Fleet drivers will experience or see a roadside emergency at least once in their careers. And, the facility with which they handle the situation is dictated by how they apply the training and use the tools they have received.
Fleet managers and drivers alike must understand potential causes and types of emergencies and know how to handle them.
Understanding the Causes
To avoid emergencies in the first place, fleet drivers need to understand what kinds of behaviors can make them lose focus and get involved in a collision or other emergency event.
“The most common emergency a fleet driver might experience is when a driver is not paying attention to the road, or when the driver takes his or her eyes off the road, whether it is to look over at a map or looking at their phone,” said Jerry Veres, safety program coordinator for Fleet Response. “Fleet drivers cannot focus on the road, on safety, and on trying to figure out directions or speaking on a phone all at the same time.”
And, drowsy driving is becoming an increasingly emerging driver behavior that can also lead to a disaster. Because the fleet driver cannot focus on the road, or is even dozing off, he or she can veer in and out of his or her lane and get involved in a crash.
Another behavior that can distract the fleet driver and lead to an accident is eating.
Fleet drivers’ health also plays a role in how they address a roadside emergency. Drivers who do not hold a commercial driver’s license (CDL) are subject to company policy on whether a physical is required. But, nonetheless, a physical is a good determinant of physical fitness. And, going in for a routine checkup could help the fleet driver detect an illness early on.
“Fleet drivers need to be in the proper physical shape, so they can remain alert while behind the wheel, and react quickly in case an emergency presents itself,” Veres said.
Providing the Necessary Tools
Fleet managers are responsible for equipping their drivers with the proper training and tools, so they can combat an emergency when it arises.
As far as the equipment needed in the case of an emergency, drivers should have three safety triangles, flares, a mobile phone, and accident packet (used to gather pertinent information and reporting instructions).
To further help fleet drivers improve their performance and be better prepared to deal with emergencies, Fleet Response has developed a post-collision document. The document assesses the incident and the fleet driver’s habits. Classroom training accompanies the post-collision report, so fleet drivers receive a holistic perspective of what they did wrong and how they can improve their performance.
“The biggest hurdle for all fleet drivers is to walk into any place of business and to think, ‘I don’t need any more training,'” said Veres.
According to Veres, it takes repetitive training to develop a skill into a positive behavior.
“If the fleet driver develops good safety habits, and things change in front of them, the driver won’t have to worry about it,” said Veres. “The driver’s safety habits allow them to react immediately.”