Because trucks haul more than 72% of the nation's freight by weight, per the American Trucking Associations, truckers and their managers must ensure safety on the road. And thanks to advances in technology, there are multiple companies ready to help fleet managers and drivers reach their safety goals.See also: 10 things to focus on when winterizing your fleet vehicles
Among the dozens of fleet management technology and software companies exhibiting at ATA's recent Management Conference & Exhibition were Motive and Lytx. Like much of life in the 2020s, technology is part of the fabric of trucking.
Today's "best companies drive a tremendous … return on investment when it comes to technology," said Jeff Martin, VP of global sales strategy at Lytx, a video telematics provider focusing on fleet safety. This is because "they're looking for that best pioneering approach to get to that next level."
And having a fleet full of safe drivers and employees can help companies reach that next level.
Making safety a core value improves operations
"Safety's always been a topic," Martin told FleetOwner. "But more and more companies today are realizing that they cannot achieve operational excellence without making safety a core value. That is undisputed."
Further, addressing safety within the company should come from the top down, Martin said. Having leadership relay that safety is a "core value" builds drivers' trust.
A survey of truck drivers conducted by Dr. Ethan Slaughter, chief operating officer at Christenson Transportation in Strafford, Missouri, found that a top desire among drivers was the need for more respect. He shared these findings with a group of fleet owners and managers at the McLeod User Conference in September.
If company leaders establish safety as a core value, building trust with their drivers, this desire for respect will be addressed, Martin explained, "because to build trust, you have to have effective two-way communication, consensus-building, open-ended discussions with one another."
When leadership commits to making safety a core value of the company—that it's non-negotiable—each employee will understand that "everybody owns safety," Martin said. "It creates a better trusting atmosphere where people genuinely care for one another and are able to demonstrate it. … You start to see some improvements that start to snowball."
See also: Safety tech's immense value
Once that atmosphere is set, people get excited, Martin said, and trips are completed without incidents or hazards. Those improvements lead to better customer service and more trucks operating on the road, experiencing less downtime. As a result, the company will have happier technicians with improved fleet maintenance—all just a few aspects that Martin said will improve after fleet leadership commits to safety.
Additionally, implementing technology into the fleet, whether it's video telematics or another form of fleet tracking, vastly improves dispatch communication with the fleet. Fleet and truck location visibility allows dispatchers to notify drivers of any safety hazards on their route, such as inclement weather or heavy traffic. This visibility also improves customer service. This is because dispatchers have an eye on trucks at any given time and can communicate more effectively with the customer, providing accurate ETAs.
"Technology puts departments in a winning position where they really have a great opportunity to provide better customer service but also for the company to do it efficiently and, most importantly, safely," Martin told FleetOwner.
Winning with fleet tech
Martin mentioned a "winning position," and a report from Motive proved that implementing trucking technology helps fleets get there. Motive, a provider of a full suite of trucking technology that acts as an operating system for commercial fleets, reported that its ELD product produces 50% fewer hours of service violations, 50% less time spent on compliance tasks, and a 25% reduction in the cost of insurance.
In addition, its safety feature reduces accidents by 22% and safety incidents by 56% and can lead to 72% of drivers facing litigation being exonerated by dashcam footage. Its sustainability product leads to a reduction in hard accelerations by 78%, a 40% hard braking reduction, and an idling reduction of 20%. Each of these operational improvements contributes to a healthier bottom line.
These figures indicate that fleets using technology to improve their operations and fleet safety have a competitive edge over fleets that don't employ technology.
"We see significant reduction in accidents," Gupta said "We've had customers, such as Roush Industries, they've seen a 50% reduction in accidents. Their drivers, through the use of AI dashcams, have seen a 100% driver exoneration rate and have seen a 40% improvement in CSA scores."
Gupta said these improvements help fleets save money, which can then be used to help continue growing the business.
Fleets can't afford not to implement technology in their operations, and Martin told FleetOwner that fleets that haven't already implemented technology should not wait because "the longer you wait, the further you're going to fall behind."
"In order to compete, you've got to have the best information," Martin said. "When you have the right information, you can (make) the right decisions for the right situations and at the right time. And that helps everybody: customers, frontline employees, and obviously organizational health."