The Ultimate Guide to Driver Team Safety
Delivery driver team safety is important for keeping your delivery business on track. Here are some tips and tools to help.
One handy tool to keep your delivery drivers safe? Circuit for Teams. Our routing software can help them find fast, safe delivery routes.
Delivery drivers spend a lot of time on the road. Those extra hours, unfortunately, increase their risk of accidents.
For example, nearly 1 in 5 Amazon delivery drivers suffered injuries in 2021 — many of them from vehicle accidents.
If you’re a delivery business owner (or manager or dispatcher) running a team of drivers, you want to do all you can to help them stay safe on the road.
Your business relies on their well-being, as you depend on them to complete last-mile deliveries and get packages to customers.
Other than the obvious fact that you care about your team’s safety, driver accidents can hurt your business in many ways.
For example, if an employee is in a collision, you might be held liable as their employer. This has happened to major companies like FedEx in the past.
Even a minor accident that doesn’t cause major injuries (or lead to a lawsuit) can be a problem.
For example, a fender bender can interrupt a driver’s route, causing delivery delays — and resulting in customers not getting their packages on time.
So, what can you do to make sure your drivers are safe? It’s not like you can be in the delivery vehicle with them when they’re on the road.
Don’t stress: There are plenty of steps you can take to improve delivery driver safety. Below, I cover some tips and tools you can use to create a safer work environment for your team.
Why driver safety is so important for your organization
The well-being of your business relies on the well-being of your delivery drivers.
If they’re sick or injured, you might not have anybody to fulfill last-mile deliveries and get packages to your customers.
The way you treat your drivers also reflects on you as a business.
You want to show that you make an effort to take care of them — for example, by making sure their delivery vehicles are safe and well-maintained.
Research shows that companies that prioritize their workers’ well-being foster loyalty and enjoy a better reputation.
They even outperform their competitors in the marketplace (maybe because they’re able to retain top talent).
There’s also the cost associated with driver accidents.
Motor vehicle crashes cost some $871 billion per year in the United States.
In a single-vehicle crash, property damage alone can cost $4,700 per vehicle, on average.
If someone is injured in a crash, the costs are even higher.
An evident injury can cost $29,200, while a disabling injury can result in costs of $101,000.
Even if an incident doesn’t result in major property damage or serious injuries, it can cause issues for your business.
Say a member of your delivery team runs out of fuel. They have to pull over, call a tow truck, and wait for fuel to arrive.
This interrupts their entire delivery route. Time-sensitive priority deliveries may not reach customers in time.
Also, the driver may not be able to fit all of that day’s deliveries into their shift.
As a result, the next day’s delivery schedule might be impacted. The driver will have to play catch up to try and deliver the previous day’s packages and their regularly scheduled packages for that day.
Long story short: Driver safety is definitely worth paying attention to.
In the next section, I talk about what safety problems delivery business owners should be aware of.
What safety problems do delivery drivers face on their routes?
The first step to keeping your delivery team safe is to understand the common dangers they might face on their delivery routes.
You can then take steps to help them stay safe.
Here are some issues to keep an eye on.
Vehicle breakdowns can happen for a variety of reasons. Common causes include:
- Faulty battery
- Lack of engine oil
- Alternator issues
If your driver has a breakdown on the road, their delivery route gets interrupted.
Even if the issue can be resolved quickly, for example, with the help of a roadside assistance company, the driver’s deliveries will be delayed.
If the issue is more serious, you may need to send another driver to pick up the packages in the stranded vehicle and get them where they need to go.
This is assuming you even have an extra driver with vehicle space on hand!
On top of all that, there’s the fact that you’ll have to pay for the vehicle breakdown. This could mean paying the tow truck or paying for the cost of repairs, like fixing a flat tire.
Those repairs can be pricey.
For larger delivery vehicles, repairs can be costly: Maintenance costs are up 10% from the previous year, as the average cost of parts and labor for vehicle repairs rose 3.7% in the fourth quarter of 2021.
And exhaust systems and brakes are among the pricier replacements.
You can help drivers avoid vehicle breakdowns by making sure your delivery vehicles are well-maintained — I talk about what that requires more below.
Running out of fuel
While it’s not as costly as a vehicle breakdown, running out of fuel can result in some of the same problems.
As the delivery business owner or manager, you still have a driver stuck at the side of the road, unable to drop off their packages.
Even worse, if the driver gets stuck in the middle of a crowded traffic area, they may be at risk of getting hit by another vehicle (hint: share some best practices with your delivery team on what to do when they’re in the middle of the road).
When this happens, drivers can call a roadside assistance service like AAA to bring them gas.
In fact, AAA has found an increase in those types of SOS calls, with more people requesting a fuel top-up from the provider.
You can help drivers avoid running out of gas by investing in fuel-efficient delivery vehicles. For example, hybrid or electric vehicles use less gas.
Route optimization like Circuit for Teams can also help your team save fuel and reduce gas costs.
When drivers have a more efficient route to take — for example, one that avoids sitting in traffic jams — they don’t waste fuel.
A car accident causes a lot of problems for a delivery business.
First of all, a car accident can cause injuries to drivers — and possibly to other people.
In some cases, the delivery business might even be held liable for a crash caused by their driver.
As we talked about in the introduction, this happened to FedEx. The lawsuit in question resulted in more than $5 million in damages.
Even if nobody is hurt in the accident, there’s property damage to pay for (remember: that can mean up to $4,700 per vehicle for one vehicle alone).
Unfortunately, the number of serious vehicle accident injuries, including fatalities, is on the rise — even though cars are safer than they were in the past.
For example, there were 32,538 fatalities in 2015 compared to 36,096 in 2018 and 42,915 in 2021.
The first step in avoiding driver accidents is hiring responsible drivers who don’t take risks, like driving while drunk.
Our post on hiring delivery drivers can help.
You also want to make sure drivers are properly trained.
For example, you can provide drivers with defensive driving courses to help them avoid accidents on the road.
The Association for Delivery Drivers (A4DD) offers defensive driving courses that your team can attend, for example.
Also, teach them about common dangers of delivery driving, like how to pay attention to blind spots.
We give you some additional ideas about how to help drivers avoid accidents below.
Injury at work
Vehicle accidents are just one possible cause of delivery driver injuries at work. Other injuries could include dog bites, for example.
In the United States, more than 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs every year.
Delivery drivers are at risk because they often have to walk across a person’s property, such as their front yard or porch, where dogs might be lurking.
Dog bites are such a big issue for delivery drivers that the United States Postal Service (USPS) even highlights National Dog Bite Awareness Week, giving dog owners tips on how to protect mail carriers.
Delivery people may also be at risk of back pain from lugging and lifting heavy packages without proper ergonomics.
Delivery business owners can help by teaching drivers proper lifting techniques and providing safety equipment, like lumbar support belts.
Delivery drivers transport a lot of packages in their vehicles — some of them containing potentially valuable goods.
For this reason, they might be targeted by thieves.
In general, retail theft is increasing.
As a delivery business owner, theft is a huge issue.
First, you don’t want your driver to be emotionally traumatized or physically harmed in this kind of attack.
Second, a successful burglary can result in valuable packages being stolen.
You might then be liable for recovering the stolen goods or compensating customers for their value.
There are a couple of steps you can take to minimize the risk of theft, such as having drivers work only during the day — not at night — and equipping their delivery vehicles with cameras to deter potential targeting.
10 employer responsibilities to keep your drivers safe
So, what can you do as a delivery business owner to help protect your drivers against the dangers described above? We’ve got some delivery driver safety tips to help below.
1. Train delivery drivers
Give your drivers the training and tools they need to stay safe on the road.
For example, you might enroll them in a defensive driving course — the A4DD traffic safety course mentioned above is a great pick.
You want to instill basic driving safety tips, like always wearing a seat belt and avoiding distracted driving (not talking on the cellphone while driving, for example).
You can teach them best practices for avoiding theft, like always being aware of their surroundings and keeping the delivery vehicle compartments and windows locked.
You can even teach drivers best practices for avoiding dog bites. This dog bite prevention video from the USPS is a great starting point.
Also, make sure drivers know what to do in case of an emergency.
For example, if they get a flat tire, who do they call? Maybe you have a business account with a roadside service provider like AAA they can use.
Technology like real-time GPS tracking can also help delivery drivers and bring them peace of mind.
If there’s an issue that leaves them stranded roadside, for example, the GPS tracker can help locate them. Learn more about GPS tracking apps.
Your drivers can also get practical advice through Circuit’s Delivery Driver Training Academy. They’ll learn to become faster and safer drivers, make more money, and start thinking like a pro.
2. Check driving records
When you hire a delivery driver, you want to be confident that they have a good track record on the road.
First, make sure they have a valid driver’s license. If needed, make sure they have a commercial driver’s license.
Many reputable delivery companies check drivers' records and will disqualify a job applicant for black marks — for example, the USPS doesn’t hire people with a DUI.
Driving records are public record, so you can also check a potential driver’s background. This is usually accessible through your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
For example, New York has a dedicated page for people who want to request another person’s driving record.
3. Avoid late-night deliveries
If possible, try to schedule your delivery drivers’ shifts during the daytime.
Night-time deliveries pose various dangers.
Since there are fewer people out in public to witness possible events, criminals might be more active.
For example, motor vehicle theft is more likely to occur at night — and 56% of robberies occur at night.
Visibility is another issue at night.
Research shows that it’s harder to see while driving at night for various reasons.
Not only is it dark, making it harder to see, but drivers also have to deal with issues like glare from the road or headlights.
Nighttime deliveries can also make for tougher road conditions.
For example, in winter, roads may get damp with snow during the day. However, at night, that wetness can freeze, creating black ice that makes it easier to skid out.
4. Do routine vehicle inspections
Routine vehicle inspections help avoid automotive malfunctions on the road.
How often is a vehicle inspection needed?
This guide has a list of the requirements for all 50 states. For example, Washington, D.C., requires an inspection every two years.
Even if your region doesn’t require annual inspections, it’s still good to get an inspection every year.
An expert will check the vehicle’s key components to see that they’re in good working order, including the brakes, tires, lights, and more.
Make sure that any mechanic you go to is certified.
AAA has a tool you can use to look up AAA-approved shops in your area. You can also look for repair shops that carry the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) seal.
5. Use cameras
Surveillance cameras on delivery vehicles are another way delivery truck drivers can stay safe.
Delivery behemoth Amazon is one company that uses surveillance to help safeguard drivers.
According to Amazon’s drivers, the cameras encourage safe driving and help protect them in case of collisions or other risky situations — like burglary.
For example, if thieves target a vehicle, police can use surveillance footage to see what happened. Your insurance company may also use the footage to help settle your claim.
Amazon has seen results from its camera installation: In a pilot study, cameras resulted in a 48% decrease in accidents.
Incidents of drivers not wearing their seat belts also decreased by 60%, and cases of distracted driving dropped by 45%.
6. Encourage card payments and limit cash
Sometimes, delivery drivers need to accept payments — for example, if they’re dropping off goods for an eCommerce business.
But in these cases, it’s best that drivers don’t accept cash and only accept card payments instead.
Drivers who carry a lot of cash might be targeted by thieves.
In general, businesses that are known to have a lot of cash on hand — such as banks and retail stores — are popular targets for burglaries.
Mobile card machines make it easy for drivers to collect payments at any time, anywhere. This way, they won’t have to stress about carrying large wads of cash, bringing all involved peace of mind.
7. Create emergency protocols
When you’re onboarding new drivers, make sure to give them company-specific safety training.
This includes the points covered under the first tip in this list, like defensive driving and dog bite attacks.
Also, give them a guide to company safety protocols.
For example, make sure they know who to call in case of an emergency. Do you have a roadside assistance provider you use?
Teach drivers what to do in case of an accident.
For example, they should call the police and file a formal report, take photos of the accident scene, and get contact information from witnesses.
8. Encourage proper breaks and rests
Drivers spend long hours behind the wheel.
If they’re tired, there’s the risk that they’ll nod off, increasing the likelihood of a crash.
Even if they don’t fall asleep fully, tired drivers may have slower reaction times, failing to brake or turn as quickly as usual.
Unfortunately, drowsy driving contributes to motor vehicle crashes.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are an estimated 100,000 police-reported, drowsy-driving accidents every year, resulting in approximately 800 fatalities and 50,000 injuries.
To help minimize the risk of drowsy driving, don’t overbook drivers and make sure that they take regular breaks.
Encourage them to pull to the side of the road if they’re feeling sleepy.
9. Incentivize safe driving
You can give drivers the knowledge and tools to drive safely — by informing them about the importance of wearing seat belts and the dangers of texting and driving.
But you can’t be in the car with them, forcing them to follow those safety protocols.
How can you encourage drivers to stay safe? Make sure to track driver behavior, keeping score of issues like traffic tickets.
However, instead of taking measures to punish them, try rewarding them instead. For example, you might give bonuses to drivers who go a certain number of months without any traffic infraction.
10. Use route optimization software
Route optimization gives drivers the fastest sequence of delivery stops to follow. Routing software like Circuit for Teams takes into account potential hurdles, like traffic jams and construction work, so drivers can stay on track.
By helping drivers complete their routes faster, a route planner can help minimize the risk of drivers resorting to riskier measures — like not observing speed limits — to try to finish their routes in time.
Unfortunately, speeding is a major contributor to fatalities in car crashes — linked to even more collision deaths than driving under the influence.
Drivers can access their delivery routes on the driver app (available for iPhone and Android). The app includes voice control, so drivers can keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel, staying safe.
Get more tips for creating delivery routes that save your delivery business time and money.
Circuit for Teams also has other perks that help delivery drivers save time — such as a package finder. They can find packages in their delivery vehicles quickly, saving time at every stop.