Omnitracs' Road Ahead blog

Webinar wisdom: Flatten the curve on speeding-related crashes

Jason Palmer
Jason Palmer
Transportation Intelligence, Omnitracs

Inclement weather is one of the top five common causes of trucking collisions.

As much as we'd like sunshine while our drivers are on the road, rapidly changing and dangerous weather conditions, such as rain, snow, and fog, are frequent — especially in localized areas and during different times of the year. Often these conditions can change rather swiftly without drivers being aware of any impending danger.

Most commercial drivers take safety seriously. The reality is that it can be difficult to discern which speeds work best for different conditions. Speed signs don't usually account for how many miles per hour vehicles should travel, resulting in drivers driving at speeds too high and too dangerous for the accompanying weather conditions. Luckily, fleets can combat collisions caused by dangerous weather with video safety and intelligent alert technology. Drivers can utilize this actionable intelligence at the edge to ensure they're aware of hidden safety risks and are empowered to protect themselves when these risks arise.  

On June 17, I was joined by our good friends over at Knight-Swift, the fifth largest trucking company in the U.S., to discuss how to minimize weather-related collisions by reducing speed during adverse weather. Knight-Swift, a loyal customer, shared the benefits of collaborating with us to analyze data trends and enhance the company’s safety culture. You can watch the entire webinar here.

How weather impacts collisions 

We recently tapped into our database to conduct a thorough analysis of over 250,000 collisions, aiming to understand the root causes of these collisions and how we could help our customers lessen future risks.

Here's what we discovered:

1) 23% of all truck crashes could have been mitigated by reducing the vehicle's speed in adverse weather conditions.

2) Rain resulted in the most dangerous weather-related collisions and accounted for nearly half of all weather-related fatalities.

3) Most weather-related collisions occurred at speeds under 65 MPH.  

Inclement weather conditions, including rain, ice, snow, sleet, and fog, profoundly impact driver safety. As highlighted by the 65 MPH figure, commercial drivers rarely are driving at excessive speeds when their vehicles collide. Wet roads and obstructed vision require lower speeds, so drivers have more time to react safely. Practicing proper defensive driving skills, such as maintaining a safe following distance between vehicles, being attentive while driving, and not driving while fatigued, ensures that you can safely avoid collisions.

Treat drivers like vehicle pilots

Knight-Swift emphasized its goal was not to overcome their drivers but rather empower them.

The company worked with us to develop real-time, rich, location-specific weather data and combine that with its telematics data from the fleet to identify advisory alerts based on specific conditions and speeds. Weather is incredibly localized, and many of us rarely see weather-related events that extend far, geographically. Knight-Swift wanted to reach drivers in local areas and provide guidance on appropriate and safe recommendations as these conditions changed where they were operating.

Using the SmartSense for Speeding for Conditions solution, the company developed precise alerting thresholds for particular conditions. Knight-Swift warned their drivers within minutes of approaching dangerous weather conditions and provided them with specific guidance on the current weather conditions, along with recommendations of safe speed limits. As a result, 92% of their drivers reduced their speeds in these conditions.

The company also significantly lowered jack-knife and ran-off-road events, both of which are heavily linked to dangerous weather and are good proxies around safety impact. With fewer crashes and more informed drivers, this new approach to safety helped Knight-Swift significantly improve its collision performance and ROI.

Focus on the metrics that matter

Here's how your company can utilize our metrics and solutions to impact driver safety proactively:

1) The SmartSense for Speeding for Conditions solution collects vehicle, telematics, road, and weather data as it applies to your vehicles and where your drivers are operating.

2) AI-driven rules detect incidents and data from the vehicle. So, data is streaming through the truck and analyzed within seconds.

3) Alerts are pushed directly to the driver via their telematics terminal, advising them of the current weather conditions and risk. 

4) Data is stored for management reporting to measure improvement across the fleet and find areas where continued growth is necessary.   

The four-step process incorporates the actions you need to take to ensure drivers remain protected — even when Mother Nature makes it difficult. You can identify which drivers are operating in real time, measure how and if drivers are improving over time, alert drivers with intelligent data alerts, and then enhance your risk mitigation strategies for evolving fleet safety.

Uncover how you can use SmartSense for Speeding for Conditions to make an actionable difference in your organization's safety culture. Watch the entire webinar with Knight-Swift for more promising insights.