Fleet safety: The top 9 causes of driving accidents

Discover the top causes of driving accidents and how fleet managers can prevent them. Learn about liability, costs, and the role of technology in ensuring fleet safety.

Anna Edwards
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A Fleet Manager’s responsibilities might seem endless: from overseeing all commercial vehicles, drivers, related assets as well as laying a pivotal operational role within the business, Fleet Managers also play a crucial role in ensuring the health, safety, and responsible behaviour of their drivers.

With a responsibility for safety, comes the need to address the risks and challenges associated with driving and dealing with the causes and results of accidents. By understanding these causes and implementing effective measures, Fleet Managers can mitigate accidents, reduce liability, and protect their fleet and drivers.

The latest statistics from gov.uk indicates that there was an estimated 128,209 casualties of all severities in 2021 related to road accidents in the UK. That places the average accident rate to almost 351 accidents per day.  This is a high concern for fleet drivers using the roads every day for often long hours at a time. Fleet Managers as well as drivers have the responsibility to ensure that their drivers are equipped with the correct tools and training to decrease the chances of causing accidents.

Is a company liable for an accident in a company car?

One aspect Fleet Managers need to consider is the question of liability. It's essential to understand the legal implications and potential consequences. While specific circumstances may vary, factors such as whether the accident happened during company hours or if the driver was using a company vehicle can influence liability.

If a driver of a company vehicle is in an accident, they can claim compensation. The employer usually handles the insurance claim. Even if the company’s insurance includes legal protection, the employee should seek advice from an independent specialist personal injury solicitor to ensure that they receive the proper protection and that their expenses are paid correctly.

When beginning your compensation claim, there are several things should be considered, which generally include:

  • General damages – The compensation you receive reflects the pain and suffering you experience after sustaining the injury in the accident.

  • Care claim – If you need assistance around the house while you recover, the person who cares for you can file a claim.

  • Medical expenses – Extra costs due to medical needs, for example, prescription fees, counselling costs etc., should be a factor.

  • Loss of earnings – If you lose income due to the injuries - you can claim this as part of your special damages.

  • Travel expenses – Any extra travel costs such as travelling to the hospital will be in your company car accident claims.

Implications for a company’s brand reputation because of road accidents

Work-related accidents can have significant implications for a company's brand and reputation. When accidents occur due to negligence or inadequate safety measures, it can negatively impact how the public perceives the company. The incident may even be covered by the media or a civilian taking a video that goes viral, which can lead to a tarnished image and decreased trust among customers, stakeholders, and the public.

Work-related accidents can result in lawsuits and legal liabilities. If the company is found liable for negligence or inadequate safety protocols, it may face substantial financial penalties, settlements, and legal expenses. These costs can significantly impact the company's bottom line and reputation. 

It can affect employee morale and retention

Accidents in the workplace can lower employee morale and create an unsafe work environment. Employees may feel concerned for their own safety and question the company's commitment to their well-being. This can lead to increased turnover rates and difficulty attracting new talent, impacting the company's overall productivity and success.

There can be loss of business opportunities

Negative publicity resulting from work-related accidents can deter potential clients and partners from engaging with the company. They may perceive the company as unreliable, unsafe, or untrustworthy, leading to lost business opportunities and a damaged brand reputation.

There can be big financial losses

Work-related accidents can have significant financial implications, including medical expenses, workers' compensation claims, property damage, and increased insurance premiums. These costs can strain the company's financial resources and profitability, impacting its overall stability and growth potential.

How can Fleet Managers ensure accidents are being avoided?

Fleet Managers play a critical role in ensuring the safety of their drivers and reducing the risk of accidents. It’s the company’s responsibility that some key strategies and practices are implemented to decrease the risks of accidents.

  • Robust Driver Training: Implement comprehensive driver training programs that cover defensive driving techniques, road safety regulations, and proper vehicle handling. Regularly update and reinforce this training to keep drivers informed and skilled in safe driving practices. This will also give your drivers the necessary confidence to safely navigate the roads while performing their daily work tasks.

  • Vehicle Maintenance and Inspections: Establish a proactive maintenance schedule for all fleet vehicles to ensure they are in optimal condition. Regularly inspect and address any issues related to brakes, tires, lights, and other essential components. Properly maintained vehicles are less likely to experience mechanical failures that could lead to accidents on the road.

  • Safety Policies and Procedures: Develop and clearly communicate safety policies and procedures to all drivers. These should include guidelines for safe driving practices, mobile device usage, seat belt usage, fatigue management, and drug and alcohol policies. Reinforce these policies through regular reminders and training sessions to

  • Telematics and Driver Monitoring Software: Fleet Managers can use telematics systems and driver monitoring technology to track driver behaviour and identify potential risks. These systems can provide real-time data on speeding, harsh braking, rapid acceleration, and other unsafe driving habits. By monitoring driver performance and providing feedback, fleet managers can help improve driver’s behaviour on the road.

  • Safety Incentive Programs: Fleet Managers can implement safety incentive programs that reward drivers for maintaining a safe driving record. It is important to recognise and appreciate drivers who consistently adhere to safety protocols, follow traffic laws, and contribute to accident-free operations.

  • Robust Insurance Coverage: Having the right insurance policies in place is crucial for Fleet Managers. Adequate coverage should include liability insurance, collision coverage, and comprehensive insurance, protecting both the company and its drivers in case of accidents.

By implementing these strategies and fostering a culture of safety within the fleet,  Fleet Managerscan significantly reduce the risk of accidents and promote a safer driving environment for their drivers and the public. Prioritising driver safety not only helps avoid accidents but also protects the company's reputation and reduces costs associated with road accidents.

The top 9 causes of road accidents

1. Driver error or reaction: According to comparethemarket.com, the number one cause of road accidents is driver error or reactions, which caused 64% of accidents in 2021 – a total of 43059 collisions. This includes aggressive driving behaviours such as tailgating, frequent lane changes, and excessive speeding, contribute to accidents. Fleet Managers should promote a culture of patience and respect on the road, encourage defensive driving techniques, and provide ongoing driver behaviour monitoring and feedback.

2. Speeding: Speeding is a leading cause of accidents, increasing the risk of collisions and reducing drivers' ability to react to unexpected situations. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), inappropriate speed contributes to approximately 11% of all injury collisions reported to the police and 24% of all fatal collisions.

Collisions caused by speeding are avoidable if drivers obey the laws of the road to keep themselves and others safe. It is worth always remembering that speed limits dictate the maximum speed, not the required speed, so adjusting your speed to the state of the road or weather conditions is entirely realistic.

Fleet Managers should emphasise the importance of obeying speed limits, regularly monitor driver behaviour, and consider implementing speed monitoring technology or telematics systems to ensure that their drivers are following the rules.

3. Fatigue and drowsy driving: One in eight (13%) UK drivers admit to falling asleep at the wheel and nearly two fifths (37%) say they have been so tired they have been scared they would fall asleep when driving. Driver fatigue impairs judgment, slows reaction times, and increases the likelihood of accidents. Fleet managers can combat fatigue-related accidents by implementing fatigue management policies, encouraging rest breaks during long journeys, and promoting healthy sleep habits among drivers.

4. Distraction: One of the most common causes of road traffic accidents is distraction and all road users, no matter their mode of transport, can find themselves distracted while driving. Distractions include the use of mobile phones, in-car audio systems, children, and passengers. Driver using a mobile phone contributed to 368 car accidents in Great Britain in 2020 (0.6% of accidents).

It is an offence to hold a mobile phone or sat nav whilst driving – this law also applies when you’re stationary at traffic lights or queueing in traffic. The penalty for breaking this law is 6 points on your license and a £200 fine. If you passed your driving test in the last two years, you’ll also lose your licence. Fleet managers should emphasise the importance of following safety protocols and not letting drivers get distracted. They can also equip their drivers with hands-free mobile devices to ensure that they can safely use their mobiles for work while on the road.

5. Failure to judge other person’s path of speed: This was the cause of 19% (12,618) accidents in 2021. Accidents caused by a driver's failure to judge another person's speed or pathway where a driver misjudges the speed or path of another vehicle, pedestrian, or cyclist on the road. This misjudgement can lead to collisions or near-miss incidents, posing a significant risk to road safety leading to incorrect overtaking, intersection collisions or incorrect merging and lane changing.

6. Inexperienced or inadequate driver skills: Lack of experience, inadequate training, or insufficient knowledge of traffic laws and safe driving practices contribute to accidents, particularly among young or newly licensed drivers. Companies should prioritise driver training and development programs to enhance drivers' skills and knowledge.

7. Poor weather conditions: Adverse weather conditions, such as rain, snow, or fog, can significantly impact driving safety and is the reason for 8.1% of road accidents. Fleet managers should educate drivers on safe driving techniques for different weather conditions and consider using weather monitoring systems to provide real-time updates and route planning assistance when their drivers are out on the road.

8. Loss of control: When a driver is unable to maintain control of their vehicle, leading to a collision or an accident. It can occur due to various factors and circumstances, often resulting in severe consequences. This results in an average of 6,832(11.4%) of accidents occurring. Loss of control can happen in many ways such as skidding or hydroplaning, oversteering or understeering, mechanical failure or even distracted driving.

9. Impaired driving: Driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol is illegal and should be always avoided. According to the NHS, 9,050 people were killed or injured in 2016 due to at least one driver being over the drink-drive limit. Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or certain medications poses a severe risk to road safety. Fleet managers should have strict policies prohibiting impaired driving and conduct regular alcohol and drug testing to ensure compliance.

As Fleet Managers, ensuring the safety of drivers and preventing accidents is of paramount importance. Implementing comprehensive driver training, robust insurance coverage, and leveraging technologies like telematics systems can further enhance fleet safety. By prioritising safety, fleet managers can protect their drivers, minimise liability, and maintain a positive brand image of the company on the road.

To learn more about how technology can enhance fleet safety and reduce accident risks, explore ABAX's comprehensive fleet management solutions. Our advanced telematics systems and driver behaviour monitoring tools can empower fleet managers with real-time insights, helping them make informed decisions and promote a safer driving environment. Contact us today to schedule a demo and discover how ABAX can support your fleet safety goals.

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