Driver safety means more than you think

By Todd Ewing

What comes to mind when you hear the word “safety”? Maybe you think of bike helmets, life jackets or seat belts. Though these things make operating in the world a bit safer, they are a small part of safety’s larger story. For fleet owners and managers, safety means far more than just using precautionary equipment. It also means being proactive, monitoring driving behavior and coaching drivers to prevent bad habits behind the wheel from becoming dangerous and costly liabilities.

Pump the brakes on speeding

It happens – sometimes we take the speed limit as more of a suggestion than a requirement. Whether you do it because you’re in a hurry or just “in the zone,” speeding—though common—can really take its toll, especially for those who manage a fleet and rely on drivers and vehicles to service customers. When a driver speeds, they are not only putting vehicles through unnecessary stress but also putting passengers in harm’s way. For a passenger, speeding can make for a scary experience because of the lack of control.

If passengers feel they’re in danger at any time, they’ll likely be a one-time-only customer. Notifications from these solutions helps you stop fast driving in its tracks. These alerts are often customizable, which allows for appropriate speed thresholds to be set. Knowing what type of vehicle is being driven, the number of passengers and even the routes taken to the destination are all factors to consider when setting speeding thresholds. Reducing speeding events also means cutting back on accidents or costly fines, which can have a negative impact on your business and hard-earned reputation.

Curb harsh driving behavior

As we discussed in last month’s article, vehicle maintenance is crucial to making sure vehicles stay on the road, servicing customers and generating revenue. A major factor in maintaining vehicle health is minimizing harsh driving. What exactly is harsh driving? Think hairpin turns, stomping on the brakes and pressing on the gas pedal a little too hard, to name a few examples. Because you’re in the business of transporting people, not inventory, harsh driving impacts your customers just as much as drivers. A passenger can feel as if they are in danger when a driver turns a corner too tightly or slams on the brakes at the last minute before hitting something, as they do with speeding — and that’s not good for business.

To better understand if you have a driver who is engaging in less-than-safe driving behavior behind the wheel, use reports and dashboards provided in a GPS fleet tracking solution. Intelligent, summarized data is delivered and shows when harsh driving incidents take place, their degree of severity and even a comprehensive safety score for each driver. Having this information at your fingertips will help you understand which drivers are operating safely and which drivers may be in need of additional coaching to develop safe driving habits.

Use data to look forward

Being mindful and collecting metrics on behaviors like harsh driving and speeding will help you enforce current fleet safety policies or even help you create new best practices based on hard data, not assumptions. The right data can help you get a glimpse into the future – seeing a driver’s past performance can be a good indication of how they will perform going forward. When you incorporate driver coaching into regular performance reviews, you give drivers the ability to understand how their driving behavior – both good or bad – affects overall operations from customer service to company reputation.

Reports, dashboard and alerts offered through a GPS fleet tracking solution can help tell the full story when it comes to fleet safety. Customized views of your fleet’s activity can put the most useful information at your fingertips that will help you enforce policies that keep drivers operating safely and your customers feeling secure, and equipping you with peace of mind — knowing that when a driver embarks on a journey, they are operating as safely as possible.

It can be easy to let driver safety take a back seat when you don’t have the right tools. By using intuitive, actionable data collected from a GPS fleet tracking solution you will have the opportunity to sit in the driver’s seat, allowing you to coach your drivers based on their actual performance behind the wheel. Being proactive means helping drivers be more mindful of driving habits, helping customers feel safe when riding in one of your vehicles and giving a boost to your bottom line.

Todd Ewing is the director of product management for the Verizon Telematics companies Fleetmatics and Telogis. For more information on how GPS fleet tracking can help you improve your business, visit