By Matthew Betz, Vice President Business Development, Fleet at Motus, LLC
“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today” – Abraham Lincoln
As we begin a new year, we often resolve to do things differently. It may be to eat healthier, exercise more, stay in touch with friends, or increase our efforts to help others. My hope for the fleet industry is that we can resolve to look at our responsibility to The Modern Mobile Worker in a slightly different way in 2015.
Those of you that know me know that I have spent a good part of my career trying to enhance driver safety. In doing so, I attended conferences, taught classes, did industry presentations, and spoke to a great number of fleet and traffic safety professionals. Through all that interaction, there is one thing that still stands out the most. While attending a fleet safety meeting, I heard a gentleman state that his organization’s goal was to “Make sure that every driver arrived home to his or her family safely, every day”. That is a goal that I hope we can all adopt in this New Year.
I have also heard from numerous fleet professionals, mostly from large organizations, that fleet safety doesn’t fall under their area of responsibility. “It’s the Risk Department.” “It’s the HR Department.” And so on. On the other hand, there are other fleet professionals who have made driver safety their responsibility, even though it wasn’t part of their job description. They have been successful in their goal to help bring each driver home safely every day by building partnerships with other departments in their organization, contributing what knowledge they have to the effort, pushing for what they know is right, and by looking out for the drivers who depend on them.
Realizing that there is no shortage of information on driver safety, I don’t intend to turn this into a fleet safety article. Instead, I hope to help you, and those in your organization that you can influence, to think about the fleet mission differently. Or, maybe to just take whatever responsibility you can to protect those driving your company vehicles.
Our mobile workers are under increasing stress to produce more, be responsive, meet organizational goals, inform the organization on their progress, and create timely communications. Of course, the way we do this is through technology. And, while some technological advancement can help drivers plan their day more effectively, eliminate duplicate administrative duties, or streamline processes, the responsibility to ensure this is all done safely falls on everyone involved.
If you plan to accept my challenge to do whatever you can to bring each driver home safely every day, you may need ammunition to gain the attention of others in your organization. Following are a few facts regarding the impact of the distraction that can be caused by cell phones, and more importantly, some of the things that fleets recognized as safety leaders do to create a fleet safety culture.
- Engaging in visual/manual tasks (reaching for the phone, dialing, looking up numbers, etc.) increases the risk of getting in a crash by 3 times.
- Texting increases that risk by as much as 23 times.
- 49% of drivers with cell phones under the age of 35 send or read text messages while driving.
- 60% of all drivers use cell phones while driving.
- In 2011, at least 23% of all crashes involved a cell phone (1.3 million crashes).
- Texting while driving is 6 times more likely to cause a crash than driving while intoxicated.
What Leading Fleets Do
- The vast majority of these fleets report that it is at least a distinct possibility that a driver will be terminated if determined to be using a cell phone during a serious crash.
- The safest fleets check mobile phone records after a serious crash.
- These fleets also enlist others in the organization to help in the effort, by assigning field managers specific road safety responsibilities. This usually includes activities like “commentary drives” where fleet drivers demonstrate their understanding of safe driving activities while traveling with their manager. These safe organizations also provide special counseling or training to high risk drivers.
Getting back to the discussion about our responsibility to The Mobile Worker, I have one more suggestion: When announcing the changes you plan to implement, focus on the fact that driver safety should be everyone’s priority. This isn’t a cost reduction effort (although it will certainly reduce costs), but an effort to ensure that the very people that have put their lives at risk to carry out the organization’s mission get home to their families every night.
As always, I welcome your comments, questions, or concerns. I can be reached at email@example.com.