Each year, Memorial Day marks the unofficial kick-off to the summer season and a time when many more drivers hit the road. This year, AAA estimates more than 38 million people will travel this coming holiday weekend, which would be the second highest Memorial Day travel volume on record and the most since 2005. The organization attributes the increase to lower gas prices (this is the lowest gas prices have been on Memorial Day in 11 years), which has led to lower airfares, hotel prices and car rental rates as well.
This potential increase in volume on the roads provides fleet managers a prime opportunity to reinforce safe driving techniques with their drivers. A comprehensive safety program should have periodic refresher training for all drivers, but even with that in place, fleet managers should take advantage of every opportunity to communicate some basic safety measures drivers need to keep in mind:
- Require drivers to wear a seatbelt – every trip, every time. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2012 more than 2.2 million adult drivers and passengers were treated in emergency departments because they were injured in a motor vehicle crash. Research shows, however, that seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half.
- Make sure drivers stay up-to-date with regard to preventive maintenance. A properly maintained vehicle is a safe vehicle. Track the preventive maintenance needs of your vehicles to ensure routine needs are being addressed in a timely way. Also, remind your drivers to keep tires properly inflated. This will not only improve handling and traction – it will lead to lower fuel costs. A win-win.
- Discourage aggressive driving behaviors. Aggressive driving – things like quick accelerations, hard braking, speeding and tailgating – can quickly get a driver into trouble. Add to that the tendency of drivers in larger vehicles to have a feeling of invincibility because they are surrounded by such a large machine, and this can lead to more aggressive behavior. Take measures before a crash ever happens; make sure your fleet’s safety policy clearly defines good driving behavior and the expectations you have for your drivers. And, if you have a telematics program, evaluate the data to see if there are patterns that suggest a driver may need a refresher training course.
A comprehensive safety program that has support from the organization’s leadership, is well communicated to the drivers and provides supportive training around safe driving behaviors is one of the best things a fleet manager can do to lower the incidence of traffic crashes. If you feel your program isn’t delivering all that it could, or you don’t have a program in place at all, visit driversafety.arifleet.com to learn more about ARI Driver Excellence®, an innovative workplace driver education and safety program is proven to reduce accident rates, risk and associated costs. And be sure your drivers stay safe out there this holiday weekend and beyond.