July 15-21, 2018 is Operation Safe Driver Week, an initiative started by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) and meant to bring attention to unsafe driving behaviors by both commercial and passenger drivers. The goal of the program is to work toward zero deaths on our roads and highways.
During Safe Driver Week, traffic safety personnel will be on heightened alert for unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding, following too closely, improper lane changes, and harsh decelerations.
In 2015 (latest data available), of the 32,166 fatal crashes on U.S. roadways, 3,838 (11.9%) involved at least one large truck or bus. In addition, there were an estimated 6,263,000 nonfatal crashes, 476,000 (7.6%) of which involved at least one large truck or bus. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration cites driver behavior as the cause of more than 88% of large truck crashes.
In light of that, the agency’s electronic logging device mandate aims to improve safety. Fleets share FMCSA’s concern: a MiX Telematics survey, conducted in March and April of 2018, found that reducing risky driving was identified as the top concern for fleet professionals for 2018.
The good news is that we’re seeing the ELD mandate working. Archrock provides a great example. The company has the largest natural gas contract compression service fleet in the U.S., and is known for its strong commitment to safety, epitomized by its safety and environment-focused company culture: a health, safety and environmental goal of zero incidents, zero accidents, zero injuries, and zero environmental incidents. Archrock has a fleet of 1,250 vehicles and 950 drivers, with operations spanning 20 states.
Archrock implemented ELDs in early 2017, and in just one year, reduced speeding by 70%, harsh acceleration by 30 to 40%, and harsh braking by 20 to 25%. Those improvements unquestionably made a positive impact on safety, and are also helping Archrock improve fuel economy by 8 to 12%.
We are hearing of similar results from other fleets across the US. Those like Archrock that implemented ELDs a year or more ago report that safety improvements continue to grow each month, rather than plateau.
ELDs, combined with driver coaching and training, are highly effective in helping fleets improve their safety profile. The first step is taking baseline measurements of driver behaviors, such as measuring incidences of speeding, harsh accelerations, and harsh decelerations. Then, fleet leadership can set goals for reducing those behaviors over time, including incentives for drivers who improve their overall safety profiles by the widest margins.
ELD solutions enable fleets to measure performance, generating reports that can be shared with drivers and managers. They can also be used to coach drivers – providing audible alerts, for instance, when a driver approaches a speed limit, to help prevent unsafe driving practices before they occur. Fleet managers, like those at Archrock, who provide tips and training to drivers on an ongoing basis will achieve the most impact. This could be in a classroom-type setting at the yard, or via in-cab prompts such as an audible reminder from an ELD unit.
Gamification can be very effective here – taking safe driving techniques and adding an element of competition in order to incent a behavior change. Typically, this is done within a peer group, so drivers are competing against each other, either individually or within a team. The key here is to share reports with drivers so they can see their progress against the program’s goals, and better understand what they need to do to improve and win the game.
Yet the survey referenced above found that while safety is fleet professionals’ top priority, three in ten fleets subject to the ELD mandate have yet to comply. After a five-month grace period, FMCSA is now fully enforcing the law, and fleets that are not compliant should expect fines and sanctions.
Fleets shouldn’t focus on safety just one week out of the year. ELDs are helping make safety a fleet-wide focus every single day.
Pete Allen is the chief client officer at MiX Telematics and a 25-year veteran of the technology and telematics industries. MiX Telematics, based in Boca Raton Fla., is a global provider of fleet and mobile asset management solutions. This article was authored and edited according to the standards of HDT’s editors to provide useful information to our readers.