5 Meaningful Safety Data Points to Measure

Safety Training Isn’t Enough

Why local delivery services are learning that an effective safety program does more than provide driver training.

A startup boom in local delivery services has created high demand for driver safety training. But a safety program that meets guidelines, reduces risk and manages costs will make effective use of data.

Our latest article describes five important types of information you need, how it’s applied, and how you can get started without an advanced degree in data management.

In June 2018, Amazon announced its Delivery Service Partners program, which offered incentives to entrepreneurs who would launch local delivery services. The e-commerce giant’s goal was to speed up the final mile that packages travel by building out its own local distribution system, rather than relying solely on those of FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service.

Over the next 10 months, the program kindled roughly 200 new transportation companies, according to a report by TechCrunch. Then, in May 2019, Amazon went a step further, offering its own employees $10,000 in seed money to leave the company and start even more delivery businesses.  

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCRS) require all commercial transportation businesses to provide regular training for drivers. But the new delivery services are quickly learning what established logistics business have known all along: Training isn’t enough.

Managing the everyday risk of putting commercial drivers on the road demands a relentless culture of safety built around driver-behavior data.

Here are 5 important types of data that streetwise delivery services collect:

Motor vehicle records: The status of each driver’s license, restrictions, and a history of traffic citations, suspensions, etc.

Accident claims: Including minor incidents that don’t involve injuries or other vehicles.

Driver trainings: Proof of completion and exam scores.

Vehicle telematics: From speed and braking data to GPS location-finding to onboard video.

Manager records: Time-stamped documentation of meetings and communications with individual drivers about safety and performance.

Collecting and storing this information is difficult enough. Making use of it harder – even for large logistics companies with their own IT departments. Many companies, large and small, look for service providers that can gather the information and apply a layer of intelligence to make it both useful and accessible.

“Nobody who runs a delivery service has time to sift through all the data to figure out who just ran a stop sign, or who tends to make hard stops and starts. But these are examples of information that points to the need for training and risk mitigation,” says Sandy McClure, Director of Safety at Fleet Response. “This work can, and should, be automated.”

Fleet Response’s system, called Fleet Response VISIBILITY, creates a central repository of driver-behavior data, and analyzes it to risk-score drivers; identify and schedule remedial trainings; red-flag expired licenses and other changes in motor vehicle records; and send alerts to managers. [Related article: How Fleet Response helped Sprint foster a new culture of driver safety] “We meet safety managers who complain they spend 80 percent of their time working with data and 20 percent actually working with drivers,” McClure says. “They tell us that ratio reverses once they start working with our system.”

Here are 10 important ways driver-behavior data gets used:

Regulatory and contractual compliance: Third-party documentation of driver training and all other related activities can make short work of a safety audit, whether it’s conducted by a government agency or a customer.

Creating a safety culture: “Companies with strong safety records do more than meet minimum training requirements,” McClure says. “They talk about safety constantly. They’re proactive about identifying safety issues and addressing them.” [Related article: The High Cost of Low-Risk Drivers]

Risk scoring: Experienced logistics companies use a combination of data – including motor vehicle records, accident claims, vehicle telematics and even reports from 1800HowsMyDriving – to identify higher-risk drivers and provide training to improve their behaviors behind the wheel.

Hiring and firing: With a strong data program in place, a driver’s risk can be evaluated before he or she is hired. When it’s necessary to terminate a driver, having a record of prior interventions and escalations helps head off and defend against legal disputes.

Mitigating liability: When a serious accident does occur, the ability to demonstrate a consistent commitment to safety can positively impact the outcome of any resulting lawsuits. 

Nuisance suits: A corporate logo on the side of a van is like a target. “If your driver gets in a fender-bender, some people will see it as a potential payday even if he wasn’t at fault,” McClure says. “If you can access video that demonstrates your driver wasn’t on the phone like the other party said, or if telematics prove the van didn’t brake suddenly before being rear-ended, you can make short work of frivolous lawsuits.”

Vehicle wear-and-tear: Beat-up vehicles cost more to turn in at the end of their lease. Using data to improve driver behaviors can reduce even the small incidents that eventually cost money.

Insurance costs and coverage: Accidents increase insurance costs. McClure says he routinely gets calls from companies that have been threatened with loss of coverage after filing one claim too many.

Branding: Companies don’t want their names on vehicles that are involved in accidents or look disreputable. Whether it’s your logo, Amazon’s or anyone else’s, safe drivers are better brand ambassadors.

Customer service and efficiency: Behavior data can be used to identify the times and places drivers take more risks – helpful for making route and schedule adjustments that improve reliability and performance.

The Fleet Response VISIBILITY data portal consolidates all your safety data to a single dashboard, and makes it actionable through a combination of analysis, automated actions and alerts that can be configured to the specific needs of your organization. To discuss your safety program, contact Sandy McClure, Director of Safety at Fleet Response, contact@fleetresponse.com.