Commentary. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of FreightWaves.
A world with zero fatalities caused by road accidents sounds pretty idealistic — but is it realistic? The communities around the world backing the Vision Zero initiative think so.
The Vision Zero initiative originated in Sweden in 1997, as a simple yet bold new way of viewing road safety: “No loss of life is acceptable.” It has since become a global enterprise, seeking to transform the way countries around the world focus on improving the safety of their roads. In tandem, Smart City initiatives are similarly being adopted by major cities, geared at bringing together local resources and connected technologies to work toward common goals.
Though vehicle accidents are on a downward trend, fatalities and serious injuries caused by wrecks are not. With an estimated 94% of road accidents occurring as a result of human error according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it’s not hard to see where we need to focus to improve the safety of roads around the world.
Vision Zero and Smart City initiatives are bringing together governments, private citizens, and corporations to implement technology, education, and legislative changes aimed at creating “zero-fatality roads” — no deaths, and close to zero accidents.
In order for such initiatives to have a fighting chance at succeeding, large companies with fleets or mobile workers can — and should — recognize the weighty role they play in making these initiatives happen.
Fleet-based corporations make up a large percentage of drivers on the road at any given time. While government entities can pass regulations and address infrastructure issues, these measures are simply reacting to the consequences of unsafe driving, rather than addressing the root cause of the problem.
Companies, on the other hand, have the opportunity to more directly affect the root cause of unsafe roads: human error. Here are a few ways organizations can do their part to drive toward zero-fatality roads.
Make driver safety and efficiency training a core initiative within your company
Accidents usually happen when at least one of five poor driving maneuvers occurs: sharp braking, sudden or inconsistent acceleration, speeding, cornering, and poor lane handling. The good news is, all five of these maneuvers can easily be caught and corrected through a formal driver training and coaching program.
Fleet-based companies often deploy intensive driver training programs that include coaching from a professional driving instructor, standardized measurement of each driver’s performance, and incentives and consequences based on drivers’ safety levels.
Companies must communicate both internally and externally that they are focusing on driver safety and efficiency. On a surface level, this action contains intrinsic marketing and PR value, making customers and employees alike feel good that your company cares about keeping its drivers and others on the road safe.
Additionally, the adoption of driver safety as a core value can serve as an internal culture-building tool. Being part of a community-wide and company-wide mission that also serves as a chance for personal development can make drivers feel more invested and engaged in their jobs, knowing they play a role in making a positive difference.
Incorporate ongoing driver safety coaching
Making driver safety a core initiative is a good change for companies, but for this initiative to truly succeed, change needs to occur on an individual driver level.
It is vital that drivers are not only trained when the program is launched but given ongoing coaching on their driving performance. Coaching approaches may range from conducting occasional driving tests and coaching sessions to incorporating driver safety apps or telematics technology.
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The simple introduction of safety scores and standardized driving performance reviews can change how drivers see their own performance, make them aware of conscious and unconscious errors, and encourage them to improve. Fleet-based companies have found further success by instituting company-wide or team-wide competitions to reward and recognize the safest drivers and/or those who’ve improved their safety scores the most.
Provide anonymized driving data to your city’s Vision Zero or Smart Cities project
Not only do driver safety apps help coach individual drivers in real time, they also collect data that can be used on a company-wide scale as well as a community-wide scale.
One way this data can help cities working toward zero-fatality roads is by pinpointing risky intersections, turns, and other hotspots before accidents even occur. For example, the data may show a high volume of drivers running a red light at a certain intersection and discover the yellow light is changing too abruptly. Or, they may notice a high number of unsafe cornering incidents at a certain location and discover a sharp turn that needs better signage.
This data can also help organizations understand where drivers are struggling on their routes, and whether the blame is on the individual driver or if outside influences are playing a role. Companies can then plan their routes to avoid these hotspots or better train drivers to deal with specific situations that lead to dangerous driving.
Zero-fatality roads may seem like a lofty goal, but communities, corporations, and individuals alike owe it to themselves to do their part. It all begins with simply making safety a priority, both for individual drivers and the company as a whole.
About the author
Guy Melamed is Chief Product Officer & Head of Strategic Partnerships of GreenRoad. He joined the company to transform its strategic direction and business offering in the fields of Commercial Fleets, Connected Car & Smart Mobility. In his previous role, Guy was the Founder and CEO of Toontok, an engaging animated messaging start up for mobile and wearable devices. Guy led the Product and Solution Design for Ginger Software, a world-renowned leader in Natural Language Understanding acquired by Intel in 2014; and Time To Know, a high-tech start-up delivering breakthrough solutions for today's teacher-led digital classroom. Guy received a Master of Arts in Communication Science from the University of Amsterdam.
GreenRoad was founded in 2004 to help fleet-based companies improve driver safety and reduce overall risks and costs. Its solutions have monitoring more than 10 billion miles and logged 500,000 driving years combined. GreenRoad advisors work with customers to help them achieve optimized results and expect full ROI. You can learn more about GreenRoad at www.greenroad.com