How to empower drivers to improve safety

Article Published by Geotab
Author: Melanie Serr is a Senior Manager, Brand Communications for Geotab.
https://www.geotab.com/driver-safety/

Best practices for managers on how to encourage safe driving.

Despite the enormous effort and money spent on training and technology, driver safety continues to be a challenge for many companies. Motor vehicle deaths in the U.S. have recently increased, according to the National Safety Council. In Ontario, Canada, commercial vehicle collisions are the highest they’ve been in more than 20 years, with speed as a major factor.

More road safety statistics:

  • There were over 36,000 deaths from motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2019 (IIHS).
  • 5,005 people were killed and approximately 159,000 people were injured in crashes involving large trucks in 2019 (NHTSA).
  • Speeding was a factor in 26% of motor vehicle crashes (IIHS).
  • Over 3,100 people died because of distracted driving in 2019 (NHTSA).

Our round-up panel of experienced telematics and fleet industry pros shared insights on how managers can improve fleet safety. The panel included Sherry Calkins, Heather Carlton, Cary Carter, Susan Miller, and Stephanie Voelker from Geotab.

Regularly update your safety policy

Susan Miller believes it’s important to have a “living” policy for safety that is clearly defined and has buy-in from every level of the company. Miller says, “The one thing a business can do today to improve driver/fleet safety is to implement a robust policy defining driver eligibility and includes a detailed safety program. The safety policy must have clearly defined performance indicators that can be easily monitored and measured. It has to be a living document with consistent compliance and regular communication.”

For example, clearly communicating and reinforcing rules for distracted driving in company policy is important, especially as use of smartphones and smartwatches increases. Exception reporting can be combined with driver training for greater impact.

Miller is a Fleet Hall of Fame Inductee and Fleet Manager of the Year recipient. Read about more strategies for fleet management success in her blog profile.

Track progress to your goals with your fleet software

Sherry Calkins points to the power of software for managing driver safety. Calkins says, “Implement driver scorecards and communicate company policies and expectations to drivers. No one wants to be at the bottom of the list and labelled as the ‘worst driver’ in the fleet. Accountability and awareness equal safer drivers.”

“A driver safety scorecard holds drivers accountable and pinpoints which drivers need additional training and improvements in driver behavior. When drivers know they are being monitored and understand company expectations, behavior changes — making our roadways safer for all,” says Calkins.

Cary Carter says the best way to start is by defining your goals and then tracking performance. “If you don’t know what drivers are doing then you can’t make the roads safer or help your bottom line. Measure what you want to manage,” says Carter.

Start with seat belts

“A simple seat belt report that may show those who aren’t wearing their seat belt could literally save their lives by helping them change their habits. I also feel that driver feedback, whether it be beeping or GO TALK, is a vital tool to help drivers get in the habit of wearing their seat belts,” says Heather Carlton.

The seat belt report displays the five drivers or vehicles who had the highest number of incidents of driving without a seat belt fastened for a certain time period. This report is available on the Geotab Marketplace.

Managers can run this report daily, weekly or monthly. Miller notes that the seat belt report is also a great example of how telematics can be used to report and measure on fleet objectives, “The Top 5 Seat Belt Violations report gives a very quick snapshot of who is violating the simplest of rules — not to mention breaking the law. If they consistently disregard a simple task without reason, what else of importance are they ignoring or short-cutting?”

Train and retrain

Training — and retraining — on the basics of safe driving is also essential. “Teach the drivers the realities of distracted driving: how many seconds eyes are off the road and how far the vehicle travels,” says Stephanie Voelker. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Distracted Distracted page states that looking away from the road for five seconds, while driving at 55 mph, is “like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.”

Continuously reviewing the fleet safety rules can help reinforce those best practices on the road.

If a crash does occur, what learnings can be built into the safety training program to help improve it and prevent future collisions?

Gamify your safety program

Motivate and reward drivers with a gamification app that ties into your telematics system. By giving drivers access to their own dashboard, they will be empowered by continuous feedback on how they’re doing. Achievements or badges can motivate progress to goals.

How do you use gamification? Join in the conversation at the Fleet Success Center.

Find a high-level sponsor

High-level sponsors are key to making programs work. Ensuring that top management are backing fleet managers in promoting safety and implementing the necessary systems, not only builds strong safety policies but enforces them as well. Drivers need to know that the entire management team is united on company safety policies and systems.

“Driver and fleet safety will only be successful if everyone from top management to the newest driver participates and complies with the company policy and process, ” says Miller.

Share these driver safety tips with your team

The cost of vehicle collisions to employers is extremely high. Crashes cost the economy $242 billion, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (IIHS). Fleet managers have an important stake in improving safety and helping change those statistics.

See all our safety articles and learn more about Geotab’s fleet safety management solutions.

Visit the Fleet Success Center on the Geotab Community to ask questions, or post your own success tips or stories to help others.