VIENNA, VA - A new study of company vehicle fleet crash rates reveals the top safety performers are companies that enact a total ban on cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) and that establish strong consequences -- including termination -- for employees who violate such policies.
This "Strength in Numbers" fleet benchmarking study, sponsored by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), also found that six of the eight safety leaders were also companies more likely to terminate a driver for violating the mobile device policy. By comparison, all 13 companies that fell in the bottom of the rankings had some degree of a mobile device policy, but none had the option to terminate a driver for violating the policy.
The year-long benchmarking study examined fleets from 45 leading companies in the pharmaceutical, oil and gas, food and beverage, telecommunications, transportation, package delivery and insurance industries. The companies, including 27 in the Fortune 500, operate a combined fleet of just over 400,000 vehicles that logged more than 8 billion miles in 2009. The study participants' crash rate per million miles (CPMM) ranged from less than one to nearly 12.
"Last year, distracted driving killed nearly 6,000 people and injured half a million more," said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. "I want to thank the companies who have stepped up to help fight talking and texting behind the wheel by establishing employee policies with tough penalties for distracted driving. Through these kinds of efforts, we can put a stop to the needless and tragic deaths and injuries caused by this dangerous epidemic."
"This is the first evidence we've seen that shows the combination of a strong mobile device policy and strict consequences can result in lower crash rates," said Bill Windsor, NETS board chairman. "The benchmark study shows the potential for well-written state laws combined with strong enforcement to eventually reduce crash rates in the general population."
The NETS study also revealed that eight out of nine of the top-ranking fleets regularly review drivers' mobile phone records after a crash to determine if the driver was using a phone at the time of the incident. Other best practices include: conducting a commentary drive (ride-along with a coworker or manager) after a collision, tracking CPMM on a monthly basis, and publishing fleet safety performance via monthly scorecards.
The NETS "Strength in Numbers" members offer these tips when constructing a corporate mobile device policy:
- Make sure you have a policy, not a guideline. Guidelines are typically interpreted as suggestions and are more difficult to enforce.
- Policy language must be clear. One member's policy prohibits employees from using "any electronic device in any gear other than park." Another company's policy language clearly prohibits "all electronic devices" so there is no confusion over which devices are allowed -- they ban them all.
- Contractors should abide by the same rules as employees. Make sure the policy also covers any contractors working on behalf of the organization and that they are aware of and have signed off on the policy.
- Enforcement is key. One NETS member emphasized they make sure their employees and contractors understand "if you break the rules, you don't work for us."
The "Strength in Numbers" fleet benchmarking study brings together companies willing to look at their own crash metrics, compare findings and share what they've learned. The program is for all types of companies and organizations -- large or small, local or global, public or private.
Participants collect standardized data over a 12-month period. Once compiled, the resulting benchmarking data show how a company compares in terms of crash frequencies, taking into consideration road safety policies, driver training programs, crash review practices and more. Members identify best practices to put in place a cost-effective, integrated and comprehensive plan to improve fleet-safety performance.
The "Strength in Numbers" fleet benchmark program also includes access to road safety experts and an invitation to attend and participate in NETS' annual Benchmark Best Practices Conference. For more information on the program or to become a participant, visit the NETS Web site at www.trafficsafety.org or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
NETS is a 501(c)3 organization, a partnership between the U.S. federal government and leading companies including Abbott, AmeriFleet Transportation, Anheuser-Busch Companies, Chubb Group of Insurance, Johnson & Johnson, Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, Nationwide Mutual Insurance, Monsanto Co. and UPS.
Established in 1989, NETS is dedicated to improving the safety and health of employees, their families, and members of the communities in which they live and work by preventing traffic crashes that occur both on and off the job. For more information on NETS, visit www.trafficsafety.org.