Fleet safety is more than just a concept or industry buzzword. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of work-related death in the United States. 
If that weren’t frightening enough, the National Safety Council reports that someone is killed in a motor vehicle accident every fifteen seconds, and the majority of those accidents occur during working hours.
Reducing these risks whenever possible should be one of the chief goals of any fleet manager or business leader.
It also makes economic sense to do so. The Travelers Insurance Group estimates that each workplace fatality costs businesses $70,000 on average. 
A proactive investment in fleet safety costs far less than that. And it safeguards the lives of your workers, which are priceless.
And while it’s true that no preventive strategy can eliminate the risk of accidents, there’s no excuse not to safeguard the well-being and health of your employees and your organization’s assets. Here is Cardata’s guide to fleet safety in 2024 and which best practices can help lead to a safer workplace this year and beyond.
What Is Fleet Safety?
In the industry, “fleet safety” is a term that usually describes defensive driving courses provided to employees to promote safer driving practices.
Typically, a company contracts an instructor to provide all employees with driving training over two days, followed by an exam or test.
There are many different possible configurations, so do your research and choose one that makes sense for the needs of your business. Offering employees defensive driving training in person at your business’s home office probably doesn’t make sense if your team is scattered halfway across the country.
However, defensive driving courses are just one element of an overall fleet safety plan. Other aspects of fleet safety include regulatory compliance, preventive maintenance, screening prospective employees for security risks, and having written policies governing what to do when things go badly.
While defensive driving courses are recommended, there are ways to create safe working conditions for your drivers that don’t require external counsel. We’ll explore some of them below.
Financial Benefits Of Fleet Safety Training
The National Safety Council makes the case clear. Employers pay significant costs associated with motor vehicle crashes. When employees are involved in traffic incidents, companies are exposed to liability risks and legal expenses, not to mention lost time, decreased productivity, and increased insurance and workers’ compensation rates. 
Each workplace accident costs your business money through insurance premiums, settlements, loss of assets, increased asset downtime, and maintenance costs. Investment in fleet safety adheres to the maxim that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
There are non-financial costs as well. Each workplace accident represents a tragic price for the loved ones and families left behind. Preventable injuries and death carry a significant emotional burden for managers and coworkers, too. A safety plan can help mitigate survivors’ guilt or the feeling that more could have been done to prevent accidents.
Who Provides Fleet Safety Training?
The National Safety Council “pioneered the [United States’] first defensive driving course” and popularized workplace defensive driving training. However, they are just one organization that offers this service. You may investigate local or private alternatives as you see fit. 
Many NGOs and industry groups’ core mandate is improving fleet operations and safety. However, numerous other groups represent the perspectives of fleet managers and owners. Industry-specific magazines will often feature articles concerning different elements of fleet safety.
In an article published in November 2023 by FleetOwner, titled “Study: Distracted driving spikes during Thanksgiving travels,” author Jenna Hume describes how drivers were found to spend about 10% more time on their phones while driving during the holiday season. 
Being aware of potential pitfalls facing the industry at large can help fleet managers understand the needs and challenges of their organizations and learn to address them proactively.
Technology And Fleet Safety
The growing field of fleet telematics offers businesses even more tools to manage their workforce and ensure safe driving.
A 2015 paper by the National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence suggested that video-based onboard safety monitoring systems (OSM) – or dashcams, as they are commonly known – plus defensive driving training resulted in 52% fewer safety incidents than control groups.
Drivers may be resistant to dashcams at first. Suggest a test run; most drivers find their concerns are addressed after trying out the devices because they see directly how the dashcam can protect them in case of an accident.
How To Design A Successful Fleet Safety Policy
Ultimately, the causes of workplace safety incidents are as varied as the solutions. The important thing is not to find one perfect fleet safety plan that will address all your organization’s needs but to gradually adopt better practices over time and prioritize fleet safety.
- Set tangible goals. Stick to measurable objectives, such as “reduce the number of safety incidents by 10% from the previous year” or “have all drivers complete defensive driving training by March 1st rather than the vague goal of ‘improving safety.’
- Address driver behavior. Human error is responsible for the majority of vehicle collisions. The elephant in the room is that driver behavior is a significant factor in fleet safety. Written policies help ensure everyone stays on the same page.
- Make time for downtime. Cycling out assets for preventive maintenance may seem contrary to your business’s goals of reducing vehicle downtime, but no vehicle breaks down, not even one that’s been on the road for a year straight. A stitch in time saves nine.
- Foster workplace safety culture. Celebrate safety as an organizational value. Reward drivers with good records. Count incident-free days and set shopwide goals. Create policies and procedures that either increase or decrease opportunities for safe performance.
- Set up a joint committee. Invite drivers and management to collaborate on defining and upholding workplace safety policies. Foster a sense of trust and shared purpose.
Conclusion: Ask an expert
The benefits of fleet safety to organizations cannot be overstated. The most likely outcome of a single high-risk action is that nothing terrible happens. But this can lull individuals and businesses into a false sense of security. But sometimes, a risk is taken, and a bad outcome does happen. That’s a catastrophe.
Fleet safety practices are, at their center, about limiting opportunities for a seemingly harmless risk or cut corners to escalate into an unthinkable outcome. That’s worth investing in.