Bad Driving is Bad for Business

Don't let your fleet bring you down.

Ryan Pietzsch, MS
February 28, 2024

As I was driving the other day, I came to a stop sign at a T-intersection with obstructed sight distance to either side. I stopped my vehicle behind the white stop line and as I scanned the road for traffic. Another driver, let’s call him Joe, pulled into the turn lane to my right. He was going to turn in front of me onto the road where I was stopped. I looked to my left to see that there were cars coming. I prepared myself for a patient wait at the stop sign when suddenly I noticed that Joe was cutting the corner, accelerating and coming within inches of the front left side of my car. His angle was so sharp he barely made the turn, forcing him to come dangerously close to me.

Wow. What could be so important to Joe that he couldn’t wait for a couple of cars to pass before making that turn? As I reflected on what just happened, I recalled that the double yellow line to my left extended just in front of my front bumper, and I remembered seeing Joe’s vehicle almost entirely cross those yellow lines. But what did I remember most? Joe had his business advertised all over his vehicle. There it was, staring me in the face: Joe’s Contracting: Your trusted source for roofing, siding and gutters

I would never call Joe. If he runs his business the way he drives, I wouldn’t want him working on my house. Do you think that Joe thought about the fact that his vehicle was wrapped with his company’s logo and his phone number? Do you think he had any concern with the choice he made racing oncoming traffic and cutting that corner like he did? Worse yet, what if the driver wasn’t even Joe!

Like so many organizations, Joe’s Contracting has employees driving on our roads and interacting with other road users, and they are a huge liability for their organizations. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death on the job. Even if Joe wasn’t driving, he is vicariously liable for that vehicle. Joe has a vested interest in making sure that his company is represented in a positive way, as does every employee driving a company vehicle.

One way to ensure that is to qualify every driver. Check their driving record, provide in-service driver training that introduces potential drivers to the vehicle they’ll use in their work, and use driver monitoring systems (available in cell phone apps or via hardware installed in the vehicle) to gather data for coaching opportunities. A workplace safety culture is represented by every action that you take, including your driving choices on and off the job.

The National Safety Council has resources for companies of all sizes. The all-new Fleet Essentials program is an online, modularized series that enables employers to assign training to drivers based on the specific vehicle types they may be expected to drive. As a bonus, if a driver completes a defensive driving course, Fleet Essentials core courses and a vehicle-specific course, the employee can be recognized with the vehicle-specific Safe Driver Designation. If your drivers have CDLs, they may also benefit from NSC Professional Truck Driver courses (PTD).

Protect your people. Ensure they have the knowledge, training and equipment to make it home safely. Proper driver qualification requires background checks, in-service training, just-in-time training or remedial training, annual refresher training and retraining every three to four years.

Joe’s driving wasn’t doing his business any favors. How does your organization compare to Joe’s?

Ryan Pietzsch, MS

Ryan Pietzsch is program technical consultant, driver safety, education and training, at the National Safety Council.

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