U.S. traffic crashes cost employers $72.2 billion in 2019. - Photo: Fleetio

U.S. traffic crashes cost employers $72.2 billion in 2019.

Photo: Fleetio

Poor driver behavior can cost fleets thousands of dollars in fines, insurance increases, potential customer loss, and hiring new drivers.

Fleets can use fleet management software (FMS) and other technologies to surface driver behavior issues like harsh braking and acceleration, speeding, and distracted driving.

The Stats Speak Volumes

Drivers are an integral part of any fleet operation, but poor driver behavior can prove more of a liability than value for a company. According to the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety, “In 2019, U.S. traffic crashes cost employers $72.2 billion — up from $47.4 billion in 2013 — in direct crash-related expenses which include medical care, liability, lost productivity and property damage.”

In addition to these costs, poor driver behavior also impacts brand reputation. The typical fleet vehicle is marked in some form or fashion with a company’s logo, making it easily identifiable.

Company vehicle accidents can garner negative word-of-mouth attention, especially for fleets serving smaller communities or areas.

Furthermore, fleet accidents can have significant impacts on employee turnover. “In 2020, the driver turnover rate at large truckload carriers averaged 90% while smaller truckload fleets faced a 69% turnover on average,” according to Compliance Navigation Specialists.

“Vigillo — a data analyzing firm — completed a recent study that found a group of fleets with high driver turnover had 1,177 total crashes where fleets with low driver turnover had just 303 total crashes.”

Drivers aren’t just employees, they’re individuals. Regarding driver behavior, it’s important to consider all factors, including training. While the upfront cost for driver training can be steep, long-term savings far outweigh that, as traffic accidents on the job can further increase driver turnover.

Using fleet technologies to track and monitor driver behavior and surface recurring issues can help fleet managers:

  • Determine the source of problematic behaviors.
  • Determine the costs associated with those behaviors.
  • Determine what types of driver training programs may be needed for improved safety.

Benefits of Different Fleet Technologies

With so many technologies now available for fleets to take advantage of, it can be difficult to decide which is the best option for your operation.

Driver behavior technologies that specifically focus on driver monitoring, including interior and exterior dash cams and distracted driving capture solutions, can even be integrated with FMS to provide a full picture of how poor behavior affects your fleet financially and mechanically.

Traffic accidents aren’t the only source of driver behavior-related expenses. Poor driver behavior can increase fuel, maintenance, and repair spend, tank asset lifecycles, reducing asset ROI.

Fleets can use FMS to cross reference such data points as fuel logs, preventive maintenance (PM) schedules, and work orders to better determine whether things like increased fuel usage, wear and tear, and non-scheduled service is due to asset age/condition or poor driver behavior.

Telematics is another good choice for monitoring driver behavior and can also be integrated with FMS for a fuller picture of the cost of poor driver behaviors. Telematics can internally monitor such behaviors as speeding, harsh acceleration, braking, and cornering.

Users can opt to receive notifications whenever these behaviors trigger an alert and pull weekly, monthly or annual reports for specific vehicles or drivers. Plus, many telematics services have also made dash cams available to monitor better what’s hapenning in the cab and on the road.

Fleet managers can monitor driver behavior with fleet management software. - Photo: Fleetio

Fleet managers can monitor driver behavior with fleet management software.

Photo: Fleetio

Surface Driver Behavior Costs with FMS

Whether just using FMS or when integrating telematics or driver behavior monitoring solutions with FMS, you can get a better idea of how unwanted driver behaviors are impacting your fleet from cost, downtime, and lost revenue standpoints to assess risk management better when determining if coaching or training is the best course of action.

FMS collects, consolidates, and aggregates all your fleet’s data and automates reports you can use to quickly track down driver behavior issues. Reports are configurable by filters, making it easy to cross-reference information pertinent to the fleet metric you’re tracking.

Fleets can determine how much poor driver behavior is costing in maintenance by comparing an asset’s service history against its PM schedule or the service history to the vehicle's baseline — that is, its projected useful life and projected PM.

Having a baseline gives fleets more detailed information about the asset’s performance, including sources of increased maintenance and repair needs. It gives you a good idea of how much driver behavior costs in maintenance and repair spend for any given asset.

Fleets can also use FMS to quantify a vehicle’s downtime at a glance by viewing the vehicle’s status summary. Status summaries show to the day, hour, and minute how long a vehicle has been active, inactive, in the shop, or out of service.

As with cost, you can compare this summary against the vehicle’s PM schedule or baseline and easily identify the driver assigned to the vehicle should any discrepancies arise.

To identify lost revenue associated with poor driver behavior, you’ll first need to know at or around the amount specific jobs cost from an asset utilization standpoint versus how much your organization is compensated for those jobs.

Compare hours lost from avoidable downtime to potential job hours that the driver in question could have worked had the vehicle been in optimal operating condition, and you’ll have a ballpark for lost revenue due to poor driving behavior.

Having quantifiable data around the impact of driver behavior can help you prioritize ride-alongs, coaching, or training for high-risk drivers, as well as keep track of your top-performing drivers to reward or incentivize continued safe driving for improved retention and reduced fleet-wide expenses.

Rachael Plant is a content marketing specialist for Fleetio, a fleet management software company that helps organizations track, analyze and improve their fleet operations. This article was authored and edited according to WT editorial standards and style. Opinions expressed may not reflect that of WT.