Fleet managers are continually examining a wide range of initiatives to reduce the frequency of accidents, which run the gamut from vehicle selection to implementing advanced driver-assistance safety technology to innovative driver training programs.
Fleet safety is a dynamic segment of fleet management and based on conversations with fleet managers in a variety of industries, following is part two in a three part series that details 15 trends currently impacting most commercial fleets. Part one in this survey can be viewed here.
Trend 6: Gaps in MVR Reporting
MVRs give employers insight into their employees driving profiles. The report includes information about current license status, accident history, and record of driving violations.
It is difficult to stay current with MVR reports, especially in states with special requirements. Also, gaps between annual or semi-annual MVR checks can create liability exposure during the intervening months.
Decreasing the gaps between MVR reports is always the goal. The shorter the gap between reports, the less risk. As a result, many fleets are turning to continuous MVR reporting to minimize potential negligent entrustment liability.
Trend 7: Uptick in Preventable Accidents
The primary cause of the uptick in preventable accidents is due to driver distraction. Liability exposure resulting from preventable accidents has made senior management more sensitive to enforcing fleet safety policies.
Accident repairs are a major expense for fleets, representing, on average, 14% of total fleet costs. Fleet accident rates average around 20%, with some industries, such as pharmaceuticals, even higher.
Of the 20% of vehicles involved in an accident, about 40% are involved in preventable accidents resulting from driver negligence. If 40% of all accidents are preventable, this presents a huge opportunity to reduce costs.
Trend 8: Pandemic-Induced Safety Issues
A key reason for challenges in addressing safety issues during the pandemic is due to the fact that it is a unique phenomenon that none of today’s fleet managers had addressed before.
“Most fleet professionals use peer data to benchmark themselves and support actions. Because there is little to no precedence for what they are dealing with, it is difficult to do an assessment using historical data,” said Eliot Bensel of Element Fleet Management.
As a result of the pandemic, additional safety protocols were introduced to sanitize pool vehicles, which typically involved instructing drivers to wipe down every touched surface in a vehicles – first when entering the vehicle and second, when they return it.
Another example include the replacement of cabin filters. Some fleets have increased the frequency of replacing cabin filters that is accelerated beyond OEM schedules and recommendations.
Trend 9: Asset vs. Driver Safety Focus
Too often, fleet managers tend to focus more on the asset instead of the driver when developing fleet safety programs.
The bottom line is you can’t change the fundamental requirements of your business, which necessitates specific asset requirements. If you are constrained by equipment limitations, the best way to enhance driver safety and minimize preventable accidents is by modifying driver behavior.
“Fleet professionals need to think in terms of drivers and not just assets. From a risk standpoint there is really no difference between a driver who is assigned a company car and a reimbursed driver who drives for the company using his or her personal vehicle,” said Bensel of Element Fleet Management.
Trend 10: Constrained Fleet Budgets
While management often talks a good game about the value of fleet safety programs, getting them to put money behind it is another story.
Many fleets have budget restrictions and are not able to fund training programs or purchase optional safety equipment packages during new-vehicle ordering.
Fleet managers report that they struggle in getting management approval to move forward with some sort of a telematics program or mobile app.
Suppliers likewise report similar resistance. “This occurs every year; management want to improve safety but is unwilling to pay for telematics,” said one supplier who asked to be kept anonymous.