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How to Respond to and Correct Risky Driver Behavior

Fleet drivers have a statistically higher chance of being involved in vehicle accidents than regular drivers. And that’s largely due to the number of miles they log. While the average person drives between 12,000 and 15,000 miles per year, the average fleet driver travels upward of 25,000 miles per year. In turn, the average accident rate for commercial fleets is around 20%, putting fleet drivers at a much greater risk than regular drivers. 

That’s why it’s vital for fleet managers to promptly respond to and correct risky driver behavior and not allow it to persist. In this post, you’ll learn how to do that to maximize fleet safety and keep accidents to an absolute minimum. 

Some Startling Statistics

Significant research has been performed in recent years that offers a clear perspective on risky driver behavior and just how prevalent it is. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, for example, found 87% of drivers engaged in at least one risky behavior the past month – it’s unfortunately becoming the norm.

“There is a culture of indifference for far too many drivers when it comes to road safety,” explains president and CEO of the company, Peter Kissinger. “The vast majority of motorists believe they are more careful than others on the road, though most of them are not making safe decisions while behind the wheel.”

In terms of specific types of accidents, studies have pinpointed that certain behaviors are especially dangerous, with distracted driving while using cell phones being one of the worst. According to data, the odds of getting into an accident when a driver is texting are eight times higher, and this alone leads to 24,000 injuries and 995 deaths per year. 

Another common risky driver behavior is speeding. Research has found that nearly half of drivers (48%) have reported going 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway in the last month, and 15% admitted to doing it regularly. Given that fleet drivers are often dealing with tight deadlines where they need to make deliveries or reach appointments, this can increase their chances of speeding more than the average motorist. 

Aggressive driving is also a major issue, with 78% of drivers saying they’ve committed at least one aggressive driving behavior in the past year. Some common examples include tailgating, speeding in heavy traffic, cutting off another driver, weaving in and out of traffic lanes, and running red lights.  

And finally, there’s fatigued driving — an issue that’s alarmingly common these days. In fact, nearly a third of all drivers (32%) reported being so tired they had difficulty keeping their eyes open while at the wheel during the past month. Further, the AAA Foundation estimates fatigued driving is the reason behind 328,000 accidents annually, with 6,400 being fatal. 

To recap, four of the most frequently cited risky driver behaviors are:

  • Distracted driving on a cell phone
  • Speeding 
  • Aggressive driving
  • Fatigued driving

Fleet Management Tools for Correcting Risky Driver Behavior

The question is, what should fleet managers do to keep this problem in check and create a safer fleet? 

Establishing a strong fleet safety program to ensure a baseline of transparency and best practices is a great starting point. This instructs drivers on the basics of how to handle vehicles, restrictions on cell phone use and speeding, safety precautions, and so on. 

But to truly elevate driver safety to where it needs to be, it’s ideal to use safety-centric fleet management tools. There are a wide variety of tools available for identifying risky driver behavior and quickly eliminating it so bad habits don’t become ingrained. 

One of the key features of Derive VQ, for instance, is Distracted Driving Prevention Cell Blocking, which syncs a phone to a vehicle. Whenever a driver is in motion, it temporarily locks the phone so they’re unable to use it. Then when they’ve reached their destination, they can resume using their phone once again, giving you 100% peace of mind your drivers aren’t engaging in distracted driving by using their phone. 

Risky driver behavior

Another feature is the speed governor which restricts the maximum speed a driver can go based on what you allow in your fleet’s policy. If, for example, you set 65 mph as your maximum speed, this device prevents drivers from going past that, helping keep them and other motorists safer. As a result, this completely eliminates the temptation to speed. Besides the safety benefits, the speed governor can also increase fuel efficiency because drivers burn less fuel by going slower speeds. Given that fuel efficiency drops considerably after hitting 50 mph, this can be helpful for boosting profitability. 

Risky driver behavior

Besides that, most fleet management tools offer near-real-time alerts of risky driver behavior. By implementing cutting-edge telematics, this delivers sophisticated business intelligence so you can instantly identify problems and capitalize on educational opportunities. 

This brings us to our next point. 

How to Successfully Change Risky Driver Behavior

At the end of the day, all the data that’s generated and all the tools that are implemented don’t mean much if fleet managers don’t take swift corrective action. To truly create a safer fleet, you need to appropriately respond to and change risky driver behavior. And accomplishing that largely boils down to being proactive rather than reactive. 

As we said in the previous section, fleet management tools like a cell phone blocker and speed governor are helpful because they remove the need for driver modification. With a cell phone blocker, drivers are unable to use their devices while in transit unless the fleet manager intervenes. And with a speed governor, a driver’s maximum speed is determined by what’s on your policy. End of question. 

Arguably the best way to change risky driver behavior is by taking advantage of technology that ensures a high baseline of safety without the constant need for driver training and behavior modification. Doing this successfully automatically puts you ahead of much of the competition and goes a long way in reducing risk exposure. 

But what about other issues that can’t be 100% prevented, such as aggressive driving and fatigued driving? The key to correcting them is to 1) have a means of quickly identifying the issues and 2) take corrective action right away. Like any negative behavior, the more time that passes without it being addressed, the less likely it is to be resolved. However, if it’s addressed nearly instantaneously, the odds of effectively resolving it skyrocket. 

That’s why it’s critical to leverage driver management solutions with near-real-time alerts and coach drivers on what to do moving forward. Say, for example, a driver is engaging in aggressive driving like following too closely to a vehicle in front of them. By receiving a near-real-time alert, a fleet manager could swiftly take action and instruct them to slow down. That way aggressive driving like this doesn’t have a chance to take root and can be replaced instead by safe driving. 

The key is to be prompt about educational opportunities and not let risky driver behavior persist. 

Taking Fleet Safety to a New Level

Safety should always be your number one priority in fleet management. With fleet drivers having a statistically higher chance of getting into accidents than normal drivers, correcting risky driver behavior is something fleet managers need to take seriously. While there are numerous behaviors that can create safety concerns, distracted driving with a cell phone, speeding, aggressive driving, and fatigued driving are some of the most problematic.

Combining a mix of the right technology with a highly proactive approach to safety should significantly reduce the number of accidents and instill a deeper sense of overall safety into your company culture.