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Incorporating Vision Zero into your fleet safety program

By Julie White August 23, 2023

Based on the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were an estimated 42,795 traffic deaths in 2022, which was roughly the same as the year prior, and more than 10 percent higher than in 2020.1 

Even one death or traffic safety incident on our roadways is one too many—that’s the main idea behind “Vision Zero” and the Safe System approach, a new government safety initiative focused on safe mobility for all road users.  The Safe System approach has six key principles: deaths and serious injuries are unacceptable, humans make mistakes, humans are vulnerable, responsibility is shared, safety is proactive and redundancy is crucial.2

By incorporating this mindset into your overall fleet safety strategy, you can help create a culture of safety and help make the road a safer place for every driver. 

Why should your fleet safety program include Vision Zero elements? 

A key thing to understand is that the goal of Vision Zero is to eliminate fatal accidents and serious injuries—not to eliminate crashes altogether.3 With that in mind, there are four main elements to a Vision Zero plan, and each of them plays a vital role in creating a robust fleet safety program:4

  • Leadership and commitment: Having a leader who champions the safety program helps it stay a top priority so it doesn’t fall by the wayside. And having a firm commitment throughout the organization means that safety will factor into every decision.
  • Equity and engagement: Effective fleet safety management requires constant engagement, from leadership to support staff and drivers. That can take the form of training, coaching and regular communication about new safety initiatives. Additionally, it’s important that everyone in the organization feels involved.
  • Safe roadways and safe speeds: Vehicle speeds obviously play a key role in safety. Making sure that drivers maintain safe speeds can help mitigate the chance of accidents, as well as the likelihood that an accident would result in death or serious injury, which is a key component of Vision Zero.
  • Data-driven approach, transparency and accountability: Incorporating these elements into your fleet driver safety program allows you to accurately measure progress against any goals you may have set. It also helps your drivers understand expectations and how they’ll be evaluated. Many fleet safety solutions allow you to capture and easily measure many helpful data points. 

What is Safe Systems and why does it matter? 

Safe Systems ultimately focuses on the human element—recognizing that humans make mistakes and finding ways to reduce them and mitigate their impact.5  For fleets, a Safe Systems approach can focus on speed management, curbing harsh driving events such as quick starts, hard braking, and harsh cornering, and reducing distracted driving. This approach also focuses on being as proactive as possible with fleet preventative safety, rather than reactive.      

Instead of being piecemeal, this approach to roadway safety is a holistic method that creates multiple layers of protection for everyone on the road and prioritizes creating a culture of safety.2

Pivoting to Safe Systems also involves changing the language used in conversations about safety. For example, this approach uses the term “crashes” instead of “accidents,” since there are identifiable reasons for a motor vehicle crash, most of which are preventable. While it may seem minor, shifting the language shifts how we view the problem, and therefore how we design a solution.4

GPS fleet tracking technology gives you the insights and data to promote a culture of safety.

Building your fleet safety program 

Developing and implementing a strong Vision Zero action plan should primarily revolve around four items: advanced technology, actionable data, measurable goals and input from key stakeholders, such as drivers and leadership.6       

  • Advanced technology: Telematics and other GPS fleet tracking technology can allow you to monitor many safety elements—like vehicle speed and harsh driving events—in near real time. This can give you the insights you need to prioritize safety efforts across your fleet. Integrating dashcams can also provide valuable coaching opportunities for drivers.
  • Actionable data: Organizations looking to implement Vision Zero should incorporate data gathering, analysis and sharing processes into their safety program. Data on crashes and other safety incidents can be very helpful in identifying ways to create a more robust safety program. Technology can be particularly useful in collecting and analyzing data on when crashes occur, where they occur and any other factors that may come into play, such as speed.
  • Measurable goals: An effective action plan will include measurable goals that clearly lay out priorities, deadlines and actionable steps that can be taken. It should also be transparent, identify who is responsible for each step and clearly define what success looks like. Encourage buy-in from stakeholders and drivers by adding a gamification component to your safety goals. This allows you to celebrate and reward the desired driving behaviors while still focusing on creating a culture of safety.
  • Input from key stakeholders: Achieving buy-in from everyone in the organization is critical to building an effective fleet safety program. Fleet managers, drivers, leaders and support staff all have valuable perspectives on safety. Involving all key stakeholders not only helps create buy-in. It also can help create a safety program that’s more holistic. 

What technology should be included in a fleet safety program? 

Telematics is a core component of any safety program. With GPS tracking technology and video technology such as dashcams powered by artificial intelligence (AI), fleet managers can monitor vehicle speed, location and status in near real time. This technology can also detect and give alerts for harsh driving. Quick starts, speeding, hard braking and aggressive cornering can all have a negative impact on safety.

The ability to glean insights over time from gathered data is a key benefit of integrating telematics into your safety program. With telematics reports you can see how driver behavior is changing and determine your approach to safety within your fleet.

Organizations that want to create an effective fleet safety program need to understand when these incidents happen. Doing so can provide valuable coaching and training opportunities for drivers. Additionally, integrating gamification into your coaching and training is a proactive approach to getting buy in from drivers. Presenting the data in a way to reward positive change and growth can make it more likely to be embraced by your team.

Fleet tracking solutions can also help organizations set up proactive maintenance schedules and send alerts when scheduled maintenance is coming up. This allows fleets to resolve maintenance needs before they become issues that take vehicles off the road or make them unsafe for drivers.

AI dashcams for your fleet safety program 

Dashcams with integrated AI are another key piece of fleet safety equipment. Modern video telematics that utilize driver-facing and road-facing cameras give fleet managers greater visibility into what happens both inside and outside the vehicle. They also provide a factual account of unsafe driving behaviors or incidents, such as tailgating, distracted driving or stop sign violations. 

This gives both drivers and managers a better sense of what needs improvement. Fleet managers can tailor coaching moments to individual drivers and reinforce safe-driving efforts as part of an overall crash-reduction plan.

For fleets considering an investment in video telematics, be sure to look for the following features: 

  • Dual footage view: Dual view of driver-facing and road-facing video via desktop or mobile app. 
  • Streamlined video download: Ability to download and share footage as an MP4 file, along with valuable metadata such as the vehicle name, address, date and time, which can provide helpful context. 
  • Get notifications: Receive alert notifications to view a video within minutes of when an incident occurs.

Fleet Vision Zero: Creating a culture of safety

It’s important to remember that the goal of Vision Zero is not to create a traffic accident-free workplace, but rather to eliminate fatal crashes and serious injuries by creating a strong culture of safety. By adopting a Safe System approach, and incorporating GPS fleet tracking technology, fleets can take important steps towards implementing an effective fleet safety program.

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1 https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/traffic-crash-death-estimates-2022 

2 https://highways.dot.gov/safety/zero-deaths 

3 https://highways.dot.gov/sites/fhwa.dot.gov/files/2021-12/PR-WIN22_Book_full_508_revised2.pdf 

4 https://visionzeronetwork.org/core-elements/ 

5 https://visionzeronetwork.org/pivoting-to-the-safe-systems-approachhow-federal-state-local-leaderscan-advance-vision-zero/ 

6 https://visionzeronetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/VZN_ActionPlan_FINAL.pdf 

Julie White

Julie is an experienced product management professional with a demonstrated history of working in the computer software industry in a variety of customer-facing and technical roles. She is skilled in product management, business analysis, product ownership, enabling sales and customer support management.

Tags: Data & Analytics, Safety, Team Management, Performance & Coaching, Training

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