A new TØI report finds that trucking companies that focus on economical driving among their drivers have a lower accident risk than other companies.
The report is one of four reports that address economic driving and energy management, and effects on finances, traffic safety, emissions, working environment and driver well-being. The project is funded by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration.
The report examines the connection between economical driving and traffic safety in road freight transport. The researchers have worked in two stages; by first testing the connection between economic driving and traffic safety at the driver level, and then studying the connection between economic driving and traffic safety at the organizational level.
Drivers who drive economically have lower risk of accident
Economical driving refers for the most part to driving style, such as avoiding idling, rolling as much as possible without acceleration, the use of cruise control, keeping the speed limit and good distance to the car in front, having a steady and low speed, and avoiding hard braking. All this is registered in the trucks' fleet management system, which gives the drivers a score or rating, based on these parameters.
At the driver level, the researchers find that drivers with high scores in the fleet management systems have a lower accident risk than drivers with lower scores. This is mainly because an economical driving style often is safe because it is defensive, controlled, calm and foresighted, and because the fleet management system rewards both traffic-safe and economical driving.
Traffic-safe and economical driving provides a better environment
At the organizational level, the researchers find support for the traffic safety level to increase for the companies at each level on an “Eco Ladder for energy management” for long-distance and regional transport. The connection between economical driving at company level and traffic safety is due to the fact that companies at the top of Eco Ladder have several drivers with high scores in the fleet management system.
Based on the results, one might ask whether economic driving and energy management also can be an effective traffic safety measure. In that case, these will be measures that it might be easier to motivate transport companies to introduce than pure traffic safety measures, because reduced fuel consumption has direct financial benefits for the companies. In addition, it is directly linked to lower emissions. The report also discusses potential conflicts between economic driving and traffic safety.
The report is based on “the Eco Ladder for energy management”, which is a research-based model developed by researchers at TØI, and which describes how freight transport companies can work with economical driving and energy management at the organizational level. The Eco Ladder describes an approach with a gradual introduction of specific measures aimed at economic driving and energy management.
Additional reports in this series
Three additional reports in this report series was published at the same time. Here you can read a summary of the report on the development of the Eco Ladder for energy management, as mentioned above.
The Eco Ladder is tested in a third report that examines the connection between economical driving, energy management and (reductions in) fuel consumption. The sample was tested in 16 companies that received support from Enova to work with economical driving, and a reference sample of drivers from assumed average companies. The report concludes that the companies at the Eco Ladder´s level 3, which had introduced the most measures aimed at economic driving and energy management, had the largest reductions in fuel consumption (10 percent) - and thus supports the idea behind the Eco Ladder. Drivers also reported on a number of positive side effects of the measures aimed at economic driving and energy management, like higher satisfaction with their job, more self-confidence and pride as drivers, and that the company's reputation had improved.
The final report examines the traffic safety effects of economic driving and fleet management systems in three companies in 2013 and 2018. The study indicates that measures for economic driving in general, and fleet management systems in particular, have a good effect on traffic safety. The accident risk in Companies B and C ("experimental companies") decreased, with respectively 52 and 36 percent in the post-surveys in 2018, and thus the safety culture did improve. The interview data supports the conclusion about lower accident risk.
However, the researchers conclude that organizational safety measures have the best effect on traffic safety, because Company A ("control company") had a higher level of traffic safety than the other two companies, with a 71 percent lower risk in 2013 and a 46 percent lower risk in 2018. This company implemented more security measures than the other two, especially measures at the system level. Company A also had other framework conditions for safety, since the company transported dangerous goods.
You can read a summary of the report on Economical driving as a traffic safety measure - Before and after the study of three companies here