Distracted Driving Awareness Month: What Increasing Accident Rates Mean for the Mobile Workforce

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2016 there were 3,450 people killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. In the first Distracted Driving Awareness Month blog post we discussed how this increase impacts car insurance rates. While the increasing expense may hurt a company’s bottom line, vehicle accidents impact businesses in other ways, too.

Did you know that 53% of vehicle crash injuries cause employees to miss work? And beyond lost productivity, according to the upcoming 2018 Driver Safety Risk Report, accidents cost companies a total of $56 Billion in 2017. So, what can businesses do to avoid these types of scenarios? They can identify potentially risky drivers and give them the right tools to help them become safer drivers.

The reality is not everyone who drives is going to get into an accident. However, the risk is much higher to mobile workers. In fact, most mobile workers will be involved in at least one vehicle accident while they drive for work. According to a UNC Highway Safety Research Center study, individuals with one traffic conviction in the previous two years had twice as many crashes as those with no convictions in the same time frame. Not only is an accident expensive for a business, especially if it’s a company-provided car, but more importantly it puts an employee’s safety at risk. So how can businesses identify risky drivers, reduce liability and protect their employees?

Motor Vehicle Record checks (MVRs) identify risky drivers.

One common method used to monitor risk is regular Motor Vehicle Record checks (MVRs). These are compiled by checking motor vehicle records, court records and police records for the personal driving behavior of each mobile worker. It shares information including new citations, expired licenses and more as the company requests it. MVRs are traditionally pulled when potential new hires are being considered for a position and can also be set up to report when an existing employee is involved in an accident. Companies can then decide on the best course of action for their employee, for example, assigning specific training modules related to the cause of the accident.

Real-time data detects erratic driving behavior.

Another solution some companies choose to implement to monitor risky driving behavior is installing a device in vehicles, for example, in company-provided cars. Since MVRs only contain citations, they’re limited in telling the full story when it comes to reckless driving. Solutions like telematics leverage an installed or plugged-in device that logs specific event data from the car. If a mobile worker tends to brake abruptly or drive fast, the device would detect these types of erratic driving behaviors. While this information can be helpful for companies, a better approach is using things like risk assessments to better understand the areas of focus for safety training programs. These types of driving habits are bound to exist but knowing how they impact mobile workers can help businesses make sure everyone is safe while driving for work.

When companies are hiring and onboarding new employees to their mobile workforce, completing an MVR check is a helpful tool for selecting the best possible candidate. However, not all reckless driving behavior is cited this way. The same goes for telematics solutions, where data on problematic driving behavior is shared with the company but it doesn’t tell the full story and can even be viewed by employees as a privacy infringement.

Ultimately, MVRs and telematics solutions only allow businesses to take action on risky behaviors after they happen. There are more effective proactive approaches to driver safety that involve ongoing training and risk assessments. These are the types of safety programs that reduce accident rates for mobile workers and keep everyone safer on the roads. Learn more in the next post of our Distracted Driving Awareness Month blog series where we’ll cover the most effective accident prevention tools.

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