A recent survey provided by GE Capital Fleet Services suggests that the major concern for fleet managers today involves the safety of drivers. More than 36 percent of all fleet managers cite driver safety as their main concern.
Just last year, only 23 percent of managers cited driver safety as their main concern. In last year's survey, the most important concern facing most fleet managers was cost efficiency.
“Cost savings is still among the leading fleet priorities. To help manage costs, fleet managers are using a number of different tactics. Forty-two percent cited vehicle purchasing decisions as the greatest opportunity for savings”.
While cost is still a major concern for many fleet managers, driver safety is still at the top of the list for most. Drivers of any vehicle are prone to be distracted while driving. Certain distractions like texting or using a mobile navigation application causes more than 80 percent of all crashes according to the NHSA or National Highway Safety Administration.
Field technicians are on the road for much of their workday so they have to understand that driving while distracted can cause a number of negative consequences for fleet management as well as their own safety.
“According to a 2009 NHTSA study (in conjunction with Virginia Tech Transportation), commercial service vehicles and trucks are more prone to the effects distracted driving; texting while operating a complicated maneuver in a service vehicle, for example, almost quadruples the chance of a crash or near-crash”.
Drivers should be offered instruction on the importance of safety while driving. Distractions such as cell phones and tablets should never be used while driving. Experts agree that not having a cell phone on when driving could help many to avoid crashes or near crashes. While mobile technology has certainly helped drivers to keep in touch with home offices, organize their day and communicate with customers, their use should be avoided when the driver is actually operating a vehicle.
Minimizing the paperwork that needs to be done in the vehicle can also help to keep drivers from being distracted. Software programs that help to minimize actual written paperwork can make the process faster. Paperwork should be managed before the driver begins driving or it should be saved for a later time, when the driver is not behind the wheel. Digital programs that allow drivers to instantly send back their paperwork can be very beneficial in these cases.
Preventable accidents are common. The definition of a preventable accident is one that could be avoided but is not because the vehicle driver has failed to act in a manner that would have prevented the crash. It can be difficult to determine whether or not a driver actually had reasonable actions for avoiding an accident.
“Preventable accident on the part of a motor carrier means an accident (1) that involved a commercial motor vehicle, and (2) that could have been averted but for an act, or failure to act, by the motor carrier, or the driver”.
A fleet safety management tool that will establish the safe driving standard for drivers and evaluate drivers could help to solve many preventable accident issues. Programs that are designed for management could help to monitor the effectiveness of programs implemented to enhance fleet safety. They could aid in the implementation of recognition programs for drivers who meet certain safety criteria and evaluate the performance of individuals and the fleet as a whole with regards to safety.
Fleet managers that are concerned about driver performance and safety should take the steps necessary to ensure that all fleet drivers are practicing safety habits and trying to avoid being distracted when behind the wheel.