As a fleet manager, you have a lot of responsibilities for your fleet’s operations but one of the most important responsibilities is your drivers’ safety.
There are many risks in the day-to-day operations in fleets, but some of the biggest dangers are out on the road and in the expectations placed on drivers. Between having productivity goals to meet and wanting to get home and enjoy time with friends and family, drivers can be a lot more distracted and motivated to get things done quickly during the summer months, therefore sometimes taking unnecessary risks when behind the wheel.
Help keep your employees’ attention on the road this summer by identifying these common fleet safety risks and get tips to help put a stop to them.
How to combat 5 common summer driving risks:
- Drowsy driving
The CDC reports that an estimated one in 25 adult drivers have reported falling asleep behind the wheel and this problem tends to be higher for commercial drivers or those with shift hours. And with longer days, warmer temperatures, summer BBQs, and family vacations changing drivers’ daily routines, it’s more common to see drowsy driving in the summer.
Drowsy driving slows down drivers’ reaction times and encourages them to take short cuts or speed to get to their destination faster. Drivers make poor decisions when fatigued and become a risk to others on the road and themselves.
Help your drivers identify the warning signs of drowsy driving, such as yawning or blinking frequently, drifting out of their lane, missing exits, letting their foot off the gas pedal, or hitting rumble strips. If they exhibit any of these warning signs, they need to pull over and take a break or call in to their supervisor for next steps.
Remind drivers to get at least seven hours of sleep before their shift, try not to change up schedules too often, and enforce impaired driving policies to keep drivers from driving under the influence of alcohol or medications.
Speeding is one of the most common risky driver behaviors and after implementing telematics software, many fleet managers are blown away by how often it’s happening in their operations.
Not only is speeding dangerous to your drivers, those around them, and costly when the police get involved, but it’s also costly to your operation’s bottom line as the U.S. Department of Energy reports that rapid acceleration can reduce fuel mileage by as much as 33% at highway speeds.
Gamify your operations by rewarding drivers who obey speed limits (tracked by your GPS or telematics tool), or host a summer school class in your fleet to reinforce good driving behaviors. Another option is to implement speed limiters in your fleet vehicles so drivers have no choice but to obey speed limits or your preferred limit. A bonus benefit of speed limiters is improved fuel efficiency in your vehicles.
- Phone use
A 2019 Travelers Risk Index survey found that one in four businesses report employees getting in distracted-related driving accidents, but also expect employees to be connected and accessible, most often through their phones. The survey also found that 20% of respondents reply to work-related messages while driving and 77% take calls while behind the wheel.
One of our biggest risks is also our smallest as it fits right in our hands. Drivers are still checking their phones behind the wheel to answer texts, emails, or calls and that decision can be costly and deadly. The National Highway Transportation Security Administration (NHTSA) found that reading or sending a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road for five seconds, and when traveling at 55 mph that’s similar to driving the length of a football field with their eyes closed or off the road.
Stop distracted driving through phone use in your fleet by enforcing strict no phone policies, reminding drivers they don’t always have to be checking in while driving, or even investing in technology that disables or locks phones when their vehicle is in motion.
- No-go zones
After a long, hard day on the job, many of us want to meet with coworkers or friends for a cold drink, and sometimes that slips into work hours. Make sure drivers are using their vehicles appropriately and adhering to fleet policies this summer with geofencing.
Many telematics solutions or GPS providers offer the ability to geofence, or create a digital boundary based on geolocation. If drivers deviate from their boundary or route, you can be alerted and check in with the drivers to make sure they aren’t in an emergency situation.
- Maintenance needs
We’re not the only ones feeling the heat in the summer, so are our engines. Hotter temperatures, rapid acceleration, and harsh braking put strain on your vehicles outside the normal wear and tear.
Another summer school lesson could focus on getting drivers up to speed on basic maintenance and warning signs so they can be proactive about the health of their vehicle and identify when something isn’t working correctly. This can help extend the life of your vehicles, improve fuel economy, and avoid major downtime due to repairs. Also, make sure every vehicle is up to date on its servicing and regular maintenance is scheduled and on the books.
Make your fleet’s operations safer this summer for your drivers and those sharing the road by combating these five driving risks. You might also want to research fleet management software and technology that can help bridge the gap between driver training and how drivers are actually behaving behind the wheel to put safety at the center of everything they do.