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Accidents happen. In an industry where employees drive thousands of miles each month, knowing who causes vehicle accidents and when they occur can assist fleet managers in establishing policies and reducing accident occurrences.

As French chemist and biologist Louis Pasteur once said, "Did you ever observe to whom the accidents happen? Chance favors only the prepared mind." Through reviewing and observing who causes fleet accidents and noting when they occur, fleet managers can better prepare for the inevitable.  

Based on Automotive Fleet's annual accident management surveys, research shows the driver you least expect might be the one to watch out for. While common belief holds that the younger, less-experienced drivers are involved in the majority of accidents, statistics show the root problem may be the drivers with a bit more tenure.

It's Not Only the 'Young Guns' Causing Problems

Tracking accident statistics from 2007 through 2010, the first statistics reviewed are the ages of drivers involved in accidents (Chart 1). The age group of fleet drivers with the highest number of accidents are those between 26-35 years old. However, statistics show the percentage has dropped by more than 4 percentage points over three years.

Rallying against common wisdom, drivers between the ages of 18-25 frequently reported the lowest percentage of accidents, with drivers 55 and older following with the second-lowest accident percentage. Accident occurrences for drivers between the ages of 18-25 also dropped - by just under 4 percentage points from 2007-2010.

Statistics showed the percentage of accidents among drivers ages 36-45 remains consistent at 25-30 percent of reported accidents.

Fleet managers must be vigilant promoting safe driving practices throughout all age groups - from the young new hire to the seasoned or veteran middle-aged staff member. Accidents don't only happen to the younger fleet drivers. While this age group may receive a higher level of driver training and be more actively reviewed by fleet managers, statistics prove drivers of any age must receive consistent safety training.

Consequently, data from PHH Arval shows that younger drivers are much more likely to be in accidents, with likelihood decreasing steadily to about age 40 where it plateaus. Drivers get "safer" again from age 50 to 60. At age 60, accident risk begins to increase slightly.

Driver Tenure Shows Continued Support Necessary

Similar to accident statistics by driver age groups, driver tenure with a company is another useful statistic when tracking driver accident statistics.

On the sales side of fleet drivers (Chart 2), employees with less than one year tenure displayed the lowest percentage of accident occurrences. Those with one to five years tenure experienced the highest percentage of accidents from 2007-2010, dropping slightly each year. In 2010, drivers with more than five years tenure showed the highest percentage of accidents. The potential impact continued driver training can have on accident statistics for employees past the new-hire stage is high.

For service-based fleet drivers (Chart 3), the majority of accidents were reported by drivers with less than one year tenure in 2007 and 2008. In 2009, these same drivers experienced the least accidents, and in 2010 drivers with more than five years tenure jumped into the lead, involved in 42 percent of reported fleet accidents.

Giving Drivers the Time of Day — & Day of the Week

Further drilling down through accident data, fleet driver accidents were also broken out by sales and service fleet drivers to track accidents by time of day (Chart 4).

On the service side, the majority of accidents occur in the 2-4 p.m. time frame. In 2010, a spike occurred in the 12-1 p.m. time frame, up to 12 percent from just over 9 percent compared to the previous three years.
For sales drivers, the majority of accidents occurred in the 12-2 p.m. time frame (Chart 5).

Vehicular accidents have been increasing on weekend days since 2007, while the majority of accidents, on average, occur on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (Chart 6).

According to Jeff Fender, director of sales and marketing for Fleet Response, “We are seeing a slight increase in accidents occurring during personal use time (after 6 p.m. and before 6 a.m.) for companies who allow personal use as well as for companies who do not.”

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Driver Education Should Never Stop

As the statistics show, in many cases, it might not be the newer, younger drivers involved in the highest percentage of accidents. Ongoing communication regarding safety-related issues, driver training, and driver-risk monitoring are keys to success when working to reduce the number of driver-involved fleet accidents.

“One common factor we are seeing with many of our clients is a reduction in driver turnover,” said Fender. “This may be attributed to the poor economy. There seem to be fewer jobs available so drivers are less likely to make a change. We are seeing greater activity in the driver age group of 36-45 over the last two years as compared to a peak at 26-35 the two years prior.”

According to Fender, this is also evident when looking at driver tenure. “In 2010, the greatest activity came from drivers with more than five years of experience versus one to five years tenure in 2007. This seems to be consistent in both sales and service fleets. I am sure this trend line follows the demographic of client drivers as it relates to age and tenure.”
Further drilling down through accident data, fleet driver accidents were also broken out by sales and service fleet drivers to track accidents by time of day (Chart 4).

On the service side, the majority of accidents occur in the 2-4 p.m. time frame. In 2010, a spike occurred in the 12-1 p.m. time frame, up to 12 percent from just over 9 percent compared to the previous three years.
For sales drivers, the majority of accidents occurred in the 12-2 p.m. time frame (Chart 5).

Vehicular accidents have been increasing on weekend days since 2007, while the majority of accidents, on average, occur on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (Chart 6).

According to Jeff Fender, director of sales and marketing for Fleet Response, "We are seeing a slight increase in accidents occurring during personal use time (after 6 p.m. and before 6 a.m.) for companies who allow personal use as well as for companies who do not."

Resources: Accident Management Through the Years

Statistics for this article, past articles, and additional information on accident management costs can be found online at www.automotive-fleet.com/magazine:

• “Accident Management Costs Hold Steady,” 2007 Safety Supplement, Automotive Fleet.
• “Accident Management Costs Trending Upward,” July 2008, Automotive Fleet.
• “Driver Behavior Impacts Accident Management,” July 2009, Automotive Fleet.
• “Economic Downturn Influences Fleet Accident Management,” June 2010, Automotive Fleet.
• “Accident Management Cost Trends in 2009,” July 2010, Automotive Fleet.

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