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 / et.al.), 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’?