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Keys to Road Safety from US highway administration

The goal of US National highway traffic safety administration NHTSA is to keep drivers, passengers, and pedestrians safe by reducing deaths, and injuries from motor vehicle crashes by enforcing vehicle performance standards and partnerships with state and local governments.

With that said, here are some road safety tips highlighted by the administration which can help keep your corporate fleet safe and sound as well as reduce economic losses.

Eliminate Distracted Driving

Nearly 39,000 people die in motor vehicle crashes per year in the United States (38,824 in 2020) and about 10% of them were due to the dangerous habit of driving while distracted. In 2021, distracted driving claimed 3,522 lives and nearly the same amount the year before, according to NHTSA.

It constitutes any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, or fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system. Of all distractions, using a cell phone while driving is considerably alarming, especially when it comes to texting. 

Sending or reading a text could take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. You cannot drive safely unless the task of driving has your full attention. 

Fleet Managers play your part. Spread the word about the dangers of distracted driving. Ask your employees to commit to distraction-free driving or set a company policy that stresses this. 

Eliminate Vehicle Theft

Motor vehicles are a key part of our everyday lives and often the life blood of fleet operations. In the US, more than 800,000 drivers fall victim to this costly crime each year.

In 2020, at least 804,000 vehicles were stolen (one every 39 seconds), summing to $7 billion in costs. At least three in four of them were passenger cars and Summer is the season when most thefts occur. Also, according to NHTSA, approximately half of those thefts were due to driver error so take the appropriate actions to eliminate theft.

Use common sense when parking and exiting your vehicle: Take your vehicle's key; do not leave it in or on your vehicle; Close and lock all windows and doors when you park; Park in well-lit areas if possible; Never leave valuables in your vehicle, especially if they can be seen from outside the vehicle.

Remember that thieves want vehicle parts and valuable items, too. Radios and wheel covers aren't the only popular stolen vehicle parts thieves take. Some of the most popular vehicle parts or valuable items stolen from vehicles include doors, engines, transmissions, air bags, radios, GPS units, cell phones, iPads, laptops, and purses.

There are numerous antitheft systems and devices designed to make vehicles more difficult to steal or easier to trace and recover. Here are how some of them work:

•    Audible and Visible Devices: These devices, such as a horn alarm, deter theft by bringing attention to an unauthorized attempt to steal or enter a vehicle. Visible devices create a visual threat/warning/deterrence, such as the use of steering-wheel locks, as well as theft-deterrent decals, flashing lights, and window etching.

•    Immobilizing-Type Devices: These prevent thieves from bypassing a vehicle’s ignition system and hot-wiring the vehicle. Some incorporate computer chips in ignition keys or disable the flow of electricity or fuel to the engine.

•    Vehicle Recovery Systems: These devices use electronic transmission technology that help law enforcement reveal the location of stolen vehicles—and possibly catch the thief in the act.

If you are a victim of vehicle theft, start by contacting the police immediately to file a stolen-vehicle report. You will need a copy of the police report and/or a case number to provide to your insurance company. You may also be asked to provide information such as license plate number, make, model, and color of your vehicle, and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and any identifying characteristics.

You should also contact your insurance company to file a claim within 24 hours of your vehicle being stolen. If you find your vehicle before authorities do, contact the police and your insurance company immediately.

Technological Solutions

Among the solutions to safekeeping your fleet are implementing technologies in your operations. Among other things, this means taking advantage of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communication (V2V), and soon to come Autonomous Vehicles.

ADAS

Driver assistance technologies in your car not only help to keep you and your passengers safe, but also other drivers and pedestrians. When shopping for a new or used vehicle, you may notice that different manufacturers use different names for the technologies. 

NHTSA is helping consumers break through the confusion with explanations about how these technologies work. It’s important to understand that some driver assistance technologies are designed to warn you if you’re at risk of an impending crash, while others are designed to take action to avoid a crash. 

Be sure to review your vehicle’s owner’s manual for more information on your vehicle’s technology and safety features. Understanding how the technology works and how it can better protect you, your passengers and others is key. Among those to look for are: 

Collision Warning 
•    Forward Collision Warning
•    Lane Departure Warning
•    Rear Cross Traffic Warning
•    Blind Spot Warning

Collision Intervention 
•    Automatic Emergency Braking
•    Pedestrian Automatic Emergency Braking
•    Rear Automatic Braking
•    Blind Spot Intervention

Driver Control Assistance 
•    Adaptive Cruise Control
•    Lane Centering Assistance
•    Land Keeping Assistance

Other Systems 
•    Automatic High Beam
•    Backup Camera
•    Automatic Crash Notification 

V2V
Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication enables vehicles to wirelessly exchange information about their speed, location, and heading, allowing vehicles to broadcast and receive omni-directional messages of other nearby vehicles. The technology can then employ visual, tactile, and audible alerts or a combination of these alerts to warn drivers, enabling them to take action to avoid crashes.

However, the greatest benefits can only be achieved when all vehicles can communicate with each other. That’s why NHTSA has been working with the automotive industry and academic institutions for more than a decade to advance V2V communication's lifesaving potential into reality.

Connected vehicle technologies will provide drivers with the tools they need to anticipate potential crashes and significantly reduce the number of lives lost each year. In an effort to reduce the potential for a vehicle crash on America’s roadways, the Department of Transportation is working toward enabling V2V communication technology on all new light-duty vehicles.

Autonomous Vehicles

Vehicle safety promises to be one of autonomous vehicles biggest benefits. Higher levels of automation as seen below (Level 0-5), remove the human driver from the chain of events that can lead to a crash. While these systems are not fully available to consumers today, the advantages of this developing technology could be far-reaching. 

Level 0 (Momentary Driver Assistance) System provides momentary driving assistance, like warnings and alerts, or emergency safety interventions while driver remains fully engaged and attentive.

Level 1 (Driver Assistance) System provides continuous assistance with either acceleration/braking OR steering, while driver remains fully engaged and attentive.

Level 2 (Additional Assistance) System provides continuous assistance with both acceleration/braking AND steering, while driver remains fully engaged and attentive.

Level 3 (Conditional Automation) System actively performs driving tasks while driver remains available to take over.

Level 4 (High Automation) System is fully responsible for driving tasks within limited service areas while occupants act only as passengers and do not need to be engaged.

Level 5 (Full Automation) System is fully responsible for driving tasks while occupants act only as passengers and do not need to be engaged.

As you can see, there is much work to do when it comes you keeping drivers and vehicles safe. Fleet Managers, know what is available and then implement the right decisions to assure the best policy for your fleet. 

For more on safety and other fleet related topics, join your peers, colleagues and even competitors at the 2023 Global Fleet Conference taking place 15-17 May in Portugal.   

 

Photo (copyright: Shutterstock)

Authored by: Daniel Bland