Sysco is a huge and highly visible company with a commitment to safety as big as the business itself. It has more than 9,500 power units serving the U.S. and Canada from some 165 primary operating locations across North America.
When Al Dibens, senior director of safety, security and business continuity management, joined the company, he brought with him some experience with DriveCam, so he recommended it to Sysco as a way to further improve fleet safety and reduce costs.
“Looking backwards, we would customarily have seven or eight serious accidents per year,” he says. “They not only caused injuries and damage, but those more serious incidents were very costly, too.”
It was also expensive when accidents were not the fault of Sysco drivers. “In the past, there could be a lot of finger-pointing when one of our drivers was in an accident [where there were no other witnesses to vouch for him or her],” recalls Dibens. “Then we would have to go to court to defend ourselves.”
In addition to these more readily quantifiable issues, continuous improvement is always a goal at Sysco, says Dibens, so a system that could help enforce existing company safety policies and practices was of real interest.
“I had prior experience with DriveCam and it made a lot of sense,” Dibens says, “so in November 2009, Sysco decided to initiate a pilot study of the system and that proved it out.”
Right from the beginning, Dibens says that drivers began acting differently and things began changing.
“We had a 30-day learning window,” he says, “but drivers began acting differently even before we started using DriveCam to help us enforce our policies and procedures.
“Drivers can push a button to activate the camera if an incident occurs that is too minor to automatically activate it,” he illustrates. “Very early on, a new driver did just that and was exonerated for an accident that the at-fault driver had claimed our driver caused.”
“In another case, a city claimed that a Sysco truck had damaged an empty school bus. After sharing the DriveCam video clip with the city, however, they paid to repair the truck instead,” Dibens says.
Based upon its early experiences with DriveCam, the company decided to accelerate the fleet-wide system rollout, which was originally planned to take place over five years. Today, implementation is about 95% complete, according to Dibens, and the benefits continue to mount. The company is also close to payback after just 2.5 years.
“Since [installing] DriveCam, we have maybe one or two serious accidents per year, sometimes none. This is significant, not only for the injuries prevented but for the cost savings,” he says. The company has also saved money by not having to go to court to defend itself when Sysco is in the right.
“Dock bumping accidents even went down after we deployed DriveCam,” Dibens notes. “Drivers back up more gently than before. They treat their vehicles better.”
Once or twice a month, another vehicle also hits one of Sysco’s parked trucks, according to Dibens.
“Thanks to DriveCam,” he notes, “we often get a photo that shows the logo and license plate of the truck that damaged one of ours. “I think the system points out how good our drivers really are,” Dibens adds. “Good drivers realize it can save their jobs. Less careful drivers realize they have to play by the rules. Overall, our safety record is positive and DriveCam is a part of that.”