The importance of having good fleet drivers cannot be underestimated. Good drivers should be skilled enough to handle their vehicle under any condition, have comprehensive knowledge of the rules of the road, and are aware of the basic use and repair of the vehicle they drive. A driver that drives accident free will save both the company and fleet manager from additional costs and many headaches. A single accident can cost as much as 36 times the cost of a repair, and accident prone drivers are a liability.
Increased Cost & Accident Risk
When drivers do not behave as expected, with safety and responsibilities in mind, costs and accidents increase. Let's take a look at what most fleet managers would expect of their drivers compared to what Malaysian statistics show is the normal behavior.
Expectation: Fleet Drivers are Focused and Avoid Distractions
As a fleet manager, you expect your fleet drivers to be alert when they are on the job. They are expected to operate their vehicles safely and avoid any distractions, such as using their mobile devices or eat. In short, you expect them to focus on their job — driving.
Instead, shocking statistics from The Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (MIROS) reveal that more than 43 percent of Malaysian drivers use their mobile phones while driving. Using phones while driving is an unsafe practice. Not only do drivers have to take their eyes off the road when they use their phones, their minds are distracted and their hands are occupied. They are in no shape to operate a fleet vehicle.
Expectation: Fleet Drivers are sober
Good drivers are expected to have self-discipline and to abide by the rules of the road. This includes avoiding substances such as alcohol or even prescription drugs that cause drowsiness on work days. Fleet drivers are expected to stay healthy and only be driving when they have clear hearing and vision. Of course, drivers are always expected to drive sober.
Unfortunately, the reality doesn't follow suit. According to a response by the Transport Ministry, 2,281 people were affected by drunk driving accidents in Malaysia between 2011 to 2018 whereby half resulted in deaths and the other half suffered from injuries.
Another research by MIROS in 2012 showed that a drunk driver is 13 times more likely to cause an accident, compared to a sober person. Hence, strengthening the importance of safe and sober driving, especially when handling commercial vehicles is crucial.
Expectation: Fleet Drivers drive responsibly and safely
Fleet drivers are expected to drive safely and responsibly every hour of the day. Fleet managers expect them to follow the speed limits, wear their seatbelts and drive in a way that is fuel-efficient. Safe driving includes avoiding cornering, speeding and sudden brakes.
Malaysian drivers are prone to ignore using their turn signals, instead, they turn left and right on the road without any indication or warning towards other drivers and nearby vehicles. Besides that, many drivers disregard the legal speed limit especially on highways. Adhering to the posted speed limit is important for safe driving. The best way to minimise road accidents is simply to slow down and be alert at all times.
Expectation: Fleet Drivers are skilled and knowledgeable on the road
When drivers are hired as fleet drivers, they are believed to be skilled at driving as well as knowledgeable about mechanics, vehicle operating, and fuel efficient driving. They are expected to be able to control their vehicles in any situation, be able to troubleshoot basic vehicle repair issues, and be knowledgeable both about the road and their vehicles.
What fleet managers often find is that drivers are unable to resolve the simplest of technical issues. Time passes while the drivers need to wait for help and often the extra time causes delays in operations, or even further damage to the vehicle.