Identifying at-risk drivers and working with them to eliminate the problems can go a long way to improving your businesses safety. An estimated 65 percent of all workplace-related deaths involve a vehicle, which makes identifying and rectifying bad driver behavior a vital part of a business risk management strategy. “Safety First” is not just an empty slogan, it needs to be at the center of what you do.
No one deliberately sets out to drive dangerously. But when deadlines are as tight as your margins, it’s easy for safety problems to slip off your radar. Fleet managers can develop a “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude because the job is getting done. Drivers feel that they can’t refuse an unreasonable assignment, so instead cut corners, or simply develop habits from years on the road that are hard to shake.
Risky driving is not just a safety issue, there are knock-on effects as well, from penalties to increased costs and damage to your business’s reputation. Here are some red flags to look out for in identifying any at-risk drivers in your organization:
- Speeding: Driving over the speed limit is a major cause of accidents on United States roads. Even though other drivers are often at fault in accidents involving heavy vehicles, driving too fast limits your drivers’ ability to take evasive action.
- Harsh Braking: This is often a sign of aggressive driving or failure to maintain a safe following distance. It also increases the risk of jack-knifing, uses more fuel, damages the brakes, reduces the lifespan of the vehicle’s tires and increases emissions.
- Hard Cornering: Taking a turn too fast increases the risk of a roll-over or loss of control and puts other vehicles on the road in danger.
- Poor Fatigue Management: If a driver is skipping their rest breaks they are as much risk on the road as a drunk driver.
- Failure to complete diaries: If a driver is not filling out their paperwork diary correctly, (or at all) it not only makes your business a compliance risk but could be an indicator of a pattern of behaviors they don’t want you to know about.
- Resistance to change: A driver that refuses to adopt new practices, even when they are introduced for their safety, may also go their own way on the road.
- Multiple Fines: A driver that consistently breaks the law on the job puts themselves and your business at risk.
- Customer Complaints: Your drivers are often in charge of what amounts to a giant moving billboard for your business. If people are concerned enough to complain about how the vehicle is being driven, it’s not a good sign.
How can technology help with at-risk drivers?
It can be hard to fix what you can’t see and you don’t always know how your drivers are behaving once they leave your base until it’s too late. By then there’s been an incident, complaint or fine. Installing telematics in your vehicles gives you and the driver the insight to identify and work together to fix problematic behaviors.
Installing GPS vehicle tracking onto the vehicle allows at-risk behaviors to be detected, recorded and sent back to the office in real-time. This can be speeding offenses or pinpointing exact driver whereabouts in remote areas.
Drivers may feel tempted, or pressured, to skip a rest break to get ahead of schedule. Hours of Services and Electric logging devices calculate work and rest periods, giving drivers regular reminders for breaks. If they skip their rest, management is alerted so they can address the problem when it happens, not after the fact.
Once risks are detected, it’s about ensuring they aren’t repeated in the future, not handing out punishment. The system can replay events to drivers and management, as well as produce non-conformance reporting, so each incident can be broken down and assessed. This provides not only the hard evidence that an infringement has occurred but also serves as a method to teach safety across the fleet.
Telematics can be used to create scorecards, allowing drivers to keep track of their own progress and demonstrate they understand and care about their safety. Anomalies, such as infrequent and one-off incidents, are removed so that the overall score isn’t affected. Not only does this identify the drivers most in need of extra training, but exemplary behavior can be noticed and rewarded as an incentive to improve.
Relying solely on speeding fines, complaints from the public or infringement notices only shows a part of the picture. Fleet managers can set up alerts with custom parameters for speeding, harsh braking, sharp cornering and more. This allows drivers to know when they are engaging a dangerous behavior and gives them time to correct themselves. If the alert is ignored and behaviors continue, management can be instantly contacted via SMS or email to escalate the problem.