Whether your company has a large fleet or only a few vehicles, fleet safety should always be a top priority. Safety initiatives not only save lives, they also have a major impact on your bottom line. Every year, on-the-job highway crashes cost employers an average of $26,081 per crash, $66,119 per million vehicle-miles of travel, and $78,418 per injury. To get a sense of how fast these numbers add up, let’s say your fleet has 1,000 crashes. Multiply $26,081 by 1,000—that’s $26,081,000 in losses.
Besides the obvious benefits of a safety program, fleets that integrate safety into every part of their business reap a range of intrinsic benefits, like improved accountability across every department, higher morale, better productivity, and increased driver retention. To help your fleet achieve these benefits while avoiding common pitfalls, here are four key elements of an effective fleet safety program.
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Invest in a fleet safety camera solution
There’s growing recognition across commercial fleets that data is essential to making fleets safer. Today, 700,000 companies are using telematics systems and services, which equates to more than 50 percent of U.S. commercial vehicles. While some devices only provide GPS location, more sophisticated systems send alerts about unsafe driving, log road incidents, and include dash cams.
Fleet dash cams not only collect valuable evidence for accidents, they also provide helpful data that can help you build your fleet safety program. Advanced AI-equipped dash cam solutions, like Netradyne, provide multiple views from inside and outside the cab. These views can put triggering events, like abrupt lane changes and hard braking, into context. Was the driver paying attention or reacting to a car that abruptly cuts in front of the vehicle? A fleet safety program can use event-triggered videos to understand common causes of collisions on popular routes. They can also be used in helpful training videos.
In one fleet with high driver turnover, drivers were asked to repeatedly watch short video lessons on driver safety. Timely completion of this assignment was tied to raises and promotions. As a result, the fleet’s telematics solution showed that risky driving events were reduced by 41 percent and severe at-fault collisions by 21 percent.
Define your safety goals and create a plan
Dash cam videos and telematics data can help you identify issues and pain points that need to be addressed. So take a moment to review your data and identify any obvious patterns. The next step is writing your safety policies, which are basically rules to ensure a safe fleet, like cell phone usage, procedures for reporting accidents, and maintenance scheduling. Creating these policies should be a collaborative effort that involves everyone who has anything to do with drivers or vehicles, including staff who procure insurance, handle maintenance, and administer driver training. Everyone contributes a different piece of the puzzle.
Then, identify between two and five goals based on fleet data. They might be to eliminate distracted driving or to reduce at-fault collisions by 10 percent. The National Safety Council’s Driver Safety Training program describes effective goal setting as SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely).
Communicate new safety policies
To ensure fleet safety is always at the top of everyone’s mind, it is critical to regularly communicate about it. This is easier if you create a culture of safety. Companies with strong safety cultures usually have lower collisions reported to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). In a recent study, one of the fleets that listed safety culture as its top strategy reported a 75.6 percent reduction in preventable crashes.
During safety training, discuss what your fleet safety program is trying to accomplish—it’s not only about the bottom line, it’s also about driver well-being. Drivers who understand your program will be significantly less resistant, and they might even become safety culture advocates. This is true for all your safety initiatives, including dash cams. Before you introduce dash cams, consider calling a company-wide meeting to explain why they’re an important fleet safety solution. By being transparent about how data will be used, you’re more likely to get driver buy-in for dash cams.
Utilize driver coaching features
Essentially, driving is like any skill—it can be improved with feedback and practice. That’s why every fleet safety program should include a driver coaching component. Today, some of the most effective coaching is being powered by data from telematics systems combined with dash cam videos, which help drivers pinpoint areas for improvement. The most advanced systems include more than just real-time in-cab alerts for corrective action on the road. For example, Netradyne’s driver cams include four built-in layers of coaching.
Not only do videos and data help drivers become safer on the road, they also provide managers with reasons to praise drivers regularly for their excellent habits and good behavior. Drivers simply respond better when praised for what they’re doing right as opposed to only being coached for their slip-ups. Combining positive affirmations with daily opportunities to hone their skills can help drivers feel like their efforts really matter, which improves driver retention.
Many fleets live in fear that they’re one big collision away from catastrophe. Fatal collisions cost an average of $3.6 million per crash and cause permanent damage to a fleet’s reputation. How can fleet safety be improved? A comprehensive fleet safety program can be an effective strategy for avoiding major losses, preventing serious injuries, and saving lives. One important component of any safety program is a driver safety solution, like an advanced telematics solution combined with dash cams. Learn everything you need to know about fleet safety in our blog