Staying safe is one of the top challenges that companies in dangerous industries must address. All companies work to have safety policies in place, rules drivers should live by, processes to live by, toll free numbers; the list goes on and on.
Yet despite this “safety first” mentality, many companies are still struggling with safety.
All of their strategies are passive in nature. We teach our drivers to be safe, exercise caution, and stay accountable and compliant. However, each process in place only sets up a hoped-for result. None of these strategies provide enough data to really know what is going on.
Any data found is after something happened and insufficient. Therefore, safety programs based on passive data are inadequate. True safety needs real data.
This post delivers the one safety message truck drivers and fleets need: be proactive! You’ll discover:
- What your fleet managers can’t do in regards to driver safety
- The importance of building a strong foundation for driver awareness
- The hidden costs of driver accidents
- How telematics can be the driver behind driver safety
Try This Experiment And See Why Driver Managers Can Only Do So Much...
How much can you fleet managers do for safety? Let’s find out.
Take a trip down to your warehouse, and do the following:
- Observe the personnel
- Sit in during safety training
- Look at the safety posters on the wall
- Most importantly, watch as your warehouse leaders manage their teams
If your leaders are good and your personnel is trained in safety practices, the warehouse will be able to minimize safety incidents. Incidents will still happen, of course, but they will be infrequent and true accidents.
Now, go to a driver safety meeting and:
- Listen to the safety briefings.
- Look at the same safety posters.
- Watch the drivers pledge commitment to safety and compliance.
In a perfect world, with a good safety message and program, truck accidents will be minimized and rare. But as you know, we don’t live in a perfect world.
Even drivers who have full intention to follow safety practices are going to make mistakes. And there’s a big difference between the warehouse crew and the driver crew: the leaders in the warehouse can directly observe and correct unsafe activity as it happens; driver managers have a minimal capability to observe and correct.
Yes, managers can ride-along, but drivers will naturally self-correct and drive safer than they normally do when they know their boss is watching them. Managers can also conduct a follow-along, but they can only focus on a single driver at a time (and it’s usually someone that’s been reported from passive sources). So while intentions are good, there’s still plenty to be desired when correcting driver behavior.
What Truck Drivers Do When Nobody's Watching
All drivers work hard to get through the day by keeping productivity levels up to par and making sure customers are getting serviced on time. But even a good driver will struggle to follow all safety rules when he is getting pressure to get the job done, especially when he knows that no one is watching.
They may speed a little to get to the next stop, check their phone while driving, or hard brake after staying a little too close to a slow car. It’s only natural for drivers to assess each of these situations and see them as acceptable risks.
It all comes down to the same problem: we all think we are better drivers than we are. Think back to the last time you got into an accident. Didn’t you assume that you were a great driver, with many years of experience under your belt? Yet the accident still happened.
You may have blamed factors out of your control (exhaustion, distractions, traffic patterns, etc.), but in the end, you were in control and you may or may not have caused the accident, but you were involved.
Ever since then, you may not have been in another accident because you practiced safe driving. You may have been lucky and gotten away with breaking safety rules. Keep in mind that there’s always the chance of bad luck as well. No matter how hard you try to be safe, some factors are out of your control and may play against you.
Every day, each driver is given the key to a very expensive company asset that he will drive down the roads of your community, hauling a full load of expensive products to your customers. We trust that nothing will go wrong, but things happen.
And when accidents happen, lives and property are endangered. There will also be high monetary costs, from damage to vehicles and products to brand reputation costs to higher insurance costs, and -- if your company doesn’t have accurate real-time data -- high liability costs.
As leaders in our companies, we already recognize that safety protocols and processes are a good start. They lay the foundation to build on. But a true foundation of safety can’t be achieved without real-time data or a tool to manage your drivers in the field.
Ready to be proactive and send a safety message to your truck drivers? Click here to contact Omnitracs to get started with telematics today.
The Unseen Costs of Driver Accidents
4 Startling Truck Driving Safety Statistics
We all know that accidents are expensive, especially when big trucks are involved. But here are some things you probably don’t know:
- No matter how you parse the costs, your trucks are very expensive assets. Replacing a destroyed truck is never cheap. The average cost of a tractor/trailer combo in 2014 is around $160,000, sometimes edging closer to $200,000.
- Insurance costs per mile for tractor/trailer combos are averaging 6.3 cents, according to a survey by the American Transportation Research Institute. Multiply this by your annual mileage and you get a huge bill. Every time a driver is involved in an accident, your costs are going to go up even more.
- Motor vehicle crashes cost employers $60 billion annually in medical care, legal expenses, property damage, and lost productivity. They drive up the cost of benefits such as workers’ compensation, Social Security, and private health and disability insurance. In addition, they increase the company overhead involved in administering these programs.
- The average crash costs an employer $16,500. When a worker has an on-the-job crash that results in an injury, the average cost to the employer is $74,000. Costs can exceed $500,000 when a fatality is involved.
Relaxed habits by drivers and limited oversight by their leaders are an expensive problem because they directly impact your daily operations and create costs that could have been avoided, impact your bottom line, and are ultimately passed onto consumers.
Some Things You Can’t Put a Dollar Amount On
Besides the direct costs generated by driving accidents, there are indirect effects as well.
Your consumers and your customers also care. Every time one of your drivers is involved in dangerous behavior (whether an accident happens or not), the perception of your company will worsens, which will negatively affect future sales. When a consumer calls your company to complain about one of your trucks tailgating or speeding, no matter what your response is, the damage has already been done.
What if your company gets in an accident on the freeway and your logo, splashed on the side of your trailer, is shown on the news repeatedly? Again, the damage has been done. But the impact can be lessened if you have data to prove your innocence, both in an actual investigation and for public perception. And that’s why telematics matters.
Managing customers’ perception of your brand is more difficult if your trucks are not driving as safely as they could be. Telematics technology, like Omnitracs Roadnet Telematics, can change how safely your drivers drive. Telematics gives drivers and fleet managers the ability to see their daily operations, for a single vehicle or the entire fleet, and assess safety telemetry in real time.
Federal, state, and local governments are focused on improving road safety and each law, regulation, and program impact your company’s ability to keep trucks on the road. A primary example is the Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) initiative to improve large truck safety, which focuses on reducing commercial vehicle-related accidents.
Staying compliant has become just as important. Fortunately, telematics can save you a lot of time and money by automating the compliance checking for you.
What Safety Fleet Telematics Can Do For You
Telematics allows leaders to gain a comprehensive understanding of how their people drive, acts as a catalyst for safety education and rewards drivers for safe driving practices. Omnitracs’ Roadnet Telematics combines GPS-based onboard monitoring technology and diagnostics with easy-to-use mapping and reporting to track vehicle operating and usage, like safety telemetry and idling time. The result is a clear picture of your fleet’s safety risk, productivity, and maintenance issues.
By utilizing fleet telematics, you reduce unsafe events significantly within a short time frame. This often occurs with very little management intervention or company standards in place because the drivers will self-correct rapidly. Unsafe events are tracked at the truck level and are associated with a specific driver to ensure follow-up compliance discussions.
You can use telematics, along with a driver behavior program, to get rid of all bad behavior. You will have all the data you need to make the right decisions since Roadnet Telematics tracks current and historical safety activity. You can monitor daily activity and see trends and problem spots over weeks, months, and years.
Safety telemetry data gives managers the ability to see if drivers are speeding by monitoring driver speed through posted road speed and user-defined speeds. You will be able to see where and when the driver was speeding, for how long the event occurred, and the actual speed achieved.
Monitoring the driver’s safety behavior can occur immediately through alerts when a driver exceeds a user-defined speed. For example, alerts occur at speeds over 65mph on reports and in analytics, but managers can also get an email or text message when speeds exceed 80 mph. Harsh driving instances are also tracked through monitoring of harsh braking, cornering, and acceleration events. Users can review all events that occurred on a route, sorted by events occurred, time, or distance.
The Time is Now to Get Ahead of Fleet Safety
Changing driver behavior is difficult because it is based on direct driver observation by already busy driver management, data collection intensive time/distance studies, and driver participation.
The only method that gets you closest to solving the safety data gap issue is telematics. Telematics gives leaders the ability to monitor driver behavior from their desk or in the field by accessing a mobile app. Nothing else even comes close.
You can make a dent by putting safety policies in place, having “How am I driving?” toll-free numbers, and ensuring DOT compliant processes. But you will never actually know how much your safety messages and protocols are being followed until you get access to safety data through telematics.
“Data known” results in “safety known.” And telematics brings this to you by providing comprehensive data on exactly what each vehicle is doing and which driver is associated with that vehicle for the day. It allows you to make sure your safety efforts are executed intelligently and easily.
With minimal investment and a commitment to use incremental changes with telematics, safety policy adherence will increase, incident rates will decrease, and every company and fleet, large or small, will have a safer workforce.
Are you ready to roll out a new safety message for truck drivers and be proactive with fleet telematics? Roadnet Telematics gives you the data to make the right decisions, correct driver behavior, and ensure that your expensive vehicles are safe and efficient. Click here to contact Omnitracs to get started today.