By Gino Fontana
Chief Operating Officer and Executive Vice President, Transervice
As originally appeared in FleetOwner Magazine’s IdeaXchange
Two items crossed my desk recently that got me more focused than ever on driver safety.
The first was a reminder that April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month. The National Safety Council (NSC) sees this as a way to bring attention to the problem that the agency says results in eight people being killed in a typical day and hundreds of others injured.
NSC is taking a radical approach and is asking all drivers to take a pledge to drive with no distractions at all. The pledge specifically asks drivers not to have phone conversations while they are driving—even hands-free—or to use voice-to-text features, among other things.
The other was an announcement about Operation Safe Driver Week, scheduled for July 10-16. This campaign is aimed at improving driving behavior through education and traffic enforcement strategies. This year, the focus will be on speeding. During the week, law enforcement will be on the lookout for commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers and passenger vehicle drivers engaging in risky driving behaviors in or around a CMV. Identified unsafe drivers will be pulled over and issued citations or warnings.
While both of these initiatives apply to all drivers, fleets should be paying particular attention to them. Recently the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its annual report on traffic crashes. It showed that in 2020 there were 38,824 lives lost in these crashes nationwide—the highest number of fatalities since 2007. One bit of good news in the report was that the number of crashes and traffic injuries declined overall. However, that was offset by the fact that the number of fatal crashes was up.
Safety should be top of mind each and every day, but these two initiatives are good opportunities for fleets to review their safe-driving practices and their process of reinforcing safe behavior behind the wheel. I believe most fleets do a great job of stressing safety during initial driving training sessions, but I think more can be done daily to reinforce safe driving practices.
When was the last time you reviewed your safe driving policies and how long has it been since you reminded drivers about your definition of safe driving? While ultimately it’s up to drivers to operate their vehicles in a safe manner, the tone set at the highest levels of the fleet sends a message about how serious the carrier is about safe driving.
In addition, there are actions managers at for-hire and private fleets can take to make vehicles safer, including governing speed at the pedal and at cruise control. Fleets also can make investments in safety technology which won’t necessarily prevent all accidents but hopefully will prevent some and will lessen the impact of others.
We all want to keep everyone safe on the road. Distracted Driving Awareness Month and Operation Safe Driver Week are just two events we can use to remind our drivers of just how seriously we take safety.