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The Rastrac Guide to Improving Driver Safety for Your Commercial Fleets Brian Dziuk | Sep 9, 2020 9:37:51 AM

Driver safety is an enormous concern for any business that has a full-time vehicle fleet. Unsafe driving practices contribute to increased fuel costs, vehicle wear, and (most importantly), injuries to drivers and other people on the road. Improving driver safety helps organizations of all sizes and industries preserve their good reputation and save money.

But, how can your company improve safety for its drivers? There are a number of ways to improve driver safety for your commercial fleet!

1: Using an Onboard Camera System

Onboard camera systems, like RastracVision, can help fleet managers collect and review important information about their fleet vehicles. By logging and reviewing actual video of vehicles in operation, it’s easier for fleet managers to identify potential issues in a driver’s behavior and to correct them. For example, with video logs, you could identify if drivers are:

  • Tailgating;
  • Speeding;
  • Driving while distracted;
  • Using their signals;
  • Staying in their lanes;
  • Taking turns too tightly; and
  • Sticking to their Hours of Service (HOS) limits.

Here’s how the RastracVision solution’s two HD cameras provide ample protection for fleet vehicles (and record driver habits) so your operations can be safe and efficient:

  • True 4G LTE. RastracVision has built-in 4G LTE data connection, so you can have access to the 24/7 camera and the HD vehicle video recorder history instantly.
  • Dual HD Car Cameras. Equipped with a 1440p road-facing and 720p driver-facing HD vehicle video cameras, RastracVision allows you to have eyes on both your drivers and the road.
  • Live View & Listen. See and hear what's going on in real-time through the vehicle video camera as if you were right there in the vehicle with your driver.
  • Embedded Storage. The vehicle video recorder stores 120 hours (enough to fully record 15 eight-hour driving shifts) of footage so you can retrieve and review it if necessary.
  • Monitor Location through GPS Tracking. The GPS tracking helps to improve your fleet management by instantly knowing the driving direction and location of all your vehicles in real-time. This is a key anti-theft technology that helps aid the recovery of lost or stolen fleet vehicle assets.
  • Easy Installation. Setting up RastracVision’s vehicle video system is hassle-free with a simple and easy five-minute install!

Using an onboard camera system like RastracVision not only helps you track and improve driver habits—it can help you protect your commercial assets as well! Through video surveillance, you can improve your fleet management operations by monitoring your fleet’s efficiency and verifying that drivers are not misusing their time.

2: Take Video a Step Further with AI Solutions

While capturing video footage of your drivers in action is a great first step, there is often more video to sift through than you can review in a reasonable amount of time. Additionally, there are times where fleet vehicles and other assets will be in storage, but you will still need to monitor them to ensure safety.

Thieves and vandals often see parked commercial vehicles as large, tempting targets. They may try to steal valuable, easy-to-carry parts, tools from the vehicles, or even whole vehicles. While investing in safety tools like intruder detection systems, security cameras, and motion sensors can help spot criminals, they often fail to provide an accurate and timely warning of illicit activity.

For example, cameras are only effective at spotting intruders when a person is actively watching the security feed. Meanwhile, motion sensors can trigger false positives that actively train security personnel to ignore them. Intruder-detecting infrared might be able to tell people from animals, but are costly to buy and maintain.

AI systems, like Actuate by Rastrac, help turn your existing camera systems into a proactive intruder and threat detection solution that improves security by automatically generating alerts when there’s an intruder. As a pure software solution, Actuate offers several benefits, such as:

  • Detecting Threats before Shots Are Fired. If an intruder is carry weapons, the camera AI can identify them and send a flagged alert to security personnel—helping to inspire appropriate caution.
  • Being Usable with Existing Cameras. Actuate by Rastrac doesn’t require a specific type of camera system. It takes your existing cameras and turns them into smart cameras.
  • Increased Cost Effectiveness. Since there’s no need to buy special equipment, Actuate by Rastrac is incredibly cost-effective. It also helps to reduce vehicle and equipment theft—which helps control expenses long-term.
  • Industry Leading Accuracy. The Actuate AI has over 99% accuracy—making it one of the most effective and accurate AI technologies that is able to work in different environments and lighting conditions.

3: Focus on Vehicle Maintenance

Vehicle maintenance has an enormous impact on driver safety year-round. Focusing on preventative maintenance that helps to avoid sudden catastrophic failures on the road is an incredibly important strategy for preventing accidents. Additionally, these preventative repairs are cheaper and easier than having to tow a vehicle for break/fix repairs on the road.

A few specific things to check include:

Vehicle Tires

Replacing the tires on a vehicle can be a fairly significant expense (especially for commercial class vehicles). However, if it keeps that vehicle from losing traction on the road, the expense of replacing worn-out tires with fresh snow tires, wet-weather radials, or all-weather tires is well worth it.

When replacing tires, consider the weather for the region where that vehicle will be operating. Vehicles that will be used primarily in colder areas that get a lot of ice and snow should be fit with snow tires, while vehicles in southern states that get more precipitation in winter should have anti-slip rain treads. For carriers operating across multiple state lines, all-weather tires might be the best choice.

Brakes, Steering, and Other Components that Affect Vehicle Control

Keeping control of 26,000+ pounds of metal on the highway is difficult enough without having to worry about worn-out brakes and faulty steering.

Thorough vehicle maintenance checks should be a year-round concern, but seasonal weather conditions may make specific checks especially important. For example, a power steering or brake failure mid-turn that’s inconvenient on a rural road in summer could be deadly on the highway in winter where snow, rain, ice, and slush can reduce a driver’s control over their vehicle. On the other hand, an A/C failure that is merely inconvenient in spring or fall might be potentially deadly in winter or summer due to the hypothermia or heat stroke that extreme temperatures can cause.

Keeping steering controls and brakes in top shape can mean the difference between stopping in time and a costly accident.

4: Consider Using Speed Limiting Devices

The temptation to speed to maintain a schedule or make up for lost time can be incredibly tempting. However, speeding is also a major contributing factor in vehicular accidents. Imposing an absolute speed limit on a vehicle directly by installing a limiter device can help ensure that drivers never accelerate to unsafe speeds.

The downside to using a speed limiter is that it can be frustrating for drivers and remove some control from them during an emergency situation. As an alternative, you could use GPS tracking systems to monitor driving behaviors on the road. With this information, you can spot when drivers are driving dangerously fast and reach out to them to remind them of the need for caution and safety on the road.

5: Review Weather Hazards with Your Drivers

The weather can have a huge impact on vehicle safety at all times of the year. According to statistics from the USDOT’s Federal Highway Administration, “on average, there are over 5,748,000 vehicle crashes each year. Approximately 22% of these crashes – nearly 1,259,000 – are weather-related.”

While most commercial vehicle drivers should already be familiar with hazardous weather driving standards, reviewing best practices for driving in inclement weather never hurts. Even an experienced driver might need a refresher on things like chaining tires, avoiding jackknifing their rig while going downhill on an icy road, or where the runaway truck ramps along their route are located. You never know when a piece of advice or a reminder that you give a driver might help prevent an accident.

Carriers that operate across multiple state lines may want to check weather reports prior to sending trucks out for long-distance shipments. At the very least, the driver should know what kind of weather to expect so they can prepare accordingly.

6: Monitor and Assign Driver Safety Scores

With some camera monitoring solutions and GPS tracking programs, you can track driver behaviors and use that data to assign them with a “safety score.” This safety score can be generated based on factors such as their maximum and average speed, safe driving violations like hard braking, and acceleration/deceleration rates.

Creating a report card for each driver allows both the driver and fleet managers to see not only one-off safety scores, but patterns that show how their habits are improving or declining over time. This way, you can recognize and reward your safe drivers, or identify when it’s time to step in and provide additional training to employees who are starting to develop a pattern of unsafe driving habits.

7: Use GPS Solutions to Help Drivers Navigate with Confidence

GPS tracking solutions can do more than just monitor a driver’s location and driving behaviors—they can also help drivers navigate unfamiliar territory or heavy-traffic areas more easily.

For example, the Rastrac GPS tracking app gives fleet management access to map-based, real-time location data for each of their vehicles. Plus, with built-in GPS navigation, your drivers will be able to determine the exact time and distance to their next location and build optimized routes that account for traffic and road hazards. They can then follow the route through both visual and audio commands so they aren’t having to regularly take their eyes off the road.

Let’s say a traffic jam or road closure means a vehicle must take an alternate route. An offline maps feature will help the driver get there confidently and safely even if their smartphone loses its network connection!

At Rastrac, we’re passionate about enhancing safety and efficiency throughout your fleet, and we believe our valuable solutions can help get you there. If you’re ready to increase safety and efficiency in your business today, reach out to one of our experts or request a software demo today!

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