Telematics Pros Share Best Practices for Driver Safety

Article Published by Geotab
Author: Laurelle Flewelling, Account Manager

Despite enormous effort and money spent on training and technology, driver safety continues to be a challenge for many companies. We’ve seen the statistics:

  • There were 32,675 deaths from motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2014 (IIHS).
  • 3,903 people were killed and approximately 111,000 people were injured in crashes involving large trucks in 2014 (NHTSA).
  • Over 3,000 deaths and 430,000 injuries in 2014 were due to collisions involving distracted driving(NHTSA).

It seems there’s more work to be done on driving safety. What can employers and fleet managers do to get the message across?

We asked the pros at Geotab for their insights. They shared their advice on improving driver safety, based on their experience in the industry and knowledge of telematics best practices. The round-up panel included Sherry Calkins, Heather Carlton, Cary Carter, Renee Depuydt, Susan Miller, and Stephanie Voelker.

Here’s what they said.

Tips on Improving Driver Safety

What is one thing that businesses can do today to improve driver safety?

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.”

“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.” — Susan Miller

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 safety road sign safety first

Sherry Calkins and Renee Depuydt point 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.”

Find out how Black and Veatch used driver scorecards to improve driving behavior in the field. Read the case study.

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,” Carter adds.

“Measure what you want to manage” — Cary Carter

Training — and re-training — on the basics of safe driving is also essential. The official U.S. Government website for distracted driving cites this research from the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI): “Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.”

“Teach the drivers the realities of distracted driving: how many seconds eyes are off the road and how far the vehicle travels.” — Stephanie Voelker

Driver training may soon become standardized in the U.S. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) has proposed new driver training standards for commercial driver’s license (CDL) seekers. The training, designed to improve highway safety, would include 30 hours behind the wheel, including practice on public roads, and theory.

Safe Driving Tips

What are some key safety habits that drivers should put into practice?

Tip #1. Wear your seat belt. It’s surprising, but some drivers are still not buckling up. Employers and managers must remind their drivers to use seat belts. As the AAA reports, “seat belts are the single most effective means of reducing the risk of death in a crash and have saved nearly 300,000 lives since 1975 in the U.S. alone.”

“Regardless of what kind of driver you are, if you get in an accident (even it’s not your fault), not wearing your seat belt could put your life in jeopardy.” — Heather Carlton

Tip #2. Put the phone down. More drivers need to take distracted driving seriously. Voelker says, “People who drive and text or dial a phone — they seem to ignore the consequences. They believe that the car accident will happen to someone else. If your eyes leave the road you are at risk. Period.”

“It surprises me that people still choose bad behavior and habits despite the overwhelming evidence and statistics of what happens when seat belts are not worn, drivers text while driving, or drive aggressively,” says Miller.

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.

“When drivers know they are being monitored and understand company expectations, behavior changes — making our roadways safer for all.” — Sherry Calkins

slow down road safety sign

Tip #3. Be mindful of your speed. Complying with posted road speeds can bring benefits for both drivers and their employers, namely avoiding costly fines and charges, saving money on gas, and reducing the risk of crashes, injuries, or worse.

Speeding can be easily managed with telematics. Fleet managers can set up custom speeding rules for drivers and monitor who goes over the limit, by how much, as well as when and where the speeding occurred. Carter notes that managers can send in-vehicle spoken word alerts to drivers via GO TALK. In-vehicle coaching can be effective for speeding, as well as seat belt usage, harsh driving, idling, vehicle health, and more.

“I think people don’t realize how much they speed until they are reminded of it by driver feedback.” — Renee Depuydt.

Read more tips in this blog post on improving your driving.

Best Practices for Fleet Managers

What essential safety tools should every fleet be using?

The panelists agree that every company should be using fleet management reports to manage fleet safety and track progress. “A driver safety scorecard holds drivers accountable and pinpoints which drivers need additional training and improvements in driver behavior,” say Calkins.

“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?” — Susan Miller

The seat belt report on the Geotab Marketplace displays the five drivers or vehicles who had the highest number of incidents of driving without their seat belt a specified time period. Managers can run the report daily, weekly or monthly and can be run as a dashboard or an emailed report.

“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.” – Heather Carlton

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 Mobileye collision avoidance solution is an empowering tool for drivers that warns them of impending collisions, unsafe lane changes, or following too close. “Mobileye captures distracted driving as well as unsafe lane changes and proximity warnings,” says Voelker.

Fleets who are using Mobileye, can use the Mobileye Weekly Trending Scorecard to see scoring trends for each Mobileye user. They can view driver risk score based on forward Collisions, Headway Levels, Lane Departure, Pedestrian or Urban Frontal Collisions.

The cost of vehicle collisions to employers is extremely high — $47.4 billion in 2013 according to a report from the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS). Employers, fleet managers, and drivers all have a stake in improving safety and helping change those statistics.