The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently came out with its 2017-2018 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. It includes things like reducing fatigue related accidents, increasing the use of collision avoidance technology and eliminating driver distractions.
The NTSB list represents the top safety improvements that can be made across all modes of transportation with the goal of preventing accidents and saving lives.
Some of the items included are applicable to trucking; others aren’t. But the list is a good reminder to all of us that we need to be focused on safety. All of us in the trucking industry should have improving safety at the top of our TO DO list.
Manufacturers need to continue to design trucks coming off the production line that are safer. Suppliers need to continue to invest research and development dollars in the next generation collision mitigation, lane departure warning systems, camera systems and other safety-related technologies. And fleets need to continue to spec these safety systems and educate their drivers on how to use them.
But ultimately, the safe operation of the truck lands squarely with the driver. No amount of technology can take the place of a driver who is fully committed to safety.
Safety is one of those things that many fleets focus on when a driver first comes on board but perhaps do not reinforce it as often as they should over the years. Fleets need to have programs in place that regularly reinforce their safety message to their drivers.
Here are a few good ways to reinforce safety:
- Publicly acknowledge and reward drivers who reach safety milestones.
- Call on those drivers who have exhibited safe driving habits to share tips with other drivers.
- Use technology to monitor driver behavior for things like speeding, hard braking and then address that behavior both on a fleet-wide basis and with the individual drivers.
- Involve drivers’ spouses and family members in the safety effort.
We are making progress in the area of safety. FMCSA statistics show a 5 percent decrease in the number of trucks involved in fatal crashes from 2013 to 2014. But there is still work to do as the number of large trucks involved in injury crashes increased by 21 percent over that same period.
By working together, we can continue to reduce the number of fatal crashes and implement and monitor programs to reduce the number of injury crashes as well.