Crash preventability programs are critical for trucking companies who want to not only keep their truck drivers safe but burnish their image as responsible operators in a crowded marketplace. Leveraging technology to make the job safer for truck drivers should be considered a must for every fleet manager who wants to keep their operation safe and violations low. That’s why crash preventability determination programs, along with other advanced safety procedures, are so important.
The fact is every accident presents itself as an opportunity to learn and grow. A Crash Preventability Determination Program organizes this opportunity into actionable feedback. This provides fleet managers with greater control over their operations. It establishes a process by which each accident is evaluated.
There should be a chain of control when it comes to crash prevention. Whether this process is conducted by a single safety director or fleet manager or involves a rotating group of safety professionals, the goal is the same: to determine what, if anything, could have been done differently, that could have avoided the crash.
The Purpose of Crash Preventability Programs Explained
Crash determination programs are not meant to point fingers or assign fault. In fact, this should be explicitly stated in company policy. It should state that the program is focused on whether any actions could have prevented the crash. And it should not immediately focus on if the truck driver was at fault, but instead, if a truck driver was able to recognize an approaching vehicle or potentially dangerous road hazard, that could have been avoided.
There are many important reasons to institute a crash determination program. One of the most important remains the opportunity to identify and deliver progressive or remedial training to truck drivers involved in accidents and to share those lessons with other drivers in the fleet. They can even be incorporated into fleet training and coaching programs – with permission from the truck driver in question, of course. These incidents provide first-hand information other truck drivers may need or use.
Crash Preventability Determination Programs come in many shapes and sizes. Internally, trucking companies have developed different governance models to administer their programs. Externally, the FMCSA has also developed a program that allows carriers to ask FMCSA to make a crash preventability determination on crashes meeting specific circumstances. This FMCSA program has been used by carriers to reduce their Compliance, Safety Accountability Crash Indicator BASIC score, or to have their record noted that certain crashes were not preventable.
The Basics of a Crash Preventability Program
Want to know how to ensure your crash preventability determination program meets or exceeds the goal you set for it? Ensure you have benchmarks ready. What kind of benchmarks? Consider the following:
- Hold your truck drivers to a high level of safety accountability.
- Promote a high level of awareness and transparency among your truck drivers.
- Implement standards to administer safety incentive programs.
- Develop meaningful definitions by which you can measure the effectiveness of your program.
Humans are fallible. They make mistakes in judgment and action. That’s why most crashes are attributable to truck driver behavior. In addition, fleet managers know that poor driver behavior is often attributable to the casual motorists, not the actions of the professional driver. That’s where onboard and back-office technology can come into play.
Important On-board Safety Technologies You Should Consider
One of the most prominent onboard technologies is the dash cam. AI dash cams help reduce distracted driving and prevent accidents. The cameras are mounted on the windshield and use artificial intelligence to detect unsafe driving behaviors and road conditions. Once detected, the cameras notify drivers with in-cab audio and visual alerts to help drivers modify their behaviors. Companies that use Motive’s AIpowered dash cams, combined with frequent coaching, saw 22% fewer accidents and 56% fewer unsafe driving incidents
For dash cams to be truly effective, consistent coaching is imperative. Simply identifying poor performance or behavior will not prevent crashes. Many drivers don’t recognize when they’ve done something improper. By allowing the driver to review the video and present their perspective on the incident, then discussing the specifics of the situation, why the behavior is dangerous, and strategizing ways to avoid it in the future will improve driver behavior and build trust. Using the dash cam footage to reward good behavior and exonerate drivers post-crash can also go a long way in building trust.
Additionally, every dash cam video goes under thorough evaluation by a specialized team. The in-house safety team will inform you if roads were snowy or pedestrians were nearby when an event occurred. It can easily demonstrate to you the cause of the problems.
Safety technologies fully integrated into the cab make a big difference when it comes to preventing crashes and ensuring the safety of your truck drivers. From video dash-cams to advanced telematics, there are many ways fleet managers can invest in technologies that their truck drivers will both appreciate and benefit from.
Consider Advanced Back-Office Safety Technologies
Crash preventability determination programs are all well and good, but you need some back-office technologies as well if you want to really take your safety accountability measures to the next level. Because back-office technology can be helpful, as well. These technologies consolidate and visualize data.
This, in turn, helps fleet and safety managers identify concerning trends. It also allows them the opportunity to reward good driving behavior before a crash occurs. One technology that is quickly rising in popularity is the driver scorecard. Fleets around the world are turning to truck driver scorecards to do this.
Measuring return on investment for adopting safety technologies requires input from several parts of your trucking company to determine how quickly the investment will be paid back in terms of reduced crashes and safety-critical events. Fleets will need to work with the vendors they partner with to properly understand the ROI calculation. Consulting with third-party calculators is another option. There are plenty of companies that will do the work you need to determine your ROI.
Using Driver Scorecards to Your Benefit
Safety culture at trucking companies has moved on from a one-size-fits-all approach. Now they are pushing an approach to one that utilizes specific training and data points to understand the root causes of various safety situations and challenges. The challenge is collating, analyzing, and prioritizing the tremendous amount of data that’s available. We’ve discussed the various ways trucking companies can use big data to their advantage, despite its unrelenting nature.
Consider that data can come from sources both inside and outside your company. Sources include background screening, ongoing driver, vehicle and telematics, and internally generated and governmental data. Depending on the number of systems you have collecting the data, we could be talking about quite a data dump. All this data arrives at different frequencies and is of different values. It all depends on what is measured. Some data is simply not very useful, and some can provide a vital window into important safety problems.
Many fleet management solutions require safety or fleet managers to go through all dash cam footage to assess an incident and determine which are the most important behaviors to coach. Advanced systems use intelligence and an in-house safety team to analyze and prioritize every video within seconds of an event, filtering out videos that aren’t relevant or do not demonstrate risky behavior.
How the Driver Scorecard and Data Analysis Interact
Understanding what the data is saying is not easy. It takes specific techniques to understand what the data tells you. Fortunately, that’s where data visualization techniques come in handy. Most technology vendors offer dashboards to display their data and identify gaps. Others offer a type of data and safety hub. From here fleet managers can have a bird’s eye view over their program, providing coaching info and addressing unsafe behaviors before they become a bigger problem. It is nice to be able to manage your safety program in one place for full visibility into driver safety. Identify your riskiest drivers and take the actions necessary to prevent accidents. The FMCSA has conducted a study around casual crash factors and has determined safety technologies are just what you need.
One effective way to visualize data is to create a driver scorecard. Here, various driver data is combined based on the priorities of the trucking company and creates a score (or multiple scores) which are then used to assess and rank driver performance. Driver scorecards should be a tool to encourage improvement, not to punish or shame poor performers. They should be transparent, meaning drivers know what data is being used and how a score is being calculated. Drivers should also be able to see their ranking among their peers, which can motivate improvement. Many companies combine their driver scorecards with their safety incentive program to motivate drivers to improve
Assembling the data and footage necessary can be a time-consuming, complex task. It is important for fleet managers to understand, however, how important this task is. After all, it could mean life or death for your truck drivers.