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The Cost of Unsafe Driving—And How GPS Can Help Brian Dziuk | Apr 13, 2016 1:28:39 PM

Dangerous driving can lead to the loss of men and materials.Every year, there are millions (yes, millions) of vehicular accidents on American highways. According to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), in 2014 alone, there were “29,989 fatal crashes and 6,034,000 non-fatal crashes.” Many of these crashes can be attributed to unsafe driving practices.

Unsafe driving practices can cost your organization in numerous ways. What are the costs of unsafe driving, and how can they affect your organization?

Here are a few examples to consider:

#1: Driver Injuries/Fatalities

When drivers behave unsafely behind the wheel, one of the most important things being put at risk are those drivers. As noted by the NHTSA, in 2014 there were “657 fatalities and 27,000 injuries” among occupants of large trucks arising from traffic crashes.

One disconcerting fact is that “sixty-two percent of large-truck occupants killed in 2014 died in single-vehicle crashes.” While some accidents may be unavoidable, being caused by the unpredictable driving of other motorists on the highway, the large percentage of single-vehicle fatalities among large truck drivers indicates a major problem with unsafe driving practices.

Driver injury or death can be a massive blow to any organization. Not only do you lose access to a skilled driver that you have to replace, there are safety investigations, workman’s comp claims, and possibly even lawsuits to deal with (even if you’re doing everything right).

The cost of hiring, training, and acclimating a new driver to the job can be high, and the costs can be higher when you’re rushing the process.

#2: Loss of the Vehicle

Another major blow to your organization is the loss of the vehicle that was being driven at the time of the crash. In a best-case scenario, the vehicle will only suffer minor or cosmetic damage and simply need a close inspection and some minor repairs to get it ready for the road again.

In a worst-case scenario, there could be major, near-irreversible damage to the vehicle that would be so expensive to repair that simply replacing the asset would be more cost-effective.

The specific cost of repairing or replacing your vehicle will depend on the type of vehicle that was damaged, but even replacing a small car can cost thousands, while larger vehicles can run tens of thousands of dollars.

#3: Loss of Cargo/Tools

If the vehicle involved in the crash was a semi truck with a full trailer, the losses your company could experience can be in the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of dollars.

Once again, a best-case scenario would just be light damage to whatever cargo your vehicle was moving, or maybe even simply a delay of delivery as the trailer waits to be hooked up to a different vehicle.

The worst-case scenario would be the complete destruction or theft of the cargo following a traffic crash.

Even light utility trucks and vans can have valuable assets on them that can be lost or destroyed in a crash. For example, chemical containers and tools carried by street cleaning vehicles can be damaged in a collision, resulting in losses.

#4: Loss of Reputation

Major vehicular crashes involving your organization’s vehicles can damage your public image, especially if your driver is at fault for the crash. The effects of this can be subtle and difficult to track, but every bit of negative publicity can undermine your efforts.

#5: Legal Expenses Arising from Damages

Unfortunately, in all too many traffic crashes, the damage isn’t limited to the vehicle involved in the collision. Traffic crashes can cause damage to other vehicles, structures, and personal property, as well as causing injuries and fatalities to other motorists and pedestrians. According to NHTSA data, there were “4,884 fatalities and 66,000 injuries” among pedestrians arising from traffic crashes in 2014 alone.

The costs associated with these damages can be astronomical, to say the least. Even with top-notch insurance, the cost to your organization from legal fees and reimbursements can bite deeply into your financial assets.

Improving Driving Habits with GPS Tracking Systems

When you add up the potential costs of a crash caused by dangerous driving, it’s clear that promoting good driving habits among your organization’s drivers is of the utmost importance.

But, how can you be sure that your drivers are using safe driving practices?

One way is to use GPS tracking systems to remotely monitor driver behaviors. Driving habits that can be monitored include how drivers accelerate, decelerate, whether they stop for railroad crossings (if required), how they move through intersections, and more.

Dangerous driving behaviors, such as excessive speeding and hard braking, can be easily identified from GPS data. With the data from a GPS tracker, you can see which of your drivers are behaving dangerously on the road and make sure they get the training they need to correct their bad habits.

In the short run, your drivers might not like being monitored or told how they should drive. However, in the long run your drivers and their families will thank you for taking the time to make sure they’re able to return home safely.

At the end of the day, making sure that all of your drivers and work crews return safely is worth any amount of time and effort.

While there is a cost to unsafe driving, you can’t put a price on safety for your drivers and for the motorists and pedestrians on the road.

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