According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)’s Traffic Safety Facts for 2016, 4,317 fatalities occurred in collisions involving large trucks last year. That’s 5.4 percent more fatalities than in 2015 and the highest number of fatalities involving large trucks since 2007.
It begs the question: Will we ever see zero truck collisions on America’s roads?
With the amount of distracted driving, complacency, and increasing traffic congestion out there, attaining zero truck collisions is challenging, said seasoned insurance professional Daniel Grant, director of safety services, transportation for Sentry Insurance.
In today’s world, advancing video telematics represents our best chance of making significant progress toward the zero collisions milestone, Grant said.
“As technology continues to advance with event recorders and other tools that can improve driver behaviors, you can foresee that over the next 20 years safety for commercial drivers will improve and collisions will be reduced,” Grant said.
Technology puts fleets ‘at the forefront of safety’
“From what I’ve seen, the fleets that are at the forefront of technology tend to be the safer fleets,” Grant said.
With more than 12 years in safety expertise at Sentry to his name, Grant has seen myriad technological advancements over the years. While today’s fleet safety programs complement the skills of commercial drivers, Grant expects them to play an even more central role in diminishing risk down the road as technology helps fleets fill gaps in safety and elevates them to the next level.
“As trucks of all kinds are outfitted more with collision avoidance systems, video telematics, close following alerts, and a multitude of other technologies, I expect we’ll see increased safety on our roadways,” Grant said.
Technology such as the Lytx ActiveVision service, for example, can propel fleets toward the zero collisions goal, because it helps identify lane departures and close following behaviors “that are indicative of increasing accidents,” Grant said.
Distracted driving causes commercial drivers to lose track of space management and react to a situation too late. “But the ActiveVision service provides a platform to increase driver awareness and reduce the likelihood of lane deviation and inadequate following distance,” he said.
Safety pays back
The more fleets invest in safety and managing risk, the larger the return on their investment, he said. “The money that fleets put into safety technology is money that is returned back to them,” he said. “Safety pays. It really does. Through video telematics, lane departure alerts, and other safety technologies, fleets can reduce accidents over time, and those expenses that were upfront costs will be paid back.”
Collisions can cause fleets to make big payouts and lead to increases in insurance premiums. Organizations that have poor collision records often pay much more for insurance. “It all adds up to the additional cost for fleets if they don’t buy into the idea that safety pays,” Grant said.
Every job in a fleet aids in preventing collisions
Attaining zero truck collisions starts with drivers’ desire to be the safest drivers they can be, Grant said. But drivers can’t do it alone. Their training plays a vital role, too, and attaining zero collisions is a group effort.
Fleets can communicate to their team that every job within their fleet aids in preventing collisions “through constant reinforcement and communication,” Grant said. He cited customers who hold regular safety meetings, covering topics such as defensive and distracted driving.
“Those meetings have value because they get drivers together to voice their own experiences and listen to safety tips, which can boost driver morale,” Grant said. “Giving drivers the chance to absorb and talk through safety information is helpful because it creates another safety touchpoint for them and keeps safety top of mind.”
Some Sentry clients also provide monthly online training for drivers through a smartphone or tablet app. “The training reinforces safety to those drivers and helps reduce collisions,” Grant said.
“Promoting safety never ends,” he emphasized. “It takes constant involvement and constant communication to keep drivers’ attention on making safe choices.”
To learn more about how video telematics help put your fleet on the road to zero collisions, read our e-book How a Safer Fleet Delivers a Stronger Bottom Line.