Last year’s fleet driver traffic fatalities the highest number in six years – demonstrate the urgent need for accident prevention programs that change driver behavior, said Wayne Smolda, CEO and founder of the CEI Group Inc.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ preliminary report, “National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2014,” shows that 835 truck drivers and sales employees behind the wheel of fleet vehicles died in traffic accidents last year. That’s the highest number since 2008, when there were 815 fatalities for the same occupation categories. 

The bureau’s archives also reveal that the 2014 figure represents a 42-percent increase over the 586 fleet drivers killed in 2009, an increase Smolda called “shocking.”

“Just as disturbing was the increase in the rate of fleet driver fatalities, which shows that the increase isn’t only because there are more drivers on the road,” Smolda said. The 2014 traffic fatality rate was 23.4 per 100,000 sales and truck drivers, compared to 22.6 per 100,000 in 2008, an increase of 2.6 percent.

Smolda noted that the higher fatality rate may be attributed to three factors that bode poorly for future fleet accident rates and fatalities: traffic congestion, deteriorating road quality and increasing levels of driver distraction – conditions he said are likely to get worse in coming years.

“Fleets need more than ever to do more to prevent accidents,” he said. “Crash avoidance technology will help, but it won’t be able to intervene with every kind of driver error. The key is to adopt systems that track, monitor and change driver behavior, so drivers change their habits and avoid making errors in the first place.”

Headquartered near Philadelphia, CEI is a leading provider of fleet driver management services. In 2000, CEI launched its DriverCare solution, which includes fleet risk management, MVR ordering and compliance, on-line and behind-the-wheel driver safety training and a safety newsletter. For more information, click here.