Fleet Safety, Safety

5 Driver Coaching and Safety Tips to Help Keep Your Fleet Out of Harm’s Way

June 5, 2019

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With the annual accident rate for commercial fleets reaching twenty percent, costing about $20B dollars in accident settlements, it’s clear why safety is top of mind for fleet managers. But beyond incentive-based safety programs, how do you ensure drivers are staying safe on the roads? Educating your drivers about safe driving behavior is a great place to start.

To help you create a safer fleet, we spoke with driver safety coach Scott Harrison to get his expert insight into safety best practices and driving tips. Harrison has spent the last three decades driving trucks and has never once been in a vehicle collision. He’s since pivoted his career into training drivers to stay safe on the road while achieving a 3-time “Driver of the Year” title from the National Tank Truck Carriers Association.

Below we share five safe driving tips to integrate into your driver’s day-to-day:

1. Encourage your drivers to make a rest stop plan

Approximately 328,000 vehicle collisions happen every year because of drowsy driving, resulting in over 6,000 fatalities. Encourage your drivers to plan out breaks along their routes and map out rest stops ahead of time. Apps such as “USA Rest Stop Locator” or Google Maps’ “Rest Stops Near Me” can help them to accomplish just that.

These rest stop apps help your driver accumulate a portfolio of safe places where they could potentially pullover, making it easier for them to rest, improving reaction time, and reducing HOS violations. Within Samsara’s ELD solution, the HOS Violations Scheduled Report also gives you real-time visibility into which drivers are struggling to stay HOS compliant.

With this in mind, it’s important to encourage your drivers to use their judgment and rest when needed. “It’s important to work safely,” Harrison said. “Everyone on the road wants to go home to their families at the end of the day. You should look at your career as a marathon and not a sprint. Let the motoring public see your professionalism by driving in a pleasant, passive, and predictable manner every day.”

2. Use cameras to coach drivers about safety

Dash cameras give fleet managers the visibility they need to identify, diagnose, and coach drivers. “Cameras allow fleet managers to identify driving behavior trends and enable them to quickly pinpoint and respond to high-risk drivers with appropriate interventions and coaching,” a fleet manager from RK Campf Transport, an Ohio flatbed trucking company, noted.

Using the harsh events video to coach your drivers not only makes your fleet safer, but saves the business money down the line as well. A well-established food and beverage transportation company, Mitchell Companies, recently implemented dual-facing cameras and saw a large impact on their safety and their pocketbook. “Since we began using the cameras, we have been able to monitor our fleet much more closely from a safety standpoint,” said Mike Thailkill. “The ability to see potential mistakes made while driving, and the teaching moment that can occur as a result of the video, is making a huge impact on the safety of our delivery fleet’s operations. Since we installed cameras, our auto-claims have gone down 34%.”

Aside from capturing harsh events, like traffic accidents or sudden stops, Samsara’s AI dash cams also give fleet managers live alerts of unsafe driving behaviors that otherwise would be difficult to track such as driving over the speed limit or running through stop signs. This allows for quick coaching moments based on evidence rather than guessing.

3. Educate drivers to prepare for inclement weather

The average commercial truck driver clocks anywhere between 2,000 to 3,000 miles per week. With weather patterns that can change as quickly as every five miles, it’s easy to imagine how many different weather events a commercial driver may experience during a long distance route.

With multiple motor vehicles across the country, the tracking of weather conditions for all trucks on the road becomes quite difficult for fleet managers. With Samsara’s live map weather overlay feature, fleet managers have visibility into the current weather radar in their fleet’s location. This allows fleet managers to route drivers around dangerous weather conditions and to assist drivers in creating an action plan if stuck in bad weather.

Harrison reminds his drivers to always pack an emergency kit. This kit should include at least one gallon of water, two days worth of non-perishable food, cash, first-aid supplies such as bandaids, disinfectant spray, and gauze, an extra pair of warm clothes, a cell phone charger, flashlight, knife or multi-purpose tool, emergency flares, jumper cables, and chains.

4. Teach drivers to pay close attention to vehicle maintenance

At least 5% of all truck accidents are caused by faulty brakes. This means about 25,000 accidents annually could have been prevented with scheduled vehicle maintenance. By scheduling routine vehicle maintenance for oil changes and tire rotations through tools like Samsara’s built-in maintenance logs, fleet managers not only ensure safety, but also streamline their maintenance department and eliminate long wait times at the shop.

Another best practice for all fleets, including non-ELD fleets, is for the driver to complete a Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR). While paper DVIRs can be an effective way to document an inspection, follow-up or accountability can be challenging. They also often get lost or are never read. Samsara makes the switch to digital DVIRs easy by allowing drivers to instantly submit the DVIR digitally as well as upload photos of any vehicle maintenance issues. This gives fleet managers the ability to quickly evaluate maintenance concerns and determine road-readiness on the spot, from anywhere. Learn more about how Samsara can help you make the transition to paperless DVIRs as well as maximize vehicle uptime and minimize costs.

5. Discourage distracted driving behavior

Harrison helps his drivers stay safe and focused on the road by following the triangle model of ‘speed, space, and stuff.’ He believes that as long as the three aspects are in balance, drivers will increase their safety. “‘Speed’ represents controlling your vehicle speed to match your environment (such as road, weather, and traffic conditions as well as speed limits), ‘space’ refers to keeping appropriate space and braking distances between vehicles, and ‘stuff’ indicates any distractions that might come up,” Harrison said.

Last year, 9% of commercial truck drivers involved in a vehicle accident with a fatality were using their cell phones. Today, cell phones or an in-cab tablet are often a necessity for drivers, but this creates space for drivers to engage in distracted driving behaviors like sending text messages or browsing the internet. While ‘no cell phone’ policies are a good place to start, they are often hard to enforce.

Texting, or other distracted behaviors, are detected by Samsara’s AI dash cam, alerting fleet managers if drivers are distracted while driving. For those looking to take advantage of the effectiveness of instant feedback and bring coaching into the cab, Samsara’s AI dash cam also enable instant in-cab voice-based feedback and alerts during periods of unsafe driving.

Harrison reminds drivers that when it comes to distracted driving, more than anything, it’s important to stay present. “Instead of thinking of the millions of miles ahead, just think about that next mile. Don’t rush or get complacent!”

To learn more about how Samsara can help you achieve greater driver safety, get in touch here.

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