Take Heed of the Tortoise and the Hare: Speeding Doesn’t Win


This post is part of a series sponsored by IAT Insurance Group.

There’s much wisdom to be extracted from Aesop’s timeless fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” when it comes to driver speeding.

As the Hare discovered, speeding doesn’t save time or resources. Instead, studies show that while drivers only gain mere minutes when they exceed the speed limit by 10 miles per hour,[1] speeding increases both the likelihood of a crash and fatalities occurring.[2]

In 2021, speed was involved in 29% of all traffic-related deaths, and an average of 33 people in the U.S. were killed each day in a speeding-related traffic incident.[3]

Non-crash consequences of speeding

Beyond a crash, injury or fatality, speeding has multiple consequences, including:

Speeding tickets, impacting both the driver and the fleet carrier. Most states don’t let drivers with a CDL take a safety class to avoid conviction, and fleet drivers stopped for speeding are often subjected to a lengthy inspection and additional citations. The average cost of loss for an accident involving a fleet vehicle is approximately $70,000,[4] and naturally, costs for commercial insurance increase for drivers with poor driving records.

Loss of employment and/or driving privileges is a considerable consequence for fleet drivers who speed. Most carriers have a speeding policy that allows for minimal driver violations before employment privileges are taken away and the driver is let go. In addition, most states allow insurance companies to exclude drivers with multiple infractions from their commercial insurance policies, which often results in the termination of employment. Speeding drivers who don’t lose their jobs may still lose out on their organizations’ driver safety bonus incentives.

4 ways fleet carriers can reduce speeding and improve safety

It is critical to proactively minimize the prevalence of speeding in your business. Here are four ways to do it:

  1. Learn from telematics data.

Telematics pulls back the curtain on driver behavior to provide clear insights into the challenges your drivers are having on the road. Pay close attention to your team’s speed and if there are specific areas or regions that drivers tend to regularly speed through. Understand which drivers and locations are recurring offenders.

Engage in improvement coaching with “hare” drivers who have common occurrences of hard accelerations, hard braking, cornering speed and idle time while also recognizing the more positive driver habits of your “tortoise” drivers.

  1. Schedule drivers for success.

Delays are common and drivers may feel the need to speed to make up for lost time, whether they got a late start or hit unexpected traffic. Make sure drivers have enough time to safely arrive at their destination without feeling rushed. Traffic can cause anxiety and distress, so plan realistically and make efforts to avoid high-traffic areas during rush hour by delaying departure times or altering routes.

Step back and answer this question to evaluate if your company culture is aligned:

Do we send a consistent message that the most important thing is for our drivers to prioritize a safe and smart haul, or are we inadvertently reinforcing drivers who get there as fast as they can, regardless of the risks?

  1. Stay on top of maintenance.

Trucks that are well maintained will have less reason to be sidetracked, stopped or have an accident on the road. Thoroughly inspect and maintain all vehicles to help avoid mechanical issues while driving. Topping off fuel and wiper fluid and checking tire pressure ahead of time are minor steps that also can avoid major delays.

  1. Practice patience (even though it’s hard)!

Lack of patience is a common reason for speeding, so take the time to find what helps you maintain composure and self-restraint when you’re feeling under pressure.

Drivers: Take a moment to breathe, relax and prioritize safe driving when you feel behind or rushed.

Fleet operators: Foster a culture of realistic expectations and understanding so drivers feel empowered to make safe decisions on the road.

The consequences of speeding are real and can be devastating. Remember Aesop’s fable: The race doesn’t always go to the swift. For professional commercial drivers and their fleet carriers, the race is won by those who finish the job and deliver the goods safely.

ASK A LOSS CONTROL REPRESENTATIVE

Have a question on how to mitigate risk? Email losscontroldirect@iatinsurance.com for a chance to see your question answered in a future blog.


By Dewayne Reeder


[1] KTLA5 “Why speeding doesn’t save drivers much time,” May 1, 2023.
[2] Insurance Institute for Highway Safety “Speed,” July 2023.
[3] National Safety Council “Motor Vehicle Safety Issues,” accessed November 25, 2023.
[4] Insurance Business Magazine “What’s next for commercial auto risk in 2023?,” January 12, 2023.

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