Waste Fleet Safety: Influencing Driver Behavior

It takes an organization to “raise” a safe fleet. It’s important for managers to have the tools at their disposal to work pro-actively with their drivers.

Martin Demers

Every year, an estimated 20 percent of all fleet vehicles are involved in accidents. The direct and indirect costs of these accidents are tremendous. From insurance premiums, repairs and the administrative costs of collisions, to the potential threat of fatalities, serious injury and employer liabilities, safety initiatives are a critical concern for waste fleet managers and senior executives.

Accidents impact so many aspects of waste fleet and business operations that estimating the true direct and indirect costs is difficult—but the stakes are high and the risks need to be mitigated at all levels of an organization. The reality is that most accidents are avoidable, and effective safety management can reduce the risks significantly. A safe fleet can often reduce frequency of accidents by half.

CSA 2010

A new fleet safety rating system—known as the Comprehensive Safety Analysis (CSA) 2010—is now being implemented across North America to score fleets and drivers on their safety performance. This underscores the burgeoning move toward greater safety and driver accountability. CSA 2010 is expected to have three major impacts:

  1. Driver performance files will be updated on a continuous basis to list all violations over a 36-month period. This will ensure complete safety transparency over a statistically significant period.

  2. A driver’s file will provide the entire history of the individual’s safety performance. This will make it easy to assess driving performance and habits.

  3. Drivers will need to adjust to increased monitoring and scrutiny, and fleet managers will have to ensure a greater culture of safe driving accountability.

Any way you slice it, it’s becoming clear that fleet safety performance is at the top of the list for every fleet-driven organization. It all comes down to driver behavior. Fleet safety is all about reducing risk by reinforcing safe driving behavior. Fleet managers that have limited or no visibility into their drivers’ behavior cannot address or mitigate the issues, and cannot deal effectively with at-risk drivers. This lack of visibility directly impacts their risk factors, safety records and operating costs. Waste and recycling firms need to ensure that fleet managers have the tools and information they need to pro-actively implement fleet safety initiatives and mitigate associated risks.

Four Key Steps for Safety Management

A waste fleet manager needs to approach safety management in four ways:

  1. Identify the high-risk drivers. Who are the drivers that constantly exceed speed limits, drive aggressively, accumulate complaints and are involved in the most accidents?

  2. Drivers need to be coached toward safer and more defensive driving techniques. Incentives can be offered to help motivate safer driving behavior.

  3. Driving patterns and behavior need to be continuously monitored to reinforce behaviors on a daily basis. It’s too easy to lapse back into bad habits. Changing and maintaining driving behavior is a long-term process.

  4. Systems and processes need to be put in place to deal effectively with any accidents that do occur. Accident management is an important piece of an overall safety program.

The Required Tools

Fleet management tools can provide managers with real-time visibility into driver activity and behavior. All departments can typically have access to centralized fleet safety data for a completely transparent representation of a fleet’s safety performance. A safety-capable fleet management solution should allow for critical visibility into truck and driver activity with its fleet mapping and reports and alarms solutions.

Driver Scoring and Monitoring

Of all the standard fleet safety components, driver monitoring and the ability to easily score driver behavior are of utmost importance. Automatic and real-time access to driver scoring results provides the information required to give constructive feedback to drivers, reward safe driving behavior and provide the requisite coaching for any unsafe activity. Driver activity can be monitored easily and immediately, and accurate data can be readily captured to deal with any driving incidents.

Real-time driver scoring provides fleet managers with a score based on specific corporate criteria, such as maximum speed limits. All drivers are subject to speeding occasionally; however, at-risk behavior such as repeated speeding and hard-braking violations need to be tracked and flagged automatically.

A scoring report can rank drivers to ascertain those that require additional safety training or are at highest risk for safety violations. Good drivers can be identified and rewarded accordingly. Driver scoring data is usually presented in immediate and user-friendly formats, making it easy for managers to access the required information anytime. Driving patterns can typically be identified for both behavior and location.

Fleet Mapping

Fleet mapping features provide a real-time map view of your waste vehicles’ positions relative to towns, cities, highways and streets. These allow you to select from a number of layers, which determine the level of detail and plot the vehicle’s position according to reported events. Using fleet mapping tools, you can reconstruct the route taken by a driver on any given day, verify any deviations or unscheduled side trips, and view alarm criteria, such as exceeding a specified speed limit.

Fleet mapping tools typically let you track drivers, determine how your vehicles are being handled, determine which drivers generated alarms and where, monitor driver speed in relation to speed limits and plot locations of alarm occurrences.

Reports and Alarms

Fleet reporting capabilities allow you to evaluate overall fleet and driver activity by collecting relevant and actionable information. A flexible and robust report center should enable you to:

  • Graphically view route progress and status in real time

  • Report the exact route each vehicle took for any day

  • Record detailed events during accident situations

  • Proactively monitor various Key Performance Metrics (KPMs) with customizable deviation thresholds that automate supervisory alarms

  • Automatically create your own fleet reports for driver activity, driver performance and driver scoring

  • Map overall driving patterns and alert managers in real time

Accident Management

When accidents or driving incidents occur—and they will—it is essential to have accurate information to deal with these appropriately. Some fleet management solutions let drivers record detailed information with the simple press of a button that captures essential data about any driving incidents. In addition to tracking driver activity, vehicle reporting features will typically allow you to monitor vehicle usage as well for accidents and alarms. Having accurate data readily available will reduce the time and costs associated with administering an accident event.

It takes an organization to “raise” a safe fleet. It’s clearly to a driver’s benefit to be better and safer at his job. It’s important for managers to have the tools at their disposal to work pro-actively with their drivers. Safety-capable fleet management solutions will influence drivers to be more accountable, will support CSA 2010 initiatives and will reinforce

safety policies throughout the organization.

Martin Demers is CEO of FleetMind (Montreal, QC). He is a proven C-level technology executive with more than 20 years of experience in the technology and communications sectors. Previously, he served as President and COO of Radialpoint, CEO of Interstar, and as CMO of ACE*COMM. Martin has also held a number of leadership roles at Teleglobe Foxboro and CAE where he managed large scale international projects. He has often been quoted in industry publications and is a frequent speaker at industry events. Martin can be reached at [email protected] or visit the Web site at