We Need to Talk About Off Interstate Driving – And we need you to talk back

I know I’m stating the obvious, but if you are a safety director or a fleet manager, you have a lot of data to manage. So, here’s a tip about what kind of data can mean the most to the safe and efficient operation of your fleet. If you drill down and look at where many of your problem situations lie, I bet that a healthy handful of them involve aggressive driving or inattention on suburban streets or rural roads..

In the general public’s mind a lot of truck safety concern is around big rigs on the interstate but the data tells a different story.  Interstates were built for safety – on the interstate there are no intersections, there are at least two lanes, there is a single flow of traffic, there are wide shoulders – all safety measure that lead for safer operations and fewer accidents per vehicle mile travelled (VMT).

It’s a different story on secondary roads, and there are statistics that show us how much of a difference there is between the two. In the United States, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA) has concluded that 61% of all fatal commercial trucking accidents occur on non-interstate roads.

Beyond the risk to life and property, every accident your fleet has will have a negative effect on your insurance premiums and, for fleets based in the United States, your CSA score. A simple speeding violation can carry a severity weight from 4 all the way up to 10, depending on how much over the speed limit a driver is speeding. Because this score is also available to your customers, a bad one can keep your fleet from winning or keeping a contract..

When you think about these statistics, it puts safety managers in a unique position to influence financial outcomes for your company. Accidents cost money and  by improving your corporate safety culture, by implementing safety technology and by focusing on driver behavior and risk mitigation, especially on secondary roads where most accidents happen, you affect the bottom line performance of your company. In other words, safety pays.

In the coming months, we here at Cautious Coyote are looking at how to improve off interstate driving. But we need your help. Comment here to answer some of these questions or just leave an opinion…

  • Where does the risk come from on rural highways? Driver inattention? Aggressive behavior? Weather? Time of day?
  • Whats different about suburban vs urban conditions?
  • What sort of accident is most likely to result in incorrect blame on a trucking company?
  • Do you believe in risk ‘hot spots’? We here at Cautious Coyote do. Check out this ATRI Rollover Map.
  • Are some locations where you drive inherently more risky? If so, tell us how and why they are more risky.
  • What are you doing to identify risky behavior? Specific training or coaching for off interstate driving?

In this series Cautious Coyote wants to help you improve your fleet’s off interstate performance. If you don’t have a specific scenario to share, you can simply join in the conversation by commenting here. Please sign up, and let’s talk about solutions that can make a difference for you and your fellow fleet and safety managers in the industry.