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6 Best Truck Driver Safety Tips & Tricks

By Verizon Connect December 15, 2021

Every year, an estimated 20% of all fleet vehicles are involved in accidents according to the National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA). And, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding accounts for 26% of all traffic fatalities in the United States (NHTSA).

Driver safety is a critical issue. Unsafe driving puts drivers and the public in danger, leads to increased fuel and maintenance costs and can detrimentally impact a company’s reputation. To combat this, it’s critical to create a successful driver safety program that extends across your entire fleet. 

Culture starts at the top: Your managers must practice effective driver coaching. When safe driving is embedded in the company culture and everyone participates, you’re less likely to have outliers who disobey safety directives. 

Take a focused approach to building a safe driving program by following the steps in the checklist below.

Steps to establishing a driver coaching program

  • Commit to creating a safety-first culture. Continually talk to employees and staff about the true cost of unsafe driving. Help them understand how dangerous truck driving is as a profession. Identify, track and correct harmful driving behaviors. 
  • Identify safe driving metrics. What safety metrics are important to your fleet? These can include speeding instances, harsh braking incidents, failure to wear a seatbelt, and other parameters. Next, establish a driver management performance policy that uses the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic & Time-bound) technique and encourages drivers to earn accolades for meeting these goals.
  • Get your drivers on board. While managers visualize the safety process, those at the ground level are the true safety ambassadors. Create an employee incentive program to encourage safety and help make the most out of the technology your fleet uses. Things like employee recognition, extra vacation days or company-sponsored parties are cost-effective incentives you can use to motivate employees.
  • Monitor safe and unsafe behaviors. Monitoring and tracking driving behavior can help you identify and reward good drivers and guide the less safe ones to make improvements. Factors that can be tracked include: mileage, after hours mileage or vehicle use, hard braking, hard acceleration, excessive speeding vs. posted speed limit and seat belt utilization. Fleets that utilize this data have shown substantial reductions in accidents, driving violations and complaints from the public.
  • Reinforce the message. Driver coaching is critical to educating employees and encouraging safe driving techniques. Managers must understand that their role as coach is to keep track of drivers and recognize driving patterns. Follow this up with frequent communication and reviews with drivers.
  • Keep safety related costs in check. Do you know your cost for post-accident repairs? Do you know which driver accrues the most fines? Do you know the per-vehicle fuel cost? You must track these answers weekly and monthly to help prevent problems before they occur.

Use technology to get started on the road to a safe fleet

A proactive approach to safety helps you save money and build long-term credibility with your customers. But how do you get ahead of safety issues before they arise? How do you know how a driver is performing? How do you quantify losses incurred due to safety-related issues?

If your fleet’s vehicle is involved, you want to know the whole story. A video solution that integrates with your existing fleet tracking software adds eyes to every dash of your fleet. It brings together high-quality, smart video with the power of a fleet management system to deliver video clips of harsh driving events within minutes of them happening.

You can use video to establish the facts in the event of an accident or to help coach your drivers on better behavior. In fact, according to one manager, Russell Miller at Champion Trucking, that data can be invaluable for driver coaching.

“A few weeks ago, I received an automated harsh braking alert for one of our dump trucks that didn't fully stop at a stop sign,” he said. “We take safety very seriously, and though I did have to take disciplinary action, I was able to use this as a coaching moment and sit down and review the video with the driver to help him understand how to improve his driving. Because we're a smaller operation, one of the hats I wear is that of a safety manager. And, I have to say, Integrated Video helps me to better fill that role and keep a closer eye on how vehicles are operating while on the road.”

GPS vehicle tracking with integrated video can help reinforce any safety program and training by giving managers full visibility to what’s going on in the field, letting them coach in real-time if they see safety violations. For more information, download our free eBook, “Help Protect Your Commercial Vehicles and Coach Your Drivers.”

Verizon Connect

Verizon Connect Staff represents a team of professionals passionate about everything telematics. Get to hear about the latest trends, product features and industry best practices from the desk of Verizon Connect Staff.

Tags: Team Management, Performance & Coaching, Safety

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