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Protecting Your Drivers and Fleet Fleet Safety: Protecting Your Drivers and Trucks

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Female technician servicing a truck

Safety is taking a more prevalent role in the transportation industry than ever before, and for good reason. New technology provides fleet managers more advanced ways to keep vehicles, people, and their company safer. And, as federal and state governments are implementing more stringent safety regulations, businesses want to avoid the risk and high costs that unsafe transportation practices create.

Through the new innovative safety technology available, it’s more than likely that many accidents – along with their accompanying costs of time and money – are avoidable. Proper planning, vehicle equipment, regular safety compliance assessments, and comprehensive training for drivers save not only lives, but can save your company from significant financial loss should you be targeted by a plaintiff lawyer.

The liability and cost of an accident can cripple a company, and even put it out of business. According to the Department of Transportation, an accident, whether commercial or noncommercial vehicles are involved, in which mortality occurs ranges from $300,000 to nearly $10 million. Accidents resulting in injuries and/or disability range from nearly $139,000 to more than $1 million.

Companies also face numerous indirect costs when an accident occurs. This can include vehicle downtime to preserve evidence from the accident, insurance rate hikes of greater than 30 percent to the insurance company dropping your policy altogether, and exorbitant legal fees.

The return of investment (ROI) on implementing a robust safety program that includes these technologies is significant. For example, since implementing a DriveCam program in its vehicles, Ryder has been able to identify and target the top behaviors contributing to fleet risk. This has enabled Ryder’s professional drivers to significantly improve their results, reducing well over half the number of near collisions while increasing both following distance and response time.

According to a recent Department of Safety study, companies that have implemented a comprehensive safety strategy over the past three years have reduced the number of vehicle accidents between 55 and 70 percent. This has resulted in liability savings of over 40 percent, which for many companies is between $1 million and $4 million.

“We are on track to reduce our accidents per million miles driven by 65 percent, and our auto liability by $3.1 million since implementing our safety program,” said one fleet manager who was surveyed.

Companies that commit to fleet safety have more tools than ever before to aid their efforts. Technology has enabled most of these newer, preventive innovations that aim to reduce the possibility of vehicle accidents. Having them may also yield savings in the cost of fleet protection. These new safety technologies include:

Cameras that capture and retain a record of activity both inside and outside vehicles are noted as particularly helpful in accident avoidance. Recent research from Virginia Polytechnic University’s Tech Transportation Institute shows that safety incidents can be reduced by more than 35 percent by using such systems. They also can prove innocence in the case of an accident, and flag behavior that contributes to losses.

Forward collision and mitigation systems are also seen as helpful safety tools. They reduce rear-end collisions by sensing vehicles in-front of you and by braking for you in the event you haven’t done so in time to avoid a collision. Their automatic braking systems are typically set to maintain distances no less than 3.6 seconds from other vehicles. Sensors and vehicle technology systems work together to direct a vehicle to brake automatically when the minimum distance from another vehicle is breached.

Lane departure warning tools involve cameras and/or sensors that work with vehicle technology systems to warn drivers any time a vehicle begins to drift outside of its current lane of travel.

Spot awareness sensors have blinking lights on rear view mirrors on the driver and front seat passenger side of vehicles to warn the driver whenever a vehicle appears in the blind spot of the mirrors.

Speed limiters: Control engine systems to prevent vehicles from exceeding a set speed limit.

One of the biggest issues companies have when it comes to their safety strategy is keeping up with new regulations and the newest safety equipment that addresses risk and accident reduction. This takes time and resources away from core business competencies. Add the need for on-going staff training and vehicle safety inspections into the mix and the task of making sure your fleet is safe seems even bigger.

"Through the new innovative safety technology available, it’s more than likely that many commercial truck accidents are avoidable. "