Businesses with large vehicle fleets typically equate a great safety program with reduced claims and lower premiums. Whether your business has a fleet of five or fifty vehicles, a fleet safety program can make a significant difference in claims frequency, premium increases, and most importantly, driver safety.
There is certainly more to fleet safety than vehicle maintenance, motor vehicle reports, and safe driver courses, although, these should always be the basis of a good safety program. Driver habits change over time, and we can certainly look to distractions that have become a sore spot with fleet managers who are responsible for the safety of the employees. Distractions, aggressive driving, drugs and alcohol, and the weather will always make it to the top of the list for any safety manager to talk about and track during the year.
It used to be a scantily dressed female was considered a dangerous driver distraction but that has easily been replaced by technology. Today, technology distractions (text, email, cell phones) are responsible for about 25% of vehicle accidents nationally, according to the National Safety Council. Drivers who divert their eyes from the road for only a few seconds while reading or writing a text or email, end up going about 100 yards in just that short period of time. While we hear so much about texting and emailing while driving, drivers should understand that talking on the phone is a distraction that can be just as serious. Fleet managers must lay down the law about using technology while driving and hold employees accountable when they are found to be breaking the rules. If a driver must make or take a call while operating a vehicle, they should be required to park their vehicle before doing so. End of story!
According to a study published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, aggressive driving lead to more than half of the fatal crashes between 2003 and 2007. Speeding was the most common denominator in the accidents represented. Aggressive driving is usually the result of a driver falling behind schedule due to traffic backups or road construction. It's not unusual for a driver to try and make up time with the road opens up and that typically includes putting the pedal to the metal. Running red lights, failing to obey traffic devices, and failure to yield are all considered instances of reckless driving and should never be tolerated. Fleet managers can use driver safety courses, driver tracking devices, and dash cams are just some of the many devices now available for fleet managers to implement along with well thought out driver safety plan for all employees. The most important part of the safety plan is to hold employees accountable when they're found not following the safety protocols.
Typically overlooked by safety managers, driver health has become a hot topic because most employees who are feeling poorly are reluctant to miss a shift at work to seek a doctor's advice. Add to that, many drivers who feel poorly are also likely to self-medicate which can make matters worse if they're not paying attention the listed side effects. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has reported that driver use of over-the-counter drugs was a factor in approximately 25,000 large truck crashes over a 33 month period. It's incredible that a local delivery driver thinks it's a good idea to chug a bottle of cough medicine so he can get his routed completed and not lose hourly pay.
Certainly, every fleet manager is determined to reduce vehicle incidents by paying close attention to safety protocols. Unfortunately, safety protocols are useless if drivers are not held accountable when they fail to use them.
For more information on commercial auto insurance and great ideas for reducing your premium, contact Skyline Risk Management, Inc. at (718) 267-6600, and speak with an insurance professional who will help you navigate a complete set of safety protocols for your fleet.