The largest risk of injury in the workplace comes from driving accidents. Motor vehicle crashes are the first or second leading cause of death in every industry group according to the CDC.
There are eight areas of risk for light vehicle drivers, i.e. drivers of cars, pickup trucks, light vans and trucks, and motorbikes.
- Compliance with the road rules
- Load security
- Low-speed manoeuvring
- Speed awareness
- Driving in challenging weather
- Vehicle control and anticipation
- The driver
- The vehicle
Fleet driver training is the main way to reduce the risk of an accident, and online training is a cost-effective way to gain the theory. Let’s take a look at each risk area:
Compliance with the road rules
Road rules exist for several reasons. Firstly, they make other drivers’ actions predictable because everyone should be following the same set of rules, taking consistent lines, travelling at a predictable speed, and obeying the same signs. Secondly, they set boundaries that take into account engineering limits of roads and vehicles. Therefore, driving outside of the rules increases the risk of exceeding the limits of grip on the road, or it’s difficult for other drivers to anticipate what you are going to do.
Drivers gradually forget the road rules after they pass their test, so frequent refreshers are advised, particularly because road rules gradually change over time.
Thousands of items fall off vehicles and trailers every day. Some of these cause accidents with other road users that create injury and death, as well as causing traffic delays which have consequences. This also includes towing safety as many vehicles lose trailers.
Training in load security will ensure that drivers know what kind of load securing devices to use (e.g. ratchet straps), where to place them, what their limitations are and how to prevent items from moving in transit.
The vast majority of damage to vehicles is caused by low-speed manoeuvring. They are the scratches and minor dents that we get from parking. While they rarely cause injury, they do represent the largest portion of expenses when returning lease vehicles.
Training in techniques for parking and manoeuvring can reduce the risk of damage.
Drivers frequently misjudge what an appropriate speed is, even if it’s under the speed limit.
Training in speed awareness will bring about different attitudes about speed.
Driving in challenging weather
Drivers don’t frequently get to practice driving in difficult weather – storms, torrential rain, flooding, sun strike, fog, snow and ice are all phenomena that (for most of the world) are infrequent. Accident rates increase when these weather and atmospheric events occur because people are less practiced at driving with them.
Theoretical training about the risks of driving in different weather conditions gives a solid foundation for drivers to make better decisions when confronted with risks.
Vehicle control and anticipation
Drivers are frequently distracted by their thoughts, their phones, passengers and happenings outside their vehicle. They don’t look far enough ahead or anticipate what might happen. When a situation does occur, they are often following too closely to the vehicle in front of them, or they have not thought about potential escape paths. They are often unfamiliar with the safety features of their vehicle (such as electronic stability control) and panic.
Training can help a driver understand where they should be on the road, what they are looking out for and how to best use their vehicle.
Drivers should understand how their attitude and physical health contributes to risk on the road. Aggressive drivers tend to have more crashes. Drivers that are tired, in poor health or who have poor diet have more crashes. Our judgement is affected by the state of our mind and body, and training can make drivers aware of this.
Finally, the vehicle should be maintained. Drivers should know how to do basic pre-trip inspections to ensure that they are not putting themselves at risk due to imminent vehicle failure. Companies should have maintenance schedules to address the more serious wear and tear issues that can arise.