There’s a reason for the expression ‘safety first’. Because in anything you do, it should be the first thing on your mind. And in the fleet management industry, you can amplify this ten-fold — unsafe driving should be off limits.
Safe driving, and good driving behavior in general, is a vital aspect for businesses which utilize fleets of vehicles on a daily basis — or any time period basis for that matter. While the average motorist may not pay too much attention to the concept or misunderstand it, but it’s a way of life for all the professional drivers out there.
There are some key “rules” that fleet drivers should follow to ensure that they avoid any unsafe driving while out on the road, and actually back at the office car parking area. A lot of them will be obvious to fleet drivers, but therein lies the danger. It can be easy to ”switch off” and forget. And that’s why we’re here to provide a quick and timely reminder.
Unsafe driving: how and why it happens
Why do some fleet drivers end up practicing unsafe driving? Well, plenty of reasons actually. Location, schedule, mood, weather, traffic situations, and many more. Let’s have a look at the key “whys”
Whether you are on the road in the middle of the city or parking in a rural area, your location can influence unsafe driving behaviors. For example in the city, you may rive on your breaks and be too close to the vehicles in front or around you as you rush to get where you need to go. Frustration can also creep in and cause you to let your guard down. Similarly, when you are in a rural area with fewer vehicles and obstacles around you may speed up or relax too much.
On and off-road
While the dangers on the road are more or less obvious, what about when you’re in a parking area or an alternative off-road venue. A parking area is actually one of the riskiest places to drive your vehicle. Though you might not be driving with speed, the chances of accidents happening are high as there’s usually multiple vehicles moving without coordination (that is there are no separate lanes, no traffic lights, etc.). Some vehicles may look as if they are stationary, but are pulling out quickly. There is added stress, motorists and other fleet drivers may be in a hurry to leave the parking lot or find a parking spot. This is true both for your business parking area or whichever parking area your drivers may visit during working hours.
As we mentioned above, the mood of your driver is essential in terms of influencing unsafe driving. For example, a personal problem may have the driver’s mind anywhere but on the job in hand. Or perhaps it’s just one of those days when a driver is not feeling themselves. Worse still, maybe they are angry about something and start driving and acting aggressively. Also, if your driver is the kind of person who hates to be late and has been delayed somewhere else for some reason, then there’s a risk that he/she will try to speed up and take risks to get to the next job.
Fleet drivers are expected to drive safely in all weather conditions and all types of environments. But as we all know too well, the weather can greatly affect driving ability, decisions, and so on. For example in winter with rain, ice and snow, it’s pretty easy to have an accident. So, fleet drivers need to reduce speeds and generally alter the types of driving tactics they would normally use on a daily basis. This opens the way for accidents to happen.
Ways to practice safe driving
So, how do you, or your drivers, avoid unsafe driving. Easy. Practice safe driving. Well, we say easy but understand fully that in the humdrum of daily routines and schedules, it’s easy to say but not always to execute.
Apart from hiring the most competent, experienced fleet drivers — and keeping hold of them, we have a few other golden pieces of advice to dispense.
Plan (well) ahead
Double down on planning. Know where you’re going and be prepared — right from the beginning of the day/week/month. This is largely the fleet manager’s job. And we recommend the use of a fleet management solution like our very own Veturilo, to help. But fleet drivers should also always pay close attention and make sure they are clear on where they need to be, how they plan to get there and by what times. For example, there might be cases of fleet companies/scenarios for which this is not always 100% possible. Maybe your drivers have to or decide to make several different “routes” during their shift. That is, without returning to your company’s premises/parking area. But try to avoid this as much as possible. Or try to plan better for it with the use of fleet tracking and monitoring.
Be alert and vigilant
This is kind of stating the obvious but we can’t emphasize enough how important it is for fleet drivers to be on the alert. It should be their ‘always on’ mode, especially when they are on the move. It’s important that your drivers are always trying to be one step ahead, and taking preventative measures to ensure that they are. This means having the potential dangers top of mind.
Train and practice defensive driving (and parking)
We recently created a post about the topic of defensive driving, which is as you can imagine, the antithesis of unsafe driving. Ensure that all of your fleet drivers receive training on defensive driving tactics; and encourage it to be a way of life on a daily basis. You can do this via incentive schemes. And these could even be linked to the data pulled from your fleet tracking solution.
Driver behavior training
Which brings us nicely to the next point. Any fleet manager worth his/hair salt, should have a fleet tracking solution in place. It’s the perfect way to boost efficiency and make significant cost-savings which can help the business’s profitability. And using such a tool, fleet managers can now track driving behavior in detail, so that drivers can be evaluated, disciplined and/or rewarded. You can also track driving behavior with Veturilo. With driver behavior tracking you can monitor things like fast accelerations, sharp or harsh turns, heavy braking and high RPM use.
Leave unsafe driving behind
As you can see, it’s pretty straightforward to avoid unsafe driving. The biggest challenge, as a fleet manager, is setting yourself up with the right tools to help combat it. This includes fleet management solutions, the right drivers and training. After that it’s all about cultivating a culture of the way you do things in your business. Which all should come back to the ‘safety first’ idea. Because if anything comes first, it’s that.