Photo: MiX Telematics

Photo: MiX Telematics

The upcoming ELD mandate is causing most U.S. fleets to re-evaluate their telematics strategies, and Nine Energy Service is no exception.

We are an oilfield services company operating a fleet of light- and heavy-duty trucks throughout the U.S. and Canada. We have experienced tremendous growth in the company, both organically and through strategic acquisitions, and the ELD mandate was a good impetus for updating and standardizing our fleet management solutions across all of our operations.

Nine’s executive team was very keen to go beyond just basic compliance and invest in a holistic platform that would also help us improve safety and efficiency. This included integrating in-cab video capabilities. Video is a crucial part of the safety puzzle for several reasons:

  • First, we wanted to proactively address driving behaviors, to keep our drivers and those traveling on the roadways with them safe.
  • In order to do this, we needed visibility into what happens on the road and in the cab to help formulate training and guide the way we work with our drivers.
  • These videos are a fantastic resource for teaching moments for both management and employees on how to improve behavior and promote safe driving.

We made integrated in-cab video a requirement for our ELD search, and after evaluating several options, we implemented MiX Telematics’ platform in early 2017.

Video as a coaching tool

We view in-cab video as a crucial coaching and education tool. When a driving incident is triggered, fleet managers are alerted and video is automatically appended to the driver’s scorecard. When we identify a pattern of potentially unsafe driving behavior, we can share the video footage with drivers and coach them, either individually or as a group. We’ve made it clear to drivers that the main objective is to improve safety for them.

An example of how we might use video to coach drivers: When we see a driver with multiple triggered events for harsh braking, we can look at the video and determine whether the driver needs to increase their following distance, plan their route better prior to departure, etc. We can then share the video with the driver and coach them on safer methods of vehicle operation.

Drivers must buy in for this strategy to work

Gaining driver buy-in for in-cab video is crucial. Here are some factors that helped us:

  • Make sure drivers understand that the primary objective is to ensure their safety. We want all of our drivers to get home safe every night. All other goals pale in comparison to this one.
  • We explained that video would only be used for driver coaching/training and for insurance purposes.
  • We updated our telematics policy to include a section on in-cab video. Some key provisions:
  1. We will only collect video when the vehicle is in motion, never when parked or when drivers are off duty. Cameras are equipped with indicator lights so drivers can see when they are recording (or not).
  2. No one is monitoring live video feeds. Video is only appended to driver scorecards in the event of a triggered driving incident.
  3. In addition, video is captured on a rolling basis for 72 hours of trip time. If there is no reason to pull this visual evidence, the video is overwritten.

Providing incentives for safe driving

Overall, Nine drivers have an excellent safety record and culture – the vast majority of drivers rarely, if ever, trigger incidents. We are planning to use our ELD solution and video mostly as a carrot rather than a stick. It is our intent to use driver scorecard data, including video, to reward our safest drivers with quarterly and annual incentives. As with any similar recognition program, we’re confident that this will create a friendly competition among our drivers to be honored for safe driving.

All in all, in-cab video integrated with our fleet management system is allowing us to:

  • Make more informed decisions around incidents involving their drivers;
  • Identify drivers who may need additional coaching and training;
  • Prevent crashes; and
  • Ultimately reduce our insurance rates.

As we complete the installations across all applicable vehicles, we’re confident that our ELD software will enable us to improve operations in other areas – such as fuel economy and regulatory compliance, creating a positive return on our investment. But really the investment that means the most to us is the one we’re making in the safety of our drivers, and in the safety of everyone with whom we share the roads.

Brett Quigley is the director of fleet and DOT compliance at Nine Energy Service, a North American oilfield services company. This article was authored under the guidance and editorial standards of HDT’s editors to provide useful, non-promotional information to our readers.