For most of us driving is one of the most consistent activities that we do on a daily basis. It has become increasingly important in our busy world as our range for work, travel and leisure activities have expanded. Studies reveal that the average American drives 4 trips per day with an average total distance travelled at 40 miles. Incredibly, 225 million drivers complete a whopping 411 billion daily driving trips every year! So, it’s no wonder that the importance of driving safely is creeping into the minds of employers.
Unfortunately, around the globe, driving is also one of the most dangerous activities we engage in. Every year, on average, vehicle collisions are responsible for 50 million injuries and 1.35 million fatalities. In fact, it would be rare to find someone who has not been affected directly or indirectly by a crash. Although vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death in North America for people aged 16-24, there is also a great risk for professional drivers.
Driver Safety At Work
If you have employees that drive during work, you should pay special attention to ensure it is done safely. Statistics show that driving is the most dangerous task an employee will engage in while at work. In fact, 41% of all fatal workplace injuries are caused by motor vehicle collisions. According to the National Safety Council, an alarming 90% of crashes are caused by human error. The human costs above are obviously the most important but for companies, the business costs are also enormous.
- Estimated costs from collisions and downtime totals $240B,
- over-consumption of fuel from poor driving around $121B, and
- service and maintenance costs account for another $80B
So how can we start to dial back these alarming statistics and improve driving behaviour to decrease these staggering numbers?
Improving Driver Safety | Step 1
First step, take a look in the rearview mirror! Most of us have been driving for so long it’s like we’re on autopilot and aren’t aware of how we actually drive. On your next drive, concentrate on your speed, your braking, activities you shouldn’t be doing while driving (like eating or talking on your cell phone), how you take a turn, or accelerate from a light. Like any other behaviour modification, you first have to be aware of risky habits before you can change them. Personally, as I became more and more involved in driver assessment, training, and technology it was almost like I became hyper-vigilant not only of my own driving but everyone around me…kind of scary!
Improving Driver Safety | Step 2
On-going training is the next step for all drivers. Unless your company has mandatory training, most drivers last took some education right before they took their license exam. Engaging in some form of training every month or so can be very beneficial to improving the habits you have formed over time. Even if your company does offer driver training once in a while, it is often helpful short-term but relatively useless in the long run. Without constant follow-up, our ability to retain material is generally only about 10% a year later. Luckily, there are apps and programs designed to monitor and score your driving so you can evaluate and monitor your improvement. Who knows you might be awesome already!
Improving Driver Safety | Step 3
And then practice, practice, practice. On every trip try to become more aware of how you are driving and all the skills that go into it. Are you anticipating upcoming traffic signals to make for smooth braking, are you gently easing into acceleration when the light turns green, does your whole body shift because you took a turn too fast, these little elements of your driving make all the difference. Not only will your risk decrease but you will also find that you can save some nice dollars on fuel consumption and service and maintenance costs, not to mention speeding tickets or insurance premium increases if your foot is a little too heavy.
The Next Generation of Drivers
One last thing—and this relates to the next generations of drivers. 90% of drivers revert back to how they watched their parents, grandparents, and siblings drive before they could drive themselves. If you have a young person with you, remember that you are shaping how they will drive in the future! If you think it’s okay to jump on a call or yell at other drivers while they’re present, maybe give it a second thought. We would be crushed if anyone was hurt because of something we were doing while driving, but it just may happen years from now and could be a lot worse!