Overall workplace environment to blame for work-related road accidents
Source: FleetAnswers Every 16 minutes, one person in the united states is injured or killed in a truck accident, with the majority of those accidents involving commercial trucks. Smaller fleet vehicles are at an even higher risk. These statistics show the reason why so many fleet managers are becoming increasingly passionate about driver safety. Yet a recent study in Canadian Occupational Safety indicates that workplace systems and cultures, rather than driver safety, may be to blame for many commercial vehicle accidents. For some companies and fleets, changing the business dynamic will go a long way towards improving overall fleet safety.
A Change in Focus
When an accident occurs, those looking for a way to place blame on the driver. Finding a way to blame the driver is an easy way out, but it may not be the right place to focus energy after a crash. If the driver has historically been a safe driver, something else may be the reason for the accident.
Instead, the company should look at whether or not the driver's supervisors had advocated for safe driving practices. If the management team does not clearly communicate a demand for safe driving, but rather communicates a steady demand for on-time deliveries at all costs, the driver may be pushed into poor choices. While the driver's actions may be to blame, it's the underlying dynamic of the business that is the true cause of the behaviors that led to the crash.
Management Must Focus on Drivers and Risk Management
Unfortunately, in many companies there is a disconnect between the fleet and senior management. When the senior management team does not understand the driver's role, safety capabilities of the fleet and the challenges of encouraging safe driving practices, they may not manage risk effectively. This, in turn, creates an atmosphere where risky driving is encouraged.
Similarly, management must ensure that they are making sound hiring decisions for positions relating to the company's fleet. A driver with several crashes on his track record should not be added to a fleet that has a high commitment to safety. Having procedures in place to check these facts before hiring drivers or allowing employees to drive company vehicles will help lessen the risk of a crash for the fleet as a whole.
Drivers Still Responsible
Once the attitudes and culture of the company has shifted to show a greater commitment to safety, with routines in place to ensure that safety is a priority, drivers can then be held accountable to a higher degree for their actions. Attention to creating an atmosphere of safety will give management the ability to address driver behavior risks, and often with a better response from at-fault drivers.
Share your thoughts
What workplace changes (e.g. management style, workplace culture, communication channels) and practices have your company implemented to improve overall fleet safety?
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