Better to see

Jan. 8, 2015

Company: Cypress Truck Lines, Jacksonville, FL
Operation: Time-sensitive flatbed hauler, primarily of building materials and steel products, that prides itself on advancing driver safety


“Safety is our top priority,” says Thad Penland, vice president of family-owned Cypress Truck Lines. “We tell our employees that everything else will take care of itself as long as you are safe.  For that to really be part of the culture, everyone needs to buy into it—which starts at the top.”

Penland points out that with over 600 drivers, Cypress is “large enough to command a market presence to secure year-round freight, yet small enough to make sure that each and every driver is taken care of.”

He says that Cypress is willing to invest in technology that will help provide its drivers with “a sense of stability, security and safety” to make sure each of its company drivers “can work with peace of mind.”

Ensuring that sort of working environment is especially crucial for Cypress as it prides itself on offering excellent customer service predicated on fielding the “best drivers in the industry” and keeping “an acute focus on delivering freight on time.”

With all that in mind, Cypress determined it could further improve its safety performance with a video-based system.  Toward that end, says Penland, the carrier evaluated systems offered by various providers.


Ultimately, the fleet opted to purchase SmartDrive’s video-based safety program to gain “a deeper view of overall safety performance” and cut its collision-related costs by reducing claims and exonerating drivers when not at fault.

Payback came very fast. Penland reports that within weeks of implementation, Cypress saw its safety score improve by 57% and recorded drop-offs in speeding and distracted-driving incidents of 58% and 48%, respectively.

The video-based safety program identifies unsafe driving by capturing video and audio input as well as vehicle and driving data. It automatically offloads video footage for review and analysis of what happened out on the road.

As Cypress views it, the SmartDrive system correctly measures individual driving performance so that good drivers can be identified and additional training can be directed toward those whose driving poses a significant risk to the business.

“SmartDrive has brought a tangible perspective to our culture of safety by providing insight to the challenges our drivers face daily on the road,” says Penland. “The program is in place to protect our drivers, and we are already seeing it positively impact our fleet operations—exonerating two drivers who were not at fault in addition to significantly reducing collision costs.

“The system has become a key part of our on-boarding and training programs,” he adds. “We rest easy knowing that we can quickly identify new drivers who need further training, lowering our risk while improving overall performance.”

Penland is also pleased that Cypress drivers are themselves acknowledging the “peace of mind” that the SmartDrive video platform is bringing to all the time they spend hard at work at the wheel.

“When the SmartDrive camera was first installed in my truck, I viewed it as a burden,” relates Cypress driver Larry Robinson. “However, after experiencing the benefits of this technology firsthand, I am now confident that, should an incident occur while I’m on the road and it’s not my fault, I will have the proof I need to be exonerated. That’s peace of mind.”

Cypress is a time-sensitive carrier that moves flatbed freight primarily within a territory roughly stretching from east of the Rockies south to the Texas border and east to the eastern seaboard. Its largest concentration of equipment runs in the Southeast.


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