Fatal Truck Driver Collisions On the Rise
SInce 2009 there has been an increase in work-related fatalities of large-truck occupants, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Why is that? What is driving this? What can be done?
Not Wearing Seat Belts / Safety Belts
The most effective way to prevent crash injuries/deaths in large trucks is simple: drivers (and occupants) need to wear a safety belt (or bunk restraints) while driving.
Studies show about 1 in 6 truck drivers doesn’t use a seat belt. Other studies show seat belts/safety belts could have prevented up to 40% of these crash-deaths.
Three other significant facts arise from safety-belt studies and driver behavior. Unbelted drivers usually:
- Work for an employer without a written safety program
- Have had at least one moving violation in the past year
- Often drive 10 mph or more over the speed limit.
In other words, the unbelted driver is a risky driver or high risk driver.
What Employers Can Do?
Enforce a mandatory safety belt/ safety belt use policy. Drivers need to be aware of the policy and the consequences of violation.
Of course, one of the best way to keep truck drivers safe on the road is to prevent crashes. Invest in safety. Invest in new technology.
But new technology can only go so far. How you recruit, train, and monitor drivers is where new technology can help the most.
Beside using a seat belt/ safety belt employers can encourage and monitor drivers:
- Not to use their cell phone
- Not to drive over the speed limit
- Never use alcohol or drugs on the job
- Plan the trip: encourage driving during daylight hours rather than after dark, whenever possible.
These, plus the use of a safety belt are called the golden rules of safe driving.
“Poor safety is nothing more than a lack of leadership.”
Be a Safety Leader
Other safety initiatives include incorporating a Fatigue Management System for drivers. Fatigue is a major hazard because it affects most aspects of a driver’s ability to do their job. As such, it has implications for safety. One such option is Omnitracs Analytics’ Driver Fatigue Model.
Behavior based Driver Training should be de rigueur for every driver employer starting with Defensive Driving Training (Instructor-led training or E-learning modules) and continuing with advanced training or even remedial training for the drivers who need it.
Take and make safety initiatives that are unique to your set of operations. Sometimes this means taking at look at your safety awards or safety incentives program. Some regulatory bodies like OSHA do not like incentive or bonus programs because they believe poor safety can be hidden. One option is to pool the names of safe drivers and randomly pick a winner for recognition. Another bonus option is to find out if there are any particular privileges a driver may want as extra-long weekends or the like. Find out what works best for your particular drivers,
Improve a Little at a Time
It took a long time to get wherever you are at. Changes will take some time as well. The idea is to keep looking for unique solutions that can make a big difference in the long haul.
Thank you for reading this.