Most companies have to engage in some form of logistics, whether it is for deliveries or sending employees out into the field. When companies send their employees out on the road they are responsible for ensuring they follow the rules, are safe on the road, and that their vehicles are road worthy. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case, with statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing that most fatalities involve a commercial vehicle. In 2018, 11% of the work-related deaths involved pedestrians that were struck by these vehicles. The good news is that there are ways for companies to improve fleet safety and make the roads safer for their employees, road users, and pedestrians. From vehicle maintenance to simulation training, driver safety is easier to ensure than ever before.
Ensure vehicle maintenance
All vehicles need regular maintenance, and this is especially true of commercial vehicles, as the company faces legal action if an accident happens due to negligence in this area. Regular maintenance is key for driver and fleet safety, as it makes sure that vehicles are functioning properly and that companies can prove that they are road safe. The United States Department of Labor stated in their Guidelines for Employers to Reduce Motor Vehicle Crashes that “vehicles should be on a routine preventive maintenance schedule for servicing and checking of safety-related equipment. Regular maintenance should be done at specific mileage intervals consistent with the manufacturer’s recommendations. A mechanic should do a thorough inspection of each vehicle at least annually with documented results placed in the vehicle’s file”.
Utilize vehicle technologies
While we are not quite there with autonomous vehicles, new technology exists to help improve fleet safety by making commercial vehicles smarter. Collision Avoidance Systems include tire pressure monitors that help prevent tire blowouts by warning the drivers of how elevation or temperature changes are affecting the tires. Meanwhile, forward collision monitoring systems warn of hazards ahead so the driver can swerve or brake in time. Even the best driver training can’t prepare fleets for real-world hazards, but this technology is poised to fill in the gaps.
Another very useful technology for fleet safety is telematics. An article on telematics by Verizon Connect explains that a telematics system involves installing a tracking device in a vehicle to send, receive, and store data. This includes speed, fuel consumption, vehicle faults, and idling time, among others. This will improve driver safety by allowing managers to monitor their drivers’ behavior, such as speeding and harsh braking. They will then be able to reprimand and retrain any drivers who fail to meet the required standards.
Provide proper driver education and simulation training
An article by Bob Davis, former CEO & President of Virtual Driver Interactive, emphasizes how drivers are highly important assets to your company, and as such, driver safety must also be a priority for the company. Having a license should only be the first requirement to deeming someone competent enough to be trusted with your vehicle and ensuring fleet safety. Before putting anyone on the road, have them undergo proper driver training first, which includes your company’s policies and procedures, such as incident reporting and logbooks.
It’s also possible for them to undergo driver training without being on the road yet. Our ‘Does Simulation Training Really Work?’ feature notes that simulations are effective in training new and experienced drivers. This is because these allow active learning, meaning potential drivers get immediate feedback on their performance. Driver simulation training also gives them a safe environment to practice as they can learn from critical errors without causing harm to themselves or others on the road.
Fleet management isn’t just about being productive – companies must ensure that they are making the road safer. Paying attention to both vehicles and driver safety ensures that you’re keeping your employees and pedestrians safe, while also running your fleets more efficiently.
Words by Bernadette James