New and innovative trucking safety technology has played an integral role in reducing crashes involving big rigs over the past decade through a mix of video recording, speed monitoring and predictive analytics.
The rapidly evolving industry has exploded in recent years, with a growing number of vendors rolling out new technology and software at a high clip. And while trucking companies and their drivers were initially resistant to so-called advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, the transportation industry is coming around.
ADAS products run the gamut. They automatically brake in emergencies, detect hazards in blind spots, log and limit truck speeds, video-record in-cab actions and distractions and capture and collate loads of telematics data. Trucking companies then use that data to inform their safety procedures, reduce risk and potentially lower insurance rates. And the future of trucking safety technology looks promising, with innovators racing to develop the next big thing.
Trucking companies are investing billions of dollars in safety tech—the American Trucking Associations pegged the annual investment at nearly $10 billion in 2016. Some major freight-moving fleets, including JLE, are seeing encouraging results. Here are three fleet management technologies making a positive impact throughout the trucking industry.
With Operation Safe Driver Week 2021 focused on the dangers of speeding, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is imploring fleets and their drivers to be vigilant about minding limits and slowing down.
Even though travel was down in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, fatalities on roadways jumped 7% year over year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, preliminary estimates indicate fatal crashes involving large trucks were down marginally.
Trucking safety technology like SpeedGauge may be a contributing factor. The trucking software has helped thousands of fleets monitor and manage driver speeds since 2002.
Through existing GPS tracking, SpeedGauge tells fleet managers when and where truck drivers are exceeding posted speed limits, allows them to create custom limits and identifies high-risk and high-performing drivers. SpeedGauge says new users of its Web-based vehicle speed tracking system typically reduce speeding by 50% in the first month or two. As the company notes, speeding is the biggest contributing factor to accidents—and it's also the easiest to control.
As of 2021, SpeedGauge's trucking management software was helping trucking companies monitor speed data in more than half-a-million commercial vehicles. In a 2018 survey, nearly 9 out of 10 SpeedGauge customers said they had been able to improve their fleet's Compliance, Safey, Accountability scores. Maintained by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, CSA scores are publicly available safety ratings often viewed by shippers, insurance companies and driver candidates.
More trucking companies are also using video cameras to capture what's happening inside and outside the rigs when accidents occur. The footage is helping them better understand what causes accidents, how truck drivers reacted and how the tractor trailer responded.
SmartDrive Systems is among the top players in this space, and their video-based safety and transportation intelligence platform is delivering valuable insights. In particular, SmartDrive cameras in truck cabs are giving companies a window into which drivers have riskier habits and which ones should receive safety bonuses. At JLE, for example, our safest drivers are eligible for a 10% weekly bonus.
In July 2020, SmartSense rolled out additional external sensors designed to warn truck drivers about dangers related to speeding in inclement weather and parking in unsafe locations. SmartSense's trucking management software prompts drivers to slow down before they encounter hazardous weather conditions and alerts them to contact dispatch when they've been parked somewhere too long. Fleet managers are notified if corrective action isn't taken.
Many trucking firms using SmartSense have seen impressive results. Most recently, Missouri-based CFI reported vastly improved safety outcomes, including multiple driver exonerations and a reduction in DOT accident frequency, after 18 months. The full-truckload carrier had planned to pilot the SmartDrive camera system on 500 trucks but quickly decided to equip its entire 2,000-truck fleet with the tech. Leavitt's Freight Service—a flatbed carrier in Oregon—likewise saw big improvements, lowering its insurance loss ratio more than 90% to the lowest in the company's history.
Compiling data is only part of the equation when it comes to trucking safety technology. The goal is to interpret that data, identify patterns and use that information to better manage truck drivers.
Idelic Safety Suite is a driver management platform that helps trucking companies prevent crashes, reduce turnover and lower insurance premiums. Through a customizable dashboard, users are able to integrate third-party systems and easily organize fleet data, including important driver qualification and DOT compliance documents. Idelic even uses artificial intelligence to create a driver watch list based on risk scores.
Risk management has become a high priority for the trucking industry in light of "nuclear verdicts," where juries award more than $10 million in damages to plaintiffs suing freight carriers in the wake of an accident. The payouts, along with sky-high insurance premiums, have been a contributing factor for a number of trucking companies declaring bankruptcy or folding.
Idelic is designed to help carriers flag their highest-risk drivers so they can address safety concerns before it's too late. The company contends it's AI program can predict with 90% accuracy which drivers will get into accidents. In just a year, less-than-truckload carrier Pitt Ohio was able to reduce accident claims by $400,000 and increase driver retention by more than 40%.
In March 2020, Idelic announced that Safety Suite was fully integrated with FMCSA's BASICs program, giving trucking companies direct access to important government safety data as soon as it's released. The data is also presented in an intuitive and easy-to-digest format.
If you're looking for a flatbed trucking company that emphasizes safety and believes in using data and analytics to prevent accidents and better train drivers, JLE is hiring. Each year, we invest more than $600,000 in the trucking safety technology platforms outlined in this article. Apply today to be part of an elite team of flatbedders who are safely driven.