Originally appeared in Fleet Owner

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently reported that traffic fatalities have declined for the fifth straight quarter. Unfortunately, the data is not broken down by type of vehicle, so we don’t know if the decrease includes heavy trucks.

Overall, the data reflects great news: Fatalities are down even as miles driven have increased. This brings the rate of fatalities to 1.24 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled.

I have written on the topic of safety before, but it is something we need to keep discussing, especially in light of recent nuclear verdicts against the trucking industry.

Let’s look at a few ways fleets can improve their safety.

  • Executives need to set the tone: A commitment to safety must come from the very top of the organization. C-suite executives and managers must continually stress the importance of safety to the fleet, and institute policies and practices that demonstrate that commitment.
  • Invest in safety technology: One clear way to demonstrate your commitment to safety is to invest in technologies that make trucks safer. There is a suite of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) available. Investigate items such as blind spot monitoring, collision mitigation, lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, etc. These systems assist drivers in operating trucks safely.
  • Train drivers: As the name implies, ADAS technology is designed to assist drivers but is not a replacement for safe driving. Your driver training program should emphasize safe driving techniques on an ongoing basis. Begin safety training during the onboarding process and continue to reinforce safety on a regular basis. Reward drivers who achieve safe driving milestones.
  • Analyze your CSA violations: Your CSA scores can provide you with valuable insight into just how safe your fleet is. Dig into the data from your CSA violations to identify areas where you can improve and make the necessary changes to become safer.
  • Engage with your insurance provider: Seek input from your insurance provider regarding things you can do to reduce risk and improve driver safety. They may have some ideas that you can implement.
  • Make safety a core value: Safe driving should be just one part of your overall commitment to safety. Make safety improvements in other areas of your operation, such as the shop. Having safety as a core value demonstrates to drivers just how important it is to you.

A decline in vehicle-related fatalities is a good thing, but that does not mean fleets can reduce safety-related efforts. Keep the focus on safety to help drive down fatality numbers even further, and ensure that your fleet is one of the safest on the road. Accidents and incidents are costly, and they erode efficiency.