Keep your fleet safe this festive season

The festive season sees traffic on the roads increase dramatically, with an unfortunate increase in fatalities and accidents. Given the high numbers of trucks on our roads, it’s a time of special anxiety for fleet managers.

During the 2022-23 festive season, some 1 400 people died, with trucks involved in 4% of all fatal accidents. Non-fatal road accidents also tend to rise during this season.

“The logistics and freight industries are the lifeblood of the country, and so trucks will continue to ply the long-distance routes, but now with the extra hazard of a greatly increased volume of passenger vehicles and taxis,” says Tian Vorster, National Fleet Manager: Wholesale, Bridgestone. “At times like these, fleet managers are looking for ways to ensure that their vehicles are being driven safely, and that their drivers are being looked after.”

Vorster says that data from Webfleet’s survey of accidents relating to the trucking industry in particular, published in 2022, can help fleet managers identify problem requiring special focus over the holiday season. One important data point is that collisions are common, with 71% of respondents indicating that they had at least one over the course of a year.

The survey also highlighted that unroadworthy vehicles, poor road conditions and lack of policing are major concerns when it comes to road safety. Driver fatigue and distracted driving (usually linked to cell phone use while driving) are also linked to trucking accidents.

Perennial concerns that show up in the data include speeding or reckless driving, and overall driver health, particularly when it comes to excessive driving hours.

“Many of these issues come into sharp focus over the festive season; for example, driver well-being related to excessive hours behind the wheel, and reckless and fast driving by holidaymakers eager to reach their destinations,” Vorster says.

The data from the Webfleet survey showed that technology can play a huge role in increasing fleet safety—51% of respondents reported that their fleets experienced a 51% reduction in collisions after installing a telematics solution.

For example, dashcams can provide data that will identify driver issues in real time and provide coaching help, while they are also invaluable in the event of an accident. Web-based fleet management technology and telematics can thus help identify where remedial action needs to be taken and will also help ensure that drivers are not speeding or driving excessive numbers of hours.

Vorster says that telematics can assist greatly in ensuring vehicle maintenance is undertaken timeously, and that tyre pressures are monitored remotely.

Bridgestone has taken the telematics approach one step further with Toolbox, a monitoring tool to assist its consultants support fleet managers. Toolbox uploads data from fleet vehicles when they are in the depot and will issue alerts to avoid vehicles with issues going on to the road, thus avoiding costly fees for breakdown. It also reviews fleet maintenance policies and tracks tyre performance, providing accurate reporting to fleet managers and consultants to ensure that the right products are being chosen and used effectively.

“Tyres play a key role in vehicle handling and braking effectiveness, and properly maintained vehicles last longer and perform better. During holiday periods, fleets relying on manual systems can come up short because these vital routine tasks can get lost in the rush, whereas an automated, digital solution like Webfleet and Toolbox will ensure that this doesn’t happen, no matter how distracted everybody is,” he says. “Technology is revolutionising fleet management and safety, and it’s particularly important at times like these.”