In It for the Long Haul

Client Central

Through their anecdotes, two of Lytx’s longest continuous clients bring to life advances in transportation safety technologies.

It was 2005. The sun had set in St. Louis, Mo., and Gary Rottler had just arrived home from work. He removed his laptop from his truck, carried it inside, and plugged it into a portal to download the day’s DriveCam® events. There he would sit for the next couple of hours, poring over the day’s video clips in search of coachable behaviors.

Halfway across the country in Fairfield, Calif., the team at MV Transportation recently had established a remote managed services department in Elkhorn, Iowa. Its sole purpose? To review and score DriveCam events. Comprising nearly 15 people at its largest, the team reviewed DriveCam event clips, then emailed them to the proper satellite locations so the appropriate drivers could be coached…

These are the memories of two of Lytx’s longest continuous clients, MV Transportation and Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions. To them, Lytx’s evolution is deeply intertwined with the evolution of their own organizations.

As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, we look at how MV Transportation and Rottler Pest & Lawn Solutions have advanced over the last 20 years, right in step with Lytx’s flagship product—the DriveCam program.

The Early Days of DriveCam and Road Safety Technology

Andrew Higuera, vice president of safety for MV Transportation’s northwest region, remembers it all. He was there for the DriveCam trial MV had with Lytx 16 years ago.

“When we first used the DriveCam program, it was a new safety technology that we hadn’t heard of,” Higuera said. “We piloted it for six months and saw a huge decrease in collisions, to the tune of about 40 percent. Our unsafe incidents and claims both declined. In 2003, the DriveCam program showed us that we could be a safer company.”

In 2003, the DriveCam program was effective. However, at this point in time, it was not yet a managed services program. To download event clips, MV and other clients had to plug their laptops directly into the event recorder. At day’s end, a safety manager strolled the yard, closely eyeing vehicles’ windshields.

Each event recorder had an LED light on it. If the light was green, that meant it didn’t have any events stored. If the light was red, it meant it did have events stored, and the safety manager knew he had to connect his laptop to the event recorder and download the events.

To be a Lytx client in those early days meant you had to play an active role in your own success. After all, automotive safety technology was a burgeoning business. There was no wireless capability, no managed service, no cloud-based storage, nor access to video clips. Even the event scoring system was basic, ranking events on severity levels from one through four.

But just as Rottler was becoming a client in 2005, Lytx was on the brink of becoming a managed services company—a move that would change the client experience dramatically. For the first time, Lytx assigned point values to DriveCam events, grading them on severity. It helped clients focus on real risk and made managing the program more efficient.

“The scoring system helped us focus on events and circumstances that were coachable,” Rottler recalled.

As Clients Made Progress, So Did Safety Technology

In the nearly 20 years MV Transportation has been a client, they’ve grown from 18 locations and 400 employees to 175 locations and 18,000 employees. Now headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and representing more than 200 public transit agencies and private companies in the U.S. and Canada, MV has become the largest privately owned transportation company in North America.

Company founder
Fred Rottler (left), with his sons, Mike (center) and Gary, in 2002
Company founder Fred Rottler (left), with his sons, Mike (center) and Gary, in 2002Rottler Pest & Lawn, meanwhile, grew from a $6.6 million company with 83 employees and 60 vehicles in 2005 to a $20 million company with 182 employees and about 150 vehicles today. It’s come a long way since its inception, when Gary’s father, Fred, founded the pest company with a $10 loan for a spray tank. Today, Gary and his brother Mike run the business, having broadened their services to lawn care, installations and Christmas light decorating.

As both organizations have evolved, safety technology such as the DriveCam program has, too, helping these clients manage more drivers in more a distracted world. During their early days in the business, the biggest distraction in a vehicle was the radio. Not anymore.

“Everyone’s in a hurry. Keeping your attention on driving becomes harder and harder,” Rottler said. “Our business has gotten a whole lot faster.”

So has safety technology. By 2006, wi-fi had made DriveCam downloads automatic, and Lytx’s evolution to cellular in 2008 was the game changer clients had craved. Advances in predictive analytics changed the automotive safety technology landscape further.

“As the program got better at providing predictive data, we’ve gotten better at focusing on true risk and solving problems,” MV’s Higuera said. “It’s gotten to the point where you can pinpoint how many distracted driving or near-collisions happened in the last week, the last month. The statistics can show that a driver is three times as likely to have an accident exhibiting a certain behavior than a driver without that behavior. That kind of data has helped us run our business better.”

Safety Technology Immersed in Company Culture

Andrew HigueraAndrew Higuera, vice president of safety for MV Transportation’s northwest region, was employed there when MV trialed the DriveCam program 16 years ago.MV’s fleet is safer now than it was 20 years ago, Higuera said. Before 2003, “once our vehicles left the yard, we didn’t know what was going on with them. With advances in video telematics, now we know exactly what’s going on. It’s like having an electronic road supervisor.”

So steeped in MV’s culture has advanced safety technology become that the company hosts DriveCam program bootcamps, showing its seasoned safety managers how to get the most from the program. “It’s part of their training from the get-go,” Higuera said.

Rottler, too, says his is a safer company today than it was 20 years ago. As they purchased more vehicles and hired more technicians, advanced safety technology like the DriveCam program helped Rottler manage the growing risks that came with expansion.

“It increases our technicians’ awareness and makes them more conscientious drivers,” he said. In fact, Rottler technicians compete with one another to see if they can keep their event recorder green—meaning they don’t trigger a single event—for an entire month. Those who go one month without an event receive lunch on the company.

The bottom line is, road safety technology offers much greater insights today, enabling clients to keep safety top of mind and run their businesses more efficiently.

“Now, the event recorder sees and captures what went wrong and you have the data behind it to explain why the event happened,” Rottler said. “It gives you something concrete to talk about. Video doesn’t lie.”

Nearly 20 years in with the program, these two companies are still seeing results. Learn how the DriveCam program can transform your business as well.

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