For many of us, driving is one of the most consistent activities that we do on a daily basis. It has become increasingly important in our busy world as our range for work, travel and leisure activities have expanded. Studies have revealed that the average American undertakes four trips per day with an average total distance travelled of 40 miles. Incredibly, 225 million drivers complete a whopping 411 billion daily driving trips every year!
A Workplace Danger You May Be Overlooking
Unfortunately, around the world, driving is also one of the most dangerous activities we engage in. Every year, on average, vehicle collisions are responsible for 50 million injuries and 1.35 million fatalities. In fact, it would be rare to find someone who at one point or another in their lifetime had not been affected directly or indirectly by a crash. Although many of us probably think young drivers are primarily to blame (vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death in North America for 16-24 year olds), there is also great risk for professional drivers.
If you have employees that drive during the course of their work, special attention needs to be paid to ensuring it is done safely. Statistics show that driving is the most dangerous task an employee will engage in while at work. One shocking statistic may cause you to consider how your drivers are being trained, and if it's effective enough: of all fatal workplace injuries, 41% are caused by motor vehicle collisions.
According to the National Safety Council, an alarming 90% of crashes are caused by human error. The human costs above are obviously the most critical, but for companies, the business costs for employers are also significant.
It is estimated that costs from collisions and downtime total $240 billion. An overconsumption of fuel from poor driving can cost businesses around $121 billion, with an extra $80 billion in service and maintenance costs. So, how can businesses start to dial back these alarming statistics and improve driving behaviour to decrease these staggering numbers?
Get Off Autopilot And Increase Your Awareness On The Road
It may seem simple, but the first step is to take a look in the rearview mirror! Most of us have been driving for so long it is almost like we are on autopilot and aren’t fully aware of exactly how we drive.
On your next drive, really concentrate on your speed, your braking, the activities you shouldn’t be doing while driving such as eating or talking on your cell phone, how you take a turn or accelerate from a light. Like any other behaviour modification, you first have to be aware of the habits that may put you at risk before you can truly change those habits. It can be a challenge to examine habits you're not even aware you're engaging in, but it's critical.
Personally, as I became more and more involved in driver assessment, training and technology, it was almost like I became hyper-vigilant not only about my own driving, but about everyone around me…kind of scary!
Incorporate And Prioritize On-going Training
On-going training is the next step for all drivers. Unless your company has mandatory training, most drivers last enrolled in some type of education or training right before they took their license exam.
Engaging in some form of training every month or two can be very beneficial to improving the habits you have formed over your driving career — and catching any negative habits before they become too ingrained.
Even if your company does have driver training once every year or every couple of years, that form of training is often helpful in the short-term but relatively useless in the long run, as without constant follow-up the retention of material learned all at once is generally about 10% a year later.
There are also apps and programs that can be used to monitor and score your driving so that you can see if the training is being properly put to use and if you are improving. Who knows — you might be awesome already!
Practice Makes Perfect
Finally, the key is to practice, practice, practice. On every trip, try to become more aware of how you are driving and all the skills that go into it. Are you anticipating upcoming traffic signals to make for smooth braking? Are you gently easing into acceleration when the light turns green? Does your whole body shift because you took a turn too fast? These little elements of your driving make all the difference.
Not only will your risk decrease, you will also find that you can save some money on fuel consumption as well as service and maintenance costs, not to mention speeding tickets or insurance premium increases that can result from your feet being a bit too heavy on the gas pedal.
Provide A Positive Example For The Next Generation Of Drivers
One last thing, which relates to the next generations of drivers. 90% of drivers revert back to how they watched their parents, grandparents, brothers or sisters drive for the years before they were actually able to drive. Even if you don't think you were paying attention, it likely became ingrained in your subconscious to some degree.
If you have a young person in the car, remember that you are shaping how they will drive when they get their license! So, if you think it is okay to jump on the cell phone for a minute or yell at the odd driver while they are in the back seat, maybe give it a second thought. I think it goes without saying that we would be crushed if anyone was hurt because of something we were doing while driving, but the harm you are doing just might be happening years from now and could be a lot worse!
Subject matter experts (SMEs) offer authority in specialized areas. They may have special certifications, degrees, or doctorates as well as unique experience or knowledge in particular industries or business settings. SureHire has assembled some of the industry's top advisors to give you the 411 on the latest trends, topics, and information related to workplace testing. Learn more about this month's SME author, Bill Bland.