There’s been a troubling increase in traffic-related deaths across the country over the past two years. In SambaSafety’s home state of Colorado, there were more traffic deaths in 2021 than any year since 2002. The 20-year high will likely exceed 700 fatalities as final numbers continue to trickle in.
Think about that for a minute… 700 people lost their lives driving on our roadways, an activity most of us do every single day. That’s 700 families who lost loved ones: parents, brothers, sisters, children. And that number reflects deaths in only one of 50 states.
In 2020, over 38,000 people were killed in crashes across the country, 7% more than 2019 and an all-time high since 2007. This spike occurred even as there were less cars on the roads during the pandemic. The reason? There was a significant increase in the number of individuals driving impaired, higher rates of excessive speeding and decreased seatbelt usage.
Unfortunately, these risky behaviors continued into 2021 as traffic levels returned to normal. The Colorado State Patrol reported seeing a continued increase in impaired and distracted driving, decrease in seat-belt usage and “super speeding” incidents became commonplace.
“Extreme speeds are becoming more and more the norm, and that’s exceptionally dangerous behavior that really takes a lot of lives,” states Colonel Matthew Packard, chief of the Colorado State Patrol.
Officials across the state are calling the situation a “crisis in human behavior on our roads”. Human actions cause the vast majority of crashes, not weather events or mechanical failures. In fact, 94% of crashes are the result of human behavior, meaning they’re 100% preventable.
These statistics should act as a wakeup call to drivers across the country. We have the ability to reverse these troubling trends. Every driver needs to remember the significant responsibility they carry every single time they get behind the wheel.
With these trends, driver safety should be a top priority for risk, safety and fleet professionals across the country in 2022. Here are things to keep in mind when analyzing your safety culture and policies this year.
Keep a Close Eye on Violations
SambaSafety’s recent crash prediction study highlights how driver violations serve as a leading indicator of crashes. Take the concerning trend around speeding, for example:
- Speeding 15 MPH over the limit increases the chance of that driver being involved in a crash in the next 12 months by 67%
- For super speeders going 21-25 MPH over the limit, their chances increase by 82%
Even with violations that aren’t viewed as seriously as speeding, like not using a blinker, significantly increase the likelihood of causing a crash. For example, if someone fails to use their signal to change lanes or turn, they are 112.6% more likely to be involved in a crash in the next year. While something like this might seem minor at first glance, it’s a great indicator of a more serious issue: distracted driving.
“The things that we see causing crashes are pretty consistent across the state,” Packard said. “We see lane violations, which is indicative of inattentive driving, people making bad passes, people that are impaired, holding their cell phones, people are speeding and end up crossing into the adjacent lane because they can’t maintain their own lane.”
It’s critical that you have a system in place to spot violations immediately after they occur so you can intervene accordingly before that person is involved in a crash. If you’re relying on manual MVR pulls to spot violations, how quickly are you able to intervene after a violation occurs?
Ensure Licenses Are Valid
Similar to violations, driver’s license status is another strong indicator of a future crash. In the crash prediction study referenced above, our team of data scientists discovered that driving on a suspended license increases the likelihood of being involved in a crash by 55.6%.
Did you know that between 3-5% of drivers currently behind the wheel are driving on a suspended license? Do you have a simple way to spot those individuals in your driver base? It’s critical you do as drivers with invalid licenses cause 19% of driving-related fatalities.
The good news? 80% of suspensions are due to administrative reasons, with many of these people not even realizing their license is suspended. If you have an easy way to identify these folks, it’s usually a quick fix to get their license reinstated and so they can safely return to their job.
Don’t Forget to Cover the Basics
In Colorado last year, 22% of fatalities resulted from not wearing a seatbelt. While certain messages like wearing a seatbelt might seem obvious, it’s never a bad idea to reinforce driver safety basics with your team. Messages like buckle up, use those signals, slow down and put your phone away should be highlighted in your safety policy and frequently repeated.
Your drivers would also benefit from being made aware of the concerning trends around speeding, distracted and impaired driving and roadway fatalities to remind them of the real risks they face every time they get behind the wheel, whether they are on or off the clock. This will ensure repetitive safety messages stick and reinforce the importance of always staying in defensive driving mode.
Train, Train and Train Some More
Frequent, proactive training is one of the best ways to keep your drivers safe. Frequent training keeps safe driving techniques top of mind and reinforces your company’s ongoing dedication to your team’s safety. It’s also a proven method to reduce crashes and violations. In fact, fleets who train monthly have almost half the violations of those who train twice per year.
Frequent training is an excellent way to keep training in a positive light. If you only assign training when an incident occurs, drivers will view it as a punishment. By providing proactive training on different topics each month, you can use it to support your safety culture and focus more on the positive results of training.
Partner with SambaSafety to Keep Your Team Safe This Year
Too many people are losing their lives in preventable crashes. Businesses like yours can take action by ensuring only safe, qualified drivers are getting behind the wheel and driving on behalf of your company. SambaSafety is here to make that process easier.
With industry-leading continuous MVR monitoring, you’ll receive alerts in near real-time when your employees receive violations or issues with their license such as an expiration and suspension; no more waiting around for manual MVR pulls. We make it easy to intervene with at- and high-risk drivers by enrolling them in relevant training courses, all within the same platform. With over 160+ courses to choose from, you can enroll all drivers in frequent, proactive courses ensuring no one is stuck watching videos covering the same topic boring topic month after month. Best yet, we offer advanced reporting capabilities that make it easy to answer the following commonly asked questions around driver risk:
- How much risk do I have?
- Who should I prioritize for intervention?
- What behaviors are increasing our risk?
- Is our safety plan working?
To learn more about how your business can make our roads safer, download this study to learn which violations pose the biggest threat to your drivers and your bottom line.