Ideal driver safety requires attention to every element of vehicle operation. A good driver management system calls for a wide-angle view, ensuring visibility into all components of vehicle fleet operation and maintenance.
To ensure the most bulletproof system for driver safety, there are several aspects contractors should consider in a driver management system. These areas include preventative vehicle maintenance and inspection, driver behavior monitoring, and tracking safety metrics through telematics and camera footage.
In this post, we’ll outline multiple pillars of safe fleet operation. We’ll demonstrate the technological and systematic resources available to enhance protection for individual drivers and vehicles.
Three Solutions to Manage Driver Safety
Good driver safety management falls under the umbrella of fleet management. Not only will effective fleet driver management make companies safer, but it also makes them more productive and more competitive.
Here are three ways to improve driver safety management:
- Understand system capabilities for fleet driver management to improve visibility
- Build automated checks and balances for safe driving
- Use best practices to incentivize driver safety
Below, we’ll explore these steps in sharper focus.
What is a Driver Management System?
A driver management system is an extensive system that includes coordinated vehicle tracking, driver safety assurance, and preventative fleet maintenance. Modern driver management systems use tools such as live video, telematics, and GPS tracking to achieve their goals of productivity and safety.
A fleet and driver management system provides visibility and ensures vehicles and drivers are safe and efficient. Just like air-traffic controllers have a system to monitor flights, or USPS uses logistics to deliver packages, businesses with a fleet of vehicles must coordinate movement and behavior. Thankfully, efficiency and safety are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they complement each other.
Some individuals may believe that moving faster will maximize efficiency. While speed may result in an illusory short-term benefit, it's ultimately a losing strategy. When vehicles increase speed, they begin burning more fuel, can cause more accidents, and end up requiring more mechanical repairs. When drivers rush, they forget important steps, cut corners, make mistakes, burn themselves out, and cause accidents.
Fleet management is about improving both safety and strategy. It's about thinking of a fleet of vehicles as an army that must be strategically operated at every step. It's about ensuring vehicles and drivers are safe and ready to work.
Building Automated Checks and Balances to Improve Driver Safety
Habits work well on an individual level; however, it can be difficult to motivate an entire workforce to embrace small safety details. But when a task involves safety, there must be one-hundred percent adherence.
You can solve a lot of problems by increasing visibility. Imagine searching for a needle in a haystack. Challenging. Now imagine wearing a blindfold while searching for a needle in a haystack. More challenging.
With fleet tracking, you can place a GPS on the "needle" to find it every time, cutting through the fog and removing the blindfold.
When a company has a large fleet, they need their drivers and vehicles as safe as possible - one hundred percent of the time. How do they do this? It starts with having eyes on their fleet. It starts with increasing visibility.
With the right tools, companies can automate many safety tasks, sometimes in the form of live vehicle safety monitors and safety reminders or alerts.
Here are several automated checks and balances that improve driver safety:
- Vehicle inspection reports
- Accurate rest periods (ELD)
- Preventative maintenance schedules
- Safe driving feedback
Below, we'll discuss these three essential safety checks and how modern telematics makes them possible.
Driver Safety through Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR)
All drivers of USDOT vehicles must complete a daily inspection form. This is wise in principle, as it ensures vehicles are checked for all the major safety features - tires, oil, and exterior damage - before the vehicle goes on the road.
The problem? Some still use a paper form for their DVIRs, which often presents hidden issues.
First, paper copies are awkward to track, and they aren't ideal for a rainy day. Paper forms also make it easier for the inspector to “pencil whip” when they are in a rush, leaving potential gaps in the inspection and safety risks.
Companies can solve this problem with intuitive tools in a driver management system like Tenna's DVIR system. This tool is App-based and incorporates photographs and QR codes, ensuring the inspection gets done and gets done right.
Driver Safety Through Accurate Rest Cycles
The hours of service regulations dictate that drivers must take breaks after driving for a specific period. Ensuring drivers get adequate rest has a direct correlation to improving safety. Anytime a company vehicle is making a trip over a certain number of hours, they need to stop for a break.
Increasing visibility through tracking helps keep drivers within their hourly limit and allows them to get rest when needed. This ensures safety and compliance with laws.
Driver Safety through Preventative Maintenance
In addition to intuitive driver inspection checklists, it's imperative to keep vehicles running in tip-top shape.
Vehicles will break down, and this can have a direct impact on performance and driver safety. If a vehicle breaks down on a busy road, it places the project, the vehicle, and the driver at risk. Equipment management software enables contractors to schedule preventative maintenance on their fleet assets based on the number of miles they are running, or other custom, automated triggers depending on the service type. This enables contractors to apply a proactive approach to vehicle safety and maintenance.
While scheduled maintenance is an important part of any safety program, modern technology also allows contractors to receive notifications about a vehicle's maintenance needs in real-time when attention is needed. This means that when the electronic control unit (ECU) in a vehicle senses something is wrong, a notification is sent directly to the shop. In this way, automation notifies the team to take immediate action and prevent a larger issue or continued risk if left unaddressed.
Tenna offers intuitive maintenance software that provides a detailed breakdown on the maintenance needs of any fleet.
Driver Feedback in Real-Time: Driver Performance Tracking
Many safe-minded businesses have implemented tracking systems that keep an eye on their vehicles. These systems can monitor hard brakes, speeding, rapid acceleration, sharp turns, driver awareness, and can be customized to fit the company’s needs and concerns. Some incorporate cameras and video and others simply monitor the vehicle’s movements with a GPS fleet tracker. The GPS Fleet Tracker by Tenna makes this interconnected system possible.
If a vehicle is detected as speeding, the system can send an alert to a manager, who can then notify the driver. Some systems are adaptable to understand when the driver is at fault and when it was an unavoidable incident. Also, onboard tracking helps monitor individual driver scorecards, so management knows where to focus their training and coaching efforts.
Drivers may often feel hesitant or opposed to performance tracking. Devices such as the TennaCAM uses onboard video monitoring to provide context to any accident or incident. This device exonerates drivers and ensures they are treated fairly.
Techniques to Incentivize and Promote Safe Driving
How do I manage my fleet of drivers? This is a common question. In this section, we’ll offer several ideas to address the human element of driver safety. The driver is ultimately responsible for their safety, so it's prudent to incentivize safe driving behaviors.
Here are some effective ways to improve safe driving habits:
- Clear standards and good training
- Point systems and driver performance tracking
- Rewarding safe drivers
Let's look at each of these solutions up close.
Driver Safety Through Clear Standards and Good Training
Drivers should understand their requirements before operating company vehicles. Training is more effective when drivers know the subject matter isn't just to pass a test; they will be continually evaluated (through remote telematics, inspections and other safety structures) while on the road to identify areas for improvement.
Many safe driving programs help drivers practice safe driving habits. While this is a good foundation, it’s usually not enough to instill healthy long-term habits.
Solution: Implementing a combination of good training and technology facilitates and ensures continued safety.
Point Systems to Track Driver Safety
Many companies have internally chosen to follow a safe driving structure that mirrors common laws. For example, in some states, if you receive two traffic violations in the same year, you are required to take a driver's safety course.
Contractors can do the same, motivating safe driving behavior by mandating continued training and implementing a driver scorecard program. Contractors can use an onboard safe driving monitor to gather this data - usually with telematic technology. However, these systems do not need to be discipline-based, many areas implement an effective safe driver reward program.
Reward Systems to Increase Driver Safety
Some companies offer a rewards program to incentivize drivers to maintain a safe driving record.
These rewards give drivers a clear goal. While operating company vehicles, drivers will be more likely to remember to practice safe vehicle operation and be mindful to strive for areas for improvement. Learn more about rewards in our guide to leveraging driver scorecards.
Driver Safety Conclusion and Key Takeaway
Driver safety requires coordinating resources to create a durable net of protection. To create and promote safe driving, a company must address the vehicle and the driver.
Modern tools make it easy to ensure vehicle inspections are thorough, trucks are well-maintained, and drivers follow safety guidelines. For safer vehicle operation, companies must also invest in the driver - they need good training, clear guidelines, incentives to avoid accidents, and rewards for safe habits.
Every industry, and construction especially, recognizes the importance of driver safety. Accidents, breakdowns, and injuries have costly repercussions. When companies have safe drivers, they improve their reputation and increase their popularity with employees, insurers, and clients.
About Jhan Mughal
Jhan has been helping construction companies adopt Tenna technology for 5+ years. As Lead Customer Success Manager, holding a degree in supply chain management, Jhan looks at ways to help contractors improve their standard of operations for a successful Tenna rollout. He focuses on helping companies streamline and improve processes to enhance profit and productivity.