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November 22, 2021

Dangerous Fleet Driving: A Ranking of the Worst Driver Behaviors

Dangerous Fleet Driving: A Ranking of the Worst Driver Behaviors

Of all the aspects of fleet management, safety is most important. With the average fleet driver logging 25,000 miles or more per year, this puts them at a statistically higher risk of an accident when compared to the average person who only drives 12,000 to 15,000 miles per year. 

But what are the worst driver behaviors? In this post, we’ll look at the five most dangerous fleet driving behaviors based on recent data, along with actionable strategies you can take to keep them in check. 

1. Not Wearing a Seatbelt

Believe it or not, failing to wear a seatbelt was the top-ranked dangerous fleet driving behavior. According to an in-depth study where three million risky driving events were observed, this happened 28% of the time. And that’s a huge problem given the immense danger that comes with failing to wear a seatbelt. Needless to say, if an accident occurs, a driver stands a much greater chance of being seriously injured than if they were properly strapped in. 

Furthermore, the data found that the drivers cited for not wearing a seatbelt were 3.4% more likely to get into a collision — a trend attributed to being more prone to reckless driving. So in terms of the most dangerous fleet driving behavior to address, this is it. 

Explicitly stating drivers are required to wear a seatbelt at all times in your fleet policy and having clear-cut penalties in place for violations is a critical first step to quelling this issue. However, it’s not realistic to believe every fleet driver will comply 100% of the time.

2. Following Too Closely

Ranking second in the most dangerous fleet driving behaviors list is tailgating. Of the three million driving events analyzed in the study, following at a distance of under two seconds happened 26% of the time. And a separate study found rear-end collisions accounted for nearly a third (29%) of all traffic accidents resulting in serious injury. 

Looking at these numbers, it’s clear that fleet managers need to be diligent about ensuring drivers keep a safe distance from vehicles in front of them. Again, this starts with crafting a comprehensive fleet policy with clear guidelines for determining a safe distance between vehicles. DriversEd.com recommends using “the three-second rule” as a bare minimum where a driver should be able to count to three saying “one Massachusetts, two Massachusetts, three Massachusetts” before crossing the same point. However, they also mention that the larger a vehicle is, the longer it will take to reach a complete stop, so more distance is ideal even if your fleet only consists of vans or smaller box trucks.

Besides that, you can use a couple of different driver management solutions to reduce this issue. One is to install a dash-cam that allows you to monitor driver behavior and quickly spot tailgating. Another is to set up alerts to access in near-real-time whenever a driver engages in risky behavior like this in near real-time. That way you can take immediate corrective action and capitalize on educational opportunities. 

3. Speeding

Unsurprisingly, driving too fast was ranked as one of the worst behaviors on the road, with 9% of the unsafe driving events involving speeding. It’s understandable. Fleet drivers often have tight deadlines, which can naturally put them in a position where they’re prone to speeding. But of course, this is still unacceptable, and fleet managers need to take serious measures to ensure drivers maintain safe speeds. One of the best ways to accomplish this is with a speed governor

Dangerous fleet driving

It’s a simple yet effective device that automatically restricts a driver’s maximum speed based on what you’ve set in your fleet’s policy. That way they’re unable to go beyond what’s acceptable, and they’re never placed in a position that could compromise their safety or the safety of other drivers on the road. As a result, a speed governor removes the need for driver modification and is perfect for taking a proactive approach to safety. 

4. Using a Cell Phone While Driving

While cell phones certainly benefit and help improve communication between fleet managers and drivers, they also present a massive safety concern. Any time a driver texts or calls while in transit, they’re putting their life and the lives of other drivers in jeopardy. According to research, “it’s estimated that at least 23% of all car accidents each year involve cell phone use — that’s 1.3 million crashes,” and “10% of fatal car accidents were reported to involve driver distraction.”

So we can’t stress enough the importance of keeping cell phones out of the hands of fleet drivers while they’re operating their vehicles. Fortunately, this is something that can be done quite easily with the right technology. For instance, VQ Safety offers Distracted Driving Prevention Cell Blocking where a cell phone syncs with a vehicle to lock the phone down so a driver can’t use it when the vehicle is moving. As a result, any temptation is eliminated, and you can manage your fleet with complete peace of mind. 

Dangerous fleet driving

5. Drowsy Driving

This final dangerous fleet driving behavior isn’t always on the radar of all fleet managers, but it’s a more significant factor than you may think. For example, one study found that an alarming 1 in 25 adult drivers reported falling asleep at the wheel in the previous 30 days. It’s also reported that drowsy driving contributed to 72,000 accidents, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in one year. However, experts believe these numbers to be underestimated. In reality, they’re likely much higher.

One study found that an alarming 1 in 25 adult drivers reported falling asleep at the wheel in the previous 30 days. Click To Tweet

Unlike the other behaviors we’ve listed in this post, drowsy driving is a bit trickier to address because fleet managers obviously can’t directly control how much sleep their drivers get. That said, there are a few actionable tactics you can use to minimize this problem. You should require your drivers to stop for breaks based on Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, for starters. By law, drivers are required to take a minimum of a 30-minute break after eight cumulative hours of driving time. So it’s essential to abide by this rule and maintain accurate log books (electronic logging devices can streamline this process dramatically). While this is the requirement, most experts suggest scheduling breaks every 200 miles or two hours — whichever comes first. 

Another helpful technology is a lane-tracking device that alerts both the driver and fleet manager whenever a driver changes lanes without using their turn signal. Because this behavior often indicates drowsy driving, it can help quickly resolve the problem before an accident occurs. Besides that, optimizing scheduling to ensure drivers aren’t working excessively long shifts and encouraging them to communicate when they’re having difficulty because of sleep deprivation are also beneficial. 

Curbing Dangerous Fleet Driving Behaviors

Driver safety is always a top priority for fleet managers. And while safety can encompass numerous areas, an intelligent approach is to focus on the most pressing issues first. Based on recent data, the worst driver behaviors are not wearing a seatbelt, tailgating, speeding, distracted driving using a cell phone, and drowsy driving. By following the practical tips outlined above and implementing the proper fleet management solutions, you can significantly cut back on dangerous fleet driving and help your team operate at their best.

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