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How to Increase Driver Safety

Vehicle Accident

As a fleet manager, an accident is the last thing you want to happen. Aside from risking injuries to your drivers or other motorists sharing the road, truck collisions cost fleets nearly $57 billion annually. Fleet accidents rake in steep medical bills and costly vehicle repairs, not to mention, they force a rapid decline in overall productivity. If you want to protect your fleet and the team of drivers that keep it running, you must improve fleet safety.

Though you can’t predict the behavior of other vehicles on the road, you can prepare your drivers for a wide range of worst-case scenarios. From mandatory training programs to telematics services, there are multiple ways to protect your fleet from harm. With the annual accident rate for commercial fleets peaking at approximately 20%, now is the time to implement steps to improve driver safety.

Offer a Driver Training Program

Though the most obvious tip, the number one way to improve driver safety is to offer a driver training program. While helpful to novice and veteran drivers alike, training programs can be particularly helpful to those who are adjusting to the longer braking distances of large commercial vehicles. The bigger the vehicle, the longer it will take to slow down — regardless of whether your drivers are handling fully-loaded tractor-trailers, box trucks, or cargo vans.

For instance, compared to a passenger vehicle like a standard sedan, it takes an 18-wheeler 40% longer to stop. Fleet managers should ensure all drivers complete a training program for hands-on defensive driving techniques that include the differences between braking distances to help prevent otherwise avoidable accidents.

Educate on Blind Spots

Visibility is a core component in keeping fleet drivers safe on the road. This is especially true for drivers handling large commercial vehicles that feature more blind spots than standard passenger automobiles. For example, both semi-trucks and box trucks feature limited visibility on all four sides of the vehicle due to substantial blind spots in the front, back, and sides.

To improve driver safety, all members of the fleet should be well-educated on all potential blind spots. Drivers should also be able to familiarize themselves with potential blind spots for other vehicles sharing the road to help avoid accidents with distracted or speeding motorists.

Advise Against Dangerous Driving Habits

Approximately 90% of motor vehicle accidents are caused at least in part by human error. Dangerous behaviors, such as tailgating, exceeding the speed limit, distracted driving using cell phones, hard braking, and cornering, are more common than some fleet managers may think. To safeguard drivers, as well as other vehicles on the road, it’s paramount that fleet managers advise against dangerous driving behaviors.

One way to warn drivers against reckless behaviors is to include forbidden driving habits in a mandatory driving program, as mentioned in the above tip. Another way to advise against these habits is to implement a written procedure.

Establish a Written Policy

All fleet managers should establish a type of written policy and protocol for drivers to review and agree to. The reasoning is simple: When managers have all mandatory protocols written down, it creates clear and consistent expectations for drivers across the business. When drivers agree to these policies, it generates a type of trust between fleet managers and fleet members.

Written policies should be given to drivers upon their start with your company. As the fleet manager, you should personally review these policies with the driver before they ever get behind the wheel. Any updates to improve driver safety must also be shared with all drivers on a routine basis.

Follow Hours of Service (HOS) Regulations

The National Safety Council (NSC) estimates that 328,000 drowsy driving crashes occur annually, resulting in more than 100,000 injuries and 6,400 fatalities. Fatigued drivers can be just as dangerous as intoxicated drivers, and they should not be commanding any vehicle in your fleet. To improve driver safety and protect against fatigued driving, follow all Hours of Service (HOS) regulations.

Established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA), Hours of Service regulations are meant to help drivers minimize fatigue. They implement limitations on how long individuals can operate a vehicle, as well as mandate 30-minute rests following long stints on the road. To improve fleet and driver safety, and adhere to FMSCA rules, abide by all HOS regulations.

Leverage Telematics Systems

Imagine if you could effortlessly tap into each fleet vehicle to improve safe driving. With telematics services, you can. Telematics bridges telecommunications and vehicular technologies to allow fleet managers to receive continuous feedback regarding driving behavior. Not only does this allow a fleet manager a glimpse into unwanted driving habits, such as tailgating or speeding, but it creates opportunities for managers to correct drivers in real time.

Telematics services give fleet managers the ability to deploy in-cab audio and visual alerts that let drivers know they’ve broken written protocol. This allows drivers to self-correct, possibly before an accident takes place. Plus, telematics can monitor vehicle maintenance, so managers can keep vehicles serviced and safe in the field.

New England Mobile offers telematics systems for all types of fleets. Our fleet management systems will ensure that you have the tools to increase driver safety. Contact us today to learn more.

New England Mobile Systems


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