The fact is this: Fleets have to work harder and harder these days to find that next revolutionary safety tool. It is what’s called “safety leveling” and was first outlined in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) report issued in April.
According to the report, fatal crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles dropped from 6,007 in 1979 to 3,193 in 2009. That represents a total decline of 46 percent. Obviously, safety advances were making an impact.
Yet, the numbers look worse from there on out. From 2009 to 2014 fatal crashes increased from 3,193 to 3,649, a 12 percent increase. What accounts for this rise in fatal crashes involving commercial motor vehicles?
Digging deeper into the numbers, look at the crash rate per 100 million vehicles and you’ll see that the numbers level off there as well. Tracking the data from 1979 to 2009, the crash rate fell from 5.6 to 1.1. From 2009 to 2014, they rose from to 1.3, representing a 0.2 percent increase over the reporting period.
What will it take to see another major drop in the numbers? Many say video systems are the answer. Others say advanced collision avoidance or mitigation systems may hold the key. There are so many different safety systems available for commercial motor vehicles today, fleets need only take their pick.
Video Provides a Cost-Effective Answer
Still, many say video is best because it not only provides evidence, but can usually be installed for minimal cost. It also assists fleet managers in ensuring their truck drivers are properly coached to good behaviors.
When truck drivers are stymied by behaviors of people driving passenger cars, they appreciate it when video vindicates them from responsibility if something happens. Evidence of sudden braking or illegal lane changes help prevent litigation, truck driver suspension or worse.
Another area where fleets can find safety measures hidden in the numbers is through the use of Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs.
Using KPIs to Increase Safety
There is a saying in business that “it is difficult to improve what you do not measure.” This is why Key Performance Indicators are used to measure standards of performance.
KPIs present themselves as objective measurements of the overall performance of a fleet. When it comes to utilizing KPIs, there is no one right answer or way of doing it.
Here are some examples of KPIs you can set up as measurements of how your fleet is doing:
- Parts cost per mile;
- Fuel cost per mile;
- Cost per delivery;
- On-time delivery rate;
- DOT accident frequency;
- OSHA accident frequency, and;
- Maintenance facility audit scores.
When you have made a final decision on which units of measurement you want to track, you have to set a threshold of acceptable performance. When it comes to fuel cost per mile in relation to cost per delivery, what percentage is acceptable to your operation? Only you will know which measurement applies to your business.
These considerations could be measured based on the type of freight being hauled, the terrain it is being hauled over, how much detention time you can expect at the dock and other mitigating circumstances.
Choosing KPIs for Maintenance
There are a variety of benchmarks you can choose to rate against your maintenance needs. The maintenance of your vehicles plays a critical role in the safety of your fleet.
For instance, a fleet technician could keep track of tire mileage to see if there is truck driver error involved in the usage of the vehicle. Does a maintenance program need to be adjusted a bit to account for issues related to equipment and customer needs? Consider that rarely does a fleet find a one-size-fits-all approach, especially if there are different vehicle applications at play.
In the end, when it comes to utilizing KPIs to improve safety, the most important aspect is your unit of measurement. Focus on fleet optimization and you’re sure to get the most out of your data.