Safety plays a major role in a fleet’s performance, impacting its budget and reputation. So it’s not comforting to see that the annual rate for commercial fleet accidents is 20%, and is even higher in some industries like pharmaceuticals.
Experts say that the high number of miles driven by fleet drivers contributes to that double-digit accident rate. A typical U.S. driver usually travels 12,000 to 15,000 miles every year and has a 1 in 15 chance of being in a crash.
But most fleet drivers travel 20,000 to 25,000 miles or more every year, increasing their chance of being in an accident.
An Expensive Problem to Face
Fleet vehicle accidents are among the most expensive injury claims a business can face. Businesses lose an average of $70,000 after a fleet vehicle crash. That’s almost double the cost of the average workplace injury.
And fleet vehicle accidents don’t just cause property damage. Fleet crashes affect productivity, cut into sales due to missed calls, and hurt a company’s overall reputation; intangible costs that can still be felt.
This doesn’t even include the cost of potential third-party liability claims and lawyer fees if someone was hurt or killed in an at-fault crash. And since most companies are self-insured, the company has to pay these directly. These types of costs crush bottom lines, and bad accidents can force small companies to shut down or even get owners arrested.
The Impact of Fleet Tracking Systems With Vehicle Cameras
Studies show that on-board monitoring systems can help improve a fleet’s safety record when properly implemented.
A study conducted by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s Center for Truck and Bus Safety found that fleet vehicle camera systems are one of the most effective ways to reduce driver-related safety incidents.
In a naturalistic driving study, 100 drivers were broken up into two groups for 17 weeks after an OBMS was installed in the cabin that included video cameras. Researchers let both groups drive for four weeks without any coaching or feedback in order to collect some baseline data.
On the fifth week, the first group of drivers was given feedback and coaching while the second group was not. Once the study wrapped up, researchers noticed a big difference in the test results between the two groups.
The study found a 38% reduction in safety-related events involving drivers who were given feedback and coaching, including a 75% reduction in severe events. However, without fleet manager coaching, the number of safety events actually increased – indicating that coaching drivers based on the results is a critical step in improving fleet safety.
With coaching, the study found that on-board monitoring systems reduced the number of crashes caused by poor driving behavior by 20% to 52%. Having a sound coaching strategy in place that focuses on speeding, proper acceleration and braking, along with effective incentive programs is imperative. Check out this helpful article for more info about creating an effective coaching and incentive strategy.
Researchers noted that while drivers were initially unhappy with the installation of multi-angle cameras in the cab and around the vehicle, once there was a safety incident and the video proved it wasn’t the driver’s fault, they approved of the fleet camera system.
Seeing Results Without Video
Meanwhile, a study posted by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that using vehicle kinematic and network data, accelerometers, and GPS but no video equipment, still had a positive impact on driver performance while keeping them happier about the monitoring system.
Researchers installed the OBMS equipment and let drivers hit the road for 2 weeks before providing any feedback on their driving habits. After the two week period, the OBMS identified unacceptable driving behavior and provided feedback on things like speeding, aggressive driving and missing seat belts.
The study showed that the monitoring system led to:
1) A significant decrease in speeding.
There was a 37% reduction in speeding violations per 1,000 miles once drivers started receiving feedback.
2) A significant improvement in seat belt use.
The rate of seat belt violations fell 56% after drivers got feedback. Better yet; drivers continued to buckle up for the remainder of the study.
3) A decrease in driver-at-fault safety-critical events (SCEs).
The field tests showed that two-thirds of the drivers in the study reduced their number of driver-at-fault safety-critical events (excluding curb strikes). However, researchers reported that the OBMS did not have a significant impact on the overall rate of SCEs per 10,000 miles during this study.