Fleets Feel the Impact from Speeding Drivers

Speeding-related crashes result in greater damage to vehicles and their occupants, and fleets are feeling the impact.  According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, these types of crashes now account for nearly one third of fatalities, and with traffic fatalities at a 20-year high , addressing causes of these fatalities is of paramount importance.  And while accidents at high speeds likely cause serious injuries and death, so can accidents at much lower speeds.  Simply put, speeding is dangerous in any speed zone.

 

It Doesn’t Take Much Speed to Increase Severity

If you assume that going over the speed limit, “just a little bit” would not increase your risk much, you would be wrong.  In fact, even small increments of speeding can greatly increase your potential for serious injury and death.

This was the subject of a study conducted in 2021 by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.  The study sought to determine the effect speed has on the likelihood and severity of occupant injury in a crash.  Using biofidelic crash dummies they examined the effects of crashes at various speeds.

The table below summarizes their findings which show that when you increase your speed by even 6 mph, you increase your risk for serious injuries.

impact speed table results

 

Driving the Posted Speed Limit Is Sometimes Too Fast

Road conditions are a significant factor in how speeding contributes to greater crash severity.  Just because the posted limit says 45 mph, when road conditions are bad, going 45 is too fast. According to the National Safety Council, in 2020 speeding was a factor in fatal crashes for:

  • 19% of drivers on dry roads
  • 21% on wet roads
  • 33% on roads with snow or slush
  • 42% on roads with mud, dirt, or gravel
  • 42% on roads with ice or frost
  • 45% on roads with moving or standing water

speeding in standing water

 

 

Speed Impact Multiplies in Multiple Car Crashes

Often drivers think only of their own speed but ignore the effects of speeding in multi-car crashes.  The AAA study on speed mentioned above discusses what happens at different Impact Speeds.  Just what is impact speed?  It is the combined force impact of a crash.  The following example illustrates what can happen during a two-car frontal crash in a residential zone with a 25-mph speed limit when both drivers are only going “a little over” the speed limit.

what is impact speed

Your fleet drivers may be alert and diligent when driving on highways and at higher speeds but more relaxed when they are on their way home.  They should never let their guard down when behind the wheel.  Even lower speed areas that are seemingly not dangerous can be deadly in an offset or centered frontal crash.

 

 

Increased Vehicle Damage Drives Fleet Costs Up

When a fleet experiences a crash with serious injuries, their primary concern is for the people involved in the accident.  Health and well-being take priority. But these crashes also hit a fleet’s bottom line.

CEI’s own data finds that as speeding-related crashes have increased, so too have repair costs.  Despite efforts to reduce costs for each repair through quality control audits by licensed physical damage appraisers, CEI saw an increase in the average vehicle repair costs of 16% between 2019 and 2022.

The number of crashes with non-drivable vehicles has also increased since 2019.  According to the 27th Annual Crash Report released in March 2022 by CCC Intelligent Solutions, CCC, these crashes have increased by 17%.  Non-drivable vehicles likely result from crashes with greater intensity.  They also require more parts during repairs, which pushes repair costs up.

Add to this the fact that replacement part costs have risen 5% during this same time frame, due to supply chain and inflationary issues, and you can see how crashes with greater severity have become a significant issue for fleets today.

 

 

How to Protect Fleets from Greater Damage

One of the first things to do to protect your fleet from the human and financial costs that speeding can cause is to educate your drivers about the dangers of speeding.  Review this checklist and make sure you have addressed these areas:

  • Your fleet policy clearly addresses speeding, that drivers are to obey all posted speed limits, and to travel at a speed safe for road conditions.
  • Provide training on the dangers of speeding.
  • Provide training on driving in different road conditions, (rain, ice, snow, etc.)
  • Provide guidance to drivers using cruise control to select a cruise speed consistent with both the speed limit and road conditions.
  • Make drivers aware that one-hand driving, or palming the wheel, when using cruise control increases the risk of inadvertently hitting the accelerate switch located in the spoke of the steering wheel.
  • Instruct drivers on the proper way to set a safe following distance if their vehicle is equipped with adaptive cruise control.
  • Warn drivers that they may be held personally liable if they are speeding and involved in an accident.
  • Collaborate with internal stakeholders to avoid conflicting messaging, (e.g. incentivizing the number of appointments during a day can encourage speeding).
  • Where possible use technology that actively measures driver speeding, boosts driver awareness of their behaviors and encourages positive change. DriverCare CoPilot and DriverCare Connect are solutions that can assist here.

 

If your fleet driver was involved in an accident while speeding and caused serious injuries to a 3rd party, it is imperative that your Risk and HR teams have done all they can to mitigate your liability exposure.  The outcome for companies that are behind in the Safety Culture Curve is bleak, with nuclear verdicts on the rise as well.

 

Speeding, even in small increments, increases vehicle damage and the likelihood of severe injuries.  It also hits a fleet’s budget with higher repair costs and productivity losses. If you are challenged with rising accident rates and related costs, please reach out to CEI to explore driver safety and fleet accident management solutions with one of our specialists.

 

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