Improving fleet driver safety

Learn about the best ways carriers can balance fleet driver safety and operational efficiency in this informative blog post.

Carriers are always looking for ways to improve fleet driver safety while operating efficiently.

This post will share some of the best ways carriers can reach that balance to create a win-win scenario.

Consider hours of service (HOS) while planning routes

Integrating hours of service restrictions when planning routes is a great place to start. 

Including HOS data in your routing plans shows which drivers are close to their limits or have more drive time. By ensuring your truckers don’t violate the HOS restrictions, you’ll ensure they are rested and can drive more safely.

Track preventive maintenance

You’ll also want to track preventive maintenance on your vehicles.

Electronic logging devices (ELDs) are great for tracking how far and how well—or poorly—someone is driving by measuring behaviors and stats like heavy braking, hours on the road, and speeding incidents.

Most ELDs also supply mileage driven so that you can develop a preventive equipment maintenance program. ELDs also save time and money by reducing paperwork administrative costs with digital document management, increasing fleet efficiency, and providing real-time access to information. They also help improve safety ratings. Unique high-end ELD capabilities include remote programming, which assists fleets with service scheduling even more since a fleet knows when a driver will be going off duty and can schedule over-the-air software updates during less-busy times.

Optimize dispatch

You’ll also want to optimize your dispatch operations. Route optimization help drivers find optimal routes—not necessarily the fastest routes—to move packages from transportation hubs to the end recipients while reducing total driving time and considering problems like traffic congestion and accidents.

Avoid highway congestion

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) reports that 91% of all freight slowdowns occur in metropolitan areas. So avoiding highway congestion has become a strategic move for trucking companies.

Some firms plan times and routes to avoid traffic, change shipment size and layout, consolidate freight or attempt to avoid common choke points, alert drivers of slowdowns ahead, or integrate customer delivery demands into the fleet and daily operations planning process. When drivers avoid heavy congestion, they can speed up their driving times, reduce fuel usage and increase their driving safety.

Create a fleet driver safety program

If you’re a truckload carrier thinking about creating a fleet driver safety program for your truck drivers, here’s some information to get you started.

Also known as a carrier safety plan, trucking plan, or cooperative safety plan (CSP), fleet driver safety programs are relatively straightforward to set up. A CSP is a voluntary structured plan that motor carriers file with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to ensure they can address any underlying issues with potential safety ramifications and ultimately improve their performance.

So how do you engage your truck driver workforce in a fleet driver safety program? Here’s how to get started:

Practice good communication with truck drivers

Your safety program begins with a review of your fleet. Start by teaching your new hire about your company fleet, e.g., how many drivers you employ, the new driver’s role on the team, and how each driver’s actions could impact the entire fleet. You’ll also want to touch on company accident information and safety goals.

Train on fleet safety processes and protocols

A layered approach will help here. Think about the best ways to use printed materials, meetings, presentations, and online training. You’ll want to focus on fleet safety rules and policies, defensive driving policies, the role of hours of service, vehicle inspections, accident and security procedures, personal safety policies, individual driver responsibilities, and performance evaluations. Be sure to include information on what happens when a driver violates safety policies and how your company rewards safe drivers.

Document your new hire’s trucking knowledge

After your new hire completes training, document their completion and sign paperwork stating they understand the safety processes and any possible repercussions if they fail to stay safe on the road.

How a TMS helps with fleet driver safety

A TMS can play an instrumental role in truckers’ safety and fleet management programs.

But why is a TMS essential for carriers’ overall safety and profitability—especially small-to-mid-sized truckload carriers? Because these trucking companies need to protect themselves.

Those who use an intelligent TMS with technology to document their safety management program and driver behavior have the best defense against lawsuits. They know when they are at fault and should settle versus go to trial–key as the litigation rate skyrockets.

Unnecessary litigation in the trucking industry is a problem for insurers and trucking firms. Insurers are raising rates or reallocating capacity to other less risky sectors, and less insurance capacity places pressure on trucking rates upward.

With so much litigation, it’s wise to use technology that can collect ELD data from engines, such as whether the driver stomped on the gas or brakes. ELDs also read mileage and even help with preventive maintenance.

An intelligent TMS also factors drivers’ hours of service restrictions into route planning. When you know which drivers are close to their HOS limits and which have more time available to drive, you can create a safe driver plan with breaks, restarts, and multiple drivers who are well-rested and able to drive more safely. Also, consider tools that ensure you don’t miss critical maintenance or repairs and provide alerts and reminders about driver certification, license renewals, or drug tests.

Use data from your ELD devices to improve your truckers’ safety management program and driver behavior. LoadOps connects to various ELD devices and adds more integrations each month. Keep your drivers safe and your fleet running in tip-top shape.

LoadOps, the intelligent TMS by Optym, has the tools to help carriers improve fleet driver safety while still getting business done.

Learn more about LoadOps.

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