When it comes to managing and improving fleet safety, one word is top of mind for fleet managers and safety departments today: Risk.

Whether it’s identifying potential hazards, analyzing risk data, notifying insurance companies of loss, or implementing corrective driving measures to reduce perceived risk, the main safety strategy for many of these departments is, in reality, a risk strategy.

But as the industry evolves, it has become evident that a focus on risk alone is no longer the most effective approach to either fleet safety or driver coaching. By ignoring good behaviors that reflect safe driving practices and positive reinforcement, fleet managers are missing a huge opportunity to improve coaching, motivate their drivers to operate more safely, increase driver retention—and even reduce claims.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the untapped potential and benefits that fleet managers unlock by adopting an approach that goes beyond simply managing risk.

What do you miss when you focus too tightly on risk?

Risk management is no doubt a key factor behind any successful fleet. It shouldn’t be neglected by any means, but it shouldn’t be the only pillar of a safety program either. By focusing only on risk, fleet and safety managers, and by extension, their drivers, all miss out on the “big picture” of safety, including opportunities to:

  • Recognize and reinforce safe driving behaviors
  • Implement more targeted coaching and training
  • Increase driver retention
  • Reduce claims and insurance costs to increase the bottom line

Reinforce safe driving behaviors with cutting-edge AI

The benefits of positive reinforcement have by now been very well documented by researchers. But for fleet managers to positively reinforce good behaviors and encourage their continuation, they need to have a video safety system that helps them recognize these behaviors when they happen.

This is the crucial first step to creating a more comprehensive culture of safety. Once fleet managers identify what drivers are doing right, this then serves as a foundation for more effective coaching, targeted training, and improved overall safety performance.

Save time & money through targeted, positive coaching

Besides risk, a tailored fleet coaching program should also consider individual aspects of driver behavior and performance. Every driver has unique skills and weaknesses that impact their risk and safe driving profiles differently.

Armed with this holistic perspective, safety departments can both identify areas where drivers excel and provide more tailored coaching and training to address specific behaviors to eliminate (or at the very least, reduce the occurrence of) those that are more likely to result in accidents.

Retain more drivers, for longer

High driver turnover has historically been one of the biggest challenges in the industry, with the American Trucking Association (ATA) estimating a record shortage of over 80,000 drivers in 2024, retention is poised to rise even higher in the list of key priorities. Shortage of drivers aside, high turnover levels also cost businesses more in terms of time and resources needed to constantly recruit and onboard new drivers as well as potential loss in revenue when they are unable to meet demand.

While there are many reasons for low driver retention, one relatively straightforward one that fleet safety managers can address is to examine their approach to safety management. Is it overly punitive, and could it be contributing to a negative work environment?

It may not be realistic to expect to retain every driver, but it is possible to create a more constructive environment. This in turn increases driver satisfaction and loyalty by recognizing positive behaviors—and ultimately, reduces turnover rates.

Increase the bottom line through reduced claims costs

Instead of solely focusing on risk, fleet managers can strategically invest in preventative measures that address the root causes of accidents.

For example, neglecting regular vehicle maintenance leads to increased breakdowns and accidents, driving up insurance claims and operational costs. Managers may also underestimate the benefits of investing in driver training programs, which enhance drivers’ skills, reduce the likelihood of accidents, and contribute to a safer overall fleet culture.

These strategies not only contribute to safer operations, but can also be leveraged to negotiate more favorable insurance terms based on the fleet’s demonstrated commitment to safety and risk mitigation—and positively impact the bottom line.

Overcome your top safety challenges

Now, let’s explore some of the most common challenges for fleet safety managers and ways to overcome each by taking a more comprehensive view of risk.

Decode risk accurately

A major challenge when it comes to identifying risks is that both traditional and modern telematics tools often struggle to present a fair representation of risk because they do not determine risk correctly.

For example, if a driver stops at a stop sign 99 times out of 100 correctly, but misses the sign once, many tools today still do not take into consideration the fact that the driver performed the safe behavior 99% of the time. This is largely because most tools may capture every mile, but they don’t analyze every mile since they’re focused solely on presenting the associated risk instead of the complete profile.

Key Takeaways:

  • Because Netradyne® Driver•i’s AI analyzes every single driving minute and not just when incidents occur, it provides a more all-encompassing view of both safe and risky driving behaviors. For example, if a driver runs two stop signs out of 50 stop signs, they’d get a different score than a driver who runs two stop signs out of 100 stop signs.
  • Netradyne®, like other similar tools, will generate an alert if a driver is following a vehicle too closely. However, the difference is Netradyne also detects and analyzes the context so that when a driver may be following a vehicle too closely because, in that instant, a vehicle moved into the driver’s lane in an unsafe way. This context provides opportunities to reward the driver for actually slowing down and leaving a larger gap between their vehicle and the car that cut off the driver.

Introduce a simple way to reduce risk

These are a few types of risky driving behavior, such as following another vehicle too closely, reckless driving, and distracted driving. Beyond typical diversions like daydreaming and eating, there are more potential distractions today than ever before thanks to cell phone use.

What’s worse, compared to other distractions, cell phones are much riskier. According to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are three types of driver distractions:

  • Visual distractions (taking your eyes off the road),
  • Cognitive distractions (taking your mind off the road), and
  • Manual distractions (taking your hands off the wheel)

While most distractions may involve only one or two of these types of distractions (but are still dangerous and increase the risk of collision), cell phone use involves all three types, which elevates its risk level even higher.

The issue with a reactive, risk-focused approach is that it does not effectively address risky driving behaviors in real time. You may be able to identify them after the fact when reviewing in-cab or dash cam captures, but that does little to reduce those behaviors or make trips safer for drivers.

Netradyne fleet safety camera

Telematics tools that offer real-time corrections can bridge the gap. Netradyne’s AI models run on the edge, which allows for instantaneous in-cab self-coaching to modify risky driving behaviors (for example, reminding a driver to get off the phone) as they are happening. This is only possible if a tool’s algorithms run in real-time, which is not available in all AI technologies today.

Leverage easy, effective, and positive driver coaching

It’s difficult to coach every driver. There are usually countless hours of recordings and data to go through, and often it seems easier to just coach reactively when something goes wrong. That is understandable because identifying drivers who require additional coaching in the first place can be challenging in a sea of data. That is, unless your fleet is in the GreenZone. 

Netradyne’s proprietary GreenZone® Score is a simple way of measuring how drivers are performing. The score represents a fundamental shift in the industry, and is the first safety score that considers both positive and risky driving behaviors to accurately reflect a driver’s skill level.

The rolling score updates in real-time throughout the driving day, includes analysis of 100% of driving time, and reflects a driver’s entire workday. AI-powered in-cab reminders keep drivers engaged, avoiding accidents, and enrich the GreenZone® scoring model to help fleet managers understand behaviors that impact safety and reduce risk.

The GreenZone Driver Scoring

Think of a situation where a driver is coming up on a stop sign but there is a traffic officer waving cars through. Traditional video telematics would capture that as a risk, but Netradyne shows drivers and managers the complete picture. Netradyne identifies that the driver was not behaving in a risky way, and will not raise an alert for that scenario, thereby not “over-alerting” the driver and not wasting the safety manager’s time on a false alert.

The GreenZone® Score also helps safety managers quickly tell who may need a bit more coaching. Generally, based on our data, there is a correlation between higher GreenZone scores and fewer collisions. Although 850+ is a relatively good score, collision risk reduction continues to decrease if drivers and coaches strive for an even higher GreenZone score—for example, over 950.

Additionally, Netradyne shows not only a driver’s individual GreenZone® score, but also an average score for an entire fleet. That means fleet managers can compare individual branches and groups, and determine whether they need to adjust their training program for a particular location specifically to improve their scores.

Retain more drivers with Driver•i

As mentioned earlier, another top challenge for fleet managers is retaining drivers. Driver retention is one of the top two industry-wide issues reported by The American Transportation Research Institute’s Critical Issues in the Trucking Industry report.

This is not new—driver turnover rates have always been high in the industry, with peaks of over 90% in recent years. This means if a company hires 1,000 drivers in a year, it would have to replace over 900 of them.

While video telematics tools do not directly address driver turnover reasons like low wages or wanting to spend more time at home, they alleviate some on-the-job concerns for drivers.

For example, the data captured by these devices helps exonerate drivers when they are involved in incidents where they’re not at fault, which increases trust and provides peace of mind for drivers and managers.

From a privacy perspective, tools like Netradyne can also be configured to reassure drivers who may be wary of in-cab recording devices. Fleet managers can disable and enable different features depending on what they want to capture while incorporating drivers’ requests. For instance, the inward view can be turned off and not analyzed at all, so that a driver’s score is based on outward-facing alerts only.

Reduce the severity of incidents

No matter how many proactive measures are taken and how robust a fleet’s safety training is, the truth is that sometimes, accidents do happen. Even though fleet managers can’t completely eliminate these incidents, they can reduce their frequency and severity.

Closely related is the rising trend of false claims and nuclear verdicts in recent years. Innocent drivers need more protection so they can be exonerated in the event of litigation—and by extension, fleet managers need robust evidence to protect their drivers and the company’s brand and reputation.

Netradyne’s AI provides comprehensive and reliable data that helps protect drivers and businesses against fraudulent claims, and potentially reduces legal liabilities for the fleet.

Netradyne is unique in that it works in real-time*, meaning it can send data to drivers, immediately at the scene of an accident. Most video telematics tools need at least 24 hours to review whether a collision actually occurred, which is not helpful if a driver needs urgent assistance.

Netradyne Driver•i’s AI is extraordinarily accurate and can typically detect a collision within 30 seconds, which is critical to keeping drivers safe and managers notified. This speedy reaction, coupled with a new collision management workflow to share first notification of loss (FNOL) data, also makes a huge difference in how claims are managed, how fleet managers provide timely aid to drivers, and ultimately, how severe the impact of the incident is to the business.

Tame data overload

The sheer volume of driving data available today can overwhelm fleet and safety managers and make it challenging to extract meaningful insights. What should they focus on? How should they interpret the latest driving data?

Netradyne makes it easier for fleet and safety managers to gather and leverage data via access to the Netradyne Driver•i portal. The Safety Manager Assistant, an AI-powered chatbot, provides managers with contextual information in a conversational manner. For example, instead of having to go through data for every driver, a fleet manager simply asks the chatbot which drivers need the most coaching.

Netradyne Digital Safety Manager for driver coaching.

To go one step further, Netradyne’s Recommended Coaching feature pinpoints specific driver coaching areas that managers should focus on. This saves managers from having to sift through thousands of hours of driving data and recordings to find coaching opportunities.

Bottom line: Boost safety and reduce risk with Netradyne

Drivers are human and are more likely to respond to rewards and constructive conversations than punitive, reactive measures.

By adopting a more holistic approach to safety and driver coaching, fleet and safety managers not only keep their drivers safe, but also retain them for longer, protect the business from false claims, and ensure a safer and more sustainable future for both their fleets and their drivers.

Learn more about how Netradyne Driver•i’s AI platform helps improve your fleet’s coaching and training process, overall driver performance, and much more.

*Based on cellular connectivity.

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