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Fleet Driver Safety: How to Improve Driver Behavior and Your Bottom Line

June 30, 2016 by Stacey Papp

Driver Safety Bottom Line
How GPS fleet tracking systems can help monitor and correct drivers' bad habits.
Fleet managers know profitability is directly tied to their drivers. A fast, efficient fleet is a profitable fleet. Likewise, a fleet with drivers who engage in unsafe driving habits, lag behind on their routes or get bogged down with tasks like waiting for a broken-down vehicle to be repaired because it wasn’t taken for proper maintenance can see profits go flying out the window.

The most direct link of driving habits and costs is in day-to-day operational expenses. Drivers who are careless and unsafe are expensive to employ on a daily basis.

Speeding: The urge to go faster is strong when you’re a driver on a schedule, but speeding is costly for a fleet when drivers gather tickets that taint their driving records, causing insurance rates to balloon. In addition, speeding takes a toll on fleet vehicles to the tune of more frequent maintenance needs like tire and brake changes and stress on the engine that more moderate driving likely wouldn’t cause. Add in the additional fuel costs that speeding generates, and the expenses mount. And, of course, the possibility of a hugely expensive accident is increased by using excessive speed.

Quick-starting, hard braking and harsh cornering: These dangerous driving events have similar effects as speeding without having the benefit of a police force to call your attention to them. While they are slightly less obvious culprits than speeding, they can actually be as or more costly. Hard braking and cornering puts stress on your fleet in a couple of ways. For starters, these are dangerous driving behaviors and can lead to accidents that can hit your bottom line with repair costs and higher insurance premiums. Beyond that, these tendencies put additional strain on the vehicles in your fleet, likely raising repair and maintenance costs. 

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But there is a less apparent cost to unsafe drivers that can add up to much more in the long run. For fleets, the drivers are the public face of the company, and an unsafe driver becomes the public image of an unsavory company. 

There’s a reason you see those “How am I driving …” stickers on company vehicles. Smart companies know that the public gets its impression of them from their interaction with the drivers in the fleet. A potential customer who is affected by the unsafe driving habits of a driver in a company-owned vehicle is likely a lost customer. Add to that the lost word-of-mouth and, worse, negative feedback that comes with these encounters, and it’s easy to see where the money is lost. 

It’s not enough to know the problem, though. Fleet managers need a solution to help make sure that unsafe drivers aren’t destroying their bottom line when they are out of sight of the yard. GPS fleet tracking is the tool that gives them the power to help keep their drivers on the right track.

How GPS fleet tracking helps

With a fleet-tracking solution, a manager can refer to a dashboard that provides comprehensive speed-limit information and tracking of routes that a driver takes. GPS tracking that is connected to each individual driver provides near real-time information about driving habits, including speeding over a predetermined speed, hard braking, harsh cornering and more. This way, you never lose sight of the driver even when vehicle changes are made. 

This data feeds into a report that tells a manager how a driver behaves when he is out on the road. A dashboard makes driver data available in timeline views that can track a route from start to finish and call out unsafe occurrences like harsh driving events along with such wasteful and potentially dangerous activities as leaving vehicles idling for long periods. In addition, the tracking solution can provide a route replay feature that shows the exact route a driver took so you can track unauthorized stops and other potentially dangerous behavior. The fleet or operations manager can then turn that information into coachable moments to make sure that unsafe driving habits don’t lead to violations, or worse, an accident.

Or you can take the monitoring a step further and set up near real-time alerts that make it so you’re “sitting shotgun” with your drivers. This way, a manager knows about unwanted and unsafe behavior the moment it happens and can act to curb it quickly.

Beyond driver tracking, fleet management solutions help guarantee a safer fleet by tracking maintenance for vehicles. Using dashboards and alerts, a manager can set up a maintenance schedule for every fleet in the vehicle and receive notifications when service is due. Alerts can be set up by date, miles or hours of use. This keeps you on top of the service schedule and helps ensure that an unsafe situation doesn’t occur because vital maintenance slipped through the cracks. 

While these analytics have limited ability to predict the future, they do provide a much greater ability to affect the future and to build a safer, more profitable business. A smart business can minimize risk and therefore reduce waste and the possibility of image-damaging incidents tainting their public profile. 

Your drivers are important, and you know they are a huge value to your bottom line. But don’t let unsafe driving habits destroy that successful business model that they helped you build. Put the power of data to work for you to keep everybody safer and to keep your business in the black where it belongs.

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