Ask anyone, or look at any number of trucking-related data sets, and you will see that safety technology has drastically reduced crash rates, injuries and fatalities over the last ten years. Yet if you look at the average cost for insurance – including settlements – you will see that rates have been on the rise for some time.
The main reason for this is that fleets are not doing anything with the data produced by the safety technologies they employ. In many cases a fleet safety manager may be utilizing an advanced technology, but have no idea how to diagnose or address specific issues related to the data said technology produces.
Know the Technology
Take, for example, a truck driver who hears an incessant beep coming from the dash, but has no idea why the beep is occurring. This could be a truck driver with a stellar safety record, yet by running a report, the safety manager could glean that the truck driver routinely leaves less than two seconds stopping distance between them and the vehicle in front of them.
In this situation, it could be that only the truck driver knew the beeping was occurring. If no alerts are sent to the safety crew, no one knows there is a problem. Instead the eye stays on the worst truck drivers, rather than realizing even million-mile truck drivers are human and can make costly mistakes.
While many safety managers might have a plan in place for those with the worst record, many overlook the fact that safety issues could arise anywhere down the line, from the worst operator to the best.
So, what’s an intrepid fleet safety manager to do?
- First, make sure you train your truck drivers on new systems that are installed. Equipment and the safety expectations related to said equipment must be set before the truck driver is expected to use them and know what they mean.
- Second, make sure to inspect everyone, no matter how great their record may be. Don’t focus on just a few truck drivers. The entire fleet must be evaluated.
- Third, ensure you have comprehensive corrective action plans in place for potential problems. How will you address actionable data? Make a plan and stick to it.
Utilizing Proper Training
Fleets are on the right path quickly adopting collision-mitigation, lane-departure warning and other advanced safety systems, but if the truck drivers behind the wheel don’t know how to respond correctly these systems provide no value.
How do you address this disconnect? Through proper training. One cannot assume that these technologies will just magically make sense to the truck drivers who must understand what they are saying and act on the information.
Here’s what you need to know to ensure you are staying on top of the problem, fleet-wide:
- Never assume that your truck drivers simply know how to change duty status and edit their logs on a touchscreen, especially if all they’ve known previously are paper logs.
- While these systems are useful, they can send signals that can be distracting. A truck driver must be aware of where the sound is coming from and why to avoid potential safety issues.
- The time for a truck driver to learn how a collision-mitigation system works is not when a collusion is about to occur. Truck drivers must have the knowledge before-hand, that way their reactions are appropriate and timely.
The fact is this: You can’t create a paper manual out of YouTube video. You’ve got to have a comprehensive training program in place to ensure your truck drivers are on top of the systems they are using. Only by following these principles will you ensure that as your safety numbers rise, your insurance premiums drop.