Drew Schimelpfenig's picture

Sep 6, 2017


Drew Schimelpfenig

Senior Manager Integration Programs

Professional truck drivers have a uniquely demanding job. And it’s not just a matter of getting from point A to point B on time, following a whole multitude of industry rules and regulations, and safely handling a massive, complex vehicle.

It’s doing all that while surrounded by other drivers who aren’t professional — in many cases, far from it.

And when accidents occur (and unfortunately, they do — in 2015 alone, 4,311 large trucks and buses were involved in fatal crashes), a whopping 81% of the time, it’s the fault of those unprofessional drivers in their cars.

Accidents are a worst-case scenario, however, most of the time trained truck drivers are able to avert disaster when a nearby car creates a dangerous situation. They’re constantly vigilant, reacting in nanoseconds to risky behavior because they’re always playing the what-if game — what if that car suddenly changes lanes? What if something falls off that truck’s trailer? What if oncoming traffic suddenly swerves into my lane? By looking for threats before they occur, and visualizing how to respond if they were to happen, truck drivers are definitely doing the heavy lifting when it comes to keeping our roads safe.

Fleet owners and the individual fleet managers also play a huge role in keeping both truck drivers and car drivers safe, by creating a culture of safety in the organization as a whole, and working to support their drivers’ buy-in to that culture by every means possible.  

One of the most important ways that fleet managers can promote safety among their drivers is surprisingly simple — use the data and information that is already in the vehicle!

This is especially true for fleets that have invested in new vehicles and opted to include Advanced Driver Assistance Systems on their trucks. By doing so, you have equipped your drivers with safety tools installed in their trucks that can prevent a rollover, give lane departure warnings, or potentially avoid a collision. These are without a doubt useful for the drivers themselves in the moment, but don’t you want to know when these systems are having to engage? By leveraging the right telematics solution that includes a critical event reporting function, fleet managers can gain accurate visibility to the risk they are working to manage. 

With this new information, suddenly fleet managers have insight into each driver’s behavior, well beyond the basic measure of how many actual accidents they’ve been involved in. They can use lane departure warnings to determine whether a driver often drifts, hugs the shoulder, or changes lanes without signaling. They can use the frequency of hard braking alerts to find out how aggressive or attentive a driver is on the road.

This kind of visibility into risks allows fleet managers to play that same what-if game that keeps their drivers safe. What if at some point, this driver can’t brake quickly enough to stop in time? What if that driver doesn’t notice a car speeding closer while he’s changing lanes without a signal?

Instead of just visualizing ways that their drivers can deal with these situations, however, this data gives fleet managers the ability to take preemptive action. By setting up a fair, consistent coaching process for every driver, addressing areas needing improvement, and then continuing to monitor subsequent driving behavior, they can minimize risk for everyone involved. And in many cases, they will be able to “catch” their drivers doing what they do best — keeping our roads safe!

At Omnitracs, we realize that collecting data, knowing what that data means, and understanding how to use it effectively is critical to ensuring your truck drivers' safety. That’s why we offer safety solutions like Critical Event Reporting, our Black Box Event Recorder, and Critical Event Video. Contact us to learn more about how we can help your fleet become safer through risk visibility.  

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