How Trucking Companies Use Telematics to Increase Trucking Safety

How Trucking Companies Use Telematics to Increase Trucking Safety

As technology has advanced in the transportation industry, there’s a lot of data available that can enhance truckers’ safety all over the world. One recent example is the development of electronic logging devices (ELD) that monitor drivers’ Hours of Service (HOS) compliance.

But there are other examples of how technology is improving truck driver safety – that’s what telematics is all about.

Telematics allows data to be collected and sent over long distances to company headquarters for detailed safety analysis. Some of the data that can be reviewed include hard braking, roll stability, rapid acceleration, forward collision mitigation, and lane departure alarms.

Using telematics to monitor these data as truckers are going about their workday gives truck fleet managers critical safety information that can be used to modify driver behavior. For example, monitoring hard braking is vital: The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that truck braking capability can be a significant factor in tractor-trailer crashes.

How often a truck driver gets following distance alerts or speeding alerts will reveal truck fleets’ opportunities to determine whether truckers follow company standards.

The Trucker’s Driving Environment Matters

The most vital thing a truck fleet safety manager can do when reviewing trucker safety data is to study the entire picture, according to Chris Orban, VP of Data Science for Trimble Transportation.

For instance, a trucker who often handles major city routes with heavy commuter traffic during the day will probably have more hard-braking alerts than a driver who cruises along interstate highways at night with no traffic.

In an area with heavy traffic, hard-braking incidents don’t always mean the driver is unsafe; slamming on the brakes in traffic could be essential to avoid a rear-end collision, Orban notes. The company may want to praise that driver for doing what they can to prevent a crash.

However, if the trucker on the interstate at 2 AM has a few hard-braking incidents when there are few vehicles on the road, this behavior may be studied for increasing risk.

Fleet managers should also think about driver behavior over long distances. For example, safety managers should think about the number of hard-braking incidents a driver commits over 100 driving miles.

Compare One Trucker’s Data To The Whole

Comparing one trucker’s performance to the data of the entire fleet can help to identify safety risks. To pinpoint occasional behavior, the safety manager can look at the number of active emergency braking activations the driver had for the week. Then, compare that number with the numbers of the entire fleet of drivers.

A useful starting point that can suggest more significant trends is to watch how a driver behaves over time. However, it can also help to compare the driver’s performance to other drivers who take the same highway. Or, compare truckers driving the same type of rig, so you have a proper comparison.

Other Telematics Options That Can Improve Driver Monitoring

In-cab video is another way that truck fleet safety managers can monitor how safely their truckers are driving.

The value of video monitoring in real-time with telematics is often discussed as far as exonerating the driver. It is also helpful as a driver coaching tool because the information from the video is objective, according to Trimble’s Orban. Safety managers can use in-cab video to enhance visibility into the entire context of a safety issue. The videos also can be shown to drivers to point out where they can improve.

Using in-cab video also can cut down on truck crashes because it discourages dangerous driving behavior. The drivers know the video is there, so they are more likely to drive safely.

The advancement of automotive technology allows trucking companies to more effectively monitor driver behavior with telematics. That’s great news for trucking companies and the general public because it means safer roads for everyone.

Larry Alton
Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in tech, social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.