7 Ways to Improve Your Fleet Driving Habits
The vehicles, technology, and policies you use all heavily impact fleet performance. But at the end of the day, one of the most significant contributors to your bottom line is your fleet driving habits. Not only do your drivers affect the overall performance and efficiency of your fleet, they also reflect how the public perceives your brand. So it’s essential to take every possible measure to refine and improve in this area continually. Here are seven key strategies that cover it from top to bottom.
1. Make Driver Training a Top Priority
Typically, the best place to start is with driver training, where you make ideas a point of emphasis rather than merely a formality. More specifically, you’ll want to invest in continuous driver training to ensure your team stays up-to-date on evolving techniques, policies, and regulations to unlock their peak performance. A comprehensive driver training program starts with essential road safety, awareness, and accident prevention. But it should also cover a wide range of other areas, including:
- Learning smooth acceleration and deceleration
- Improving fuel efficiency
- Avoiding excessive idling
- Having an accident response plan
- Vehicle maintenance and servicing
Using a mix of courses, videos, and hands-on instruction where drivers log a certain number of hours in the field is often the best way to approach driver training. And you should always be on the lookout for drivers who need further training to work out the kinks.
2. Develop a Safe Driver Program
As we just mentioned, safety is a massive part of driver training. “A typical driver in the US travels 12,000 to 15,000 miles annually, and has a one in 15 chance of being involved in a vehicle collision each year,” explains OSHA Small Business. “Most fleet drivers travel 20,000 to 25,000 miles or more each year, and thus have a greater exposure to crash risks.” It’s a numbers game where the sheer volume of miles fleet drivers clock means they’re statistically more likely to get into accidents.
Given the costly nature of injury claims, combined with the added expense of repairing vehicles and the downtime it creates (not to mention the potential blow to your brand reputation when your drivers are in accidents), it’s vital to develop safe driver programs. Here are some specific areas to zero in on:
- Avoiding aggressive driving, like speeding and not keeping a safe distance behind other vehicles
- Not driving while distracted, something we’ll discuss in detail later on
- Not driving while impaired or fatigued
- Ensuring vehicles are serviced at regular intervals
You may also want to consider rewarding safe drivers with great track records, as this can provide added incentive and reinforce positive driving behavior.
3. Analyze Your Fleet’s Driving Habits Through Telematics
A big part of making tangible progress is generating data so you can quickly find issues and address them — something that can be effectively done through telematics. A platform like Derive-VQ Telematics can, for example, generate near-real-time alerts whenever a driver is engaging in risky behavior, so you can immediately take corrective action and educate them on proper safety.
Getting set up is straightforward. You first install a telematics device and connect it to a vehicle’s OBD-II port. From there, a SIM card and modem tracks the driver’s behavior and gathers data, which is then transmitted to a fleet manager’s dashboard. Then, they access the telematics systems on the web or through a mobile app. This keeps fleet managers continually in the loop and ensures problem behavior doesn’t continue, allowing you to refine and improve in this area continually.
4. Implement Distracted Driving Prevention Cell Blocking
Distracted driving has become an epidemic in recent years. In 2019, 3,142 driving fatalities were due to distracted driving — a 9.9% increase from 2,858 in 2018. Hands down one of the biggest culprits for distractions is cell phones. Texting is the main issue, with one study noting that when driving at 55 mph, sending or reading a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for 5 seconds, which equals to the length of a football field. That’s why you need to be diligent about stopping fleet drivers from driving distracted.In 2019, 3,142 driving fatalities were due to distracted driving — a 9.9% increase from 2,858 in 2018. Click To Tweet
A simple way to do that is to use distracted driving prevention call blocking. This technology syncs with a driver’s cell phone to lock the phone once the vehicle is put in any driving gear. Once the vehicle is stopped and placed back in park, they can then resume using their cell phone again.
Rather than relying merely on a distraction-free policy, which may not always be followed 100% of the time, this is a nearly foolproof solution that ensures a driver’s eyes are on the road at all times.
5. Use a Speed Governor to Enforce Safe Fleet Driving Habits
Another highly effective form of technology to keep fleet drivers “honest” is a speed governor. Once installed, it prevents drivers from going over the maximum speed agreed on in your fleet’s policy. That way, there are no worries about whether or not your drivers are abiding by speed limit mandates. With a speed governor like VQ Safety, they cannot go beyond the limit you’ve set.
And this serves two primary purposes: First, it creates safer fleet driving habits, where your drivers aren’t putting themselves or others on the road at risk by driving too fast. Remember that, having to hit deadlines and make deliveries can be a powerful incentive for speeding, so this is an effective tool for keeping your drivers in check. Second, it increases fuel efficiency by not hitting excessive speeds (anything over 50-55 mph quickly drains fuel) and decreases wear and tear.
6. Perform Drug and Alcohol Testing
Nearly a third (28%) of all fatal vehicle accidents involve the use of alcohol. And an extra 16% of motor vehicle crashes involve the use of drugs — legal and illegal. It’s a major problem. Having anti-drug and alcohol policies is a no-brainer, and most fleets have detailed rules to prevent drivers from using drugs and alcohol while driving.
But just like stopping speeding and cell phone usage, you can’t always take drivers at their word that it’s something they’ll always abide by. That’s why it needs to be strictly enforced by performing ongoing drug and alcohol testing to let drivers know that you take it seriously. Not only will this help you catch direct impairment while a driver is on the job, but you can also catch residual impairment where a substance is still present the following day after using.
7. Maintain Close Communication
One last way to improve your fleet driving habits is to keep an open line of communication with your drivers. If, for instance, you use telematics to generate data on their driving behavior, share with them what they’re doing right and what needs improving regularly. Be specific so they’ll know exactly what to focus on for continued refinement.
And as you inevitably create or adjust your fleet driving policies, be quick to let them know how those changes impact them directly, giving them actionable advice on how to adapt seamlessly. In other words, strive to maintain close relationships between your fleet managers and drivers, as this sets the stage for everyone’s success.
There’s a lot that goes into developing a smooth operating fleet. Part of that is keeping your vehicles in great shape through consistent servicing and maintenance. The other is instilling good fleet driving habits and laying out a framework that promotes proper driving based on best practices, and most importantly, safety. These seven strategies should help you improve in all aspects of fleet driving and create safer, more efficient driving habits.