How to Identify Unsafe Drivers and Stop Preventable Accidents
Maintaining a safe workplace is always a challenge, but when your employees operate a company vehicle and work in the field, that challenge can feel insurmountable.
In a conventional office, overseeing employees, encouraging safe behavior, and remedying common dangers such as exposed cords or wet floors is comparatively straightforward. However, if your employees work remotely, monitoring drivers and identifying and eliminating hazards such as unsafe driving habits is often much more complicated.
Tools like GPS tracking devices make overseeing driver behavior easier by acting as your eyes while your drivers are on the road. Fleet managers in any industry can use accurate, up-to-date information on vehicle location and driver behavior to pinpoint problematic driving habits and stop preventable accidents before they happen by determining whether any drivers regularly commit dangerous driving behaviors such as excessive speeding, harsh braking, or rapid acceleration.
Let’s take a closer look.
Identifying unsafe drivers
Unsafe drivers can lead to a number of problems for your fleet, including increased risk of injury, poor public image, higher insurance premiums, and increased repair and maintenance costs.
Collisions and other incidents caused by dangerous driving habits can be prevented by identifying high-risk drivers and taking steps to improve their driving habits before an accident occurs. There are a number of tools available to help fleet managers identify unsafe drivers. Here are some of the most effective:
1. Driver safety report cards
The most capable GPS tracking devices are able to help fleet managers monitor individual and fleet-wide driver safety by generating daily safety report cards, as well as safety trends over time.
By regularly evaluating driver performance and reviewing safety grades to pinpoint areas where individual drivers or entire fleets can improve their safety behind the wheel, fleet managers can in turn help decrease their fleet’s insurance costs.
Read more about how GPS tracking can help reduce fleet insurance premiums.
The best indication of how an employee will operate a company vehicle is how they operate their personal vehicle. Motor vehicle reports (MVRs) provide a comprehensive overview of a driver’s personal driving history, allowing fleet managers to screen out high-risk drivers in the hiring process, as well as ensure that their drivers are maintaining safe driving habits off the clock.
Violations noted on MVRs vary in terms of severity, ranging from:
- Equipment and administrative violations, such as broken lights, damaged windshields, or expired licenses.
- Minor moving violations, including failing to signal, improper lane changes, or illegal turns.
- Significant moving violations, such as failing to obey a traffic signal or following too closely.
- Serious moving violations, including felonies such as DUI, racing, or reckless driving.
Many fleet and business managers have taken advantage of MVRs by creating a point-based system to track and score risk. Point values are assigned based on the severity of the violation – the more points a new hire or existing driver accumulates, the higher level of risk they represent. This information can be used to disqualify high-risk applicants or to identify opportunities for further safety training for your current drivers.
3. Speeding alerts
Many GPS tracking systems send real-time text message or email alerts whenever a driver exceeds the posted speed limit. Driving over the speed limit doesn’t necessarily indicate dangerous driving, but it may reflect poorly on your company’s public image, and company vehicles often carry special equipment, which may make speeding – even if it’s only a mile or two over the speed limit – more dangerous for your drivers and other motorists.
The most effective GPS tracking systems give fleet managers an opportunity to set customized speeding thresholds so an alert is triggered when drivers exceed the posted speed limit by a certain amount. The occasional speeding alert may not be cause for concern, but if you begin to notice a pattern of excessive speeding from one or many of your drivers, you may want to consider taking disciplinary action or providing additional training.
Learn more about speeding alerts.
4. Harsh braking alerts
GPS tracking devices are also capable of sending alerts for harsh braking. Similar to speeding alerts, the occasional harsh braking alert may not conclusively indicate unsafe driving; after all, a driver may have to brake quickly to accommodate another motorist or to avoid hitting something that unexpectedly entered the road.
A pattern of harsh braking behavior may indicate inefficient scheduling, unfamiliarity with safe braking practices, or even aggressive driving. In addition to putting your driver and other motorists at risk, regular harsh braking can wear down your vehicles faster and reduce your fleet’s fuel efficiency. If one or many of your drivers are regularly triggering harsh braking alerts, consider taking action and coaching your drivers on the importance of safe braking practices.
5. Rapid acceleration alerts
In addition to speeding and harsh braking alerts, GPS tracking devices can also send immediate text and email alerts for rapid acceleration.
Rapid acceleration can signal aggressive driving behavior, but it may also reveal routing inefficiencies if your drivers feel a need to rush from location to location. If you’re receiving regular rapid acceleration alerts via your GPS tracking device, you may wish to review your drivers’ daily routes or consult with your drivers about their driving habits to determine if there’s a way for you to help optimize their daily schedule. If there are no scheduling concerns, consider providing additional driver training.
Read more about real-time alerts.
Stopping preventable accidents
It’s one thing to know which drivers are committing dangerous driving behaviors, but it’s another entirely to change these behaviors and promote a culture of safety.
One popular method for improving driver safety and eliminating preventable accidents is to create a point-based system, similar to the demerit point system used by many states, for managing unsafe drivers.
Effective point-based systems focus on educating drivers and coaching them on ways to improve their driving habits. However, you may wish to consider creating a disciplinary strategy that clearly communicates consequences for proven unsafe drivers, such as additional classroom training, verbal or written warnings, or in the most serious cases, termination. Reward programs for safe driving can also provide powerful incentive for operating vehicles safely and responsibly and can help you prevent accidents before they happen.
With powerful tools such as MVRs and GPS tracking data at their disposal, fleet managers can proactively identify unsafe drivers and eliminate preventable accidents before they happen.
Learn more about how GPS tracking can help improve driver safety.