The high frequency of road accidents makes driver safety one of the biggest challenges fleet managers face each day. In the US alone, 6 million car accidents every year happen every year, with more than 40,000 motor vehicle accident-related deaths in 2017.

The stats on individual crashes are just as shocking. A report by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) found that vehicle crashes can cost employers between $16,500 and $74,000 for each injured driver.

Distracted driving

Distracted driving refers to any behavior that takes a driver’s attention off the road. This could include texting, making a phone call, eating, talking to a passenger and looking off the road, or drowsiness.

According to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving accounts for 16.7 percent of drivers who contributed to road accidents. Accidents caused by distracted driving claimed 3,166 lives in 2017.

As the following statistics by the National Safety Council show, texting is the most common distracted driving behaviors. Texting while driving accounts for up to 390,000 injuries and up to 25% of accidents annually. It is also 6 times more likely to lead to accidents than drunk driving, because it takes a driver’s attention off the road for up to 5 seconds.

Drowsy driving

Drowsy driving due to fatigue, illness, or other conditions led to 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries, and 800 deaths in 2013. According to a report by the Center for Disease Control, drivers who are at risk of drowsy driving include those who work long shifts, do not get enough sleep, have untreated sleeping disorders, use medication that causes drowsiness, or are overworked.

Intoxication

The CDC puts the death toll of alcohol-related driving crashes at 10,497 in 2016 alone. In addition to the risks posed by drunk driving, narcotics were also found to be involved in about 16% of motor vehicle crashes.

Speeding

Speeding is one of the most common causes of fatal road accidents. A study by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) showed that speeding caused 112,580 deaths between 2005 and 2014..

Mitigating driving risks

Driving risks will always be present in a driver’s transport cycle; however, some of them can be mitigated with preventive measures in place. Since liability claims and damages are suffered by the company, not the driver, the onus lies with employers to ensure that accidents are avoided. Some ways to ensure safe driving include:  

Training drivers to avoid risky driving behaviours

Companies should have policies that highlight the negative effects of these driving infractions, such as accidents which could lead to death, injury, and liability claims. Each driver should be mandated to sign this policy and adhere to it at all times. Rules prohibiting these risky behaviors should be displayed around the workplace to serve as a reminder.

Reducing the drivers’ workload

In addition to training, drivers should be given adequate rest periods between shifts to avoid fatigue or drowsy driving. Many drivers who work long shifts show signs of fatigue with effects similar to those of drunk drivers.

Introducing a driver rewards system

Recognize and reward good drivers. A common model is the leaderboard/rating system in which drivers score points for good driving which add up over time. You could raise the stakes by encouraging drivers to score a certain number of points to earn a reward. This reward could be a bonus, tuition reimbursement, extra paid time off, or other benefits.

Correcting infractions as they occur

Another way to reduce the occurrence of driving infractions is to correct drivers with penalties. These penalties can range from losing driver points to taking serious disciplinary action.

Implementing reliable driver safety technology

The world of driver safety has evolved, leading to the adoption of technological tools that aid drivers and fleets in mitigating risks. Several of these tools combine emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data to provide insights to drivers. Their functions span data collection and analysis, video recording, vehicle-to-vehicle communication, and accurate vehicle fault diagnosis.

Data analysis is also necessary because it tells you how past data is relevant to future events.

Final thoughts

Driving infractions are responsible for a significant number of motor vehicle accidents annually which cost employers millions of dollars in damages. Infractions such as distracted driving, intoxicated driving, speeding, and drowsy driving, account for the most crashes.

Fortunately, these behaviors can be prevented through driver training, the introduction of policies, rewards systems, and the use of technology.

This article originally appeared on netradyne.com.