The Biggest Fleet Driver Dangers in 2022: Input from Industry Experts
Fleet managers have a lot on their plates and there are a ton of factors that go into effective operations. But at the end of the day, fleet driver safety should always be a top priority. The question is, what are the biggest safety concerns to focus on above all others?
In this post, we’ll examine the biggest fleet driver dangers in 2022 based on input from experts and offer practical tips on how to keep fleet drivers safe.
“Distracted driving remains the most significant ongoing risk that fleet managers must mitigate since it is the No. 1 cause of preventable fleet accidents,” writes Automotive Fleet. They elaborate saying there are multiple reasons why today’s drivers get distracted, including using a company cell phone, a personal phone, a company device for billing, and even infotainment systems. Managing these devices, however, is a double-edged sword.
On one hand, you want to ensure they’re not creating distractions and increasing the chances of accidents. But on the other hand, they’re often tied into productivity where banning company cell phone use altogether, for example, could be detrimental to productivity. “A big challenge is controlling the use of screen electronics being used while driving, which create distractions and accidents,” Automotive Fleet adds. “This is a touchy area, especially when you want to stop the use of the cell phone altogether while driving, but even upper management argues that employees need to be able to work on sales calls or teleconferences during long drives.”
So what’s the solution?
It usually starts with fine-tuning fleet driver policies to set boundaries on what can be used and when — something that will likely require trial and error. The key is to ensure drivers can use devices at the appropriate times but not to the point where it’s creating a safety issue. Perhaps the most straightforward solution is prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving and requiring drivers to pull over and turn off the ignition before using one. Here’s a cell phone policy example for reference:
You can use driver safety software to prevent distracted cell phone driving. One of the key features of VQ Safety, for instance, is Distracted Driving Prevention Call Blocking, which pairs with a driver’s phone to lock it based on vibration sensors and speed to keep drivers safe without the need for behavior modifications. That way you have total peace of mind that drivers aren’t putting themselves and others in danger without it taking an unnecessary toll on productivity.
Aggressive driving can include several risky behaviors including speeding, tailgating, rapid acceleration and deceleration, frequent lane shifting, and general road rage. Studies have found a clear correlation between aggressive driving and safety incidents, and more specifically, fatalities. According to AAA, over half (54%) of all fatal vehicle accidents involve aggressive driving, making it another of the biggest fleet driver dangers in 2022.
Because of the wide range of behaviors that contribute to aggressive driving, it’s admittedly not always easy for fleet managers to curtail it. And eliminating it completely is nearly impossible, especially when you’re talking about a large-scale fleet with hundreds or even thousands of drivers. That said, innovative technology is now available that can significantly reduce aggressive driving.
One example is a speed governor which prevents drivers from exceeding the speed limit you set in your fleet safety policy. Rather than simply telling drivers “don’t go beyond [X] mph,” and taking them at their word that they won’t, this is a simple yet highly effective way to stop them from exceeding the speed limit.
Just like Distracted Driving Prevention Call Blocking which we mentioned earlier, this too eliminates the need for behavior modification and greatly increases safety for fleet drivers and everyone else on the road.
Besides that, driver management solutions like Derive VQ can send managers near-real-time alerts whenever drivers engage in risky behavior like aggressive driving. This in turn allows managers to quickly identify problems and patterns so they can capitalize on educational opportunities and ensure issues don’t persist. This helps individual drivers operate at their best, as well as your fleet as a whole.
Fleet drivers log roughly double the miles of the average person each year. Due to how long they’re on the road and the exhausting nature of this career, fatigued/drowsy driving has been an ongoing danger for years. 2022 is no exception. When a driver is at a limited cognitive capacity from stress and/or exhaustion, it naturally creates unsafe driving conditions for them and other drivers and passengers on the road.
At a bare minimum, drivers should closely follow HOS regulations and accurately track how many miles they drive. Beyond that, it’s critical to encourage drivers to pull over and take a break at regular intervals and whenever they feel they’re reaching a danger point. You may also want to consider using a lane tracking device that creates an alert whenever a driver switches lanes without using their turn signal — a common sign of fatigued driving. When this happens, it’s likely time for them to stop the vehicle and take some time to refresh before resuming. While productivity is obviously important, the safety of the driver and other motorists should always take top priority in these situations.
The last of the fleet driver dangers in 2022 doesn’t pertain to conventional safety issues like the ones we’ve listed so far. But it’s still something that should be accounted for — and that’s COVID-19. Thankfully, we’re a long way from the peak of the health crisis when things were at their worst, and life is gradually returning to a semi-normal state. That said, we’re still sifting through the aftermath, and fleet managers must remain diligent about keeping their team safe.
“COVID is still with us and is likely to be for some time while we work out if, and how, we are going to live with it long-term,” explains Fleet Management Weekly. “Driver risk management and safety programs will need to continue to evolve to not only protect drivers while out and about but, just as importantly, to protect their families when they return home.”
In other words, 2022 isn’t the time to let your guard down with the pandemic, and you should ensure your fleet continues to take every precaution to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. This starts with the basics like practicing proper handwashing hygiene, wiping down high-touch surfaces like steering wheels and touchpads, and following a routine vehicle cleaning schedule.
For detailed information on nearly everything you need regarding COVID, you can find it in this resource from the Equipment Management Technical Services Program. Some key topics include face coverings, protection for workers, vehicle sanitization, surface disinfection, social distancing, and more.
Addressing the Biggest Fleet Driver Dangers This Year
Safety should always be first and foremost in the minds of fleet managers. While there are numerous fleet driver dangers to account for, the ones listed here should take precedence above all else in 2022. To recap, those are distracted driving, aggressive driving, fatigued driving, and COVID-19. With a mix of the right planning, technology, and communication, you should be able to overcome these challenges to maximize fleet safety while also boosting productivity and profitability.