Use big data as a teaching mechanism, not an ‘I got ya’ tool

by Truck West

RED DEER, Alta. – Collecting data from today’s truck technologies is about more than improving a carrier’s bottom line, it’s about helping drivers be the best they can be.

Derek Tate, president of Enpact Group and former driver, spoke to Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) Safety Conference attendees Sept. 21 in Red Deer, Alta., about this very issue, highlighting how companies can use the data they receive from technologies as a teaching tool for their drivers.

The overall goals Tate said carriers should strive to achieve through the collection of data is saving lives, reducing injuries, and reducing overall costs to the company.

One piece of advice Tate said can go a long way is to show drivers how slowing down and wearing a seatbelt can help reach these goals.

“You may not stop the crash from happening,” Tate said, “but you’ve saved a life.”

Tate said carriers can see a return on investment from onboard cameras, GPS, ELDs, and other telematics, quickly with a reduction in fines, lower WCB and insurance premiums, and less litigation from collisions.

Vehicle monitoring systems can provide data records on driver speed, time on the road, distance traveled, acceleration and deceleration rates, seat belt usage, and fuel consumption – all of which can then be used to help drivers hone their skills in areas of potential weakness.

Tate said a key component to the success of these technologies is what kind of driver behaviors fleets track, as well as how they are supervised and managed.

With driving by nature being an unsupervised position, Tate said carriers need to ask themselves who is monitoring the data coming from onboard technology and how the data is being used to ensure driver competence.

In addition to increasing coaching and mentoring, data can help identify driver behavior, driving hazards in operating environments, and measure the return on investment.

When an incident does occur, Tate said fleets must provide an analysis of the situation to determine whether it was caused by an intended violation, unintended violation, system induced violation, human error, or if it was supervision related.

One approach Tate advised carriers to avoid is the “I got ya” mentality when bringing issues forward to drivers.

“If all you’re going to do jump all over somebody, all you’re going to do is suppress,” he said. “It’s very rare that you should jump on any one individual piece of data, you should look for trends.”

With fleets able to track several data points with telematics like idling, night driving, engine error codes, and time over speed limit, as well as other capabilities, such as driver fatigue, following distance, lane departure, and journey management, Tate said it’s important for companies to identify what they are going to monitor.

“If you can’t impact it, what’s the point?” he said. “Once you start combining (capabilities), it becomes that much more powerful. There are a lot of things that can tie in and it can become very valuable.”

In the end, when collecting and analyzing data, carriers should build trust with their drivers and use the information in a positive way.

Data should be used to identify the cause of the at-risk behavior, and not always taken simply for what’s on the surface.

“People want to do a good job,” said Tate, “they just need to be reminded.”

WCB rates

WCB rates are down 0.79% from 2017 in the general trucking category, 3.07% in specialized trucking, and 7.43% in garbage collection and disposal.

Deb Nielsen, account manager for WCB Alberta, outlined the most recent trends in the trucking industry during the AMTA conference, which also showed an upward tick in disabling injury and lost time claim rates.

Between 2016 and 2017, the general trucking service saw an 11.88% increase in its disabling injury rate, and a 9.95% rise in lost time claims.

“(Short term trends) can definitely ripple into long-term problems,” cautioned Nielsen, adding that the industry’s aging population is taking more time to recover from injuries.

With falls being the most frequent cause of injury in trucking, Nielsen pointed out that the average number of disability days in general trucking last year was 44.4, up 24.37% from 2016.

Compared to other industries, all trucking categories saw an overall 10% increase in lost time claims from 2016 to 2017, second only to mining, which had a 23% increase. Construction, manufacturing, and trades each had a 4% decrease in lost time claims.

In general trucking, those between the ages of 51-58 account for the most lost time claims, with those over 58 taking the longest time to recover. Falls were the most common cause of injury, and motor vehicle collisions were the highest cost and longest duration of time away from work.

Nielsen said the trucking sector overall is in a positive position in relation to injury statistics compared to pre-2014, and carriers’ top priority should be to get employees in modified work roles as soon as they are able to return to work.

Dealing with an emergency

When an emergency occurs, there are three types of people – those who flee because they are in shock, those who run around not knowing what to do, and those who stay and work to fix the problem.

That’s according to emergency management expert Shell Clarke, who outlined the steps that need to be taken when an emergency happens.

General emergency management principles revolve around preventative measures, preparation, response when a situation occurs, and recovery after the fact.

During an emergency, the primary goals are to protect people, the environment, and the company’s reputation and assets.

The seven steps to dealing with an emergency starts with evacuate: protect yourself and get to safe place from the hazard. Next is to sound the alarm, and then assess the situation by identifying hazards, ensuring others understand those hazards. Make sure you and others are protected, and only then attempt to rescue others. If there is the need to revive those who were rescued, conduct CPR and provide ongoing care until the final stage (medical aid) sees them transported to proper life-saving personnel.

To deal with the ongoing emergency situation, Clarke said Canada and Alberta has adopted the Incident Command System (ICS), first developed in California in the 1970s following a series of catastrophic wildfires.

ICS follows a standardized protocol during emergencies that includes common terminology, a chain of command, planning structure with management objectives and incident action plan, facilities and resources, communication channels, and professionalism.

One of the first steps in any emergency is to establish an incident commander, which should be the most senior, knowledgeable person on site.

Incident commanders manage the overall emergency response, is available on a 24-hour basis, ensures the safety of others, and established an incident command post.

They then establish a team to deal with the emergency, which includes an on-site supervisor and public protection supervisor.

Each team member is given a maximum of seven people to manage during an emergency.

“You might be the best manager in world, able to manage 30 people,” said Clarke, “but in an emergency, seven is enough.”

Clarke said carriers should maintain an up-to-date emergency response plan to ensure quick access to information, a clearly defined response system, a definition of emergency response team roles, and a description of actions to manage an incident.

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