The “Million Mile Safety Bonus” is an important part of many fleet safety programs, but should we be waiting a million miles to reward good drivers?

If we look at the numbers, we can see that fleets need to reward and retain safe drivers long before they hit the million mile mark.

It takes the average driver roughly nine years to reach the million mile mark. Given the high rate of driver turnover in the industry, it is certainly worthwhile to reward drivers for sticking around long enough to log a million miles – after all, studies show that it costs an average of $8000 to hire and train a new driver. We also know that individual driver safety performance plays a huge role in the safety record of a fleet, affecting everything from CSA scores and accident costs, to insurance premiums and fuel expenses.

There is no question that all long-term drivers deserve our praise and recognition. It takes great self-discipline, focus and commitment to drive a truck, day after day for miles on end. However, if you look at the statistics around the million mile mark, we’ll see that it is not necessarily a marker of outstanding safety performance.

In fact, we can see that one third of high-risk drivers may very well be recognized for accident-free driving thanks to simple luck, while safer drivers may passed over without recognition for years simply because they haven’t logged the same mileage or enjoyed the same luck.

Let’s look at the numbers!

Heavy trucks were involved in 275,484 police-reported crashes in 2010, according to the US Department of Transportation, and there are 3.5 million commercial drivers in the United States. This makes the odds of being involved in an accident less than 8%.

If we project accident risk over time, how much does accident risk increase each year?

NOT AS MUCH AS YOU MIGHT THINK:

YEAR

MILES DRIVEN RISK
1 115,000

7.8%

2

230,000 14.9%
3 345,000

21.6%

4

460,000 27.7%
5 575,000

33.3%

6

690,000 38.5%
7 805,000

38.5%

8

920,000 47.7%
9 1,035,000

51.8%

Yes, a driver’s odds of an accident go up each year. However, at the million mile mark, your average driver is still almost exactly as likely to have avoided an accident as to have ended up in one. By this logic, it takes a million miles to reach the same odds as a coin toss!

Not all drivers have the same level of risk

We have shown that an Accident Risk of 7.8% per year produces a 50/50 chance of an accident after 9 years, but we know that when it comes to safety, not all drivers are equal.

  • What about Lower Risk Drivers with a 6% annual risk?
  • What about Higher Risk Drivers with a 12% annual risk?

YEAR

LOWER RISK AVERAGE RISK HIGHER RISK
1 6% 7.8%

12%

2

11.6% 14.9% 22.5%
3 16.9% 21.6%

31.8%

4

21.9% 27.7% 40%
5 26.6% 33.3%

47.2%

6

31% 38.5% 53.5%
7 35.1% 43.3%

59.1%

8

39% 47.7% 64%
9 42.7% 51.8%

68.3%

What does this chart tell us? Even though the higher risk drivers are assumed to have a starting risk of twice that of the lower risk drivers, there’s still almost a 1 in 3 chance that a high risk driver will hit the million mile mark accident-free!

In a driver community where low-risk drivers know who the aggressive high-risk drivers are, how does rewarding that lucky third of aggressive drivers make the low-risk drivers feel?

In order to retain our safest drivers, and to identify high-risk drivers before they cause accidents, we need to identify safe driving much earlier. Rewarding million mile drivers is undoubtedly a great way to encourage loyalty, but to encourage safety, we need to look more deeply at driver behavior as it develops.

Lesson Learned: Reward safe drivers sooner than a million miles to improve retention and lower recruitment and training costs.