Fleet safety gains driven by telematics data

Today's Trucking

Posted: June 18, 2019 by John G. Smith

NIAGARA FALLS, Ont. – The John Deere fleet already has an impressive safety record. Its trophy case includes no fewer than seven annual private fleet safety honors from the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTC). But there’s always room to improve. The data doesn’t lie.

While the fleet operated by CPC Logistics Canada knew that speeding accounted for just 2% of overall travel time, a closer look at the numbers showed that the worst offenders were speeding around 10% of the time.

It’s why speeding became the first target for a fleet safety program anchored in telematics.

“We found that speeding was what we really wanted to frame this program around,” said Matthew Carr, CPC Logistics Canada’s senior director of safety and operations, during a data-related panel discussion at the PMTC’s annual meeting.

Rather than adopting an off-the-shelf telematics system, the fleet opted to develop a model of its own. The goal was not only to generate customized data, but to present it through an app that would engage drivers, offer consistent data for operations teams, and evaluate performance in real time. The underlying gamification would encourage truck drivers to monitor where they were sitting in any bids to secure quarterly safety bonuses.

The change was dramatic. Speeding incidents dropped 74.4%, down to a low 0.53% of driving time overall. It looked great. But, again, data doesn’t lie. Another challenge emerged.

“We were reducing our total time speeding, but what we weren’t doing was reducing our excessive speeding,” Carr said, referring to reports that flagged the number of actual traffic violations. Back into the numbers they went, and training efforts focused on the worst offenders.

As important as high speeds had become, the next focus was on sudden stops – the high-speed braking events that take place above 80 km/h. John Deere drivers were averaging 56 such stops over every 1,600 km after safety teams removed the outliers who recorded 100-200 high-speed braking events. Once the tracking and coaching were refocused, those at the wheel dropped to an average of 31 high-speed stops per 1,600 km.

Hard-braking has almost been eliminated as well, dropping from 24 events per 1,600 km down to a low 0.2.

But as valuable as the telematics data proved to be, there were also human factors to consider. One driver who recorded more than 250 hard braking events per 1,600 km was a good employee by other measures. The data led to questions that helped to determine he was a nervous driver.

“He was getting in the right lane and he wasn’t moving for nothing or anybody,” Carr said. In just a month, though, his number of hard braking events dropped to 100 thanks to a bit of coaching. “We changed his habits to feel comfortable getting in and out of a lane.”

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