Safety Strategies for Fleet Drivers
The risk of being involved in an accident is 40% greater if you are driving for business. Cartrack has compiled a list of safety tips, to encourage improved driver behaviour, which will help reduce the chances of an accident whilst preserving your company’s fleet.
1. Drowsy Driving
Fleet drivers tend to have irregular driving times and sleeping patterns and are at risk of driving when tired and drowsy. This is one of the leading causes of the high accident rate recorded on South African roads. According to data produced by the National Sleep Foundation, the following warning signs indicate that it’s time for a driver to find a safe place to stop and address their condition:
- Difficulty focusing, frequent blinking or heavy eyelids.
- Trouble keeping your head up.
- Drifting from your lane and swerving.
- Inability to clearly remember the last few kilometers driven.
- Yawning repeatedly.
- Feeling restless, irritable or aggressive.
2. Manage your speed and drive calmly
Speed and reckless driving is a major cause of vehicle accidents, so be conscious of your limitations and the limitations of your vehicle. You are more likely to drive aggressively, if you are feeling angry or distressed, causing you to accelerate harshly, brake heavily and make risky maneuvers. Aggressive driving not only endangers you and others on the road, but also increases fuel consumption, and ‘wear and tear’ on the vehicle, leading to increased costs for the company.
3. Stay alert and always be as prepared as possible
- Check weather forecasts ahead of time and plan your trip accordingly.
- Be sure to pack the necessary emergency equipment and an extra set of clothing.
- Always plan ahead in anticipation of road and traffic conditions.
- Stay alert, early recognition of possible hazards on the road reduces the need for harsh braking or acceleration and avoids unnecessary stopping.
- Always observe the speed limits.
- Monitor your fuel consumption (measure and note improvements), save fuel and be safe.
4. Always inspect the vehicle before driving
- Remember the acronym FLOWER – fuel, lights, oil, water, electrics and rubber, when performing a circle-check.
- Make sure load weight and roof racks are removed before performing a circle-check.
- Be certain your vehicle is prepared for all kinds of conditions on the road; your tyres, wipers and lights should all be in perfect operating condition.
- Before leaving always check for fluids on the floor, deflated tyres, or anything out of the ordinary.
5. Protecting against Potholes
The impact of potholes on tyres increases if speeding and can cause hidden and internal damage that could lead to possible tyre failure only much later. Avoiding potholes is sometimes impossible, so when you do encounter one keep these tips in mind.
- Never brake during impact, instead, apply brakes before hitting a pothole and release just before impact.
- Braking during impact means the tyre and wheel assembly will be set up for a “solid hit” against the edge of the hole.
- You can cause less damage to the tyre if you roll rather than skid over a pothole during braking.
- If you do encounter a pothole and feel your vehicle “pulling” afterwards this indicates damage to the vehicle.
6. Fleet vehicle management
- Use of vehicle momentum: When approaching the top of a hill, if safe to do so, release the accelerator pedal and let the vehicle’s momentum move you forward.
- Reversing: Try not to reverse while your engine is cold. Warm your engine by pulling away gently and driving smoothly.
- Gear high and rev low: When the conditions allow, drive on your highest gear without laboring the engine.
- Engine Braking: Taking your foot off the accelerator, allows your engine to act as a compression brake.
- Make sure you observe traffic carefully and leave enough space for engine braking to work effectively.
- Block gear changing (manual vehicles): Once you understand your vehicle, you do not need to use every gear in sequence. ‘Skip Changing’ is a great way to reduce fuel consumption and better preserve your gearbox.
- Engine idling: If you’re not moving for more than 30 seconds, turn off your engine. This preserves fuel and reduces damage to the engine.
Always read your vehicle handbook, to be as knowledgeable as possible. Make sure that your vehicle is maintained in line with manufacturer recommendations. If you are a manager, you should be asking the question: to what extent do we encourage, support and communicate with our people to drive in this way? Keep your fleet safe by following these suggested tips and guidelines, and stay safe on the roads.