Insurance & Risk ManagementNews

Brake safety day: raising awareness to raise safety standards

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Last April during the CVSA’s unannounced Brake Safety Day, enforcers placed about 1,600 vehicles (or about 14%) out of service for failing their brake inspections. Many of the violations were easily preventable, but no one had caught them prior to the surprise inspection.

While it would be nice if a qualified brake technician could perform a full daily inspection of every truck on the road, generally speaking that’s not realistic. But fleet managers can do the next best thing, and train their drivers on brake check basics.  

Today there are more ways than ever to prepare for, and prevent, brake-related accidents. Established and emerging fleet management solutions can help drivers help themselves.

Teletrac Navman is a one such management software that gives fleet owners full visibility into fleet performance and mobile resource activity. Oswaldo Flores, safety & compliance manager of Teletrac Navman, tells FreightWaves that teaching truckers how to visually inspect their own brakes to identify key problems is an effective way to improve brake safety.

In fact, early detection is the key catching problems before they get out of hand and cause equipment failure. This can be part of their daily Driver-Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR). 

Also, establishing a relationship between in-house technicians and drivers is also key as it keeps an open line of communication and allows drivers to quickly convey any concerns they detect in real-time to go along with DVIRs. Many times, if a technician is available, they can conduct a quick brake check on the vehicle within 5-10 minutes and determine if there’s any safety-affecting defect potential.

Telematics can also measure hard braking. Such measurements can be part of a larger pattern of unsafe driver behavior within a fleet, or it could be a result of defensive driving. Until recently it was next to impossible to gather such information, and even when a fleet possessed anecdotal information, it was difficult to address in any meaningful way.

Now with video and safety analytics, fleet managers can gather performance data and monitor driver behaviors to get an overall picture of their fleet safety. Once managers collect a reasonable amount of data and video footage, they can sit down with the driver for one-on-one coaching to address specific strengths and weaknesses. The data can then be used to develop long-term training or onboarding programs to target braking-related issues. By reaching drivers when they’re onboarding, plus creating targeted programs for current employees, over time fleets can create a culture of safety. 

Also, when it comes to vehicle maintenance, “many managers stick with the planned schedule of service provided by the equipment manufacturer and call it a day,” Flores writes. “That’s a great first step.”

Because driver behavior directly impacts brakes, they also tend to need repairs earlier than the mileage schedule dictates and have an increased risk of brake failure. Staying ahead of maintenance across a fleet takes complex coordination, but managers can automate it through technology like GPS fleet tracking software. The software can then record and notify drivers and staff ahead of scheduled maintenance intervals. 

Predictive maintenance, which uses sensors or connected assets to collect analytics and models to forecast when vehicles might require care, is yet another way fleet and safety managers can ensure brake maintenance before serious problems occur.

In the words of Paul Simon, “It’s time to get on the bus, Gus, and make a new plan, Stan.” It’s time to monitor and maintain those brakes. Keep people—and your driving record—safe, and keep costs down and margins higher as an extra bonus.

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Chad Prevost

Chad is radio host and broadcast media specialist for FreightWaves.