From trucking and waste to construction and distribution, costs are rising across the transportation industry. Bloomberg reported earlier this year that increased shipping expenses and rising transportation demand are cutting into trucking fleets’ bottom line by at least 10 percent. The driver shortage is still stressing the industry, and fleets are again raising wages as a means of retaining drivers.
Since trucking often shares a driver pool with driver-dependent industries like waste and construction, the whole supply chain is facing a surge in costs and tighter margins, Bloomberg stated.
The good news is, there’s a way fleets can save money and enhance driver safety all at once—with the help of a driver safety program. Here, Lytx VP of Safety Services Del Lisk spells out his top five ways a driver safety program can cut costs. Some of them may surprise you.
A driver safety program can boost driver retention while cutting hiring costs. In a world where it can cost up to $24,000 to recruit and hire a new driver, onboarding top talent isn’t cheap. The key is to cultivate and develop the drivers already working for you, Lisk said. By using a program such as the Lytx DriveCam® safety program to coach drivers who exhibit unsafe driving behaviors, you can help them improve.
“There’s a saying called retrain to retain, and there’s a lot of truth in it,” Lisk said. “By coaching, or retraining, your drivers within a few days of their displaying an unsafe behavior, such as speeding or following too closely, you’ll help them develop professionally and reduce their chances of being in a traffic accident,” Lisk said. “Too many fleets under-invest in training their drivers. A driver improved and retained will save you the effort and costs associated with onboarding new drivers.”
A driver safety program can lower fuel consumption. With summer in full swing, vacationers are taking to the highway in large numbers, making U.S. roads more congested. That can lead to more stop-and-go traffic, idling, rapid accelerations, and hard braking. According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, safe driving habits can lower gas mileage by between 15 percent and 30 percent at highway speeds, and between 10 percent and 40 percent in stop-and-go traffic.
For better fleet fuel management, commercial fleets can rely on telematics technology to pinpoint inefficient vehicles, and inefficient drivers. By helping drivers slow down and be more aware of gas-guzzling behaviors, telematics can help conserve fuel and money—between 29 cents and $1.17 per gallon, according to the Dept. of Energy.
A driver safety program can protect against fraudulent claims. From cargo fraud to fender benders with exaggerated injuries, commercial fleets have become a target of “nuclear verdicts” and frivolous lawsuits in recent years. Fortunately, video telematics programs can protect fleets against false claims by capturing collisions—or the lack of them—on video.
If a commercial driver is falsely blamed for running a red light and causing a collision, for example, a video telematics program can show who’s at fault, exonerate your driver, and turn the tables on the case.
“With fraudulent claims, any injuries the victim may be claiming can be contested with the assistance of video,” Lisk said. “A driver safety program with a video telematics component lets you see how significant the collision was or wasn’t. The DriveCam safety program, for example, displays the speed at impact and the G-force of the collision. So, with the help of an expert, fleets can demonstrate that a person’s claimed injury or damage to their vehicle is inconsistent with the collision’s impact.”
A driver safety program can trim training costs. According to a 2016 report by the American Trucking Associations, the trucking industry invests at least $9.5 billion in safety annually. Of that, driver safety training accounted for the largest portion of the total annual spending, 36 percent.
Many commercial fleets throughout the transportation industry opt for compliance-based annual training, requiring drivers to come off the road for a day to be trained, Lisk said. But a one-size-fits-all approach like that doesn’t account for individual driver needs. One driver may need a deep dive on many safe driving habits, Lisk said, while another may only need a brief reminder on seat belt use.
For more targeted, impactful driver safety training, Lisk suggests commercial fleets integrate a video telematics program into their driver training programs. “It’s important to take the lessons learned from a program like the DriveCam safety program and address each driver’s individual needs when they become apparent,” Lisk said.
“For example, if a video clip shows a driver following too closely, you can coach the driver on that behavior within a couple days and fix the issue right away, versus waiting for the next training cycle to arrive.” And since a typical coaching session can be completed in a few minutes, it means your driver can be back on the road quickly, producing profits for the business.
A driver safety program can reduce wear and tear. “Aggressive driving techniques such as hard accelerating or braking put more stress on the vehicle overall, whether it’s the chassis, the transmission or other parts of the truck,” Lisk said. “The bottom line is that safer drivers drive at more moderate speeds, with fewer sudden stops and starts.” As a result, they don’t wear out brakes as quickly, preserving the life of the vehicle. “Not only will the vehicle last longer, but repairs won’t need to be made as frequently,” Lisk said.
Safe driving also reduces freight breakage and protects transit passengers from injury, Lisk said. “So, if a smooth delivery driver has fewer instances of freight being broken in route, that means the organization will have to pay out less in reimbursements to the manufacturer.”
Learn more about how fleet managers are using technology to improve driver safety and reduce costs in our video about how Kroger effected their return on investment: Measuring the ROI on Video Telematics.