Fleets Online: Easing down the road

July 8, 2013

COMPANY: Cargo Transporters, Claremont, NC

OPERATION: Nationwide truckload carrier running mainly in the East that also provides expedited services and operates as a third-party logistics supplier

Problem: “Like any other carrier, we have accidents,” says Jerry Waddell, safety director of Cargo Transporters (Cargo), headquartered in Claremont, NC. “But we are proactive about driver safety and risk management and give our drivers tools to help them be as safe as possible on the road.”

Cargo, which operates over 470 trucks and 1,400 trailers, specializes in 48-state truckload hauling with special emphasis on lanes east of the Rockies. It also provides time-definite or just-in-time/expedited truckload service and pursues opportunities with shippers seeking to outsource their transportation to a third-party logistics provider.

“We didn’t start monitoring critical events for disciplinary reasons; we did so because we don’t like critical events, period,” says Waddell. “These critical events, if not addressed, will indeed eventually lead to rear-end crashes, a loss of control or an overturn accident. We knew that reducing critical events would lead to a reduction in the severity of accidents.”

Improved risk management and reduced accident liability are obviously important to Cargo. But ultimately, the primary goal of all its safety measures is to make sure its drivers get home safely to their families, according to Waddell.

Solution: Waddell notes that one of the tools in Cargo’s safety arsenal is Omnitracs’ Critical Event Reporting (CER) application, which it has implemented across the fleet. As part of its proactive safety efforts, Cargo uses the web-based app to continuously monitor drivers for hard braking, lane-departure disabled warnings, and roll-stability incidents.

When CER detects an event, it sends a near real-time email alert to the fleet’s safety team, as well as a message to the driver. “We know there are going to be critical events,” remarks Waddell. “We know there are times a driver has to hit the brakes or swerve in order to avoid a collision.”

Waddell says the first thing Cargo does after a critical event is bring the truck in for an inspection to eliminate any false reporting. “If the maintenance shop finds no fault with the truck, then our safety department will sit down with the driver to review his or her driving history and go over our safety policies.” He notes that the fleet has found that just one safety review is usually all that’s needed to see improvement in the driver’s behavior.

Cargo implemented CER fleet-wide and all at once. Waddell says it required virtually no upfront driver training and it was easy for the back-office team to learn. He admits the first 30 days were “pretty busy” as Cargo had to answer a lot of questions from drivers as well as get used to managing all the alerts.

About a month after implementation, Cargo opted to customize the parameters of its hard-braking event trigger to record only those events that occurred above 40 mph. The fleet reasoned that below that speed the truck and its cargo are more easily controlled and the few accidents they see at the lower speeds don’t cause significant damage or injury.

“We are using CER as a tool to turn a questionable driver into a good driver and good drivers into better drivers,” Waddell states. “The data has really helped get drivers to buy into the program and change their behaviors.”

Another benefit Cargo has derived from deploying CER is reduced liability. “It’s very powerful to be able to overlay a post-crash accident investigation over the hard-braking or stability-control event,” explains Waddell. “CER has really been invaluable from an accident reconstruction and liability reduction standpoint. The data is always accurate and always objective, and that’s so important when we’re in litigation over accidents.”

“Deploying CER worked,” sums up Waddell. He says the CER app has enabled the fleet to operate for nine months—36 million mi.—without a major, DOT recordable accident.

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