Commercial Fleet Accident Rate Reaches 20%

Safety is one of the top work challenges facing fleet managers. Concern about the safety for both the driver and the vehicle is a perennial challenge; in particular, the lack of compliance by employees with safety policy.

The annual accident rate for commercial fleets is around 20%, with some industries, such as pharmaceuticals, even higher. One reason for the high frequency of accidents for fleet drivers is because of the number of miles they drive per year. A typical non-fleet driver in the U.S. travels 12,000 to 15,000 miles annually, and each year has a one in 15 chance of being involved in a vehicle collision. Most fleet drivers, however, travel 20,000 to 25,000 miles or more each year, and thus have a greater exposure to crash risks.

Fleet vehicle accidents are among the most expensive injury claims for business. The average cost of a loss related to fleet vehicle accidents is approximately $70,000, which is almost twice the cost of the average workplace injury.

Besides property damage, fleet crashes result in lost productivity, lost revenue from missed sales calls, and potential third-party liability claims from an at-fault crash. Since most companies self-insure fleet vehicles and their employee drivers, the company pays these costs directly.

Fleet safety is currently on the “radar” of senior management due to liability exposure resulting from preventable accidents. This litigation has made senior management more sensitive to the need to enforce employee compliance to corporate fleet safety policies. It is important to establish and communicate written fleet safety policies and procedures in order to set clear and consistent expectations for drivers.

Enforcing Safety Policies

In the increasingly connected world that company drivers and their customers live and work, it is becoming more and more challenging for fleet managers to enforce safety policies prohibiting the use of cell phone usage while driving.

The problem of distracted driving will become more complex and has evolved beyond using cell phones and texting to where today’s drivers are equally distracted by various smartphone apps while behind the wheel. Likewise, many individuals hold their smartphones for GPS navigation dividing their attention between the device and the road while driving with one hand.

Another complexity that will further challenge future fleet safety management is the shift to greater use of mobility management programs.

Today, the National Safety Council estimates that 26% of all car crashes involve cell phones. “The challenge with distracted driving is controlling drivers’ uses of technology in-vehicle, supplemental, or hand-held while moving,” said John Brewington, CAFM, president of Brewington & Company, a fleet asset and management company.

Actually, the 26% statistic may be an under-estimate since it is difficult to track all cell phone usage. “I’ve been told that when you want to pull someone’s records to see if they were texting and driving, telecoms don’t report iPhone-to-iPhone texting because those are ‘i-messages’ that go through Apple and telecom companies cannot track them. If you want to track them, it will require you to physically examine the Apple device,” said one fleet manager.

The problem of distracted driving promises to become more prevalent in future years as the next generation of employees who grew up texting join the ranks of company drivers. “Distracted driving is contributing to more fatal accidents, especially among the younger age group – 21 to 30 years old – who are replacing older drivers,” said another fleet manager who asked not to be identified.

New technologies like eBrake are becoming very attractive to fleets. Unlike other solutions in the market, eBrake cannot be "gamed" or simply "turned off" by a driver when driving. Here are a few eBrake features for fleets:

  • Automatically locks device when motion is detected
  • Unique Passenger Unlock Test for when a driver happens to be a passenger
  • Driver cannot pretend to be a passenger and unlock device when driving
  • Easily deployed through Mobile Device Management (MDM) platforms
  • No hardware needed
  • Cost effective

eBrake completely eliminates the temptation for a fleet driver to pick up and use his device - be it to text, check social media, watch video ... anything.

Not only does this greatly reduce the chances of a distracted driving-related crash, it gives fleet owners peace of mind knowing their drivers (and brand) are safe.

Original article published at Automotive Fleet.