Western Express
For Western Express, putting the newest advances from manufacturers into its fleet quickly is a standard practice.

Safety, security systems make this fleet safer

June 26, 2024
Effective technology choices and well-maintained equipment help make Western Express retain drivers and keep operations safe.

Safety is first and foremost at Western Express, where the fleet safeguards vehicles, drivers, cargo, and other motorists.

“One of the reasons we’re replacing our tractors every three years is to take advantage of the industry’s latest safety technologies,” said Daniel Patterson, safety director for the privately held Nashville, Tennessee-based truckload carrier. “For us, putting the newest advances from manufacturers into our fleet quickly is a standard practice.”

Most fleets, however, measure the value of safety and security systems by waiting until an incident occurs. Last year, that was precisely the case for Western Express (No. 37 on the FleetOwner 500: For-Hire list).

“We had two trucks stolen in New York City,” Patterson explained. “The thieves were sophisticated; they knew how to disconnect the ELD, so we couldn’t track the vehicles’ locations. Or so they thought. What they didn’t know was that since 2020, we’ve equipped all our trucks with E-Smart Dynamic Speed Management systems, which gave us the ability to locate the vehicles and shut them down.”

Using GPS, the E-Smart system determines the location of Western Express tractors in real time and governs their speed as the company sets. E-Smart communicates with an ECU installed in the truck to control and disable the throttle, and it can be used to set verbal notifications for drivers.

“We’re also using E-Smart Dynamic Speed Management to geofence risky areas,” Patterson said. “We had one location with an S-curve where the speed limit changes three times in 100 yards, so we set up a geofence to slow drivers down ahead of the curve and alert them in advance.”

Western Express also uses E-Smart to warn drivers about upcoming low bridges. When a vehicle is within 750 feet of a low bridge, the system sends a voice alert to the driver, giving the driver the option to coast to a stop or divert off the road. If the driver continues toward the low bridge, the throttle is disabled.

See also: E-Smart announces active seat belt safety system

Other technologies at Western Express include the Drivewyze system, which sends alerts and notifications about approaching high collision areas. In addition, the company has deployed the Platform Science connected-vehicle platform for ELDs, dispatch, and delivery documentation.

Western Express' fleet of more than 3,600 power units consists primarily of Freightliners, as well as International and Volvo models. The trucks are all equipped with the latest Detroit and Bendix advanced driver assistance system technologies. 

Western Express began outfitting tractors with forward- and driver-facing Motive dashcams this year.

“We’ve had cameras in our trucks, but they were activated by critical events,” Patterson related. “These new cameras use artificial intelligence to identify behavior-based activity. That information makes us aware of behaviors that require coaching.”

Western Express employs a continuous driver training model for new driving school graduates and experienced operators. The comprehensive program includes orientation and on-road instruction with company trainers, as well as online courses on the  Infinit-I platform.

“All of our training is managed through the Western Express driver app,” Patterson explained. “There are assigned courses and daily lessons that focus on topics such as ELDs or trip planning. Trainers can manage their trainee’s progress on the app using a performance rubric and provide feedback on their performance.”

Western Express also views its driver app as a valuable tool for connecting drivers to the company to help resolve concerns and make suggestions. DVIRs and load information can also be submitted through the app.

“Being driver friendly is important for retention,” Patterson emphasized. “We offer late-model equipment spec’ed with comfort and convenience items, and for several years, we’ve been providing our most tenured operators and those with the best safety performance with an allotment they can use to customize their trucks.”

See also: Driver retention 101: Nine fleet strategies

Patterson noted that well-maintained equipment is also helpful in retaining drivers. Maintenance for the Western Express fleet of tractors and its more than 8,100 trailers is handled mainly in-house at the company’s terminals in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, California, and Connecticut. 

“Overall, our driver turnover is better than average because we do all we can to hold on to the best drivers,” Patterson said. “While keeping them safe and loads secure is based on many things, with technology, driver acceptance, and management support, we're able to take big steps in that direction.”

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. 

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations

Going Mobile: Guide To Starting A Heavy-Duty Repair Shop

Discover if starting a heavy-duty mobile repair business is right for you. Learn the ins and outs of licensing, building, and marketing your mobile repair shop.

Expert Answers to every fleet electrification question

Just ask ABM—the authority on reliable EV integration

Route Optimization Mastery: Unleash Your Fleet's Potential

Master the road ahead and discover key considerations to elevate your delivery performance

Leveraging telematics to get the most from insurance

Fleet owners are quickly adopting telematics as part of their risk mitigation strategy. Here’s why.