Schmuhl Brothers
Schmuhl Brothers is using driver training and technology to improve safety.

Fleet uses technology to improve driver safety

March 21, 2024
Schmuhl Brothers improves safety performance with technology.

Addressing safety is an ongoing process at Schmuhl Brothers Inc., and in particular for Rick Liebau, the company’s safety director, who took on his current role less than two years ago. In that short period of time, however, the unique perspective of the former driver with 25 years of experience immediately began making a difference.

“Our safety rating with FMCSA was low, and some of our scores were unsatisfactory,” Liebau related. “However, with a team effort focused on safety and technology that helps us be proactive, our rating is now satisfactory in all categories. In our most recent DOT audit, there were only a few minor infractions, and we’ve already started to address those by looking closely at our practices and policies.”

For its company drivers, Liebau, who also serves as the carrier’s training director, has established processes at the company facility and at customer locations. There is also monthly safety training on the Infinit-I online platform. Drivers who fail to complete an assignment are not dispatched.

In addition, the company is utilizing telematics data provided by its ELD and dashcam provider, Samsara, to detect and correct unsafe driving behaviors. “The systems indicate policy and safety violations for things like speeding, incomplete stops, running red lights, and harsh braking and lane changes,” Liebau explained. “We use event-based reviews to coach drivers following recorded incidents or unsafe driving.”

Schmuhl Brothers is also issuing in-cab safety alerts through the Drivewyze Safety+ service. The company had initially adopted the Drivewyze PreClear weigh station bypass solution. According to Liebau, they saw an opportunity to integrate the safety alerts service as well.

“One reason we made the decision to use Drivewyze Safety+ was because it could send our drivers safety alerts along with bypass notifications,” Liebau said. “It’s also easier from an administrative perspective. Overall, it’s a simplified solution for a comprehensive safety program.”

See also: Drivewyze adds another Canada province to PreClear weigh station bypass network

Through Drivewyze Safety+, Schmuhl Brothers drivers receive visual and audible alerts about upcoming road hazards, such as low bridges, high rollover areas, and severe weather. In addition, Liebau creates custom safety alerts in the Drivewyze portal by geo-fencing locations and developing messages that appear when a truck enters that area.

“The alerts and messages for customer locations remind drivers about specific tasks or rules they must follow when they enter and leave a customer site,” Liebau explained. “For example, there are speed limits in rail yards. Essentially, the messages are a checklist of everything our drivers should be doing when they’re at a customer location.”

“We also monitor current events and will create alerts in response to things like major collisions and other emergencies,” Liebau continued. “For example, when there was an active shooter near our facility, an emergency alert informed our drivers in the area to take extra precautions. Making them aware of what was going on helps make sure they’re safe.”

According to Liebau, technology provides a way to monitor driving practices and compliance with company safety policies. “It’s a great tool that helps keep us informed,” he said. “As a former driver, I know that drivers appreciate receiving information that can help them perform their jobs more safely or steer clear of troublesome areas along their routes.”

The Drivewyze platform is also credited by Liebau with helping Schmuhl Brothers reduce fuel and other operating costs associated with the time drivers spend pulling into weigh stations, and he is happy with the results from a driver productivity perspective. “When you have to slow down a fully loaded truck and get back up to highway speed after pulling into a weigh station, it definitely takes a toll,” he said. “Using weigh station bypass is beneficial for us and our drivers.”

The range of services and scope of operations at Schmuhl Brother puts company equipment and drivers on the road across the lower 48 states every day. Based in Kansas City, Kansas, the carrier provides domestic and international intermodal freight, import and export container drayage, and heavy haul, hazmat, dry van, truckload, and refrigerated transportation with its fleet of 70 company tractors, container chassis, and a variety of specialized equipment.

Founded in 1995 by brothers Ryan and Ty Schmuhl with two trucks, Schmuhl Brothers now has a well-deserved reputation as a highly reputable asset-based transportation provider in the markets it serves.

About the Author

Seth Skydel

Seth Skydel, a veteran industry editor, has more than 36 years of experience at fleet management, trucking, and transportation and logistics publications. Today, in editorial and marketing roles, he writes about fleet, service and transportation management, vehicle and information technology, and industry trends and issues. 

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