10 Practical Tips to Improve Driver Safety

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.

  1. Fatigue
    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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Airbags
    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.
  1. Lane Departure Warning
    Where Lane departure warning is available it should be considered as standard fixture.
  1. Brake Assist
    Where brake assist systems are available it should be considered as mandatory equipment.
  1. 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/

5 Responses

  1. Dave Johanass
    | Reply

    A good timely driver safety reminder following another week of horror crashes on the roads around New Zealand. So much of these suggestions is really common sense, but sometimes it takes an outside view (and some expertise) to bring it all together. All these proposals were include in the fleet review you were involved in, as you know all were endorsed by our H&S Director signed off by ELT, and the projects are rolling out. Everyone’s confident that crash incidents will reduce as the program gets traction, but meantime also appreciates the excellent 24/7 response services and resource provided. Keep up the great work. Thanks Dave

  2. Terri
    | Reply

    I received the notification from the AFMA today about the Australian government focus on traffic accident statistics and co-relation to national average age of vehicles. It’s well known that NZ’s car park is even older so thought this article was worth noting and have copied here for anyone interested. You can also down load a copy of their report via the link on https://afma.net.au/report-highlights-more-must-be-done-to-eliminate-road-trauma/

    Australasia’s independent authority on vehicle safety, ANCAP, has commended the report released today following the Inquiry into the National Road Safety Strategy – highlighting more must be done to eliminate road trauma. One of the 12 recommendations put forward as a result of the Inquiry into the effectiveness of Australia’s current road safety strategy (2011-2020) is to: “Implement rapid deployment and accelerated uptake of proven vehicle safety technologies and innovation.” “This acknowledges the work of ANCAP to improve vehicle safety,” said ANCAP Chief Executive, Mr James Goodwin. “Our mandate is to eliminate road trauma through the testing and promotion of safer vehicles. We are working hard to achieve this through influencing the design, specification and availability of new vehicle models with the latest safety features and technologies.”

    “Objective performance testing of autonomous safety technologies is a key focus for ANCAP, and we will continue to raise the bar to ensure Australians are provided with the safest vehicles possible.” “An area which requires greater focus is the age of the Australian vehicle fleet and its direct correlation to road fatalities,” Mr Goodwin added. “There are more than 2.7 million registered vehicles on our roads aged 15 years or older. These vehicles are unlikely to be fitted with safety features that we now expect from new vehicles. So, not only do we need to focus attention to accelerate the uptake of new vehicles with the latest safety technologies, if tangible safety benefits are to be realised, we must implement ways and set targets to reduce the age of the fleet.”

    “A key element to improving the safety of the fleet is improving vehicle affordability,”
    “New technologies should also be affordable and accessible which will require leadership from not just governments but also industry,” Mr Goodwin said.

  3. Tui Kane
    | Reply

    Road safety charity Brake has published a crucial guidance report for fleet managers and HR professionals in collaboration with FleetMaster. This is essential reading for all employers operating vehicles but particularly when inexperienced drivers of any age are involved. This article was published recently and should be of interest to Crash Management clients too.

    Managing young at-work drivers is essential reading for all professionals with responsibility for managing employees aged 17-24 who drive for work. The report is one of a series produced by Brake, which aim to help fleet managers reduce their road risk.
    The report outlines the main reasons why young drivers are at higher risk of being involved in a crash than other drivers and recommends practical measures that organisations can put in place to reduce that risk. Industry examples and case studies are also included.

    The report also details how implementing key measures such as training in basic vehicle maintenance, and monitoring of driver behaviour, can help organisations to tackle road risk. It is an essential piece of guidance for any company working to reduce the risk for young employees who drive on work purposes. The report is available free of charge to all Brake Professional members through http://www.brakepro.org. Non-members can order the resource from the Brake shop.

    “Driving for work is associated with higher risk for drivers of any age but this risk increases significantly for those aged 17-24, Brake NZ Director Caroline Perry observes. “Employers need to be actively engaging with their young drivers and implementing robust measures to help reduce their risk of being involved in a crash. “This guidance report is a valuable resource for any professional managing young drivers.”

    Fleetmaster Training Director John Boocock says Fleetmaster is “delighted” to be supporting Brake for the eighth year. “This guidance report is an excellent tool to help employers understand the risk young drivers impose on their business. “To this end, we operate a rigorous driving scheme for our young drivers and are committed to working with young drivers (internal and external) to help them use the roads as safely as possible.”

    • Crash Management
      | Reply

      Thanks Tui – we always appreciate your comments and input! Very valuable. kind regards Crash Management

  4. Adrian Anderson
    | Reply

    There is some very good fleet safety info coming out of the AFMA currently, something New Zealand should be MUCH MORE aware of. I thought your followers would be interested in this week’s article Crash Team, here it is in full. Note particularly the statistics re survivability in a 5yr old car collision is FOUR TIMES HIGHER than in a 15yr old car – and 15 is the average age of the NZ car-park. Scary.


    We often pick a new car based on how it looks or how much it costs, but a new safety campaign is urging all of us to think about how the vehicle we buy might fare in a crash.
    Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight Melinda Pavey launched the Safer Vehicle Choices Save Lives campaign, in partnership with ANCAP and the NRMA, encouraging us to put safety, not looks, first when choosing a new car.

    “Most road safety campaigns have focused on behavioural factors such as speed, fatigue, drink driving and seatbelt use. While they remain vital, this campaign highlights the importance of choosing a safer vehicle,” Mrs Pavey said.

    Key Points:
    • The risk of a fatality in a vehicle 15 years or older is four times greater than in a car less than 5 years old.
    • This campaign is the first of its kind, highlighting the role of the vehicle in determining survivability in a crash.
    • Consumers are prompted to consider safer vehicle choices to keep them safe in a crash.
    • Nearly 80 per cent of young drivers under 20 who died and 71 per cent of those seriously injured in car crashes in the past five years were driving cars older than 10 years. Around 45 per cent of those who died were driving vehicles at least 15 years old.

    The campaign features two vehicles – one a 1998 model and one a 2015 model. The fate of the drivers is left to the consideration of the viewer when the two cars crash head-on. Viewers are prompted to review the safety rating of their own vehicle online. “We know older vehicles are attractive to young people and older people who tend to keep vehicles longer. They are two groups that we need to work hard to protect on our roads,” NRMA Executive Director Motoring Operations Melanie Kansil said.

    “Encouraging these and all other road users to buy a car with a five star ANCAP safety rating, as well as reminding people of the importance of regular servicing is key to helping save lives.” ANCAP Chief Executive Officer Mr James Goodwin said, “ANCAP research has shown the age and relative safety of a vehicle is a likely contributor to road fatalities.”
    “This is the first campaign of its kind where the vehicle is profiled as being the life-saving factor in a crash.” “Importantly, this campaign aims to improve the affordability of newer, safer vehicles and encourage fleet renewal,” said Mr Goodwin.
    To find out who survives, visit http://www.ancap.com.au/WhoSurvives.

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