No Gray Area
Video-based safety reduces risk for construction and ready-mix fleets.
By Jason Palmer
Construction and ready-mix vehicles face unique challenges that make it difficult for fleet managers to keep drivers safe on the job. From driving through congested jobsites with uneven terrain, to operating heavy-duty specialty equipment, the trials drivers face every day can seem insurmountable. Fortunately, a video-based safety program can help.
Increasingly, industry leaders like O&G Industries, Penny’s Concrete and Ruston Paving, are turning to video-based safety to eliminate risky driving and operating behaviors that lead to collisions, job site incidents and worker’s compensation claims. As part of a substantial and comprehensive safety program, video-based safety enables fleet managers to exonerate drivers who are not at fault, improve driver performance with data-driven coaching and collect actionable information on their fleet’s unique safety risks.
Exonerating Drivers Who Are Not at Fault
Nearly 90 percent of fleets that adopt a video-based safety platform do so to exonerate their drivers. When an accident occurs, commercial drivers are often blamed, even when they are not at fault. In these unfortunate cases, how does management determine — let alone prove — what really happened? Video offers drivers and fleet managers indisputable evidence of the moments leading to and after a collision.
“There’s no gray anymore. It’s black and white, and we have the evidence to prove it,” explained Mike Ferry, safety director at O&G Industries, after effectively using video collected from his fleet’s safety system to prove his drivers’ innocence. Without the evidence provided by video, Ferry described every previous incident as ending in the confusion of “he said, she said,” along with a large settlement.
“The video doesn’t lie,” reflected Ferry, “You look at the videos and then are able to send them to the insurance company. You can be done with claims when you are able to exonerate your driver.” Video evidence can help ensure drivers’ job security by protecting them from fraudulent claims and streamlining the exoneration process. Video also prevents costly claims against the company and enables the fleet to subrogate claims for damage against the party at fault.
“We know our drivers are reliable,” said Cory Claxon, director of ready-mix operation and safety at Penny’s Concrete. “However there are instances when our drivers are wrongfully accused of causing an incident. With a video-based safety program, our drivers are protected. It also enables us to proactively coach drivers on skills that need improvement, helping to prevent further incidents.”
Educating Drivers and Enforcing Safety Policy
Teaching drivers safe habits is the key to a safe fleet. Most fleet managers will tell you that a fleet’s collision frequency largely depends on the skills and abilities of its drivers. Video-based safety supports driver training by providing management with the data to facilitate performance evaluation. Effective programs will couple this data with an intuitive coaching workflow — a critical component of a managed service solution — combined with easy-to-use tools to ensure drivers consistently receive performance feedback and guidance to reduce risk.
“Video-based technology has allowed us to dial in and empower our drivers to practice safe habits behind the wheel — such as following speed limits, avoiding distractions, and wearing a seatbelt,” commented Tom Halpin, safety manager at O&G. “With our video safety program, the likelihood of injury has been reduced and our drivers are safer today than they were a few years ago. Now we’re able to use positive reinforcement, combined with targeted coaching, to further enhance the comprehensive safety program we’ve integrated into our company.”
Video-based safety delivers actionable data that can be used to coach drivers on specific skills, eliminate high-risk habits and prioritize events for coaching based on company policies and the severity of the risk.
Evaluating Unique Risk
Video alone, however, does not make a fleet safer — identifying unique risks and acting to reduce those risks is crucial to enhancing safety. Evaluating risk is particularly important in the construction and ready-mix industry where overlooking a small danger can have somber consequences. Consider driving a loaded mixer, for example, where making a right-hand turn at just 12 MPH will likely cause the vehicle to end up on its side. Or, consider the risk of driving at a crowded construction worksite where accidentally backing into another vehicle might damage expensive equipment or trigger a workman’s comp claim for an on-the-job injury.
Due to their unique vehicle attributes and operational profiles, ready-mix and other construction fleets often require distinct camera configurations to effectively capture risky situations. Most fleets utilize at least four cameras per vehicle, providing 360-degree visibility in the cab and around the vehicle. However, some fleets require a more advanced solution that allows for up to 12 cameras. For these fleets, additional cameras provide added visibility that is critical to the safety of employees who work around the vehicle throughout the day. Deploying multiple cameras can also provide insight into the circumstances related to backing accidents and load securement, as well as helping to ensure compliance with standard operating procedures.
Many fleets, like Ruston Paving, have quickly realized that it’s the actionable data and preventive capability of a video-based safety system that offers the most benefit. These fleets use their video-based safety systems to identify high-risk habits, coach drivers appropriately and measure the reduction of risk.
“Our video safety program helps us avoid accidents by giving us a more comprehensive view of our drivers, allowing us to proactively identify potential problems,” commented Ruston Paving Vice President Lang Butler. “Once we identify risky driving behavior, we then have the opportunity to engage drivers in constructive coaching sessions based on actionable insight.”
To prevent collisions caused by drivers, unique risk factors must be identified before a collision occurs and addressed in a timely manner. When managing safety risks related to construction and ready-mix fleets, video-based safety delivers actionable data that can be then used to prioritize intervention and coach drivers on specific skills.
Choosing the Right Video-based Safety System
When choosing a video-based safety system, it’s essential to assess which provider will meet the current and future needs of each business and its employees. Each fleet is unique, and requirements may evolve over time.
Fleet managers should consider hardware flexibility and a configurable program, as well as customer service and support when assessing providers. It’s also valuable to consider a fully managed service to relieve managers of the burden of having to review videos and to help prioritize a fleet’s risk. Additionally, it’s important to contemplate reward-based coaching programs and other incentives dependent on analytics, which have been shown to ensure driver buy-in.
To optimize safety, construction and ready-mix fleets must continuously evaluate the state of their safety culture and commit to raising the bar. Investments in technology are key. A video-based safety system is an essential element of a comprehensive safety program, offering fleet managers the ability to exonerate drivers, eliminate risky behaviors and collect actionable data. Partnering with the right provider for the long haul is key to a substantial and solid safety program.
Jason Palmer is the COO of SmartDrive Systems, a leading provider of video-based safety and transportation intelligence. As an expert in fleet safety and risk mitigation, Jason helps construction and ready-mix fleets identify and eliminate the riskiest driving and operating skills that lead to collisions and jobsite incidents.