Traffic crashes are not a new occurrence or uncommon by any means.
Statistically, any one of your company’s drivers may even be part of the 77 percent who have been in at least one behind the wheel crash. Did you know though that, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 40 percent of car crashes in the United States happen in intersections?
If we had to guess, your drivers have been routed through an intersection – most likely having even encountered one today. They’re unavoidable, making up many of the roadway features that the over 100 million everyday drivers encounter.
So, what makes intersections so dangerous? Better yet, what can you do to ensure your drivers avoid becoming part of such startling statistics and protect your company?
Why are intersections dangerous?
From 1997 through 2004, NHTSA analysis reported almost 64,000 fatalities from over 57,000 intersection crashes — breaking down to roughly 7,000 fatalities each year. The most common mistakes were failure to obey traffic signals (62 percent) and properly yielding to other traffic (87 percent).
With that being said, we know from years of data collected that, more often than not, human error caused by drivers is what make intersections so dangerous.
Ninety-six percent of intersection crashes were due to driver error, with more than half of those crashes attributed to recognition error. What does that mean? Typically, failure to pay attention, internal and external distractions as well as failure to properly look before proceeding.
Twenty-nine percent of intersection-related crashes were due to decision error, which includes people turning without signaling, changing lanes erratically, turning right through wedge or force oneself through too small a gap or causing oncoming traffic to brake. Your drivers have probably seen it – a driver inching their way into an intersection, waiting to turn left and only turning after the light is red. Some drivers try to run yellow lights only to find that other drivers have also run the light, causing a collision. Some drivers are moving too quickly to react. All qualify as decision errors.
Seven tips to avoid becoming part of intersection crash statistics
Intersection crashes aren’t to be taken lightly and can prove incredibly severe. That’s why it’s time to discover how you can help your drivers avoid being part of an oftentimes preventable statistic.
To help, we pulled together seven tips to effectively help your fleet avoid intersection crashes.
- Relax. The most important thing a driver can do to avoid intersection crashes is to relax. Most crashes are caused by road rage, making it harder to assess a situation at the intersection. Taking a deep breath in and de-escalating the situation is important to stay safe.
- Slow down. Nothing good ever happens above the speed limit. In fact, speeding 15 MPH over the limit increases chances of a crash by 67 percent. Factor in the mechanisms of an intersection – there are more cars involved and they’re moving in different directions. Slow down.
- Take yellow as red. Speeding to get through a yellow light is unnecessary. While running a yellow light may shave a few minutes off a trip, your drivers run the risk that someone else is running the same light in the opposite direction. If a collision occurs, it’ll be head-on and with both parties accelerating — a worst-case scenario.
- Pick a lane (and stay in it). Although it seems oversimplified, picking a lane and staying in it will keep your drivers safe on the road. Such seemingly basic behavior becomes more important when there’s a large vehicle involved.
- Signal turns. There’s no reason to keep the direction of a turn a secret. Let other drivers know what the behind the wheel intention is. If always using turn signals, your drivers can prevent confusion, anger and danger.
- Keep distractions to a minimum. The music doesn’t need to be blaring. Makeup doesn’t need to be applied in the car. Avoid coming up with the next great playlist on the fly. Intersections aren’t an excuse to check your phone or engage in distracted behavior. Failure to pay attention to changing lights and traffic can cause crashes.
- Expect trouble at intersections. Intersections are often unassuming but can prove to be complicated and hectic. Don’t assume that everyone follows the rules. Looking around for visual confirmation is necessary to ensure safe travels. Drive like you’re expecting someone to run a light. Always look both ways before proceeding, especially if you’re first on the line.
How to protect your company from intersection crashes
Keeping your company’s drivers safer from intersection crashes is integral in maintaining and retaining a healthy fleet, but how do you protect your business? We’ve got three tips to do just that:
Establish a clear safety policy
Driver safety policies are agreements between your company and drivers where they agree to following your stipulations laid out. Driver safety policies not only protect your company from incurring bad drivers but also potentially from the legal repercussions of at- or high-risk drivers.
The best way to approach a safety policy is with the mindset of continuous improvement. Maybe intersections are a problem this quarter, but red lights are next quarter’s hot button issue. Even if reevaluating every quarter, a consistently reworked safety policy can keep drivers, companies and communities safer.
Effectively communicate company expectations
There’s nothing worse than being left in the dark, guessing what the expectations are that exist. Your employees crave answers, which is why communication is key.
Sit down with your drivers and explain the expectations you have for them as representatives of your brand. Even if they don’t drive as a primary function of their role, communicating to your employees on why safe driving matters to your company and how they fit within that is essential.
Implement driver training
Driver training solutions can change the way you approach roadway dangers such as intersection crashes. If an employee doesn’t take to heart any of the seven tips and is caught texting at a red light, only to be rear-ended, wouldn’t you like an option before disqualifying them from driving or even working at the company?
When the employee takes that class on navigating intersections, passes a strength of knowledge test and electronically attests to that, you’re also in-turn legally protected. Never underestimate the power of small administrative necessities like driver training solutions.
How to further manage driver risk
Now that you know about the prevalence of intersection crashes and the ways to keep both your employees and company safer, you may be wondering what next steps you should take. While intersection crashes are prevalent, they’re just the tip of the iceberg in managing your company’s driver risk.
To learn about other risks on the road, download our infographic, What Every Company Needs to Know About Driver Safety.