If you own a fleet of vehicles, capital equipment that’s critical to your business operations, or business property, you know the importance of protecting your assets and minimizing legal liability. And if you’re in the fleet vehicle business, you know that accidents can expose you to both exponential costs and legal liability. Anything you can do to reduce the risk of accidents and protect your bottom line is an investment worth considering.
Visibility, particularly at night, is a key factor in accidents involving heavy trucks, semi-trailers and single-unit trucks. Drivers can see less of their surroundings at night, making even large vehicles virtually invisible to them. Low beam headlights typically stretch from 160 to 250 feet in front of the vehicle. High beams can reach from 350 to 500 feet ahead. Vehicles driving at 60 mph need about 200 feet to stop.¹ To help drivers see and react to your vehicles on the road, it’s important to make those vehicles more visible.
Numerous studies have shown that reflective tape (also known as conspicuity tape) is an effective way to improve vehicle visibility and reduce accidents. For example, a 2015 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study estimated that 2,660 vehicle occupants were saved by conspicuity tape on heavy trailers between 1960 and 2012, and that conspicuity tape reduced nighttime accidents involving heavy trailers by 21% between 1983 and 1985.²
In 1992, the NHTSA started requiring conspicuity tape on the sides and rear of trailers that are over 80 inches wide or weigh more than 10,000 lbs. A 2001 study showed that this requirement reduced passenger vehicle impacts into the sides and rears of trailers by 41% in dark, unlit conditions. Yearly, the NHTSA estimates that reflective tape prevents between 191 and 350 wrongful deaths, up to 5,000 injuries, and 7,8000 crashes compared to fleets without reflective tape.³
However, these regulations don’t apply to single-unit trucks, fleet vehicles like dump trucks and delivery trucks, city buses, ambulances, tractors, or maintenance and utility vehicles. This despite the fact that single-unit trucks, while accounting for only 3% of all motor vehicles, are “involved in 9% of fatalities among passenger vehicle occupants in multivehicle crashes.” ⁴ Annually, there are almost 6,500 accidents where passenger vehicles collide with the rear or side of a single-unit truck. In the past, they’ve been excluded from safety regulations for large trucks because they’ve been undercounted in fatality cases by about 20% due to misclassification in federal and state databases. ⁵ Based on these findings, the NTSB has recommended that the NHTSA start requiring conspicuity tape on single-unit trucks.
Regardless of NHTSA requirements for fleet vehicles, single-unit trucks, or smaller trailers, reflective tape is a cost-effective way to help increase the visibility of your vehicles and protect your bottom line.
If you run a business that relies on vehicles, trailers or other equipment for day-to-day operations, you know how important it is to keep those vehicles on the road and in good working condition. Any damages caused by accidents can lead to vehicle downtime, reduced efficiency, and lost revenue.
In addition to vehicle damage and lost revenue, the exponential costs of an accident can be staggering. A study conducted by Motus found that vehicle accidents cost employers $57.6 billion in 2017, factoring in employee medical expenses, insurance increases, leave wage replacement and property damage costs. Additionally, they found that accidents causing injuries and damage resulted in annual insurance rate increases of about 33%, and accidents without any injuries resulted in annual insurance rate increases of about 23%.⁶
When you consider these costs, it’s easy to see that anything you can do to help prevent accidents is a worthwhile investment. By applying reflective tape to the rears and sides of your vehicles or trailers, you’ll help other drivers see your vehicles at night, at greater distances, and may help reduce the likelihood of a crash.
The dollar costs mentioned above don’t factor in legal liability for accidents that result in injuries or fatalities. If you haven’t taken appropriate precautions to ensure that your vehicles or equipment can be seen by other drivers (particularly at night), it’s possible that you could be found negligent and held responsible for the costs of any accidental injuries or fatalities.
As one example, Ohio attorney Michael Leizerman received a $16 million dollar verdict in a case where a young woman died after the vehicle she was riding in collided with the rear of a dump truck—lacking proper conspicuity markings— that pulled out in front of her at night. ⁷
In addition to the financial costs of being held liable in a claim, injuries or fatalities caused by accidents involving one of your vehicles can damage the business’s reputation and public image, which can also hurt your bottom line. By using reflective tape to increase the visibility of your vehicles, you’ll demonstrate your commitment to safety and have one more layer of protection in liability claims by ensuring that you’ve done everything you can to help prevent accidents.
There are three key characteristics you should look for to determine which reflective tape will be most effective for your vehicle fleet:
It’s also important that the reflective tape is properly applied to your vehicles.
Reflective tapes are a cost-effective way to help improve safety, safeguard your property, reduce your liability, and protect your business assets. For less than $30, you can equip most single-unit trucks with 3M™ Diamond Grade™ Conspicuity Marking Series 983. When you consider the exponential costs of an accident, this is a small price to pay to protect your bottom line.
Reflective tape printed with your logo can also be a great way to build brand awareness while demonstrating your business’s commitment to safety. Consider Custom Logo Series—3M™ Diamond Grade™ Conspicuity Marking Series 983 to help improve the visibility of your fleet vehicles while building your brand.