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From the Front Lines: Turning Insight Into Action

Our first post in this three-part series talks about how Eddie Garza, safety manager for LeFleur Transportation turns data into insight. This second post is about how Eddie turns those insights into action.

Eddie uses the DriveCam event data to identify specific issues within his company’s fleet, and then leveraging that into coaching practices that can change behaviour and meaningfully reduce risk. The following is the list of top metrics Eddie pays the closest attention to, along with advice on how he uses that data in the field to coach more effectively.

Following distance. That’s the space between the driver and the vehicle in front. It’s also how much time a driver has to react to prevent hitting the vehicle in front of him or her. Passenger transportation drivers at LeFleur follow a four-second rule. Going below the four-second mark increases collision probability. The advice Eddie gives drivers differs depending on how far below the four seconds they tend to go. A driver who consistently averages 2.97 seconds may not realise he or she is following too closely. In this case, giving drivers information about their driving patterns and asking them to give themselves another second or so is sufficient. If, however, a driver averages one second, a more thorough training may be called for, Eddie said.

Near Collision. The bad news is that after a driver has a Near Collision in which you’ve determined that it was caused by the driver’s behaviour, for the next six months that driver is six times more likely to have a collision than a driver who didn’t have an NCA. The good news: “This is something managers can fix,” Eddie said. For the six months after an avoidable near collision, a driver will need a little more attention. “We give them little reminders like, ‘Hey, be careful out there today.’ Or we give them more coaching,” Eddie said.

Unavoidable Near Collisions. This is the flip side of the Near Collision metric. In this instance, the driver has successfully avoided a collision through his or her good driving skills. “We celebrate these events with recognition and thanks because it helps to encourage good driving,” Eddie said.

Collisions. Most transportation companies already track collisions, with an eye to reducing them. Often the number of collisions is measured per 1,000 miles logged. This helps take into account fluctuations in the business. Obviously, the goal is to keep the rate of collisions per mile as low as possible, but occasionally, this number will increase, Eddie said. If the increase is accompanied by an uptick in unavoidable near collisions, the root cause may be due to external factors such as bad weather or a jump in the overall number of vehicles on the road. Either scenario can point to the nature of additional training or driver resources to help compensate for those conditions.

Speeding. Like many companies with a fleet, LeFleur Transportation enforces a speed threshold. As a result, Eddie tracks everything above 70 miles per hour, with a 5 mph buffer for those that go above 70. It’s well known that speeding is a contributing cause to accidents, and higher speeds tend to result in greater damage and injuries, not to mention decrease fuel economy. Aside from exposing the company to the obvious risks, speeding gives Eddie an additional insight. “We make a big point that speeding is not acceptable, and if a driver speeds anyway, it reflects an attitude,” he said. “Either they’re not focused, or they’re in a bad place. That means we need to have a conversation so we can get to the root cause.”

Electronic Device Present. Nearly every transportation company has a no-mobile-phone policy. Yet, drivers sometimes can’t help themselves. They reach for their phones as they pull into their destinations to pick up or drop off passengers or cargo to expedite their routes. They call customers to say they’re on their way, or to update their ETA. Although these actions appear reasonable, Eddie advises fleets to treat the mobile phone use like any other infraction. “If you have a zero-mobile-phone policy, make sure you enforce it,” he cautions. “Any exception you make breaks down what you are trying to build.”

Unbelted Driving. This is an odd metric, Eddie admits, and it’s one that many people don’t pay much attention to. “It’s actually not by itself a risky event, because you can still be driving perfectly safely,” he said. Instead, managers should treat this data as a reflection of attitude. Similar to speeding, not wearing a seatbelt is a potential indicator of a driver’s attitude. Lytx data show that drivers cited for seat belt violations are 3.4 times more likely to get into a collision than the average driver.

There are other metrics, of course. And each company should assemble the metrics that are most relevant to their goals. As for Eddie, whose goals largely revolve around safety, “these types of data can help me solve pretty much anything that comes up in my job.”

In our next installment of this series, we look at how Eddie persuaded drivers to pay attention to data.