“How did this happen again?” you ask frustratedly. “He looked down at his phone and crashed,” your COO responds reluctantly, knowing you’re not going to like his answer. After all, it’s the third rear-end crash this quarter; it’s more than just a fluke but a scenario becoming all too common. “What are you going to do now,” you ask him exasperatedly before hanging up the phone. Crashes like these are becoming more prevalent across the country in companies just like yours. Research also shows that a bulk of commercial crashes, nearly 40%, are caused by distracted driving. But the business problem of distracted driving is not just relegated to your fleet. It’s a problem that can impact every facet of your organization, creating ripple effects of chaos throughout other departments as well. In fact, it’s an issue so pervasive that it can inhibit the profitability and jeopardize the future growth of your company.
Productivity and Business Growth Impact
Your fleet is naturally the first thought when it comes to distracted driving and commercial crashes, and the most visible sign of its impact. It’s hard to ignore mangled trucks and out-of-service delivery vans. However, the employee distractions that caused the crash are now causing distractions for your executive team. And some of their time is going to be devoted to your key drivers of revenue--your customers. Have you checked if their cargo was damaged? Did they miss a deadline or an opportunity because a repair tech couldn’t get to their office following a crash? It’s important to consider the impact that lost productivity and a negative brand image will have. Do they still want to be your customer?
What happens when there is an injury? Your company vehicles aren’t the only assets that will need repair and rehabilitation. What about the employees involved? In the aftermath of a crash, after your fleet manager and safety manager, HR is likely one of your next calls. The best case scenario is that your employee is out of work for a few days or a week at the most. This way, you only have to account for his lost productivity. Worst-case scenario, the employee is unable to work for a longer period of time or incurs a lasting injury and files a workman’s compensation claim against your company. These can take months if not longer, to resolve. These cases represent a huge workload for your team members that could have been prevented.
If you’re already seeing dollar signs, your head is in the right place. Wrecked vehicles and injured employees are very visible representations of the damage the quarterly P&L will see as a result of repairs and injuries. The average cost of a commercial crash without injury is just over $3,000, but vehicles get larger, so do the costs. Average costs go up exponentially to $91,000 in crashes without injury and $200,000 in crashes with an injury. Your drivers and company may also be looking at harsh penalties and fines for distracted driving negligence as well.
But the impact of distracted driving will expand even beyond your fleet, and finance and HR departments. Whether or not it’s a high-profile crash, as was the case with Coca-Cola and these others, your company’s reputation will be impacted. This is going to rope in your PR and Marketing department who will have to likely spend the better part of at least the next few work weeks dealing crisis communication and brand management. Even if you haven’t seen a crash yet, what your employees do behind the wheel of vehicles bearing your company’s logo will negatively impact company reputation.
As you can see, distracted driving impacts more than just your fleet and safety teams. From finance to public relations and HR, distracted driving affects every department and is an even bigger danger to company reputation. There is likely no other single event that could do more damage to the growth and profitability of your company, therefore it’s a problem that must become your top priority to solve.