Defensive Driving Tips for Your Fleet
We hear a lot about distracted driving these days, but what about defensive driving? Defensive driving is using driving strategies to minimize risk and help avoid accidents. This includes predicting and evaluating potential hazards on the road, including road conditions and other drivers. By creating a culture of defensive driving for your employees, your fleet will be prepared to handle these hazards.
The True Costs of Accidents
Would you be surprised to learn that 94% of all crashes are caused by human error? The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a report with that startling statistic. The remaining 6% of crashes were from “unknown critical reasons.” Another surprising report from the National Safety Council showed a 24%nspike in roadway death rates from 2019-2020 – the highest increase in 96 years.
While the loss of life is the greatest cost of any accident, motor vehicle crash injuries cost more than $50 billion each year. Three-quarters of this cost is directly related to on-the-job incidents, which makes motor vehicle injuries the leading cause of work-related injury costs. To break that down, a single on-the-job crash that results in injury can cost an employer up to $74,000. If a fatality is involved, that number goes up to $500,000, according to the National Traffic Safety Institute.
Benefits of Defensive Driving
There are three major benefits when it comes to defensive driving. It can help reduce driving violations, crashes, and insurance premiums. Some studies show graduates of a defensive driving program have a fatality rate that’s up to 90% less than the national average.
While many of the defensive driving tips we’re about to share seem basic, they can often be overlooked.
Defensive Driving Tips
Here are ten tips to help encourage defensive driving behind the wheel:
- Buckle Up – Many of us do this automatically or have vehicles that have annoying alarms if we don’t use our seatbelts. Regardless, this should be the first thing you do when you get in your vehicle. In case you’re thinking of ignoring the benefits of buckling up, remember that of the 22,215 passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2019, 47% were not wearing seatbelts.
- Look Ahead – Oftentimes, we get distracted by the vehicles immediately surrounding us. But looking ahead down the road and constantly checking your mirrors can easily help prevent an accident.
- Leave Space – Running late or just being an impatient driver can lead to not leaving enough space between you and the vehicle ahead. The ideal space to keep in front of you is at least one second for every 10 feet of vehicle length when driving below 40 mph. If you’re driving faster, add 1 second for safety. So, if you’re driving a 40-foot vehicle, you should leave four seconds between you and the vehicle ahead.
- Check Speed – Sure, driving the speed limit can help you avoid a ticket. But it can also give you more time to react in case of an emergency. A driver’s reaction time ranges from 1 to 1.5 seconds. Driving more slowly (and leaving that extra space between vehicles) will give you a greater chance of avoiding a crash.
- Keep Focused – We discussed distracted driving and its consequences in an earlier blog. To sum it up, make sure your drivers are staying focused and avoid distractions like phones, food, etc. when driving. Your attention should be on your vehicle and the road 100% of the time.
- Stay Awake – Avoiding drowsy driving can be easier said than done sometimes. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation has found that more than one in six fatal accidents on U.S. roads is directly caused by drowsy driving. Make sure your fleet is getting enough sleep and pulling over if they’re feeling sleepy.
- Drive Smart – If your employees come across reckless drivers on the road, make sure they know to either slow down or even pull over to avoid a potential accident.
- Be Calm – It’s tempting to sometimes let anger get the best of you when behind the wheel. Make sure your drivers can stay calm if they get cut off or come across a situation they can’t control. Remind them they can control their reactions to these situations. Studies show that angry and aggressive drivers are a factor in nearly 56% of fatal car crashes.
- Change Behaviors – Thanks to fleet dash cameras and Automated Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), fleet managers can receive notifications of irregular driver behavior, lane departures, and distracted driving. They can then work with the driver to modify any unwanted behavior.
- Get Instructed – There are numerous defensive driving courses out there. But the National Safety Council is the only safety organization to be chartered by Congress and recognized for its leadership in safety programs and advocacy. In 1964, the Council pioneered the country’s first Defensive Driving Course and has since trained more than 75 million drivers.
See what Safety Track can do to help boost defensive driving habits for your fleet. Click here to contact us today.