The holidays present a host of driving hazards that can easily spin drivers out of control. Slippery roads, distracted drivers, and a few too many holiday cocktails create some of the most dangerous driving conditions of the year. According to the American Safety Council, these next few weeks contain three of the six most dangerous holidays to be on the road.
For fleet managers, keeping fleet vehicles and drivers safe from holiday driving hazards is a top priority. EHStoday.com lists the four most dangerous holiday driving hazards as distracted, impaired, stressed, and fatigued driving. In this blog, we will examine these four hazards and provide tips on how fleet managers and drivers can avoid them and stay safe over the holidays.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nine deaths and over 1,000 injuries occur daily involving a distracted driver. The CDC defines distracted driving as: Driving while doing another activity that takes your attention away from driving. The three main types of distracted driving include:
- Visual – this occurs when the driver takes their eyes off of the road
- Manual – this occurs when the driver takes their hands off of the wheel
- Cognitive – this occurs when the driver takes their mind off of driving
The holidays can exacerbate distracted driving. Last-minute errands clutter the roadways with thoughts of holiday logistics, gifts, and recipes. Whether it is to locate a store, download a coupon, or check in with family, many consumers rely on their handheld devices while driving and introduce dangerous conditions as a result. During the holidays, more families take to the road with small children. Their excitement for the festivities can present unexpected distractions for parents behind the wheel. So, fleet managers should remind their drivers to stay vigilant during the holidays. Routing should be completed before fleets take to the road. This preparation will lower the odds that fleet drivers participate in distracted driving activities like looking at their mobile device for directions to the next stop.
This should not have to be said, but fleet professionals should never drive while impaired. Beyond that, drivers should be fully prepared to share the road with impaired drivers during the holiday season. If your drivers encounter impaired drivers, advise them to pull over and call 911. Their call could save lives. Discourage impaired driving by providing transportation to and from company parties. Telematics can also be used to monitor fleet vehicles and drivers to discourage impaired driving.
Even with a shortened holiday shopping season due to a later-than–usual Thanksgiving, emarketer.com predicts over one trillion dollars in holiday sales for the first time in US history. Cyber Monday is predicted to rake in over 10 billion dollars making it the single largest online shopping day in US history. The staggering amount of goods that will require shipping combined with the shortened window between Thanksgiving and Christmas will mean more delivery vehicles with stressed drivers trying to complete more deliveries than ever before.
Delivery drivers will not be the only stressed drivers on the road. Families rushing to grandma and grandpa’s house or trying to beat closing time on Christmas Eve will engage in their fair share of pressured driving. So, remind fleet drivers that they are sharing the road with drivers that may exhibit erratic behavior like speeding or unsafe lane changes as they hustle to fulfill their obligations.
With an increased number of celebrations and obligations, the holidays can take a toll on everyone. According to AAA, driving on just five hours of sleep is like driving drunk. And the National Safety Council agrees that drowsy driving is indeed impaired driving. So, make sure your drivers and employees recognize the importance of maintaining a good sleep schedule. Drivers should also be advised to check their prescriptions for side effects like drowsiness. This can help to inform when they should or should not drive while taking the medication. Adopting newer technologies that provide lane departure warnings or drowsy driving detection can make a huge difference in preventing fatigued driving.
Staying alert and aware of these potential hazards can help to give fleet professionals the safe and happy holidays they deserve. From all of us at WEX Fleet, have a safe and happy holiday season!