Professional driving is a dangerous business. By the simple fact that professional drivers spend eight to twelve hours on the road each day, they find themselves at higher risk of being involved in an accident. That’s why it’s so important that your company promotes proper driving behaviors and habits. 80% of accidents involving a heavy duty vehicle are the four-wheelers fault, so the biggest part of the job is working around the amateurs.
Professional drivers get in accidents even with all of their extra experience and training. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published their 2016 figures revealing that there were 1,388 fatal injuries in transportation and material moving occupations in 2016, a 7 percent increase over the 1,301 fatalities in 2015. Those numbers are too high because one is too many. All accidents are preventable. It starts with human behavior.
These figures tell us that truck accidents in particular have increased over the past year. This is in spite of the addition of the safest, most technologically advanced vehicles that have ever been on the road. We have said it many times before: It is driver behavior, not technology, that dictates driver safety. Engineering away risk with technology is a noble investment that should be pursued. However, drivers (your drivers or the other knuckleheads on the road) find ways to overcome these advances every day.
As we wrote in a previous post, we behave in ways that provide rewards. We learn the proper behaviors (good habits) through education and the repetitively practicing. Safe and responsible driving skills are learned the same way. You need to have a top of the line defensive driving program in place for new drivers to make sure that good behaviors are learned from day one. You’re taking on huge risk if you limit the amount of new hire training you provide because you only hire experience drivers. You cannot count on “the other guys” or schools to teach the proper defensive driving techniques. In fact, assume they invested the minimum. Most new-hire training orientations are an embarrassment. They consists of new drivers signing some papers, watching a boring “training” video, talking to the benefits/payroll person and getting the keys. Don’t pretend like it’s any better than that.
Everyone goes through the same basic and boring training materials when they start a professional driving job: Accident procedures, load securement, CSA...the usual suspects. These are check the box videos. They are not behaviorally-based programs designed to prevent accidents. You need to invest in a driver training program that gets this and focuses on teaching drivers the correct behaviors on the road, like The A-Fleet.
Drivers who practice bad behaviors on the road will inevitably get in or cause an accident. In fact, the Heinrich theory states for each 300 unsafe behaviors, there are 29 close calls, and 1 major accident. It’s Russian roulette with your vehicles. Companies who rely on professional drivers know this and have an ethical responsibility to teach the proper behaviors. The only acceptable goal is ZERO accidents, and your program should be restless at working towards that goal.
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