21st Century Fleet Maintenance

StepVANSIn  a recent article, titled “How Telematics Has Completely Revolutionized the Management of Fleet Vehicles” published in Entrepreneur (Click HERE), the case is made on how UPS managed to increase maintenance intervals (reduce total number of inspections and PMs) while increasing fleet reliability:

That’s right: UPS went from 240,000 preventative maintenance inspections per year to 120,000. 

Director of automotive engineering Dale Spencer, who oversees the UPS fleet, explains that…For decades, UPS used the same maintenance schedule: changing the oil, fluids and brakes at prescribed intervals, no matter what…[now] UPS has learned to trust the [telematic] data–to monitor every truck remotely, from a high-temperature warning to signals as to whether a driver is wearing a seat belt. “We have the driver data; we know how fast they’re driving, how hard they’re stopping,” Spencer says. “That driver will change bad habits before it costs us money.”

With Telematics, it is easy to spot problems before they’d typically surface in normal PM inspections.  Some fleets are using the GeoTab program to spot failing alternators up to two weeks prior to the anticipated failure — giving them the luxury of pulling the vehicle when it is most convenient for their shop instead of dealing with a roadside failure later on.

It’s more than just cutting PM frequency to save money — it can be a powerful predictor of future recalls and warranty issues:

The software also allows the company to spot wear trends. “We could see certain parts wearing out on the same vehicles too quickly,” Spencer says. That enabled UPS to go back to the vehicle manufacturer and argue for a warranty claim because it was possible to document a pattern. Even a small-business owner with a 10-vehicle fleet might have such an advantage, he says, “as long as they had the data to prove it.”

ntdc truck lineupTelematics can also identify aggressive drivers who wear out vehicles faster than the norm within your fleet.  Drivers who accelerate, brake and swerve in harsh ways tend to kill the lifespan of brakes, burn fuel efficiency and damage steering and control systems. Often, these are the same drivers who top the list of “most crashes” before being asked to drive someplace else.

At the end of the day, the hardware and software your team purchases is important, but even more important will be the customer service support, the hand holding, the networking/benchmarking with other clients and the ability to integrate data into existing systems — all hallmarks of the GeoTab system offered by SafetyFirst (Click Here)

With SafetyFirst, we can integrate:

  • Scored MVRs (using your scoring system)
  • Aggregated Driver Risk Scoring (using crash data, HMD reports, MVRs and telematics)
  • Safety hotline reports (aka How’s My Driving – third generation)
  • Online Training Modules (5-7 minutes, newly produced, tailored to specific issues including speed alerts from telematics)
  • DOT DQ File Maintenance (online)

Further, these are all 100% in-house built systems — not merely a patch work assembly of multiple, third-party products that have been stitched together.

Connected Cars

Advertisements

How do we address idling for fuel economy?

A recent article by GEOTAB offered some interesting insights on idling and ways to effectively improve fuel consumption.

The article deconstructs idle time into sub-categories to better understand “WHY” idling is occurring and whether it is “acceptable” or could be curbed by the driver.

They compare two fictional drivers:  Driver A and Driver B.  Driver A logged 300 minutes of idling, and Driver B logged 250 minutes.

idle-2While the immediate assumption is that Driver B was a better manager of idle time, a closer look at their records revealed that most of their idling occurred during their “pre-trip” and “post-trip” time periods.

Specifically, Driver B idles while doing his/her walk around inspections and setting up his/her route plan.  That idling in the yard or at the terminal could have been easily avoided.  Driver A’s idling happened during heavy traffic while on dispatch.

From the article

The majority of preventable and actionable idle time happens during the before trip and after trip segments. This idle time can be reduced by the use of idle reduction campaigns which establish peer pressure, one-on-one communications with drivers, and continuous feedback using idle reports.

Idle time can be reduced by instilling a culture that prohibits the running of the engine during pre-inspections, filling out of paper work, or any activities where the running of the engine is not necessary.

Idle time during the trip can be used in route planning because it can indicate travel conditions for a given route or area. Idle time during the trip is normally attributed to traffic conditions, traffic signals, and driving conditions. While drivers most likely do not have direct control of this idle time, the route and time-of-day can be evaluated to ensure travel delays (idle time) is reduced as much as possible.

To really maximize your efforts in reducing idle time, clear reporting can help you dive deeper to distinguish unavoidable versus avoidable idling.  Productive drivers who are admonished to reduce idle time without distinguishing these factors can easily become frustrated while other operators are wasting fuel during pre-trip inspections or other scenarios.

Selecting the right partner to help you quickly spot these trends also makes a huge difference.  While some firms charge an arm and a leg for telematics “data” (which amounts to “background noise”), receiving superior “insights” (on the most urgently actionable areas) can translate to immediate savings. 

TeleMatics

Driving and Vision Disorders

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) offers many resources for a wide range of safety concerns.

Here is an example of one of their latest videos:

You can find many more video based resources at NHTSA’s You Tube page — http://www.youtube.com/user/USDOTNHTSA

 

A New Approach to Traffic Safety Culture?

SafetyFirstSome traffic safety professionals monitor the actions and activities of their peers around the world — to see what’s working, what new problems are emerging and to collaborate wherever possible.

SafetyFirst’s team has worked with colleagues in roughly 40+ countries around the world by email, making presentations at International Road Safety conferences, and webinars.

NZ video captureRecently, we were amazed by a fresh approach to getting motorist’s attention about the issue of speeding and common traffic mistakes that tragically lead to injuries and deaths.

In New Zealand, they are trying to get people to recognize their own contribution to crashes instead of assuming “it’s the other guy who doesn’t know how to drive” AND that these seemingly small mistakes add up to very horrible results (emphasizing the personal cost of the crash).

Cosider the impact of reading the following paragraph versus watching a 1-Minute video to convey the same idea:

Most road users recognise the risks of driving at speed and support police enforcement of the speed limit. But these statistics show that drivers don’t always practice this when driving: speed is still a contributing factor in 20% of all fatal and serious injury crashes on New Zealand roads.

Now, take a moment to watch this embedded video, below.

What do you think of this approach (the video) to get people thinking about their own choices?

The NZ Transport Agency offers this discussion about their choice to go in this direction:

Our approach

Previous campaigns have shown that the faster you go the less time you have to react, the longer it takes to stop and the bigger the mess when you do stop. But people still deny this truth or think it doesn’t apply to them. Their speed may be over the limit but it is minimal, e.g. 107 km/h in a 100 km/h area. In their minds they’re not ‘speeding’, but driving comfortably, and they feel in control.

This campaign aims to reframe the way that people look at their speed when they’re driving. A person may be a good driver but they can’t deny that people do make mistakes – after all, to err is only human. And in life, mistakes are made often. We usually get to learn from our mistakes; but not when driving – the road is an exception. Even the smallest of mistakes on the road can cost us our life, or someone else’s.

In a Safe System no one should pay for a mistake with their life. When we drive, we share the road with others so the speed a person chooses to travel at needs to leave room for any potential error – whether it is theirs or someone else’s. At speed, there is less opportunity for a driver to react to a mistake and recover, and this is the key message for this campaign.

The target audience

Our new campaign targets competent drivers who regularly drive and put the ‘Ks’ in. These people drive ‘comfortably’ fast; typically a bit faster than the posted speed limit or other traffic. But they don’t consider it to be wrong or anti-social because it’s not really ‘speeding’ in their minds. They feel competent and in control of their vehicle.

Join our discussion at our Linked In Group, Facebook page, or leave a comment here if you like or dislike this approach to getting people to check their own choices.

No Excuse for Speeding

Most of us appreciate the humor of “top ten lists” and heading about the silly excuses people deliver to cover over their poor choices.  A recent article at consumerreports.com listed the top ten reasons people gave when pulled over for speeding.

It is funny to read these excuses (below), but we also recognize that speeding itself is never funny.

Sobering facts about speeding:

  1. Driving Too Fast PPTSpeeding is four times more likely to lead to a death than talking/texting with a hand-held cell phone.  
  2. Speeding reduces your time to react to unexpected situations
  3. Speeding reduces the effective control of your steering and braking systems — it takes more time to safely maneuver and/or stop.
  4. Speeding violations increase your personal insurance costs, decrease your future employ-ability, frustrate your employer and can have substantial fines associated.
  5. More ‘exceeding the speed limit’ crashes occur in home towns, on side streets and involve pedestrians, bikes and motorcycles than on the open highway.  
  6. There’s rarely a good excuse to speed.

So the results of a survey of 500 licensed drivers age 18 and over who reported using an excuse during a traffic stop include the following top 10 excuses:

10. My GPS said it was the right thing to do: 2.2 percent.
9. I was on my way to an emergency: 4 percent.
8. I didn’t do anything dangerous: 4.2 percent.
7. I had to go to the bathroom: 4.6 percent.
6. I missed my turn/exit: 4.8 percent.
5. I’m having an emergency situation in my car: 5.4 percent.
4. Everyone else was doing it: 6.4 percent.
3. I didn’t know I broke the speed limit: 12.4 percent.
2. I’m lost and unfamiliar with the roads: 15.6 percent.

And the number one reason…

1. I couldn’t see the sign telling me not to do it:  20.4 percent.

Summary

The common thread through these excuses is a combination of feigned ignorance of the law (or more simply, the rules of the road) and self-deception that the risk isn’t real (i.e. I’m a good driver, only other drivers actually crash because of their choices or “speeding isn’t dangerous”).

Some may argue that “having an emergency situation in my car” could be a legitimate concern, but since this is a summary of drivers who actually got ticketed, I have to wonder how serious the “emergency” was (the police took the time to issue the ticket and conduct the survey).

We all share a responsibility to each other, as drivers, to be safe and execute reasonable judgement while following the law.  Some drivers deceive themselves into believing that the law doesn’t apply to them (or their circumstance) or that they’re so skilled that they can  overcome any dangerous situation that may arise.  All they’re accomplishing is endangering themselves and the rest of us.

Take time to talk with your friends and family about driving safely — it starts within our immediate social circles and spreads out from there.  We can’t wait for someone else to step up and lead the discussion — it starts with you, today.  Be brave enough to have that conversation.

Webinar: Motivating Drivers to Make Safer Decisions

Everest National Insurance, together with Aspen Risk Management Group hosted a webinar today (4/23/2013) on the topic “Motivating Drivers to Make Safer Decisions“.   SafetyFirst’s CEO, Paul Farrell, was the presenter.

The topic is timely and vital to fleet operations regardless of their native industry type or business model” says Farrell.  “We’ve learned over the past thirty years that ninety percent of commercial vehicle collisions are due to driver’s attitudes, actions, choices, beliefs and assumptions about risk taking while driving.  If drivers operate in violation of safety policies,   and we can diagnose why this is happening, we’re on the path to getting their cooperation and compliance.

Dan Lessnau, VP of Sales at SafetyFirst contributed this thought; “While technology can play a very important role in enhancing both vehicle and driver safety results, the human factor can’t be underestimated.  When managers make time to self-audit their current practices, evaluate their successes and apparent failures, they’re enabling themselves to define a solid benchmark to build upon.”

While many drivers do operate their vehicle in compliance with company policy and state traffic laws, some violate these guidelines for various reasons.  Noncompliance can lead to traffic violations and crashes with damaged vehicles, injuries or even fatalities.  These negative outcomes influence business results, BASIC measures (in regulated fleets) and even insurance premiums when rated on a past-loss basis.

Of those drivers who are consistently non-compliant with company driving policies, there are four distinct populations of drivers:

  1. Those who are genuinely unaware of the nature of the risk or the policy which is in place to address that issue. (aka Training/Education Issue)
  2. Motivating Drivers to be saferThose who are aware that there is some degree of risk and/or that there is a policy in place to address this type of behavior, but there is also a genuine misunderstanding about the nature of the risk (consequences) or what the policy is communicating. (aka Communications Issue)
  3. Those who understand the nature of the risk and the intent of the policy very clearly, but fail to comply out of conflicting expectations from their own management team (i.e. “Hypocritical Enforcement or a “goal alignment issue” where the actual rewards and benefits for violating the policy (i.e. pay, productivity, etc.) may be greater for non-compliance than for compliance.) (aka Goal Alignment)
  4. Those who understand the nature of the risk and intent of the policy, but simply choose to violate the policy by sheer willful decision.  (aka Performance Issue)

Diagnosing why non-compliant drivers are violating policy based on the model described above is the starting point to improving results.  Questions like the ones below could be used to help diagnose why some drivers may not have been aware of the policy, or didn’t understand the policy fully enough to comply on a consistent basis:

  • Are all drivers fully aware of our expectations for their performance?
  • How have we communicated these expectations?
  • How do we know that the message was received and understood?
  • Did we take a “once and done” approach or have we used thoughtfully repetitive messaging to reinforce the communication effort?
  • Have we evaluated the simplicity of the wording used since legal teams often interject very precise wording that may be difficult to understand?
  • Did we use illustrative examples to clarify how the policy would be applied in realistic scenarios?

Drivers who heard the policy and understood the expectation may require additional information to translate their understanding into positive action.  For instance, going the extra step to explain why the policy is needed, what goals are being sought through the policy and “what’s in it for me, the driver?” could provide motivation for some to voluntarily comply on a consistent basis.

Other concerns include how the message gets delivered.  Some old-line managers valueYou tell his mommy the melodramatic message to shock people and use emotion to motivate compliance.  This image and message accomplishes that goal, but this approach can be overused and become ineffective for several reasons.

First, a steady bombardment of this type of heavy handed messaging may make drivers feel like they are villains or make them angry if there is hypocritical enforcement (i.e. managers breaking the same rules with impunity).  Secondly, youthful drivers have been raised on a steady diet of “just say NO” messaging or “this is your brain on drugs” messaging and they have become increasingly calloused towards the approach.  “Our caution is to evaluate the types of messaging being used and take great care to avoid over reliance on one type or style.  A great variety of messaging mechanisms keeps the information fresh and attractive.” commented Farrell.

Goal Alignment, Mixed Signals, Crossed Purposes

That segment of drivers who understand fully, but don’t comply by choice may be doing so for a range of reasons.

First, we must recognize that from the driver’s own perspective, rules such as state traffic laws or company policy can seem like suggestions:

  • compliance isn’t monitored or enforced with consistency
  • the consequences for non-compliance are not feared (i.e. seen either as trivial or unlikely to occur)
  • bigger reward for non-compliance than for compliance undermines value of adhering to policies
  • “just don’t care” factor (personal liberty is more valuable that potential consequences of non-compliance)

The “just don’t care” factor can be best illustrated in light of Virginia Technical Transportation Institute and Insurance Information for Highway Safety studies showing:

  • Policethe difference in compliance between companies with cell phone bans versus no policy at all = %17 (neither complied very well)
  • no measurable difference in early results between those states with a cell phone ban versus those with a strong ban in place.
  • crashes rose slightly in those states with a ban versus those without.

Dealing with this segment of the driver population (understands policy, but rejects compliance) may boil down to monitoring and enforcement actions, which will be discussed in the final segment of the article.

Next we must open our eyes to operations teams who reward productivity through bonuses, stronger pay raises, or management praise while sending signals to drivers that speeding, using hand-held cell phones while driving and other risky practices are worth broken rules if it means more revenue.   If drivers believe that the possible rewards gained by breaking the rules outweigh the risk of the potential, but likely consequences, they’ll continue to violate the policies.  

Some drivers break the rules because the management team encourages them to do so — for instance, no one is to use their cell while driving “UNLESS” it is their boss on the line demanding to speak with the driver immediately.  This sort of hypocritical enforcement adds to confusion about compliance and how to apply directions given by the management team.

Time For A Change

Weeding out “hypocritical enforcement” (however subtle) and making sure that manager’s goals/expectations are properly aligned with policy statements isn’t always easy, but it does help everyone in the organization focus on a common goal.  While we’ve previously done whole webinars on goal alignment for fleet safety results, our focus today was on ways management teams could monitor driver performance and increase the accountability of both managers and drivers in regards to policy compliance.

Some parallels worth examiningWe believe this monitoring and enforcement effort actually begins with candidate screening practices (i.e. “setting up for success”).  Some organizations use screening tools such as DISC or other behavior/motivational/skills based testing to find “rules compliant” applicants.  Others use revised interview questions and tactics to evaluate a candidate’s attention to details, listening skills and so on.  This is also a good time to begin sending the messages that safety is important and valued within your organization.

Other monitoring and enforcement mechanisms were covered during the webinar and ranged from How’s My Driving hotlines to MVR profiles to identify drivers who may be at-risk of becoming involved in a collision or may have broken a local regulation.  Technology such as on-board recorders, GPS systems and even Camera-in-Cabin systems were introduced with their respective pros and cons.

The group had a special interest for cell phone enforcement technology, and incentive programs which might be used to help spur compliance.  We discussed the emerging technology solutions around cell phone control, including pitfalls and ways to defeat the systems.  We also discussed why incentive programs can start strong and end in ashes if not carefully managed each step of the way.

cropped-trucks-highway.jpg

Summary

Drivers need clear communication of expectations which are consistently reinforced by their own management team.  Simple rules, thoroughly monitored and fairly/evenly enforced using technology and administrative programs can make a vast difference in safety results obtained.   Motivating drivers to make safer decisions while behind the wheel is one of the cornerstones of a solid driver safety program.

Current SafetyFirst clients and their respective insurers will have access to the slides at our website shortly.  If you’re not currently affiliated with SafetyFirst and would like to discuss this topic or get a copy of the slides and support materials, please contact us at support (at) safetyfirst (dot) com (providing your contact information and how we can assist you) or call us toll free at 1-888-603-6987

SafetyFirst provides driver safety services to a network of more than 75 insurance providers and 3,800+ active fleet clients throughout North America.  Driver Education, Online Interactive Modules, Driver Coaching, Hotlines, GPS and more are available through our consultative team of transportation, insurance and IT specialists.

cropped-decal-ate-truck.jpg