Ten more practices also found very effective
By Mark Boada, Executive Editor
Taking steps to combat driver fatigue has the greatest effect on reducing fleet crash rates, according to a recently published study of 70 U.S. fleets conducted by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS). Calculations of the raw results by Fleet Management Weekly showed that fatigue risk management practices were associated with crash rates that were as much as 77% lower than fleets that didn’t rely on them.
The study, which appears in the December issue of Safety Science, also found at least ten more practices associated with crash rates that were more than 20% lower, by at least one measure, than those of fleets that didn’t follow them. In descending order, the five most effective include reviewing driver mobile phone records after all crashes (up to 58% lower), providing some form of driver training for all employees (45% lower), post-collision reviews that take crash severity into account (30% lower), checking the motor vehicle records of new hires (42% lower), and banning the use of mobile phones while driving (25% lower).
One surprising finding was that fleets that employ in-vehicle driver monitoring systems but only review the data after serious crashes have a higher average crash rate than both fleets that don’t have them at all and those that review the data after every crash. The average crash rate for fleets in the study that deploy such devices – irrespective of whether they review the data after a crash – was 8.4%, compared to 13.4% for fleets that reviewed it only after “serious” crashes, a rate that is nearly 60% higher.
On the other hand, it found that the average crash rate for fleets that reviewed the data after every crash was and 7.4%. That was 33% lower than the average for fleets (11.06%) that don’t use in-vehicle monitoring devices.
Wide range of industries, fleet sizes and type
The authors of the article say the study was the first to appear in a peer-reviewed journal to compare fleet safety practices and policies for a large number of fleets with actual safety outcomes. It is based on fleet responses to a survey that focused on fleets’ 2016 safety programs and their reported performance data.
The study compared the crash rates of fleets that relied on specific kinds of safety policies and practices against those that did not employ them. It did not, however, compare fleets’ crash rates before and after they adopted the practices. Study participants were all NETS members from a wide range of industries and, together, operated all classes of vehicles, from light to heavy-duty. Fleet sizes ranged from as few as 136 vehicles to as many as 51,000.
The fleets reported a range of 2016 crash rates according to two measures: the percentage of fleet vehicles involved in crashes (Fleet Percent) and crashes per million miles driven (CPMM); it also recorded fleet drivers’ average injuries per million miles driven (IPMM). The companies surveyed reported an average Fleet Percent crash rate of 10.1%, CPMM of 4.94 and IPMM of 0.27. While Fleet Management Weekly isn’t aware of verified statistics that have been compiled for the fleet industry as a whole, these numbers are believed to be below those for the average fleet. For example, it is widely believed that the average fleet has a 20% crash rate.
Fatigue risk management practices
The study looked at many different types of fatigue management practices. The one associated with the greatest difference in fleet crash rates was conducting medical screenings for fatigue. Depending on crash rate measurement, the practice was associated with average crash rates that were 65% to 77% lower.
Other measures to combat fatigue that were statistically linked to lower crash rates were conducting fatigue management training for new hires (average rates that were 70% to 74% lower); restrictions on night driving (52% to 65%), and fatigue management refresher courses for existing drivers (31%). The study also found that the more of these programs offered, the lower their average crash rate.
Other beneficial practices
The study also noted that fleets that followed the following practices also accounted for a lower average crash rate:
• Completing driver commentary drives (41% lower)
• Publishing the fleet safety scorecard to drivers (28% lower)
• Championing of driver safety by corporate executives (IPPM rate lower by 60%; the study did not show the effect on Fleet Percent or CPMM rates)
The article appears in Volume 120 of Safety Science. The title is “The relationships among roadway safety management practices, collision rates, and injury rates within company fleets.” The authors are Jonathon M. Vivoda, Assistant Professor of Sociology and Gerontology at Miami University (Ohio); Stephanie G. Pratt, PhD, Director of the Center for Motor Vehicle Safety at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and Susan J. Gillies, manager of marketing and operations analysis at NETS.