Fleet Drivers Want More Safety Training, Study Finds

New research from insurance provider Nationwide shows commercial fleet drivers are facing increased distractions and safety risks on the road, exacerbated by staffing shortages that are leading to longer hours behind the wheel and a reduced focus on safety.

Nearly three-quarters of commercial drivers surveyed said they want their management to increase the training being provided to drivers to help prevent accidents and improve safety.

Edelman Data and Intelligence (DXI) conducted the national online survey of 400 commercial drivers and 1,000 general consumers. 

Drivers Feel Distracted and Overworked

A circle chart shows two-thirds of drivers feel distracted. Next to it, a bar chart shows reasons they feel distracted, including in-car technology.

Many survey respondents said they feel distracted by technology in their vehicle.

One-third of company drivers said they “often or sometimes” feel distracted while driving for work purposes – mostly caused by known safety hazards like operating GPS/navigation systems, interacting with radio or music systems, or responding to work-related texts.

More than a quarter of respondents also daydream behind the wheel and 13% are checking social media apps.

Staffing shortages could be contributing to risky driving behaviors as drivers work longer hours and face challenging deadlines.

Four in 10 drivers say their employer is struggling with staffing shortages, leading to increased workloads, longer hours and more difficulty meeting deadlines.

Drivers also reported facing distractions due to work demands:

  • 55% take work phone calls while driving
  • 30% read/respond to work texts while driving
  • 18% read work emails, while 16% respond to work emails

While 57% of commercial drivers reported that their company enforces a ‘hands-free’ phone policy, about half of those drivers also said their company does not monitor cell phone usage.

Two charts compare what dangerous activities drivers take part in - consumers vs. commercial drivers. Over half of commercial drivers take work calls behind the wheel.

More than half of commercial drivers reported they sometimes or often take work calls.

Concerns About Safety From Drivers

Driver shortages may also be fueling concerns about overall workplace standards and practices that could impact the safety of fleet drivers and the general public on the roads with them. Here’s how some of the data breaks down:

  • 42% of drivers say their employer has reduced hiring criteria
  • 39% say employee training has suffered
  • 34% say there’s less of a focus on safety

More than half of fleet drivers say they’re worried about their own personal safety and liability behind the wheel. More than half of respondents reported being involved in or having witnessed an accident in the past year.

Support For Safety Initiatives and Technology

As a result, 72% of drivers want their management to increase the training being provided to drivers to help prevent accidents and improve safety.

Drivers are also overwhelmingly supportive of technology like dash cams and telematics, which they feel can improve their safety on the roads and increase transparency and accountability. Despite this, only 38% of drivers say their employer requires a dash cam or monitors their driving with telematics.

“Business owners may have opportunities to elevate the training and safety resources they’re offering for drivers, further demonstrating their commitment to their workers and, in turn, potentially helping with hiring and retaining good drivers in the future,” said Kristina Talkowski, Nationwide’s leader of Middle Market Commercial Lines. “Safe, high quality drivers also welcome technology like dash cams that can help improve safe driving behaviors and stave off legal system abuse that’s negatively impacting insurance customers through higher insurance costs, longer claims resolution times and limited access to coverage.”

A proactive approach can save companies money in the long run, helping them avoid repair and replacement costs, as well as workers comp payouts.

Where Do Drivers Feel Safest?

A percentage breakdown shows more than half of drivers feel urban settings are the most dangerous. A chart next to it shows specific risks commercial drivers notice in rural areas, like curvy roads.

Over half of respondents reported that they believe urban road settings are the most dangerous.

Just over half of respondents said they feel cities and downtown areas are the most dangerous areas to drive, with 15% saying they believed suburban or rural/country areas are the most dangerous. About one-third said all settings are equally dangerous.

In rural areas, nearly half of fleet drivers said they felt tight, curvy roads with limited visibility were the most dangerous risks, with people making dangerous passes on two-lane roads just behind it.

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