8 Key Elements of Driver Safety
One in 45 average American drivers will experience an injury-producing crash over the next year. Of those who drive as part of their job function, 20 percent are likely to experience an incident.
A person who drives as part of his or her job is three times more likely to be killed in the workplace than a person who works in a manufacturing environment.
When it comes to driver safety, there are no mystical solutions. Waving a magic wand, having a séance around a Ouija board, or consulting a Magic 8-Ball will not provide the answers that will help eliminate an organization’s motor vehicle crashes.
There is a common element among fleets that have successful driver safety initiatives. They all have a driver safety culture that reaches from the top of their organization to the bottom. Driver safety isn’t a “once-and-done” event for them and they don’t take a one-prong approach. They understand that to achieve and maintain success they need to make a true commitment to driver safety.
Understanding the Problem
To gain support for a driver safety initiative, the problem must be clearly defined. The risks associated with driving must be presented in a manner that leaves no room for argument or misinterpretation. Begin with government-issued crash statistics and then present the statistics for your own organization. U.S. statistics that may help gain support for driver safety initiatives include:
- In 2010, 32,788 people lost their lives on the roadways in the U.S., which equates to 90 lost lives every day.
- In 2010, someone died in a car crash every 16 minutes.
- One in 15 average Americans will be involved in a motor vehicle crash over the next year.
- One in 45 average Americans will be involved in an injury-producing crash over the next year.
- One in 65 average Americans will be involved in a fatality-producing crash during their driving lifetime.
Look at the common denominator in the above statements: average. People who drive as part of their job function are at a much higher risk of being involved in motor vehicle crashes due to the fact they drive more than the average driver. Their risk exposure is greater. In fact, a person who drives as part of their job is three times more likely to be killed in their workplace than a person who works in a manufacturing environment. This creates a very compelling argument regarding why creating a safe driving culture is vital.
Year after year, traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for American workers and the leading cause of workplace death for most industrialized nations. Safety in the driving workplace must be given the same amount of attention as safety in the manufacturing workplace. Too often, the safety of employee drivers receives little or no attention. Considering that drivers are the employees who are most likely to lose their lives while working, it is surprising that more organizations do not address this issue.
Your own organization’s statistics may provide another compelling argument for the creation of a driver safety initiative. It would be nice to think most organizations address driver safety based solely on the welfare of their employees. However, in reality, the costs associated with motor vehicle crashes is what comes into play. Traffic crashes are expensive. Recent studies have shown that the average cost of a corporate motor vehicle collision is $18,500. This is the average cost. Some may be lower and some may be much higher. There are numerous items associated with this cost. These include:
- Vehicle repair and replacement
- Property damage
- Medical expenses
- Workers’ compensation claims
- Lost earnings
- Temporary and permanent employee replacement expenses
There are many other unseen expenses that always seem to crop up. Some of these expenses are unpredictable and are often very costly.
There are eight key elements to reducing motor vehicle collisions that will help achieve the safety success other organizations have realized.
Perform Driver Record Checks
If nothing else, ensure driving records of employee drivers are reviewed. Make sure this is done on a regular basis, and whenever a compelling need arises that requires more frequent record checks.
Be prepared to act when these records are run. The fleet is completely exposed to claims of negligent entrustment if motor vehicle record (MVR) checks are not reviewed. Your organization is even more exposed if you identify a problem driver and fail to take action.
Counsel New-Hire Drivers
Statistically, new-hire drivers crash more frequently. Considering that these individuals are learning new jobs and territories, are driving unfamiliar vehicles, are often overloading their schedules, and are preoccupied with all that is involved with starting a new job, it isn’t hard to understand why they have problems.
During initial training, these individuals are taught much of what they need to know to complete their job tasks. It is equally important that they are taught the most important task they accomplish each day is arriving at their destinations safely. They need to put safety first when getting behind the wheel. Providing driver safety training during the new-hire process provides them with the skill sets needed to stay safe in the workplace, and it elevates the importance of safe driving from the beginning of employment.