Keeping pace with the latest safety best practices is critical to both driver safety and your bottom line. This year has brought many changes in how fleets look at and define safety, so if you haven’t taken the time to refresh how you tackle your fleet’s safety strategy, now is a great time so you’re prepared for the coming year. Here are five ways to make sure your strategy is current and delivers optimal results.

Take a Holistic Look at Your Definition of Safety

COVID-19 certainly changed the way fleets defined safety. As the pandemic stretched on, companies have had to consider virus exposure protocols, personal protective equipment, vehicle disinfection, protocols around vehicle sharing, and even how to provide hand washing on the road. It raised an important consideration that safety policy isn’t simply about distracted driving and the rules of the road – it’s about driver health and the hazards they may encounter as they do their daily tasks in the field.

As you update your safety policies, protocols for the pandemic should be integrated, as well as other areas that can affect your driver’s safety and health. Protocols for extreme weather, such as what drivers should do if they are in a situation where they need to abandon a disabled vehicle, are another example of where a holistic definition of safety should play into your policy. As a fleet, safety of your drivers is a number one priority – and that means preventing physical harm to the driver, whether they’re in the driver’s seat or in the field. It also means taking the time to ensure you have a comprehensive safety policy and to regularly re-enforce it. A safety policy is a living, breathing document that requires regular updating as technologies and situations change – it’s not a “one and done.”

Cycle for the Latest Automated Safety Features

More fleets are focusing on their cycling strategies so they can ensure that their drivers have access to the latest automated safety features. As automated safety features have become increasingly standard on vehicles, fatalities have declined, and incidents have been reduced.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), incident-related fatalities have declined by 16% since 2000. They also found that backup cameras, rear-traffic cross warnings, and driver sensory indicators can reduce back-up accidents by 65%, and this increases to 78% when paired with automatic braking. Forward braking safety features can reduce collisions by 43%. These safety improvements both protect your drivers and improve your bottom line by reducing unexpected maintenance costs. It’s important to note that many of these automated safety features are optional and can be controlled by the driver. To ensure your fleet reaps the benefits of these technologies, add a requirement that drivers must leave these features on.

In addition to new safety technologies, regularly cycling your vehicles can also reduce the number of unexpected breakdowns, which keeps your drivers safe and reduces downtime and roadside assistance requests.

Embrace the Connected Vehicle Mindset

OEMs are offering more focus on connectivity, and fleet professionals are increasingly exploring how they can leverage connected data to improve safety, among many other operational areas in their fleets. According to Cisco’s report “A Business Case for Connecting Vehicles,” connecting only a third of the vehicles in the United States has the potential to produce $100 billion of value. Based on an analysis of passenger vehicles, they anticipate 8% fewer crashes. Adopting connected technology will enable fleets to get deeper insights into driver behaviors like harsh cornering, hard braking, and seatbelt usage, which then empowers fleet professionals to drive actionable behavior changes to reduce risk and fatalities.

Connected technology is becoming increasingly standard on vehicle models, and it will be an important tool in the fleet management toolbox to drive safety goals. Make sure implementing and managing connected vehicles is part of your long-term safety strategy.

Find New Ways to Incentivize Drivers

It is one thing to identify patterns of risky driver behavior – it’s another to successfully drive behavior change. Fleet managers must continually find new and creative ways to engage drivers in safety training and coach them to modify high-risk driving behaviors.

One of the options available with many of today’s telematics is in-cab alerts. Fleet managers can set behavior triggers, such as driving over a certain speed, and drivers will receive audible alerts in real-time reminding them to modify their behaviors. By leveraging real-time technologies, companies can provide their drivers with real-time information to correct risky habits in the moment. One small security fleet implemented in-cab feedback for seatbelts, idle time, and harsh driving habits and saw drastic improvements, including a near-elimination of seatbelt violations, a 50% decrease in hard accelerations, a 70% decrease in harsh braking, and a 50% decrease in idling instances, all within 18 months. This illustrates how in-the-moment coaching can yield significant, tangible results.

Gamification is another strategy fleets can use. Leaderboards, tracking incident-free number of days to build a “streak,” and rewards such as online gift cards for safe driving patterns can all be used to build creative safety programs that resonate with your organization’s particular culture. 

Make Your Data Actionable

Safety-related data is just a collection of information unless you break it down into actionable components. How you make information actionable is often linked directly with your safety policy. For example, if your policy is for drivers to not exceed the posted speed limit, what are the actions taken if a driver is recording speeding multiple times? Is there an incentive outlined for drivers who do not speed?

Fleet professionals must focus on breaking down “big data” into actionable pieces and reflect this in their safety policies. You can’t manage what you can’t measure, so using data effectively is an important component of making your safety program more robust.

As you update your strategy, your fleet safety partner can be a valuable resource to ensure your strategy aligns with your goals and to outline concrete steps to implement it. By taking the time to continually improve and update your safety approach, you reduce your risk level, save money, and most importantly protect your drivers.