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Combating Manager Fears: How To Tackle Driver Safety


In our first installment of a new blog series, Combating Manager Fears, we examine the different initiatives fleet managers and government officials are taking to keep America’s drivers safe on the job.

The daily operations of a fleet involve many moving parts. And for a fleet manager, maintaining efficiency and accelerating productivity, while keeping costs down and staying compliant with government regulations, can be a balancing act.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Compliance, Safety, and Accountability program (CSA) went into effect in 2010. Instead of creating new safety rules, CSA made it easier and less costly to monitor commercial truck drivers and their employers for safe practices. If a roadside inspection reveals any lapses, the driver earns points. Accumulating too many points can result in disciplinary action, up to and including being placed out of service. The points also accrue to the carrier so that companies cannot clean their safety records by letting go of unsafe drivers—nor can drivers escape bad records by switching jobs. Instead, points gradually expire over a period of years so that the longer someone goes without a lapse, the lower their score goes.

The bad news is that it’s impossible for a fleet manager to ensure safe driving without some way of tracking driver performance. Waiting for the Department of Transportation (DOT) to spot problems is not efficient, in part because by that time it is too late to avoid getting points. The other problem is, of course, that no driver gets inspected often enough to truly prevent unsafe driving habits from causing accidents.

The good news is that tracking driver performance is easy with a GPS fleet management solution. Following the framework provided by the CSA and incorporating an Hours-of-Service (HOS) solution, managers can use the CSA’s program to focus attention on the specific features most likely to incur points—and most likely to cause accidents. For example, many of the infractions that the CSA addresses involve fatigued driving. And indeed, exhausted or distracted driving is a factor in many otherwise preventable accidents. Teletrac offers an HOS solution that proactively addresses several different infraction categories while making the roads unquestionably safer.

The HOS solution is a tool that lets drivers enter and submit electronic logs from their in-vehicle displays. There is no ambiguity about whether the driver is taking his or her required rest breaks. Another tool, Safety Analytics, lets managers clearly identify which drivers have the most unsafe events, such as speeding or excessive braking, and which have the least amount. Not only can managers use that information to decide which drivers need extra training or disciplinary action, but a driver’s safety record within the company can be used as a multiplier to set base pay. Incentives like these can boost morale and remove the temptation to forgo needed rest in order to cover more ground and earn more money.

GPS fleet management systems give managers the tools they need to keep their drivers safe.

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