There is one constant in the trucking industry today: Advanced safety technologies are dramatically reducing serious crashes, injuries, and fatalities on our nation’s roads and highways. Yet, far too many trucking companies have their eyes set firmly on their insurance costs. Is there a disconnect between road safety and insurance costs? There is, but the reason isn’t as obvious as it may at first seem.
The fact is, fleets have access to a wealth of safety technologies and data related to efficient truck driving, yet they are not utilizing these technologies to their fullest advantage. Motor carriers need to figure out how to implement the technologies and utilize the data provided by their use to increase overall safety measures.
Drowning in Safety
There is a phenomenon in trucking called “tech fatigue.” With the ELD mandate and advanced fleet management and safety systems coming at fleet managers from all angles, it can become easy to get overwhelmed and find yourself “drowning in safety.” While many motor carriers have plans in place to mitigate these problems, there are often disconnects between management and the truck drivers themselves.
Are truck drivers aware of specific alerts, beeps, and communications delivered by advanced safety systems? Furthermore, do fleet managers know when to act on said alerts or communications? There may be a solid plan in place to deal with such things, but without firm communication and a plan in place to manage these systems and train truck drivers and others within the organization on how to use them, the message can get lost in the noise.
It is critical that fleet managers ensure their truck drivers are not only trained on newly installed safety systems, but have buy-in that their truck drivers know how to and, even more, want to use them. The equipment being installed should be properly vetted and key decision-makers within the organization should understand how they will have an impact on the organization as a whole.
There are also problems with fleet managers focusing only on poor truck drivers. Even if an operator has a safe million-mile record, mistakes happen. Professional, experienced truck drivers should not be ignored for the sake of focusing on newer, less-experienced truck drivers with a minimal driving record.
When an adverse event occurs, do you have a corrective action plan in place to address the problem? How are you using the available data to influence the decision you make in regards to your truck drivers? Only through proper training and follow through can these questions be answered.
Technology is not a Curse
The problem is that as motor carriers add more and more technologies to their vehicles, it can become difficult to not only keep everyone on board, but figure out the most optimal ways to utilize these technologies. Advanced safety and fleet management systems do not just suddenly make themselves known to operators.
It is important to never assume that those operating your commercial motor vehicles will know exactly how a piece of technology works, especially if the only experience they previously had was with putting a pen to paper.
Fleets must invest real time and effort into ensuring those who are utilizing an advanced technological solution are aware that it is going to be installed, how to use it, and how to utilize the data it provides. Many of these software and hardware systems are not inexpensive. Why should a motor carrier sink a ton of their well-earned money into implementing a system without the follow-through required to ensure they are getting the most out of it?