A recent study has found a link between fleets that invest in advanced safety technologies and emphasize safety culture and greatly improved safety performance outcomes.

The study, conducted by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence, working with property casualty insurance provider Travelers, found that six out of nine carriers reported that building a strong safety culture and adopting at least one new advanced safety technology had contributed to improved safety outcomes.

The report focused on several trucking companies who were classified as high risk by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and had managed to change course and experience significantly improved safety outcomes. These fleets had reduced both the number and severity of crashes and improved safety scores. Interviewers asked these carriers about their safety improvement strategies in order to identify best practices that other high-risk fleets can implement.

By developing a well-rounded safety culture, a majority of the fleets had seen a substantial reduction in FMCSA reportable crashes. One of the interviewed fleets that listed safety culture as its top strategy reported a 75.6% reduction in preventable crashes, according to the study.

The fleet had noticed a trend of increases crash rates back in 2011 and was falling below its own internal safety goals. To reverse the trend, the carrier hired a new directory of safety to overhaul its safety programs. The fleet made other important changes, including implementing better driver training, changing hiring policies and building a strong safety culture.

Other examples from interviewed fleets included maintaining an open door policy for drivers to discuss safety-related issues with management, sharing carrier-wide indicators with managers and drivers and informing drivers of the carrier’s safety culture during orientation.

Another key change the interviewed fleets made was adopting at least one advanced safety technology. One of the fleets in the study reported a 56% decrease in preventable, rear-end collision after equipping its trucks with automatic emergency braking systems. Some fleet s adopted video-based safety monitoring systems, lane departure warnings, blind spot detection and stability control systems.

Of all the strategies that carriers discussed, the majority could be characterized as pre-crash countermeasures. Examples included proactive actions taken by carriers that focused on the management culture and leadership buy-in on safety, showing the value of a top-down approach to safety.

As many as 69 strategies were discussed in the study, reinforcing the fact that there was no single fix safety improvement. Every carrier reported making multiple, comprehensive adjustments that required each to change management practices, implement new technologies, improve training, and affect hiring, scheduling and maintenance procedures.

“Our findings were largely consistent in terms of the countermeasures the nine carriers viewed as influential factors in their improved safety records,” said Matthew Camden, the project’s principal investigator and senior research associate for VTTI’s Center for Truck and Bus Safety. “Overall, the carriers attributed their success not to one ‘single fix’ solution but rather the fact that they adopted a comprehensive approach to safety culture and practices within their companies, specifically the adoption of advanced safety technologies.”

Full report available here: Virginia Tech

Source: Automotive Fleet

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One of my favorite stories is of how my parents first met. And since Valentine's Day is this week, I thought this was the perfect time to talk about it.

They are high school sweethearts, coming up on 47 years of marriage this year. I would be remiss if I didn’t first point out that they are two of the coolest people I know. I have always admired their love for each other and wanted to take a minute to tell you how their young romance began. It’s relevant to fleet, you’ll see

It happened in a suburb west of Chicago. Spanish class at Downers Grove North to be precise. Apparently, Dad was struggling with his "palabras," so the teacher asked my Mom to tutor him.

Not long after, the pickup line came. "My what beautiful blue eyes you have," he told her, something akin to the Big Bad Wolf – haha – I made that last part up. But I thought to myself, she doesn't have blue eyes. Turns out she wore fake contacts to get the look. Love that lady.

Now by this time, Mom was preparing to get her driver's license. She took a driver's ed class and braved the exam without hardly any practice behind the wheel. One time out with my Grampa and the simulator from class was all the experience she had.

Well, she failed. As she was recalling the details of this day, she said she thinks she blew it when she hopped the curb during the parallel parking portion of the exam. Seems she has never let this one go, as I have personally seen this lady drive around for miles to avoid parallel parking to this day.

To gain some brownie points, my dad took it upon himself to teach her how to drive. He had a 3-speed with a bench seat that allowed them to sit close, his arm wrapped around her shoulder. He started first by having her shift so he didn't have to move his arm. I mean really, how adorable, right?

But from there, the driving lessons continued, and eventually he gave her the coaching needed to pass her test the next go-round.

So, as it turns out, my Mom was my Dad's Spanish tutor. Dad taught Mom how to drive. And the running joke to this day is that he can’t speak Spanish and she can’t drive. Makes me laugh every time.

Now, I have witnessed my father in Mexico, and I can confirm the first part of the joke is true. The latter, however is not. My Mom is a very good driver, and a safe one to boot. She (almost) always drives the speed limit, unless she's running late which is hardly ever.

And while my Dad impressed on me his knowledge of how to drive a stick shift without burning out the clutch, Mom gave me many valuable driving lessons. I remember her brave soul riding shotgun once I got my learner’s permit and faced the roads for the first time.

She taught me things like why I should never cross a double yellow line. She helped me understand how to lift my vision, scan the road ahead and watch for moving objects. She also taught me how to take curves, stop for school buses, and keep my hands at 10 and 2. On a funnier note, I believe the year I had my learner's permit is also where I may have learned there was a thing called the “Oh S#it” handle. See, isn't she great?

Mom also signed me up for a driver’s ed class. While I thought at the time this was just to keep insurance costs down, it no doubt helped me be a safer driver in the long run.

Now my class was at least a decade ago – OK maybe two (wink, wink). But I still remember the foundations of what it takes to be a good driver. But does everyone? And do I really?

It has become clear to me that many drivers believe they are the "good drivers." It's everyone else that you can't trust.

We recently teamed up with eDriving to create a crash-free culture among employees who drive for work, including our own LeasePlan drivers, like me. I'm using their Mentor smartphone app, and now I get a weekly performance report to see how I'm doing. Did I improve from last week? Did I move ahead of my peers? Am I in the top 10 percent of my company's fleet drivers? I can even see details of my behavior, from acceleration and cornering to braking, distraction and speed.

And I can view the performance of each trip right from my phone. So, instead of assuming I'm one of the good drivers, I have to face the reality that I could do better.

The app is, luckily, smart enough to know where I could use some help. And like a good mentor, it delivers quick and interactive 2 to 4-minute videos that give me tips and tricks for improving. It's like a cross between a mini-driver's ed refresher course and video game, delivered straight to my phone.

To sum it all up, it's more important than ever to be safe on the road. Having seen first-hand the effects of roadway incidents, I'm glad I have a tool to tell me how to improve so I can do my part in making the roads a safer place. Here at LeasePlan, we also see the cost of incidents, and it's high. Fortunately, most of these incidents are preventable – NHTSA studies suggesting as many as 94 percent – because they are caused by human behavior.

And, while classic behind-the-wheel driving instructors live on for young drivers like Mom, continuing education can carry on for your employees, too – right from their phone. It's like learning on demand, anytime, anywhere. How convenient, and effective!

So, you may be asking yourself – when was the last time my fleet went through driver's ed? Or, have I required them to take a training course recently to improve their skills? How do I know who is at the highest risk? Read more about how to manage your risk in our data-driven safety eBook.

Whether a mobile or online experience is right for your fleet, we can help. Contact us to find out more about how to create a culture of safety!


About the author

Alison Kirkland is the marketing director at LeasePlan USA. She is responsible for strategic planning and leading the team’s execution of marketing efforts. From product messaging and campaigns to events, digital marketing and PR. Ali is passionate about her work, and after 14 years with the company, she is excited about the transformation to the new LeasePlan. As a fleet driver herself, she enjoys working within her own organization to improve the client experience. You may even see her blog now and then about her life as a fleet driver. Please comment, like and share!

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