There are thousands of trucking companies in the United States. From single owner-operators to large, cross-border fleets, the trucking industry – which underpins our nation’s supply chain – is a truly vast organism. Yet not every trucking company is created equal. For a fleet to truly standout in a competitive environment, they must stay on top of current trends and know how to adapt when the marketplace changes. Video-based fleet management systems are part of this new paradigm.
The most important part of any fleet operation are its truck drivers. Without the men and women in the cab operating commercial motor vehicles and making the ride, trucking would not function. When building a first-class fleet, fleet managers, owners, and everyone down the line must recognize the importance of their front-line operators. And front-line operators appreciate when their employer is investing in technologies that directly benefit them.
Investing in methodologies and technologies that keep truck drivers happy should be at the top of any fleet’s operational expense budget. There are so many ways to build insights with truck drivers, enhance training, and provide a great atmosphere where truckers are proud to work. But what is a fleet manager to exactly do when trying to build a first-class fleet using an advance video solution.
Video Systems Light the Way
The fact is this: Truck drivers and trucking companies now need to have an ELD device installed in their trucks. Sure, the AOBRD migration still has some life left in it until December of 2019, but in all reality, if fleets are not already making the transition, they risk being left behind. Even more, ELDs now provide a way to not just address hours of service concerns, but to also bring a greater depth to your recruitment, training, and retention efforts.
Start with the many ways an ELD can be combined with a telematics or video solution. Whether it be in-cab video or external video, recording events that take place in and around the tractor trailer has multiple benefits. ELD devices can work in sync with such devices through a comprehensive fleet management system, transmitting information back in real-time.
Triggered video devices capture the exact details of an event, whatever adverse event occurs, from an abrupt lane change or hard braking. Truck driver triggered events such as following other vehicles too closely can also trigger a specific event when tied into a truck-wide sensor system. When triggered events are captured, fleet managers are better equipped to show truck drivers how to respond to certain conditions on the road or even exonerate them in the case of a false claim.
Consider that athletes watch game film and video event recorders to judge their performance. Many athletes actively watch past performances to constantly reevaluate how they are doing. With so many new truck drivers entering the field, being able to use video playback to coach and mentor young truck drivers may be just what the industry needs to ensure continued safety on the road.
Video-based fleet solutions provide fleet and safety managers with the information they need to construct an ultimate truck driver coaching kit. Imagine custom-tailored training opportunities, real-time feedback, and video solutions that can be delivered in person or remotely. These are game-changing developments for trucking companies.
But even more than catching bad behaviors, a comprehensive video system allows fleet managers to reward truck drivers for their excellent track record. Capturing good performance and rewarding truck drivers for that performance encourages them to repeat it.
Still, there are potential pitfalls. Trucking companies should not use a video-based solution to get caught in an information overload. The last thing anyone wants is a huge amount of video to sift through. There are already enough data points to work with in a technologically-advanced trucking company. Why add heaps of video to the problem?
Some video-based solutions also may simply not be right for a fleet. If a particular video-based solution seems difficult to implement or install onto your equipment, never move forward with it just for the sake of doing so.
Truck Driver Protection and Motivation
This would not be the first time we have talked about why it is better to be proactive than to be reactive. Video-based safety systems and programs and integrated ELD solutions provide fleets with a way to stay proactive. While telematics data by itself is useful, viewing event footage gives fleets a far deeper understanding of individual truck driver profiles.
And even better, it gives fleets a far deeper understanding into what happens when an incident occurs. Accidents and collisions happen so fast. By the time the operator can assess what is happening, a lot may have changed from the initial incident. The other party may be also preparing a completely different story compared to what actually happened. There is no shortage of lawyers out there happy to sue a trucking company, no matter who is at fault.
Video event recording technology provides a key window into what happened during a collision, which can prevent your truck driver from suffering over a false claim. There is a lot of “he said, she said” involved when it comes to a trucking accident. And in situations where a truck driver is at fault, a video event recorder provides the information you need and a way to settle the claims faster through an expedition of the legal process.
It is also important to consider damage mitigation from a financial level. As new truck drivers join fleets, when incidents happen, it is the job of the court or jury to decide. We live in an era of litigation. There is nothing wrong with having a tool in place to help a trucking company reduce exposure when an incident does occur, no matter who was at fault.
But let us stop talking about all the bad things that can happen. Never use video as a purely disciplinary tool. You want your truck drivers to buy into its use and see how it benefits the fleet, rather than be afraid of it. Use it as an educational opportunity as well. You want to improve and reward safe driving behaviors and not instill fear of a new system.
Video provides a great way to reinforce safe driving habits. Putting together a fleet scoring system that makes sense is not overly difficult. With video, good truck driving events can be tracked at intervals the fleet selects. Whether it be a quick reaction to a near-collision, a long stretch of time with no incidents, or for demonstrating great improvement, video can be an incredibly motivating tool when used properly.
The best and most effective video-based rewards programs include material rewards, such as trophies, certificates, or prizes, monetary rewards, such as checks and pay raises, and public recognition through a newsletter, call, or shout-out in a safety meeting. No matter what, programs that work consider what their truck drivers really want, especially as it varies from person to person.
Lower Costs, Greater Efficiency, Higher Productivity
Video telematics do more than just add safety benefits and mitigate litigation costs, they also ensure that your vehicles, which represent the core of your business, stay at the top of your mind. Maximum operational efficiency and productivity comes when a fleet sees fewer collisions and a reduction of repair costs and out-of-service time.
Safer truck driving also leads to less fuel consumption. And since some video-based solutions can integrate with fuel management apps and other systems, they can be used to address things that have the greatest impact on fleet fuel usage, such as “smooth” driving, idling, and speeding. Fuel score rankings can be used and/or combined with the fleet recognition system. Imagine improving fleet fuel usage by anywhere upwards of 10 to 15%. That represents real savings.
Video-based solutions can also be combined with vehicle tracking systems, which provides real-time status updates on the location of the vehicle, the trip history, stop and start durations, mileages and so much more. Fleets can use this information to learn more about truck driver behavior, but it also provides great insight into route planning.
Using tracking data allows a fleet manager to monitor distances, unexpected stops, and fuel consumption all in one holistic look. Reporting back on specific metrics and planning more efficient routes becomes a lot easier when you combine several different technologies.
Fleets that want to get ahead in a crowded marketplace and take advantage of the verdant business conditions the trucking industry benefits from, they will need to take advantage of technologies that help them improve their game. ELD-compatible and enhance-able video-based systems allow fleets and truck drivers to do just that.