Aggressive driving is one of those problems that fleet managers usually take a rain check on dealing with; that is, if they’re aware they have such an issue in their fleet, at all. It’s all well and good, until Pandora’s box opens, and a swarm of problems starts popping out of control.
Strictly speaking, not dealing with aggressive drivers may lead to injuries, vehicle repairs, increased insurance premiums; even death. Furthermore, since we’re talking about a fleet business, unexpected costs, fines, lawsuits, and a bad business reputation, often tag along.
A look into recent statistics of aggressive driving
Aggressive driving can be extremely dangerous, and it’s considered one of the leading causes of road accidents. Indeed, the World Health Organization (WHO) claims that road traffic crashes are on the rise. As stated in the WHO’s research on injury deaths, crashes are expected to become the fifth cause of death by 2030!
Moreover, the NHTSA recently published an early prediction study of traffic crash stats in the US that involved fatalities; specifically, concerning the first 9 months of 2020. According to this study:
(A statistical projection of traffic fatalities for the first 9 months of 2020 shows that) an estimated 28,190 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes. This represents an increase of about 4.6 percent as compared to 26,941 fatalities reported to have occurred in the first 9 months of 2019.
A disconcerting fact, based on this early estimate, is that traffic fatalities seem to have increased in 2020; that is, compared to 2019 fatalities. Despite the fact that, in general, traffic levels were decreased — amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reading the signs of aggressive driving
As a fleet manager, the protection of your drivers and vehicles is of utmost importance. However, to protect them, you need to know first if you have any aggressive drivers among your crew. This will help you be proactive; how? By utilizing Telematics to monitor your drivers and their on-the-job activities. It’s the only way to promptly assess and address any driving misconduct.
As we’ve pointed out in other relevant articles, aggressive drivers are easy to spot, and their behaviors typically include:
- Ignoring red lights and traffic signs
- Cutting off other drivers
- Abrupt braking
- Changing lanes unexpectedly, even without signaling
- Weaving in and out of traffic
- Making a sharp turn
- Driving and passing on the shoulder of the road
- Honking, or flashing headlights without reason
- Cussing, gesturing or threatening other road users
Fortunately, with fleet monitoring tools you can track your vehicles, and get real-time alerts concerning unsafe driving behaviors; for example, as listed above, speeding, RPM, hard braking, fast accelerations, and sharp turns.
Dealing with aggressive drivers in your fleet
We’ve already covered, to a certain degree, that as a fleet manager you must know how your drivers behave behind the wheel. But when it comes to it, how can you deal with aggressive drivers? Well, you can’t prevent traffic to keep them calm, for sure, but you can do the following:
1. Be aware of your drivers’ stress and fatigue levels
It’s common knowledge that stressed or fatigued drivers are more likely to behave aggressively behind the wheel. Usually, that happens when they’ve been working many hours, or when they’re facing a tight deadline; not unexpectedly, the traffic on the road makes things worse — and that’s when aggressive driving kicks in.
A practical way to fight against it is to create a smooth and honest line of communication with your drivers; while, of course, keeping their Hours of Service in check. This way, they will feel free to talk to you about any schedule concerns; or any other issues, job-related or not, that may be affecting their performance.
2. Utilize fleet driver monitoring software
Another practical way to keep things under control is to start using a fleet tracking system. Among other things, such a tool will help you monitor driver behavior, in real-time; which will encourage proactive management.
With time, you’ll also start to notice behavioral patterns that might compromise your fleet’s safety. As we’ve already mentioned, speeding, accelerating, and hard braking are common aggressive driving behaviors that can cause traffic accidents. On top of that, they can also increase CO2 emissions, skyrocket fuel costs, and, eventually, wear down your vehicles; much faster than normal.
Having access to such valuable data will help you give feedback to your drivers on their behavior; which, in turn, will help them become self-aware and work towards improving their attitude. Also, you can use the data provided by fleet monitoring software to offer your drivers customized safe driving courses. Plus, you can combine their training with a gamification and incentives plan to keep them motivated.
3. Educate and reward your drivers against aggressive behaviors
After becoming aware of your drivers’ stress levels and recording specific undesirable driving patterns, education follows naturally. Collecting actionable Telematics data and utilizing driver gamification tools, such as driver scorecards, will help you create safe driving courses. With proper, targeted training, every driver can work on correcting their aggressive behavior(s). What’s more, with a wealth of data in your pocket, you can create a driver rewards plan; just to keep your drivers goal-oriented and motivated.
Make time for safety
Aggressive driving poses a real threat to your fleet business for so many reasons. As a fleet manager, you have a vested interest in being aware of this threat and protecting your fleet against it. At the end of the day, it falls under your responsibility to understand why your employees drive aggressively; and correct such conduct. A great solution, would be for instance, defensive driving courses.
The last thing you want is to deal with an aggressive driving incident caused by one of your drivers; that would otherwise have been prevented with some safe driving coaching. That said, make time to invest in your driver’s education and empowerment. And there’s no better time, to start building a culture of safety in your fleet business, than now.