Quality safety programs make sure that the company environment is equipped with safety supplies, signage, and technology, and all employees are trained on how to stay safe in the workplace. Covering all the safety bases at the work site is imperative, but what about when your employees are traveling off site? Does your company have the processes in place to know that your employees are properly equipped to stay safe and prepared for potential emergencies wherever they are?
Transportation is an important part of a lot of businesses, and managing your fleet needs to be integrated into your entire safety program. You can’t regulate your employee’s environment while they are in a vehicle the same way you can on the work site, but new safety technology for fleets can get you close (see more in Hazards and Solutions in the Trucking Industry in the U.S.).
The National Safety Council has estimated that motor vehicle accidents cost $22.3 billion each year. There are significant advancements now available in safety technology for fleet vehicles that can help reduce this impact (learn more in 5 Ways Technology is Changing the Health and Safety Industry). This technology is accessible, but it requires a company to commit, decide to invest in, and prioritize fleet safety.
Thom Schoenborn, Vice President of Marketing for Instructional Technologies Inc. says, “The biggest barriers to using new safety technology are often a lack of commitment to a safety culture and fear that training will make drivers leave. It's actually the opposite! More fleets are seeing that drivers want good, quality ongoing training. They're finding that good training for technology is a driver retention tool.”
Having buy-in from employees is important to the success of implementing fleet technology. There might be resistance at first if they feel that they aren’t being trusted or their jobs are at stake, but communicating how the technology will benefit them will help ensure success. Once they understand the benefits, implementation will be easier.
There is a huge variety of fleet safety technology. Here are a few of the most popular, talked about technologies being implemented today:
When most people in the know think of technology for fleet safety, they immediately think of telematics. According to Fleetmatics, telematics is, broadly, the “integrated use of telecommunications with information and communications technology.” Essentially, telematics is the exchange of information between a fleet vehicle and a central location.
For fleet vehicles, telematics allows you to monitor the exact location, status and driving behavior of any vehicle within your fleet. Telematics goes beyond GPS, allowing you to monitor details like idling time, speed, stopping, and starting.
Having all of this information at your fingertips makes it easy to make sure your employees are safe. If someone is speeding or your vehicle leaves the job site unexpectedly, you will know instantly. Investing in telematics can also help your company save money by helping you make your drivers more efficient. For example, you can find out who is idling for long periods of time, address the issue, and reduce future inefficiencies. It can also help protect your vehicles themselves, which are a huge investment.
Starting May 1, 2018, new rear technology will be required to come standard in all new vehicles in the United States. This mandate applies only to new vehicles and does not require anyone to update their old vehicle with a backup camera, but you should consider installing backup cameras in your fleet vehicles anyway.
Behind every vehicle is a dangerous blind spot that can’t be seen through a rear view mirror. If an object is in the blind spot, or worse, a person wanders into the blind spot, the driver might not notice before it is too late. On average, back-over crashes lead to 13,000 injuries and 232 fatalities every year. Backup cameras are the only way to remove the dangerous blind spot behind every vehicle.
Blind spots are not just a concern behind your vehicles, you also need to worry about the blind spots on either side. We’ve all experienced attempting to merge into the next lane only to be honked at and realize there was a car there that we couldn’t see. Some of us have also gotten into car accidents this way.
Blind spot warning systems help prevent this type of accident by warning the driver when there is a car in their blind spot. Usually there is a light on the side mirror when a vehicle is present, which then warns the driver with a sound or vibration if they use their turn signal. These systems can be expensive to install, but can easily make up their cost in their ability to prevent accidents.
Adaptive cruise control is not the cruise control you’re used to that comes standard in most vehicles. Rather than simply keeping your car at one speed, it automatically adapts to keep a safe distance from the car in front of you.
Adaptive cruise control systems can easily add several thousands of dollars to the price of a vehicle, but they can be worth it if your employees have to drive for extended periods of time. It can help prevent accidents and keep your employees from getting tickets. Adaptive cruise control may be out of reach for your business now, but it is expected to become more common in the coming years as it is the same technology used in self driving cars.
Vehicles with adaptive cruise control may also have a collision avoidance system, as it uses the same sensors to detect objects in front of the car. Collision avoidance systems use a radar to detect approaching dangers and warn the driver when a crash is imminent so they can make the necessary corrections in time. Some collision avoidance systems also include automatic braking which can take action to prevent a collision without the driver having to make any input.
By 2022, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety have announced that virtually all new new cars sold in the U.S. will include automatic emergency braking systems standard. Clearly these systems have been shown to make our roads safer. Why not use this technology in your fleet?
If transportation is vital to your business, don’t take your fleet’s safety for granted. New technology can keep your vehicles, and the people in them, safe and secure.