Fleet safety reminders: Stay off the phone, secure all axes

Updated Aug 5, 2014

A fleet vehicle is a rolling billboard, and many companies spend good money on eye-catching color schemes – and let’s not forget to keep those trucks and vans clean and shiny. Of course, how those vehicles are being operated on public streets and highways means a lot, as well: Do you know what your crews are up to in transit?

I’m running this reminder because a couple of items have come across my desk this week that I’ll share.

1. If you don’t have a cell phone policy, get one (and make sure dispatch takes it seriously).

2. Review your hand-tools/equipment stowage procedures.

As to the former, several large-scale, naturalistic driving studies conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute â€“ using sophisticated cameras and instrumentation in participants’ personal vehicles – provide a clear picture of driver distraction and cell phone use under real-world driving conditions.

“There is an alarming amount of misinformation and confusion regarding cell phone and texting use while behind the wheel of a vehicle,” says Tom Dingus, director of the institute. “Our research findings can help begin to clear up these misconceptions as it is based on real-world driving data. We conduct transportation safety research in an effort to equip the public with information that can save lives.”

In the institute’s studies for commercial vehicles, the issue isn’t so much that talking on the phone is a distraction, but reaching for a phone and dialing it clearly is. And texting? Forget about it.

  • Dialing a cell phone made the risk of crash or near-crash event 5.9 times as high as non-distracted driving;
  • Talking or listening to a cell phone made the risk of crash or near-crash event 1.0 times as high as non-distracted driving;
  • Use of, or reach for, an electronic device made the risk of crash or near-crash event 6.7 times as high as non-distracted driving; and
  • Text messaging made the risk of crash or near-crash event 23.2 times as high as non-distracted driving.

As to equipment securement, a picture is worth 1,000 words.

MSP hatchet

This is from the Massachusetts State Police, who posted it on their Facebook page.

A landscaper had failed to properly secure an axe, which flew off the truck and struck the windshield of the car behind it. The passenger was not injured.

Two important lessons here, say the staties:

  • Contractors and all other motorists are reminded to properly secure items they are transporting, including tools, building materials, bicycles, canoes, luggage, furniture, beach chairs, and the like.
  • The man whose car was struck was obeying the speed limit, driving about 65 mph. If he had been speeding, the increased velocity of his car would have increased the power of the axe’s impact, meaning it could very well have gone through the glass and injured his passenger.