds their vision and senses, which lead to accidents. Apart from being illegal, driving under the influence leads to fatal accidents like brain damage, paralysis, disfigurement, or death.
Time to Implement a Fleet Safety Program
Isn’t it frightening how a simple lack of safety can lead to a serious catastrophe? For instance, a poorly maintained vehicle has a tire blowout on the highway, so the driver loses control and swerves into the oncoming traffic. Or maybe the driver is in a hurry to meet deadlines, so they break the speed limit and are unable to stop in time to avoid a collision. That is why; a fleet safety program is a must these days.
To put it in a nutshell, the program is a set of practices followed by an organization’s fleet to ensure the safety of both drivers and vehicles. Ideally, the program is codified into a set of guidelines referred to as the Fleet Safety Policy. The document outlines fleet details regarding safe driving and contains protocols for hiring and training drivers, as well as guidelines for disciplining drivers when required. It is vital to make your fleet safety policy transparent and freely available to ensure drivers and management is on the same page.
How to Boost Safe Driving?
Thanks to advanced vehicle tracking solutions, you can improve your fleet safety and ensure each driver follows best practices. Take a look:
Promote a Strong Culture of Safety
One of the most effective ways to improve safety using Anstel’s fleet tracking software is to encourage safety right from the start. It ensures that everyone can follow and establish baseline rules regarding the behavior expected from drivers, maintenance teams, fleet managers and administrative staff.
- Establish a policy – safety has to be at the root of every decision. It is imperative to set limits on driver hours, and perform rigorous background checks on new hires. Encourage personnel to speak up if they spot an issue, so it doesn’t balloon into a threat later on.
- Holding drivers accountable – make sure your drivers know that you are monitoring them. Fleet tracking devices will take the guesswork out of the equation, so you know exactly what happens on the road. You can get access to trip histories, review them, and address problems accordingly.
- Offer incentives – the data you collect via fleet tracking solutions will tell you exactly who follows rules and those who indulge in reckless behavior.Incentivizing safe behavior using a reward system is an excellent way to motivate your drivers and others to do the right thing.
Hiring and Training Drivers
The first step towards improving fleet safety is to ensure that your drivers are properly trained. They should be aware of the hazards they may encounter on the road and how to react in an emergency. They have to know how to handle their vehicle safely, including proper braking and turning techniques. They should also be aware of any restrictions or bans on certain vehicles in specific areas. Your drivers should have a valid driver’s license, as well as the appropriate insurance coverage.
As mentioned above, you should review an employee’s driving history, so as to determine how they will drive in future. Check the employee motor vehicle records before handing over the keys to a fleet vehicle. Once hired, drivers should have access to training on safe driving techniques, State/Federal driving regulations, and company driving policies. They should be familiar with the local roads and traffic laws too. Ensure they know about being held responsible for any driving tickets or citations they receive.In addition to driver training, it is also important to provide safety training for other employees involved in fleet operations, such as dispatchers and mechanics.
Establishing Fleet Safety Rules
- Wear seat belts – all drivers and passengers have to wear seat belts while a fleet vehicle is in operation. Anstel has in-cabin sensing solutions that can detect when if a driver has their seat belt on or not.
- Follow traffic rules – obeying road safety rules isn’t an option; drivers have to stick to speed limits, look out for traffic signs, follow street lights, etc.
- No driving while impaired – under no circumstances should drivers operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or any other substance that affects their ability to drive. The same restriction applies for drivers who are fatigued or injured.
- No using mobile devices – distracted driving can lead to collisions and injuries. Drivers shouldn’t use mobile devices, such as cell phones and tablets while driving a fleet vehicle. Many states have banned texting or calling while driving and the FMCSA restricts mobile phone use for drivers of commercial motor vehicles.
Monitor Driving Habits
Implementing Anstel’s fleet tracking software lets you monitor vehicles in real-time, from a central dashboard. You can view details such as:
- Location – monitor real-time vehicle locations, along with parameters like speed.
- Time – check customizable reports featuring historical driver insights.
- Driving patterns – detect problematic behavior like speeding, braking, cornering, and so on.
Monitoring drivers’ habits will give you insight into which employees are driving safely and those who need further training or incentives. If members of your team are putting themselves or others at risk, knowing when and where it happens can help you take steps to correct the behavior.
Use Route Optimization Software
Are drivers taking detours and making pit-stops when they shouldn’t? Using route optimization software, you can check past and current trips using a map overlay. It gives access to where your vehicles are and the routes being taken. You can use the data in multiple ways to place your drivers on the safest possible routes – here goes:
- Plan a cost-effective and safe trip – review the map block-by-block to create a route for drivers. Decide which roads to use, which neighborhoods to pass through and where they should stop for fuel. The goal is simple – get from point A to point B without using as less resources as possible, while prioritizing safety.
- Response to emergencies -real-time monitoring means you can make snap decisions to route drivers around traffic, road hazards and other emergencies. If the vehicle breaks down, you can track its location in real-time, and respond accordingly.
- Minimizing road time – the more time drivers spend on the road, they more likely it is they will get into accident. Since fleet tracking solutions help to find the quickest and shortest route to take, it shaves off unnecessary miles and reduces driver risk.
- Prevent driver fatigue – knowing how much time your drivers are spending on the road, how many miles they are driving and how long the engine is running will help you make sure drivers are working a reasonable schedule and taking breaks.
Make Vehicle Maintenance a Priority
When considering fleet safety, it is crucial to implement defensive driving programs. But you shouldn’t overlook vehicle maintenance. Fleet tracking software constantly monitors vehicle diagnostics, and sends alerts when it is time to schedule important preventative maintenance and inspections. Keeping up with regular maintenance is safer and more cost-effective, as compared to exorbitant repair expenses later on.
- Get instant alerts – if a component of your vehicle isn’t functioning the way it should, you get an alert immediately. Thus, you can schedule an inspection.
- Maintaining historical records – over time, you can build up historical records for vehicles that you can use to identify maintenance trends.
- Document maintenance schedules – fleet tracking solutions let technicians upload vehicle maintenance information directly to the cloud.
Guarantee equipment compliance
Ensure that your vehicles meet local and state requirements for lights, reflectors, windshields, and other equipment. It may be helpful to work with a fleet compliance company to ensure all of the required equipment is in place. While designing the fleet safety program, make sure to include emergency procedures, such as what to do if someone is injured or in a fire. It is necessary to have a contact list of emergency services, such as police and ambulance that can be accessed quickly in case of an emergency.
Keep Safety Data on Record
Tracking patterns in your safety data can help you make better decisions about changes and improvements to implement in your business. Fleet management software generates humongous amounts of data, which can be stored for future reference. By gathering this information over time, you can track patterns in individual driver safety and overall safety within your company. This insight helps to implement new strategies and identify ways to better train employees exhibiting poor driving behavior.
It isn’t realistic that fleet managers will be able to catch every incidence of risky driving or speeding. But fleet safety programs can reduce the risk of vehicle collisions by standardizing driving behaviors, coaching drivers, and setting vehicle maintenance requirements. Companies must take safety seriously, so the fleet is able to function smoothly.