Driver safety studies around the world have continually identified inattention as a leading factor in most incidents and near misses, so why aren’t we taking this issue seriously? As part of an extensive driver safety research project by the USA National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) vehicles driven nearly 2,000,000 miles yielded 42,300 hours of data on 241 drivers. In that sample size 82 (34%) drivers were involved in an incident and there were 761 near misses and 8,295 critical incidents.
The study found that nearly 80 per cent of crashes and 65 per cent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event with distracting activities such as mobile phone use and drowsiness the primary cause of driver inattention. An Australian Transport Safety Bureau report indicates that 43% of drivers answer their phones, 24% make calls, 16% read text messages and 8% send text messages while driving, confirming that the use of mobile phones when driving is a major road safety problem.
Workplace driver safety is a major problem, given that nearly 50% of all workplace deaths occur while driving, there is an overwhelming need to minimise distraction during driving and to educate your drivers on the dangers. The most common distraction for drivers is the use of mobile phones although fatigue causing drowsiness was also found to be a significant factor in increasing the risk of an incident or near miss by a factor of four at least. Below are 10 driver safety easy tips you can introduce to your fleet operations that will help protect your drivers and your organisation.
Driving when fatigued is dangerous and significantly increases incident risk. Supervisors should plan realistic schedules and drivers should be rested before departure, stop for appropriate rest breaks (every two hours, even if not feeling tired) and avoid driving during normal sleeping hours.
- Driver Distraction – Mobile Phones
The use of handheld mobile phones when driving is illegal and in no circumstances should this be done. Employees who are ticketed for this behaviour will face disciplinary action by the company that could result in the loss of the company supplied vehicle and/or termination of employment. Studies show that the use of mobile phones when driving, including hands free, cause driver distraction, therefore no mobile phone activity should be undertaken, either in voice or text mode, whilst driving.
- Driver Safety & Vehicle Assistance Systems
These are systems which are designed to assist stability and manoeuvrability, thus preventing loss of control in severe manoeuvring, braking and/or adverse weather conditions. The company should therefore have a vehicle replacement policy where it will consider the purchase and use of vehicles having following safety systems.
- Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
Where available ESC will be considered as standard equipment for all company supplied or financed vehicles and all vehicles undertaking company business. Where such systems are available they must not be intentionally disengaged.
- Anti-Lock Braking (ABS)
In order to support driver safety ABS shouldt be standard on all company supplied or financed vehicles and all vehicles undertaking company business.
- Traction Control
Where available, Traction Control will be considered as standard equipment and included in all vehicle acquisitions. Where such systems are available they shall not be intentionally disengaged.
Vehicles that do not have driver and passenger airbags should not be used on company business. Side (curtain or head and trunk) airbags, which offer significant occupant protection, will be specified on new vehicle acquisitions. Where not available on the first choice of vehicle, a case must be made and submitted to management for authorisation to deviate from this policy.
- Lane Departure Warning
Where Lane departure warning is available it should be considered as standard fixture.
- Brake Assist
Where brake assist systems are available it should be considered as mandatory equipment.
- Reversing Sensors
Where available reversing sensors and/or camera will be considered as standard equipment and included in all vehicle acquisitions.
The subject of driver safety is a timely reminder that vehicle accidents are significant killer globally, and in New Zealand. Our thanks to the Australasian Fleet Managers Assoc for keeping the issue at the forefront. https://afma.net.au/10-practical-ways-to-counter-driver-inattention/