GPS TRACKING & DRIVER SAFETY

“On average, inpatient hospital care costs for an unbelted crash victim are 50% higher than those for a belted crash victim.” (Car-Accident.com)

Cost of an Accident

Any trucking company that has been involved in personal injury litigation understands that lawsuits are no laughing matter. Not only is litigation usually expensive and time consuming, but it is often unpredictable. What dollar amount will the jury ultimately award the Plaintiff? How much, if anything, should my company offer the Plaintiff to broker a settlement? Worries like these illustrate some of the frustrations associated with defending trucking companies against personal injury lawsuits.

Not surprisingly, knowing what to expect is one of the keys to a successful defense. For example, knowing how juries have responded to other trucking companies faced with similar allegations can help your company arrive at a reasonable settlement offer, thereby avoiding a prolonged and expensive trial.

The Bassett Firm recently compiled a list of motor-vehicle cases involving 18-wheelers. Although this information does not offer a comprehensive look at the facts and allegations of each specific case, it does give you an idea as to the average settlement or award values in recent years.

All Verdicts & Settlements

Time Frame January 1, 2003, through December 31, 2009
Jurisdiction Texas (all counties)
Number of Cases Reported 390
Number of Verdicts in Favor of the Plaintiff 148
Number of Verdicts in Favor of the Defendant 125
Number of Cases that Settled 119

Wrongful Death Verdicts in Favor of the Plaintiff

Low Verdict $85,000.00
High Verdict $23,588,217.00
Average Verdict $6,755,416.00
Average Verdict Excluding High/Low Verdict $6,120,267.70
Driver Safety

A typical driver in the US travels 12,000 to 15,000 miles annually, and has a one in fifteen chance of being involved in a vehicle collision each year. However, most fleet drivers travel 25,000 miles or more each year and thus have a greater exposure to crash risks. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of on the job fatalities in America.

Statistics of Vehicle Crashes

Statistically your company will have about 4.4 accidents per million miles driven. Imagine you could reduce this to 3 accidents per million miles and the savings that represents.

OSHA reports show one out of every five drivers will be involved in a traffic accident this year. Every 12 minutes someone dies in a motor vehicle crash, every 10 seconds an injury occurs and every 5 seconds a crash occurs. Many of these incidents occur during the workday or during the commute to and from work. If your employees are allowed to take their vehicles home at night or operate them on personal time, your exposure doubles or triples simply due to the added driving during high risk times.

In a 30 mph collision an unbelted 160 lb person can strike another passenger, crash through the windshield and/or slam into the vehicles interior with 4,800 pounds of force. In a frontal crash, the seatbelt limits the forward movement of the body to reduce these risks. So simply using a seatbelt could reduce the risk of death when involved in an accident by 45-60%.

While driving at night, during inclement weather, or even at high speeds, many drivers and passengers do have a tendency to buckle up, but the fact is that most fatalities occur in dry, sunny weather at speeds under 40 mph and within 25 miles of work or home.

Though perhaps you are a safe driver and in control of your vehicle what you need to consider is that there are a lot of other drivers on the road that are not in control of their vehicles. Drivers who drank too much, have an insufficient amount of sleep, are distracted, did not see the light change, etc. etc. You cannot control these people so your best protection against these drivers is your seat belt.

Seatbelts Save Lives

Seatbelts are the most effective safety device in vehicles today, and are estimated to save approximately 9,500 lives each year. And still, only 68% of motor vehicle occupants actually buckle up.

Failure to wear a seatbelt contributes to more fatalities than any other single traffic safety related behavior. 63% of the people killed in car accidents were not wearing their seat belts. Wearing a properly adjusted lap and shoulder seatbelt is the single most effective thing we can do to save lives as it reduces the risk of serious or fatal injuries by 50%.

Although seatbelts provide excellent protection they do not always prevent contact with the steering wheel and dashboard. Airbags provide additional protection from injury because they are designed to supplement the seatbelts. Airbags are not a replacement for the seatbelt as when used alone, they are only 42% effective in providing protection. For maximum protection in a frontal collision, the best safety results are achieved by a properly worn seatbelt in combination with an airbag.

Costs of an Accident

Employers incur costs for injuries caused by traffic crashes through medical care, lost productivity, property damage, motor vehicle liability, benefit eligible dependents, fleet insurance, and vehicle insurance. Let’s break down these costs even farther.

Motor vehicle crashes cost employers in medical care, legal expenses, property damage, and lost productivity. They drive up the cost of benefits such as workers compensation, social security, and private health and disability insurance. In addition, they increase the company overhead involved in administering these programs.

The average crash costs an employer $16,500 or approximately $.16 per mile driven. When a worker has an on the job crash that results in an injury that cost to the employer increases to approximately $74,000. Those costs can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved.

In addition to the frequency, fleet vehicle crashes create the most costly worker injury claims, averaging over $21,000 per incident. Besides property damage, crashes result in lost productivity and/or lost revenue from missed sales calls and potential third party liability claims from an at fault crash. Since most companies self-insure fleet vehicles and drivers, the company bears the burden of these costs directly. Given the frequency and severity of fleet vehicle crashes, and the high costs associated with these crashes, it is important for any organization that operates a fleet to take a proactive approach to fleet safety.

For employers and victims, a workplace crash can have far-reaching financial, medical, and legal consequences.

With over 90% of motor vehicle crashes caused by human error, employers with high roadway exposure are at risk for a serious crash resulting in a lawsuit against their organization. Damages awarded to plaintiff’s making negligence claims against companies are at an all-time high. Settlements of $1 million dollars or more are quite common.

Crashes on and off the job have far reaching financial and psychological effects on employees, their coworkers, families, and their employers. So whether you manage a fleet of vehicles, oversee a mobile sales force or simply employ commuters, by implementing a driver safety program in the workplace, including GPS safety, you can greatly reduce the risks faced by your employees and their families while protecting your company’s bottom line. And now that you understand the costs associated with motor vehicle crashes you will realize that the costs associated with implementing a driver safety program and GPS tracking to inspect driver performance are minimal compared to the costs of crashes to your organization.

By developing, implementing, enforcing and monitoring a strong driver safety program you can protect your organization’s human and financial resources. Such a program allows an organization to be proactive in controlling crash risks and is the first line of defense against the potentially staggering costs from motor vehicle crashes involving employees.

Develop a Safety Program

So what do you need? You need a driver safety program: to save lives and reduce the risk of life altering injuries within your workforce, to protect your organizations human and financial resources and to guard against potential company and personal liabilities associated with crashes involving employees driving on company business.

The program must work to change driver attitudes, improve behavior, and increase skills to build a “be safe” culture. GPS devices and other technology provide definable and measurable data to determine the success or failure of your program. GPS technology provides a feedback mechanism prior to the accident so a company can be proactive in correcting unwanted driving behavior. You simply cannot manage what you cannot measure.

Mandatory use of seatbelts is the single most important driver safety policy that employers can implement and enforce. Driver safety policies such as mandatory seat belt use can be effective only if employers tell workers how important the issue is to the company, and enforce the safety policy with fairness and vigilance and have a technology tool to ensure compliance.

As a reminder is it always a good idea to check all the seatbelts in your vehicles periodically for breaks, frays, fit and functionality. It costs far less to fix a broken seatbelt than it would cost if you were in a serious accident with a broken belt.

So buckle up and protect yourself so that you do not become another statistic in the accident and fatality records.

Direct Costs to the Organization

Workers’ compensation benefits $
Healthcare costs $
Increases in medical insurance premiums $
Auto insurance and liability claims and settlements $
Physical and vocational rehabilitation costs $
Life insurance and survivor benefits $
Group health insurance dependent coverage $
Property damage (equipment, products, etc.) $
Motor vehicle repair and replacement $
EMS costs (ambulance or medivac helicopter) $
Vehicle towing, impoundment and inspection fees $
Municipality or utility fees for damage to roads, signs or poles $
Direct Total $

Indirect Costs

Supervisor’s time (rescheduling, making special arrangements) $
Fleet manager’s time to coordinate vehicle repair, replacement, etc. $
Reassignment of personnel to cover for missing employees (less efficient) $
Overtime pay (to cover work of missing employees) $
Employee replacement $
Re-entry and retraining of injured employees $
Administrative costs (documentation of injuries, treatment, absences, crash investigation) $
Inspection costs $
Failure to meet customer requirements resulting in loss of business $
Bad publicity, loss of business $
Indirect Total $

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As a result of this redeployment and the savings associated with not having to add new staff in the over utilized work group we are able to claim a six month payback on our Phase 1 investment even before we made the investment!

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