US fleet sees safety improvements using in-cab video

CARNESVILLE, Ga. – Davis Transfer president and CEO Todd David was going to have lunch to discuss implementing a video safety program into his fleet when he got the call every fleet manager dreads.

One of his trucks was involved in a fatal accident with a cyclist.

“What we had heard about the accident and the details we knew were very foggy,” he recalled. “That immediately persuaded me that we needed to know as soon as something happened or very quickly after, what we were dealing with.”

Davis Transfer’s trucks operate mostly in congested areas and the company has seen an increase in accidents involving litigation over the past eight years, Davis said.

“One of the problems trucking companies face is, when we are involved in an accident we have no idea the type of accident or the severity of the accident,” Davis said. “A lot of the information we get right away from the driver is incorrect.”

Davis Transfer opted for the SmartDrive video safety system, with forward- and driver-facing cameras, or as Davis prefers to call them, event recorders. Up to 80 different events can trigger a recording, which is first sent to SmartDrive’s review experts for analysis. If the event requires intervention from the fleet, the file goes into a coaching queue and the fleet’s safety department takes it from there, reviewing the footage with the driver and providing additional training to address the behavior.

“Davis Transfer was very specific about the risks they wanted to go after and we were able to customize that general response center to help them focus in on the events and types of risks they wanted to coach out of their fleet,” said Garland Yarborough of SmartDrive.

The company piloted the program across 20 trucks and found even some of its top drivers had developed bad habits, even though they had maintained clean driving records.

“One driver in particular had great miles, but he kept getting an event. He was running his truck off the road, which is one of the things that triggers the event recording system,” explained Brittany Britt, safety director with Davis Transfer. “He had a habit of looking at his phone while driving. We developed a coaching program specific to his need.”

The company has since rolled the program out across its entire fleet of 350 trucks. The system has also exonerated drivers of blame in certain crashes, Britt pointed out. During a webinar with SmartDrive this week, she showed a video in which a motorist pulled directly in front of a Davis truck that was traveling along safely, below the posted speed limit.

Davis Transfer uses an online training program from Mindflash to train drivers on the behaviors that are causing events.

Davis said drivers typically fall into two categories: the operationally excellent drivers who’ve become complacent and can correct their behavior; and the drivers who aren’t operationally excellent and are also unsafe and aren’t able or willing to adjust their driving behaviors.

“On the more experienced guy that’s good operationally, we’re going to work with him and give him every chance to improve,” Davis said, noting about 80% of drivers improve with coaching.

The results of the program have been impressive. Davis Transfer has a turnover rate of about 48%, including terminations, which is well below US standards. It saw its ratio of preventable crashes drop from more than 70% of all crashes in 2014 to less than 40% in 2016. Its crash indicator BASIC under CSA was over 80% when it launched the program and has now been driven down to 20%.

It has seen a 90% decrease in unsafe following distances, a 40% decrease in speeding and a 51% reduction in drivers using mobile devices.

SmartDrive Systems has also announced recent upgrades to its platform. It has doubled video capacity to more than 16 days; it introduced enhanced coaching workflow with contextual driving analytics, improving usability and unlocking driver performance insights; it added a skills-based coaching mode to event-oriented coaching, enabling an individualized approach to every driver; and it offers video on-demand capabilities with full mobility support and a “shopping cart” video ordering experience.

For more on the system, visit

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James Menzies is editor of Today's Trucking. He has been covering the Canadian trucking industry for more than 20 years and holds a CDL. Reach him at or follow him on Twitter at @JamesMenzies.

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