While many annual industry events have been canceled due to COVID-19, the summer 2020 Operation Safe Driver Week with a focus on speeding carried on as scheduled. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance reported 75% higher average speeds in March and April 2020. It’s a timely reminder that staying safe on the road is critical, especially for truck drivers who do not have the choice to stay home.
If the recent public health emergency has proven anything, it’s that the trucking industry has never been more essential. As supply chain issues and shelter-in-place orders have impacted the nation, the trucking industry has ensured that in-demand goods and medical supplies are delivered to hospitals, grocery stores, and essential businesses. Ensuring these drivers get from point A to point B is crucial—both for the drivers on the road and the public relying on the deliveries.
Recent Regulation Changes
In May, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration updated existing regulations for truck drivers. The controversial changes—which amended former regulations around mandatory breaks and maximum driving hours—were applauded by some industry groups for allowing much-needed flexibility in truckers’ schedules, while truck safety advocates have said the updates will make highways more dangerous.
So, how will our industry protect drivers along their routes? According to recent studies, balancing a culture of safety and connection while investing in advanced transportation management technologies is the key.
Staying Connected Through Transportation Technology
For many drivers, feeling connected on the road is an important part of getting to their destination safely. Mobile technology is keeping today’s drivers connected when it matters most—from software installed on drivers’ mobile devices to help them stay connected with the rest of the fleet, to a Facebook community dedicated to keeping female drivers in touch while out on the road.
Effective training and feedback are equally important for newly-hired drivers—especially during these unprecedented times when hiring, onboarding and safety training must be conducted remotely. Some telematics providers are offering video-based in-cab safety monitoring systems, which use cameras and other sensors to monitor the driver’s performance and help fleet managers provide feedback. This technology can also be used to develop customized in-vehicle alerts and training sessions to target and improve driver habits.
Drivers are responding well to the technology if it means improved safety while out on the road. According to one study, 73% of commercial truck drivers are interested in receiving feedback once a week or more while over 50% feel that technology has positively impacted driver safety by helping them stay focused and make more accurate decisions.
Increased Safety with Video Technology
Video Intelligence systems—which can provide a 360-degree view around a truck, including cameras built into a truck’s spot mirrors and a trailer backup camera that livestreams in-cab video—are an effective way to protect drivers while preventing safety-related incidents on the road. Fleets that have implemented this technology have seen overwhelmingly positive impacts on their bottom line, their drivers and those with whom they share the road.
While there are countless success stories where Video Intelligence has saved fleets from potential lawsuits by providing video evidence of accidents on the road, perhaps the most valuable use of this transportation technology comes from the data it can use to inform safety measures.
Video Intelligence has become an invaluable coaching tool for hundreds of businesses across the country by allowing fleet managers to focus on behaviors in need of improvement, making the fleet safer and more efficient with every new training opportunity. Studies show that this type of behavior analysis can lower collision instances by up to 30%—preventing as many as 63,000 crashes, 17,733 injuries, and 293 deaths each year.
According to the National Safety Council, more than 700 people are injured in distracted driving crashes every day—including 22% of commercial drivers who have been injured in a distracted driving incident. That same survey found that commercial drivers generally feel safe but acknowledge they could be safer, particularly if they can successfully eliminate distractions.
A healthy mix of smart transportation technology and planning are helping today’s drivers prevent distractions on the road. Fleets are turning to hands-free in-cab navigation platforms to improve the safety and efficiency of its drivers and vehicles. Drivers agree that specific technology is actually helping them stay more focused while driving—including hands-free phones, a camera to view the outside of the vehicle, GPS devices, and other assistance such as lane departure warnings, voice recognition, and automatic braking.
The technology is out there, but it is up to our industry to put it into action. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported an overall decrease in highway fatalities for the third consecutive year, large truck fatalities increased by 1%—which means there is still work to be done. As the trucking industry continues to move America forward during and after the pandemic, it is imperative that we double down on truck safety to protect our drivers out on the road.
How Trimble Can Support Your Fleet’s Safety
While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought fleet safety into focus, the issue of keeping our roads safe is of crucial importance, not just for transportation companies but also for everyone they share the road with.
Trimble is building the solutions to help you and your drivers stay safe on the road, including through the use of Video Intelligence. Learn more about this innovative platform and how it can help you not only improve safety in your fleet but protect yourself in the event of an accident.