Should fleets invest in vehicle safety technologies or behind the wheel training as part of their driver safety policies? CAF asked Mark Giangrasso from Advanced Driver Training Services about pro’s and con’s to consider when calculating an ROI for driver safety options available today.
A benefit of driver training is that it is specifically designed to identify and change poor driving behaviors and promote good habits. According to ADTS, behind-the-wheel training can reduce collision rates by up to 35% if it is done consistently over time.
However, logistics can make it difficult to gather drivers together for behind-the-wheel training.
Online driver training modules although helpful may not be as effective as behind-the-wheel training. Fleets should consider using modules to help reinforce training the driver has already received.
Vehicle Safety Technologies
Advanced safety technology is designed to prevent crashes. If a specific crash begins to decline, the cost of equipping the vehicle with this technology will exponentially pay for itself.
Year after year more safety features are becoming standard equipment.
It is important to recognize that new vehicle technology should decrease specific crashes if a driver knows how to incorporate it into their good driving habits. If a driver uses vehicle technology to replace good driving habits, a spike in crashes is a very high possibility, such as relying solely on a backup camera rather than turning your head and looking behind you.
If a crash occurs on a vehicle equipped with advanced features, the price of repairs is often much higher than those without. Companies have to evaluate the financial impact on how often they turn over their vehicles versus keeping up with new technology.
Blind Spot Monitoring/Lane Assist
In some vehicles the blind spots can be quite large. Any technology that helps reduce or eliminate blind spots could be valuable. However, drivers may become dependent on the alerts and no longer scan mirrors or glance over their shoulder before changing lanes, drivers may also find alerts annoying and turn the capability off.
Driver training teaches how to set your mirrors correctly and to scan your surroundings. On the road, things are constantly changing. Never assume because you don’t see an alert that it is safe to make a lane change.
Dynamic Braking/Assisted Braking
These systems can often react faster than the driver which can significantly reduce the risk of a collision. However, they can be ineffective at certain speeds or certain weather conditions (rain, snow). Assisted braking does not stop you from being rear-ended in an emergency situation.
Driver training teaches you to be aware of your surroundings, both front and back, to use the correct following distance and to have escape routes in mind for every situation.
Backup cameras are now standard equipment on all new cars. They can help you back up straight and know when to stop. Having a camera will also help if something or someone suddenly appears. Both of which can prevent accidents.
However, the camera helps you see behind, but not what is happening in front of the car. Concentrating on the camera picture will take your eyes off the front of the car which may swing and hit something.
Backing into stationary objects continues to be one of the highest reported crashes from fleets despite camera’s becoming standard equipment. Driver training forces the driver to look out the back window of the vehicle and use all mirrors and peripheral vision (which is better than a camera). Driver training does recommend using the camera in the last 2-3 feet of backing.
Although backing into a spot is encouraged, driver training teaches to pull through when parking whenever available. This allows the driver to pull out facing forward when leaving, which greatly reduces the possibilities of a crash.
To drive down crash rates, ADTS recommends using a combination of driver safety technology and driver training. Vehicle Technology on its own is typically a benefit, but it cannot by itself replace the need for drivers to exhibit and use safe driving skills with a positive attitude.