Pre-planning as a key to driver safety, happiness

  (Photo: Shutterstock)
(Photo: Shutterstock)

According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, a total of 3,986 people died in large truck crashes in 2016, a 27% increase from 2009. Fleets have a major responsibility to practice safety on the roads.

CalAmp is a company that knows a thing or two about driver safety. They’ve been manufacturing connective cars and trucks and assets for 20 years now, and are a leader in the space for after-market connecting of vehicles to any kind of platform. That’s the hardware part.

“We’re unusual in that we’re both a supplier of telematics (selling the hardware), but we’re also ourselves a telematics provider. We consume our own hardware and build out our system as well,” says CalAmp’s Frank Schneider, director of SaaS product management.

Pre-journey planning is a key factor when ensuring fleet safety, from optimizing driver time on the road, to familiarizing drivers with routes, to maintaining vehicles through predictive maintenance. If you help drivers identify necessary alternate routes ahead of time you make drivers safer, and you make drivers happy. And if drivers are happy, everybody’s happy.

Data indicates truck travel may increase to 488 million miles per day by 2045. With an influx of freight trucks on the road and fatalities on the rise, it is more important than ever to keep our roads safe.

“Increasingly we’re also providing a complete solution. We have an IoT platform that works with telematics service providers as well. We’re a full-service provider,” says Schneider.

“Safety is a critical solution,” Schneider says. “ELDs are one of the top of mind issues, and this comes directly from the Hours-of-Service (HOS).

Schneider acknowledges that many don’t like the HOS, and that a one-size-fits-all approach to the fragmented industry was difficult coming out of the gate, but at heart, he says, the main point is to keep drivers safe. There are other factors, as well, that are related to the HOS regulation that allow for drivers and everyone a safer drive. Recent flexibility measures are making the HOS regulations a little more reasonable as well.

Regardless, HOS is “a key component to the safety program for any truck driver program,” says Schneider.

One key element to their approach is through what they call Daily Vehicle Inspection Reporting (DVIR). “The intent here is you need to inspect on a daily basis before operation of your vehicle. In fact, some companies do a pre and post inspection,” says Schneider. “This is really a key component to driver safety that most of the truck drivers out there don’t object to because it doesn’t get in the way of their overall means of doing business the way HOS does.”

You begin by doing a walkaround. There’s a systematic way to check out all the key components and identify what may not be in good working condition and fill in the gaps.

“The good news here is when you tie this in with the HOS, and you have a platform to do all this together. First, you make sure your driver is driving the right amount of time. And the inspection is happening,” says Schneider. “Then the hardware itself is talking to your vehicle’s engine control unit. It’s continuously throughout the course of the day talking to your sub-units. It’s evaluating overall how well your vehicle is running. If there’s issues with the overall operation of your vehicle, you’ll receive a diagnostic trouble code. Could be windshield wiper fluid. Could be something much bigger like your brake system malfunctioning. So based on your connected truck you’ve got these three layers of safety built into over-the-road (OTR) trucking.”

Essentially, the HOS, the driving inspection, and the internal evaluation of your engine’s diagnostics is all put into your system’s ELD and organized in such a way that you can quickly and easily any issues within the three areas. These can also be automatically generated into a report to fix any issue that arises. The system is able to measure the Engine Control Unit (ECU), the computer in your vehicle that controls all the sub-systems.

On the top layer, it’s about the organization and reporting of the CalAmp software. Underneath that layer is the data exchange. This layer helps the information to easily go to third parties. This helps with the service tickets in order to repair the vehicles.

“This is where a huge advantage lies,” says Schneider. “Breakdowns are one of the most negatively business impacts for a fleet. Now, you can leverage the HOS information to prevent breakdowns in the first place. Automatically sending in the information so that they can stop issues from becoming critical which would result in outage. That’s the key, the real benefit. That’s the second order linkage to HOS which can be super powerful.”

It’s all a part of the connective tissue of what ELDs are bringing to the industry. Technology is a tool, and when utilized the right way it actually brings enormous advantages to drivers and the fleets they serve—or maybe it’s the other way around. Whatever the case, it begins with the fundamentals of pre-planning and predictive analytics, and ends at the higher level of actualization: making drivers happy.

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Chad Prevost

Chad is radio host and broadcast media specialist for FreightWaves.