Hubris: the Hidden Hazard in Commercial Auto Safety Programming?

We’ve been blessed with radically and rapidly declining road-related fatalities for the past two reporting cycles (i.e. CY2008 and CY2009) with indications of further advances in CY2010.

However, as the manufacturing base revives from two years of decline, and the construction segment begins to retool itself, more commercial vehicles are back on the road.

Organizations that have become complacent with strong fleet safety results despite budget cutbacks, curtailment of training programs and elimination of safety staffers may face a growing rate of collisions over the next 18 months.

An examination of recent headline collisions, industry “buzz” (about CSA / driver shortages / increasing freight /, regulatory and case-law activity suggests that the greatest challenge found in driver safety is battling overconfidence and false presumptions about the reduced fatality rates (while crash rates have not declined at the same rate).

Some safety managers that I’ve spoken to (not our clients!) have thrown out statements like “we’ve been doing great so we don’t need more safety programming right now” or “we just installed “product X” so we’re not looking to invest in anything else for our driver safety program — we’re confident that putting “product X” in place will cover us” (i.e. all our eggs are in one basket, and that’s OK)

Additionally, when you closely examine some of the current “headline grabbing” collisions, the commentary suggests that either drivers and/or their managers have become “dulled” to their safety responsibilities (ie. they’re going through the needed motions, but their “collective mind/spirit” isn’t engaging).

What do you think? Am I far off the mark or is there adequate credibility to my assertions that the lowered crash rates were driven mainly by the sluggish economy, and that a certain “overconfidence” in safety mindset could bite some fleets in the rump once the economy ‘heats up’?

Surviving Winter Weather

Each month, we send a “Ten-Minute Training Topic” to each of our 3,800+ fleet clients on a different driver safety issue. 

This month’s topic offers tips and insights into dealing with wintry conditions that could delay your trip or even leave you stranded due to other motorist’s abandoned cars blocking the highway.

Here’s an excerpt:

Throughout much of North America (especially at higher elevations), driving conditions during the winter often include snow, sleet, and ice.  By themselves, these conditions make driving difficult because of reduced visibility, but they also translate to slower traffic, hazardous road conditions (vehicle control), and short tempers from frustrated drivers.

Even if you are in a warmer climate, your drive may be made more difficult by:

  • Greater rainfall than during other times of the year,
  • shorter daylight hours,
  • more glare during dawn and dusk,
  • Slippery roads (fallen leaves, road oils, etc.), poor visibility and wind gusts.

An easy way to look at surviving winter weather is to break it down to key steps:

  1. Prepare your vehicle for the expected weather conditions
  2. Plan your trips
  3. Modify your driving as needed based on conditions
  4. Be ready for emergencies (including the potential to become stranded)


If you’re interested in learning more about our Ten-Minute Training Topic program contact us.  The program comes with a driver handout, a manager’s supplemental report addressing policies and offering additional insights such as current news articles dealing with the issue and power point presentations in differing formats to accomodate varied delivery methods.

Traffic Safety Is Everyone’s Responsibility – make “Safety Is MY Goal” part of your mindset when driving!