When various agencies within the Department of Transportation (DOT) release their driver safety reports, they often pull their findings from accident statistics. Their intent is to inform fleet managers of the leading causes of accidents so they can gear their safety policies toward addressing the top risks. The most common risky driver behaviors reported include:
- Distracted driving
- Speeding or driving too fast for the given conditions (i.e. rain, snow, etc.)
- Fatigued or drowsy driving
- Violating transportation laws
- Aggressive driving
Of the above, distracted driving has received a significant amount of press in recent years. In particular, cell phone usage gets the most attention. Even though texting while driving leaves the driver blind to road conditions for quite a few seconds, several other risky behaviors cause many more accidents. Unfortunately, they don’t receive the same amount of attention because they aren’t as easy to identify following an accident.
Common Unreported Risky Behaviors
It may come as a shock to many, but most risky driver behaviors are skills all drivers should have learned before they ever received their first license. These behaviors don’t show up as statistics because most drivers don’t realize or don’t want to admit to the error. These behaviors include:
- Not looking in the distance. This risky behavior causes accidents that the driver could have avoided if they had been scanning the horizon. More often than not, the problem that results in an accident is visible well in advance, but the driver responds too late due to not looking far enough ahead on the road. This behavior can result in the driver rear-ending another vehicle, another vehicle rear-ending the driver due to a sudden stop, and damaged loads due to shifting cargo.
- Following too close. The rule of thumb for drivers it to maintain a two-second following distance. This means if a vehicle in front of the driver passes a road sign, it should take the driver two seconds to pass it as well. Anything less is too close and does not give the driver enough time to stop without rear-ending the vehicle in front of it.
- Not having an escape option. Defensive driving courses teach drivers to be on the lookout for methods of escape to avoid an accident. For example, if they have to brake suddenly, what are their options to avoid rear-ending the vehicle in front of them? Ideally, they will have enough following distance, but sometimes vehicles cut drivers off at the last second. The driver should identify shoulders that are safe to pull onto in such an event. If a driver habitually cuts it close in these situations, they are much more prone to experience a collision.
Improving driver safety is a leading goal for many fleet managers, but it’s not always a simple matter to identify risky drivers. Investing in a platform like DriverCheck’s How’s My Driving? Program can pinpoint which drivers need help as well as provide the training tools necessary to improve their skills. Contact us to learn more.