Fleet drivers are spending more time behind the wheel with their company-provided vehicles becoming mobile offices. As this trend rises, so does the risk of rear-end collisions.
Rear-end collisions account for approximately 1,700 deaths every year and injure 500,000 more, according to data from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
Fleet drivers have to be equipped with proper training and tools that could protect their lives, vehicles, and those around them.
Recognizing the Common Causes
As fleet managers develop their fleet safety programs and the type of training their fleet drivers should receive, they need to understand the common causes of rear-end collisions.
“Fleet drivers have three times higher exposure, and three times the risk to get into a rear-end collision,” said Lori Olson, fleet sales director for Pulse Protects, a plug-and-play device used to combat rear-end collisions.
And it comes as no surprise that the leading cause of rear-end collisions is distracted driving. Because fleet drivers may be trying to use a GPS app or contact a dispatcher, they may take their eyes off the road.
“Other contributors to rear-end collisions are speeding, tailgating or hazardous weather,” Olson said.
As inclement weather sets in, the fleet driver needs to adjust his or her driving behavior to accommodate for the road ahead.
“Impaired driving is another reason why rear-end collisions occur,” Olson said.
Impaired driving isn’t just driving while under the influence of alcohol. It could be caused by drowsy driving or certain types of medication.
The main takeaway for fleet drivers is to remain alert at all times. Cell phones, sipping coffee, or changing the radio station can wait. Keeping their eyes on the road and being aware of their surroundings takes precedent.
“Drivers have forgotten that, when they are behind the wheel, that’s not the office, it’s time to drive,” Olson said.
Combating the Situation
The practical approach to preventing rear-end collisions is providing driver training. Fleet managers can introduce this training as soon as the driver is hired.
“If fleet drivers aren’t doing the training, or a strong emphasis is not being placed on safety, then there will be a rise in collisions and expenses,” Olson said.
There is also technology available to fleets that can aid in the prevention of these collisions. Collision avoidance systems (CAS) that are being equipped on some vehicle lineups or plug-and-play devices can make a real dent in the frequency of rear-end collisions.
Another more common way a fleet driver can prevent distracted driving is to put his or her phone on airplane mode, this will help eliminate the urge to look at the phone or text.
With new or experienced drivers who may have been involved in a rear-end collision, fleet managers or the fleet safety program coordinator should schedule ride-alongs to observe firsthand how they’re driving.
“The best preventative measure that fleet managers can take, is to integrate vehicles into their fleets that are equipped with autonomous emergency braking and collision avoidance systems — either from the OEM or an aftermarket provider,” Olson said.