Did you know that the leading cause of work-related deaths in the U.S. is from vehicular accidents? In 2010, 22 percent of fatal work-related incidents occurred on highways. Furthermore, employers pay $60 billion each year for motor vehicle accidents—a non-fatal injury costs an employer an average of $74,000 and a fatal injury costs an employer upward of $500,000. And it goes without saying that vehicular accidents cause workers and their family great pain and anguish. Considering the fact that fleet drivers average twice as many miles on the road as other drivers, fleet management teams have a strong case for implementing a strict motor vehicle safety program.
According to government statistics, most vehicle accidents are attributed to exceeding the speed limit, driver fatigue, distracted driving, backing up unsafely or driving a poorly maintained vehicle. The good news is that fleet managers can control most of these risk factors and, while they can’t always prevent accidents from occurring, they can use the tips below to minimize the risks and help ensure driver safety.
Enforce written policy and procedures
As an obvious accident prevention starter, develop and distribute written safety policies for all fleet employees. For example, enforce a cell phone policy to help discourage distractive driving, either by banning use while driving or restricting use to hands-free devices only. Or consider a policy that requires drivers to rest when they feel fatigued, and help drivers identify some of the warning signs of fatigue, which include:
~ Continual yawning
~ Feeling cramped and stiff
~ Slower reaction times
~ Eyes that feel heavy
~ Varying speed for no reason
Install in-vehicle recording systems
In-vehicle recording systems help identify problem behaviors, such as seat belt non-compliance or cell phone use. With a fleet tracking system in place, fleet managers can reprimand problem drivers who continually fail to comply with safety policies. Additionally, in-vehicle recording devices can capture evidence that may limit company liability when an accident occurs.
Mandate driver-training programs and continued education coursework
Orienting new hires to driver safety policies and requiring continuous safety training for employees on a regular basis can help minimize company and driver risk. Provide drivers with strategies to prevent accidents and minimize injury if an accident occurs, such as wearing seatbelts and properly securing cargo.
Require routine vehicle maintenance
Practicing proper fleet vehicle maintenance is a highly effective way to prevent accidents from occurring. A recent study out of the UK found that car maintenance was not a priority for many fleet drivers—about 11 percent of van drivers failed to identify the minimum tire tread limit and 15 percent of drivers reported they never check the oil in their vehicles. A company policy that clearly outlines required vehicle maintenance practices would help hold drivers accountable, including:
~ Schedule vehicle inspections on a regular basis
~ Report mechanical issues as soon as possible
~ Review important vehicle maintenance issues
~ Ensure vehicles are properly equipped with working seat belts, adequate fleet tire treads, rollover protection, etc.
Monitor driver motor vehicle records
Avoid hiring poor drivers or identify problem drivers by conducting motor vehicle and criminal background checks. Routinely review every driver’s motor vehicle record and respond promptly to evidence of reckless driving behavior by:
~ Requiring additional safety training and lessons
~ Restricting driving privileges
~ Suspending or terminating the driver
To avoid significant financial and emotional loss due to vehicular accidents, fleet managers can help promote safe driving through the development of safety policies, proper vehicle maintenance and accident prevention training for drivers. By ensuring all the appropriate steps are taken to train and protect the fleet, work-related accidents and their associated costs could be greatly reduced.