By Gino Fontana
Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange
I recently came across two separate items that tied to safety on the road. The first was the results of a survey from Omnitracs that said distracted drivers are 72% more likely to be involved in “near collisions” than other drivers. The other item was from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which found that an estimated 20,160 people died in motor vehicle accidents in the first half of this year in the U.S. NHTSA said this tragic statistic was the largest six-month increase ever recorded in its Fatality Analysis Reporting System.
To be clear, this number includes accidents involving cars and trucks and did not break out numbers for accidents involving trucks only. However, I don’t think that a specific number is all that important.
What is important is improving the safety on our nation’s highways and roads. I have previously written on the topic of vehicle safety, but it is a topic that the entire industry needs to constantly reinforce.
We are lucky in that we have technologies available that can help drivers and vehicles operate safer. This includes things like collision mitigation systems, lane departure warning systems, and autonomous emergency braking. It also includes things like reminding drivers to wear their seatbelts.
All of this underscores the need to have a rigorous preventive maintenance program in place—one that you measure compliance with—so that you can spot any safety-related issues and fix them before the truck goes out on the road again.
Every year during Brake Safety Week, we hear of thousands of trucks that were either cited for brake violations or were taken out of service because of severe violations. It puzzles me that when we know a safety blitz focusing on brakes is scheduled, we still have trucks that are not in compliance.
Being a safe fleet also means analyzing the data you can retrieve from your vehicles’ telematics devices that you can leverage in coaching drivers on how to drive more safely. This means looking at things like hard braking and fast accelerations. Distracted drivers are more likely to exceed the speed limit, wander out of their lanes, roll through stop signs, etc.
A multipronged approach to safety includes:
- A commitment to safety from the top of the organization—one that does more than pay lip service to the idea.
- Spec’ing safety features on all vehicles.
- Ensuring that all vehicles are properly maintained and that safety defects are fixed before a truck is put back into service.
- Relying on technology to alert you about unsafe driving practices.
- Coaching safe driver behavior.
- Rewarding drivers who have demonstrated a commitment to safe driving.
Safety should be a top priority of everyone involved in the trucking industry—but after seeing the survey results and the NHTSA information on roadway fatalities, we know we can do better in delivering the safety message.
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