According to the National Safety Council (NSC), every day more than 700 people are injured in distracted driving crashes.
That’s why the NSC recognizes October as National Distracted Driving Month, a time of year that focuses on a driver’s visual, manual and cognitive awareness to keep roads safe. These reminders are important not only in October, but 365 days a year.
The very nature of driving makes it difficult to identify and address risky driving behaviors - for managers and for drivers themselves.
In the past, fleet safety managers addressed driving concerns through traditional methods such as ride-along evaluations, ride-behind observations, and the well-known “How’s my driving?” phone number posted on trucks. However, these historical monitoring methods often proved to be unreliable, disputable and were often focused on the negative.
As technology changes everything about the way we live, communicate and drive, it is also changing the nature of fleet safety. Let’s take a closer look at several evolving technologies that can strengthen your fleet safety program.
- GPS Monitoring
GPS monitoring is mostly used in trucking and can identify hard stops, hard turns, excess speed and event location, and sends a notification to the fleet operator. There are scoring systems available that most services provide so companies can recognize and reward drivers with the best scores (top 5-10%).
Looking at trends for the drivers with lower scores can provide opportunities for coaching, problem solving and remedial training. The goal is to spotlight the best drivers and train drivers with lower scores.
- Phone Apps
Phone apps are loaded onto drivers’ mobile phones. They allow the use of navigation tools while blocking or flagging text and voice use. These apps have similar tools as truck GPS systems and provide a dashboard of driving performance. The best apps employ behavioral psychology and provide instant warnings, feedback and coaching to the driver, and continuous scoring. They encourage and reinforce self-improvement.
Phone apps can be a good fit for incidental drivers, drivers of light vehicles and drivers with company phones.
Dashcams are devices installed behind the windshield. They are most effective when cloud connected to a fleet manager dashboard. Dashcams can retain and upload video just before, during and after a flagged event such as sudden braking or an erratic lane change. Some even go so far as to recognize driver distraction, drowsiness and inattention using artificial intelligence to monitor driver behaviors. The best systems use sophisticated feedback, analysis and virtual coaching from dashcam footage. Dashcam footage can also help to defend and exonerate drivers after an accident.
Prior to implementing any of these new technologies into your fleet safety program, it’s important to consider the right solution for your business by analyzing the:
- Cost versus risk
- Type of fleet and driving
- Compatibility with existing systems – Electronic logging device, GPS, etc.
- Other features such as geofencing, alarm systems, logistics and maintenance management
- Coaching and training resources
- Vendor support
Explore the options rather than selecting the first product you see.
These technologies don’t eliminate the need for basic controls. It’s still essential to attend to driver selection and placement, motor vehicle record monitoring, training, hours of service, driver health, sleep management, drugs and alcohol, vehicle selection and maintenance, and to provide venues for driver feedback.
The technology outlined above is rapidly changing the landscape of fleet safety. Effective use depends on several common elements:
- Recognize/reward good drivers
- Incentivize all drivers to improve
- Rehab drivers with problems before they have accidents
- Coach, and encourage self-monitoring
- Focus on driver welfare, rather than punishment
- Adapt your use to your culture – no single recipe for success
- Lead by example/use
With a variety of emerging new technologies, finding the right tools for your fleet safety program is what matters most. The goal should always be to lower risk and produce happier and safer drivers on the roads today.
Founded in 1925, CopperPoint Insurance Companies is a leading provider of workers’ compensation and commercial insurance solutions operating in six southwestern states. To learn more about our insurance products and find resources to better manage your risks, explore our website or contact your independent insurance agent.