Keeping your drivers….safe

The problem with managing speed in your fleet is that it isn’t very exciting.
It’s really rewarding when you first see the results of your efforts as your fleet profile improves, but then the phone rings and the operation takes on its own life again.

About now the personal trainers around the country are having a marketing field day. People who started the new year bursting with enthusiasm for going to the gym and eating nothing but lettuce, are starting to rediscover Friday night drinks with their friends and the chocolate aisle in the supermarket. You’ll spot them – these are the guys that last week were loudly telling everyone that they were heading for the gym as they left the office, but haven’t mentioned it this week.

And so it is with speed management. When you start doing some research on why your trucks shouldn’t speed and all of the operational and cost benefits of driving to the speed limit, the case for change is compelling. With this motivation front of mind, you start talking to your drivers, setting up alerts from your GPS system, calling the drivers during the day, perhaps even doling out chocolate fish for the “best” driver. But then what?

Perhaps you need to start calling your customers to discuss a 15% levy on ferry rates, or the VDAM rules change and you need to assess the effect it will have on your fleet. Suddenly 6 weeks have flown by and nothing has been said to the drivers about speed. At the same time, the “busy” vibe has purveyed the whole operation and the drivers try to help out by speeding up in the hope of cutting a few minutes off each trip to make sure each customer gets their delivery on time.

We have seen overwhelming evidence of fleets who have managed to weather this storm and make speed management an ongoing part of their day to day jobs. Whilst this on its own isn’t the reason those fleets have a lower driver turnover and better safety records, it is the processes that they use to be able to fit the long term view into their job, as well as the Right Now operational jobs which make these the great fleets to work for.

As one customer put it to us recently “when the speed management project was new and shiny we got right into it, but I’m not sure when we stopped reminding the drivers.” There is no doubt in my mind that transport is not getting any easier. Even those fleets who initially were not affected by the driver shortage are now feeling the bite. Drivers have their preferences about the sort of work they want to do – we’ve seen linehaul drivers swap to stock units, logging drivers swap to metro deliveries, thankfully there is no one perfect job for a driver. Likewise there are drivers who will search out a fleet that will “leave them alone to get on with it” although these guys seem to be in the minority. Drivers want to get home to their families, just like the rest of us. They appreciate a tidy, well maintained truck, office staff who are efficient & friendly and a boss who is actively looking out for their safety.

What will it take to make driver support the central pillar of your fleet? Your drivers are the ambassadors for your fleet – to your customers, suppliers, and to their driving mates. Take care of them, by demonstrating that you expect the highest standards so that they are as safe as they can be on our crazy roads, and they will certainly be sticking around to tell a few people about it.

Commercial fleets to benefit from IAG purchase of telematics innovator CCS Innovation in Logistics

Insurer IAG is targeting innovation and adding more value to commercial fleet customers through its Fleet Fit proposition with the purchase of Christchurch-based fleet efficiency and safe driver coaching business, CCS Innovation in Logistics (CCS).

CCS, established by entrepreneur Corinne Watson in 2005, provides a New Zealand-wide proposition from their Christchurch and Morrinsville offices, employs six people and is recognised as a New Zealand leader in data-driven fleet management. It’s been a partner of NZI/Lumley for 11 years as a supplier of safe driver training and NZI/Lumley’s ‘Drive Smart’ proposition to its heavy motor customer base.

NZI executive General Manager Travis Atkinson says CCS will be managed as a stand-alone entity, with Corinne Watson as its General Manager, in order to maintain independence of advice and agility.

“CCS ’s track record of innovation and its proven ability to enhance fleet safety and efficiency will be developed separately but as part of our determination to offer value and support to our customers,” says Mr Atkinson.

“CCS’s approach to leveraging truck telematics for safe driver coaching aligns very much with our own purpose and this, along with CCS Innovation in Logistics’ strengths in benchmarking and reporting across fleets, suggests some expanding opportunities that we look forward to unlocking for a wider base of customers,” he said.

Read official press release here

Role models needed

People drive like idiots. For those that drive every day for their job, this comes as no surprise. For those fortunate enough to largely stay off the road and locked in an office, the dash camera footage seems vaguely titillating, like a police TV series, because surely, that’s not real life?

As the freight task grows, truck sizes grow and truck driver availability gets more scarce, we’re losing some much needed role models on the road.

All behaviour is learned. Perhaps 10% of driving skills are gathered pre test, everything else is gathered through observation and copying the habits of other road users.

Regulating the standard of private drivers is not easy, but we all have a role to play in providing positive examples of good driving, patience, courtesy and speed management, including safe overtaking.

Regulating the standard of driving by our professional drivers is much more achievable:
– We have data collected from the trucks – GPS, Engine management and other telemetry data
– We hold regular tool box / safety meetings with drivers
– We have a moral obligation as an employer to bring drivers home safely to their families
– We have a legal obligation through the log book rules and the updated Health & Safety at Work act

Here at CCS Logistics, we’ve been working with a large fleet that has been established for many years, many staff and drivers have been employed for over 10 years with the same company. Their fleet performance has turned around in 4 short months. This is a fleet that has decided it is time to do their bit and has set down a clear expectation for their drivers. The drivers have stepped up. The trend for their safety statistics over this time are really impressive.

This is not the only fleet who has a prominent presence in their local region. I applaud these guys for taking a stand, not just for their own needs, but as a step towards lifting the standard of driving in their region. They are speaking openly about their changes with other fleets to share their mission, but also to learn from the experience of others as, like drivers, fleets can learn from the example of others. It’s never too late to make a difference, and this fleet are raising the bar for the next chapter of their work.

We need more and more fleets to set and monitor safety standards within their own operation. Clear standards provide a safe framework for inexperienced drivers and make it easier for them to become the role models we need. Let’s flood the roads with driving professionals to show private drivers how it can be done. This is not a facebook campaign, this is real life, and death, and we can each make a difference every time we get behind the wheel.

We have to stop the road toll. Already in January 2017, 29 people have died.
Let’s make sure it doesn’t escalate into a 300+ count by the end of the year.
Driving today? Do your bit.
If you need a hand to get your fleet programme underway, please get in touch.

Willingly Sharing Your Success?

If your customer asked for visibility of your GPS data as part of your H&S records, what would be your reaction?

We are working with a number of customers of transport fleets on this very topic. As H&S continues to pervade every corner of your business, we have developed a service which allows your fleet to self -report compliance to your customers without providing total visibility. Because one driver making one mistake on one day is not representative of your fleet profile, but to the novice reader it can jeopardise a long standing relationship. We want to focus on the overall fleet profile, not the one offs. But how does your overall fleet profile stack up?

In my experience, transport fleets are much more presentable now, in a H&S sense, than they were 10 years ago. Top speeds have come down, average driving speeds have come down, and this is supported by MoT stats and surveys too. Log books are less of a lie book than they were and, on average, standards are improving.

As with any average though – the efforts of a few fleets to make a difference is still offset by some fleets that have not yet addressed their on road H&S issues. Of the fleets we start work with, we have some exemplary fleets and some, quite frankly, scary fleets.

Making a difference is all about motivation. I get that transport is about keeping customers happy and making money. Tackling speed, fuel efficiency, log book issues and idling can seem like an unnecessary chore, and definitely lower priority than making money.

You only have to attend the NZTA Rollover workshops to understand that failing to address these issues can spend all of your hard earned revenue in the blink of an eye. I’ve spent some time with a number of fleets recently who are just embarking on the journey of improving their safety culture. Despite the similarities in their businesses, the approach of each manager is very different.

Will you approach it as a project, a team effort with tool box talks and targets? Or will you treat it as a disciplinary process if the driver continues his habits of the last 20 years into the next 4 weeks?
Will you review your GPS data and understand what is best practice within your own vehicles and use this as initial target for all trucks or will you send your drivers on a simulated driving course and hope an external driver trainer will stumble upon the magical trigger to improve your fleet? Perhaps introducing some alerts into the cab is the answer?

There is no right answer. There is only improvement when your approach to safety is embedded as a part of the wider culture in your fleet. Yelling at your drivers to slow down is a fast track to being able to complain about the driver shortage. Creating a supportive environment for your drivers to operate large, heavy vehicles, for extended hours every week, on highways peppered with mom, pop and teen drivers, is the most effective approach I have seen. Incrementally improving performance from one week to the next, celebrating successes, understanding the challenges to achieving at the next level and open discussions with your drivers works.

All of the tools I have mentioned above have a role, but only you can decide which ones you use all of the time, and which as a last resort. We have recently started work with a fleet who has been working away on this with his drivers for over a year and he knew they were better than they used to be. What he didn’t know was whether they were “good enough” yet.

We talked about driving down particular pieces of road and how their style has changed over this time. “We used to roll down this hill to get up the other side, but that isn’t OK any longer.” We also talked about how the drivers act within the fleet, and it’s a nice place to be, it’s a good group of guys. They look after the gear, they are polite and helpful, they are proud of their fuel consumption and they are working the same hours as other fleets in the area, but not experiencing the same level of fatigue as some of those other drivers. Is it worth it? “Hell yes!”

So, if your customer wants visibility of your GPS data for H&S monitoring, put yourself in a position where you are at the front of the queue to share your fleet stats. If your customers aren’t asking yet, they might do next year.

If this is something you haven’t started on yet, be clear in your own mind of your motivations – there are some compelling objections ahead, but some sound financial and commercial reasons to keep pushing ahead.

Hit by a truck?

Hit by a truck?

My friend told me at the weekend she was hit by a truck. She was all very shaken up and had tweaked her back in the crash. She was very happy to be home safe and curled up on the couch with a bottle of wine.

The photo she showed me showed her car sideways across the road and the “offending” truck parked in line with a couple of other vehicles at a junction stop line. “You were hit by a truck?” I asked.

I haven’t got to the bottom of what actually happened due to lots of arm waving and harrumphing in the story telling, but the evidence suggests that her car careered sideways into a stationary truck. Nonetheless it is much more dramatic to have “been hit by a truck” than to confess to screwing up your own driving and disregard the fright you gave the truck driver along the way.

Unfortunately this attitude pervades far too many drivers. There is a sense of driving along in a bubble doing everything correctly on autopilot whilst the world does its thing outside of your bubble. When your bubble is burst, “crikey, what were THEY thinking, my day is ruined.”

Talking to a fleet operator last week and reviewing their fleet profile, we agreed it was all too quick. “These guys are sharing the road with my family” he tells me. Indeed they are, and they need to slow down and keep their eyes on the road. So too, do your family.

In an interview with the media last week, I was talking about how all drivers need to improve their driving. The interviewer wrote “all truckies need to get better.” My correction was swift – not all truck drivers – all drivers. You, me, our staff, our families. It doesn’t matter how good we think we are, there is always room for improvement. The worst mistake to make is for each of us to believe that we are “good enough.”

For those of you who saw the photo in the media of a silver ute screwing up an overtake on the Kaimais recently, hats off to the drivers either side that contributed to all parties arriving at their destination safely. Being alert meant the difference between 2 utes losing a wing mirror each and 2 utes losing a driver each.

The Waikato police published this graphic at the weekend:

TJ

My friend summarised the need for EVERY driver to learn this lesson when she said of her own crash “I hope these things don’t come in threes”. Well I hope so too, but there are a few things you can try to avoid the next one. Like not grabbing your phone when it beeps, not having that extra drink at night, and focussing on the road ahead and the various obstacles in your path. Take it easy out there, it might not be your mistake that ruins your day, so keep your speed within the limit and your eyes open to have the best chance to avoid the incoming vehicle. Oh, and wear your seat belt to keep you inside your vehicle and its specially designed roll cage in case you do get hit.

Speedo apps and the distraction of uncertainty

What a week it has been in the media – truck drivers taking pot shots at motorists, the police taking pot shots at truck drivers…. The truth of the matter is that there are good and bad car drivers and good and bad truck drivers. Broad generalisations are not helpful. Education and courtesy go a long way in the right direction, finger pointing just gets people upset. And angry people on the road are never a good thing.

I’ve been out and about again talking to people about their risk profiles, particularly in the wake of the NZTA rollover workshops. We’re helping fleets to evaluate their profile in regard to the key messages from those workshops. Understanding the message, and knowing how your fleet is stacking up are two different things, and, as they say, if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it. Whilst sometimes, we have to break the news to a fleet owner that his risk profile is not what he was expecting or hoping for, it is fantastic to put the power back in his hands to manage it.

When it comes to managing speed, there are a number of common complaints;
– Those who speed up in the passing lanes, then revert to 85km/h afterwards
– A long line of traffic following
– Uncertainty of the speedo accuracy

With this last point, I have recently experienced this first hand. My previous car had a particularly accurate speedo, and I underestimated the value of this until I changed my car. As far as I can tell my car now has about an 8% variance so about 108 on the speedo is 100km/h in reality. But it feels weird driving at an indicated 108km/h when I spend so much time telling people to drive to the speed limit.

I’ve had conversations about the effect on truck speedo accuracy caused by many things; changed wheel sizes, the difference of worn vs new tyres, altered gear box configurations amongst others. I’ve also spoken to people with older trucks where the speedo oscillates between 80-100km/h on the open road. When trying to drive to the speed limit, all of this uncertainty is a real distraction. Vehicle dashboards are supposed to be a driving aid, not a driving distraction, and yet these last few weeks I’ve found myself drawn to the precise position of the speedo needle at the expense of actively scanning the road ahead.

I’ve sussed it this week and activated an app on my Smartphone which gives me my speed, as measured by GPS, delivered to me in big digital numbers. Note – if you’re going to try this MAKE SURE your phone is in a cradle (not sliding around the dashboard) and plug in the charging cable as the screen brightness drains the battery quickly. But now I know what speed I am doing, I can focus back on the task at hand – predicting and avoiding the crazy actions of the other road users – both big and small.

We’re the professionals out there – let’s lead by example.

Ulyssesspeedo

All day, every day

What I love about my job is helping fleets to make improvements despite real life getting in the way. Of course, if the operation flowed smoothly, trucks didn’t break down, staff didn’t leave, ferries weren’t cancelled and pigs flew in a straight line, all fleets would have heaps of time on their hands to ensure everything was being done to the highest standard. Of course, we’d all welcome a week like that, but it just doesn’t work out like that very often.

There is no two ways about it, making change is difficult. We are asking drivers who have been driving for many years, to change something which has become second nature to them. The research and the evidence is overwhelming – slower, risk averse drivers don’t crash as often, have lower fuel and maintenance bills and gather fewer infringements.

Eliminating risky driving habits takes time and commitment, not just from the drivers but from managers and supervisors too. You can’t sit in the cab nagging each driver individually, and even if you did, you’re unlikely to get the result you wanted. Which means you have to be smart about it, you have to use the data you can gather remotely and use it in a way that inspires and encourages your drivers to want to make the changes that you want to see.

Last week I had some great conversations with fleets who are at varying stages of working with their drivers. Each of them was grappling with a different barrier to making progress.

1. What if the drivers leave?
This is a very real concern. The customer contracts are signed, the volume is flowing, the trucks are bought – having no driver is an expensive calamity. I get that, I really do. But is it an excuse to ignore dangerous driving behaviours? More and more fleets are now using their GPS data, and yes ORS data, to manage their performance. Rest assured that your drivers don’t have far to run to before they find another fleet where their behaviours will be questioned. We are working with a number of fleets who have turned their performance around and are now in a position to be screening applicants for driving positions. They have a CHOICE of who they put behind the wheel because drivers want to work for them – they aren’t pressured into speeding / overloading / log book offences and go home to their families happy to have done a good job.

2. We don’t want drivers to get disheartened because management vehicles aren’t performing well
This was a really interesting discussion. The management cars have the same GPS system installed as the trucks. Great – here is a fleet that practices what they preach. Oh, except the Leaderboard has all of the management cars at the bottom (worst behaviour) and all of the trucks at the top (best behaviour). So – errr, time to talk to the managers about their driving? You can imagine the reaction – how do I tell the wife to drive properly when she has my car? My stats were good before that one trip to Auckland… One of the drivers borrowed my car that day…
If you’re serious about setting and achieving high standards, at some stage, you have to decide if this is a company wide change in attitude, or just a truck driver thing. Them and Us rarely ends well though.

3. Ignore him, he does high kms
What a great conversation. We’d done an initial healthcheck appraisal of the fleet performance, benchmarking this fleet’s data against other similar fleets and provided some feedback on their fleet behaviour profile. We’d highlighted a particular truck that had very high kms and a worrying number of poor driving events. As most of you know, here at CCS Logistics, all of our data is normalised and peer reviewed to make sure we tell you how it is. This was one high risk driver, with higher exposure than the rest of the fleet, and risk metrics off the scale. Having the fleet manager tell me that this driver is on a separate run to the others so he can be ignored was unfortunately not a new response to such a situation. I understand that it is often a long serving, trusted, senior driver who is offered such a route, but I also understand that he isn’t immune to the laws of physics just because of that status.
We discussed, we learned from each other, and a photo of the repot was dispatched to the driver’s smartphone for discussion.

Wake up! This bit’s important

Last month, I was fortunate enough to be able to take a week off and ride my motorbike from Paihia to Tuatapere with a group of friends. By most standards, it was a relatively sedate tour with no more than 500kms travelled per day. A few of the riders with us ride in the annual “1,000 miler” a motorbike orienteering exercise of 1600kms in 24 hours.

It was whilst following one of these “1,000 miler” riders on the second day of our trip that I started to get worried. We were out on Highway 22, a twisty road near Raglan and the rider, who we’ll call “Ben” seemed to misjudge a corner and drifted over the centreline on a left hand corner. 15 mins later, he did the same again, except this time he ran so wide, he was heading for the verge on the opposite side. I looked up to see an oncoming SUV only one corner away and blind to the motorbike in her lane. Somehow, Ben got his bike back on the right side of the road before the SUV appeared and on we travelled.

Highway 22 still has a number of one lane bridges, and the riders ahead had stopped for a car on the bridge. Ben, still trying to catch the group after the excursions across the road, came flying round the corner, took a moment to register the stopped bikes, hit the brakes, veered round the backmarkers, into the path of the oncoming car, narrowly missed their front wing and skidded to a halt at the front of the queue. As soon as the road was clear, he led the group across the bridge.

At an NZTA meeting in Hamilton last week, CVIU went over some of the stats I have been referring to in my last couple of articles, and added some detail to the numbers.

The top 4 most common infringement notices issued by CVIU in 2015:

  • Log books
  • Weight
  • RUC
  • Speed

And when it comes to the 49% of truck crashes that had a truck fault, or driver fault as the primary cause, these related to:

  • Speed, especially on corners
  • Failing to keep left (crossing the centreline)
  • Too far left or too far right in the lane

This last one, CVIU explained that this was often an indicator of fatigue and that there was a correlation between these cases and log books being the number 1 infringement. Too many drivers are driving tired. You’ll see and hear NZTA safety adverts over the next few weeks relating to this one. If you’re feeling tired, take a power nap.

So, back to Ben. When we stopped for lunch, he apologised to me “for holding [me] up as he is a bit of a slow rider.” Not normally known for my diplomacy, I knew I had to say something, and what I said was that I would rather we both rode 5-10km/h slower than spend the afternoon picking up the pieces. (Hold breath, wait for reaction…) “Perhaps you’re right,” he said, “maybe my reactions aren’t what they were 20 years ago.” (cue lots of relief at not upsetting a friend). At the bar that night, Ben came over to tell me he’d enjoyed the afternoon so much more at a slightly slower speed. He emailed me a few days after the end of the trip to repeat the sentiment and to thank me.

If you’re concerned about a driver, a mate, a family member. Say something. They might thank you for it.

We have to stop killing our drivers

Despite massive safety improvements in truck technology, the chances of a truck driver getting home safely have not improved much in the last 7 years and in 2014 they slid backwards big time. Attitudes are changing in the industry, but we need better commitment and active steps to follow up with action.

According to MOT stats, heavy vehicles are involved in nearly a fifth of all road fatalities – twice as many as could be reasonably expected when looking at the number of trucks on the road. Since 2008, there have been two fatal crashes for every 100 million truck kilometres travelled.

A CANSTAR survey out this week suggests that 1 in 3 people are “OK” using a cell phone whilst driving. NZTA says that texting drivers are 23% more likely to be involved in a crash. I’m disappointed every time I see a truck driver on a hand held cell phone. That’s a lot of disappointment to fit into a day I can assure you.

Fatal truck crashes as % of road toll

These statistics are starting to make their way into the mainstream media which will ultimately result in more pressure and / or stricter controls on safety management – one possible consequence could be toughening up of the Operator Safety Check – affecting your ability to run your HPMV and 50 Max trucks up to capacity.

In relation to the closure of the Northland rail, NZ Herald reports: “Labour transport spokeswoman Sue Moroney said the not using the line would result in an extra 150 logging trucks on the roads making them more dangerous as more trucks meant more accidents.”

Dieseltalk quotes Winston Peters as saying ““Until the trucking industry can convince a public inquiry that its practices are safe, New Zealand First will question the use of larger trucks. Nearly a quarter of the road death toll involves trucks. When bigger trucks were first permitted in 2010, we were assured the risk would not increase. In fact, the trucking road toll has increased every year since”

Unfortunately, the statistics back up both messages. Things are getting better though:
• 25% of truck – trailers on the road are HPMV and these aren’t the only new trucks put on the road. Newer trucks mean more technology to avoid or survive a major crash.
• Surveyed trucks speeds have dropped from almost half of all trucks being over 90km/h at point of survey in 2005 (after the speed limit was lifted to 90km/h for trucks) to less than a third last year.

So better, but as an industry, we still need to do more to improve the crash stats.

By the time you read this, the new H&S rules will be in place, meaning fines of up to $3m for failing to look after your staff.

The ORS certainly has its drawbacks, but what I am seeing is the good operators are getting the 4-5 star ratings and the rest are not. This suggests that overall the system is about right. Your 6 monthly ORS report tells you what is going on in your fleet in the factors that you can’t easily monitor using your systems.

• Use your GPS records to find who is not driving to your standard (or to the legal standard)
• Use your 6 monthly ORS report to find out what else is happening in your fleet
• Review your insurance claims record with your broker to understand other patterns in your fleet behaviour
• Keep sharing these messages with your drivers to keep safe habits front of mind

Sharing facts and figures, stories, and building competitions (we could get all up to date and call this gamification if you prefer) around the best and most improved drivers is the way to do this. If you need help getting started, please ask.

Facing Reality

In 2014, truck crashes accounted for 23% of the road toll.

The good part about this is that:

1. It upholds what we all know: that Johnny Normal car driver is a menace on the road and as a result ¾ of all fatalities are cars and other light vehicles.
2. Truck crashes per million kms travelled have reduced by 66% over the last 22 years.

Vehicle safety improvements have meant that the road toll has started falling, but with nearly 10% more fatalities in 2015 vs 2014 and truck crashes accounting for a bigger and bigger percentage of those deaths, we need to stop the crashes happening in the first place.

For professional truck drivers to be involved in almost a quarter of all road fatalities, this is something we need to address. On average, we are killing 13 truck drivers per year, 2 of them dying in single vehicle crashes. Another 75 people are killed in or around truck crashes every year.

The biggest change you can make this year is to moderate your speed. As the diagram (based on Ministry of Transport stats) shows, 30% of all fatalities are primarily caused by speed.

Cause of Primary Causes of Crashes 2014

You are driving faster than you think. I have yet to review GPS records of a fleet and confirm the fleet owner’s perception of the speed that his trucks are travelling. Every single time I look at the data for a fleet, I have to break the news to the boss that his drivers are reaching open road speeds 10 – 20km/h faster than he had expected. Normally between a quarter and a third of the fleet are regular speedsters, putting themselves and other road users at risk. 80% of deaths from truck crashes are on the open road.

Yes, it is true that in 61% of truck crashes, the fault was not with the truck driver, but the faster you are driving, the less time you have to react to someone else doing something dumb and the longer it takes you to stop when they block the road in front of you. It might not have been your fault, but you become part of their mess.

This isn’t about improving your ORS or staying on the right side of the new Health and Safety rules. This is about making sure you make it home tonight. The new penalties coming in will make it really uncomfortable for your boss if it turns out that you have been speeding when someone else crashed into your truck. It will be even more unpleasant for you as you recover from your injuries and meet the family of the other driver.

It is now normal practice for your manager to monitor speed events from the GPS in your truck and to review these with you. This is to help you to look after your own safety.

It’s no wonder we’ve got a driver shortage. In the 15 years to 2014, 470 truck drivers have been killed whilst driving their truck in NZ. SLOW DOWN, stay alert and don’t let it be you or one of your colleagues in 2016.

The New Normal?

With all of the new pressure to take responsibility for anything and everything that happens when your name is on the door, how can this be achieved without working more hours in a day?

A story: Our last Waikato Transport breakfast happened to be on Back to the Future day – 21st October. Which lead us inevitably to a group discussion on transport today vs what anyone could have envisaged 30 years ago. In summary, 10 years ago, we opened the doors at CCS Logistics and most operators we spoke to hadn’t yet been exposed to GPS tracking. Today, barely a fleet operates without it. In 30 years’ time, it is predicted that this technology will be leveraged to allow trucks to drive themselves. Will the railway corridors be subject to a change of use, allowing convoys of driverless trucks to operate Auckland – Wellington and Picton – Christchurch – Dunedin? Will this see the end of monotonous 14 hours shifts and a new model with “driver stations” at each end, collecting a truck from the convoy and piloting it to the point of delivery? Perhaps, but what 2016 will bring is a more immediate question.

In 2015 alone, we have seen major organisations promote, subside, or insist on, the active use of GPS data to improve the safety, productivity and efficiencies of your fleet. When insurance companies, fuel suppliers and even the government starts actively promoting the analysis and interpretation of your data to demonstrate measurable gains are being made in your fleet, this is no longer “new technology” – this is now business as usual. The evidence is there to be seen with Operator safety checks affecting your ability to gain or renew HMPV and 50 Max permits, customer contracts stipulating a minimum ORS rating to gain or retain a contract and your ACC levies varying dependent on the outcome of an audit requiring active employee engagement in your Health and Safety processes.

During this year, we have seen a much higher take up than ever before in our weekly and monthly support plans:
• Analysis and interpretation of your GPS data
• Using the reports available within your GPS system, or using our own at-a-glance reporting formats
• 5 point action plans
• TV Screens mounted in your depot broadcasting the latest safety information and your current performance statistics to your drivers to keep them up to date

Whether your aim is to reduce your fuel bill or increase your ORS rating, cut out idling or improve speed limit compliance, knowing where your management time is best spent is crucial. You can’t be everywhere all of the time, so how do you micro manage the operation to meet the demands of the new legislation?

Outsourcing the legwork really is the new normal. They say an expert is someone who has made all of their mistakes in a very narrow field, and in the last 10 years, here at CCS Logistics we have observed, experienced, or narrowly avoided a number of pitfalls in the use of data to improve your business. We’re still learning every day, but we are more than happy to share the knowledge we have gained by providing you with a customised action plan each month that allow you to spend your time where it is most needed.

I’m going to weigh into the Health and Safety market place.

The government has set itself a target to reduce serious injuries at work by 25% between 2012 and 2020. I’m a bit of a fan of Big Hairy Audacious Goals but this really is a monster.

It’s been known for a while in Health and Safety circles that reported injuries and incidents must go up before they can come down. Not because you need more serious injuries before people start taking it seriously, but because, if you aren’t focused on health and safety, the chances are that your workers aren’t reporting their incidents, and if they aren’t reporting their incidents, how do you know what improvements to make in order to fix things?

So back to the government, and it turns out that Stats NZ have just worked out how to include a whole new batch of injury stats (those handled in house by “Accredited Employers”) to flesh out the material from which they can work. So no problem, it’s now a 25% reduction on a bigger number – so a whole lot more injuries need to be prevented than they thought in order to meet the target.

Home safe every day right?

Just as people cover their teeth at a party when they find the person they are talking to is a dentist, or avoid eye contact when they find they have struck up a conversation with a psychiatrist, your GPS data gives away your fleet personality. Use it to your advantage. I’ve lost count of the times that I have taken an initial GPS “Healthcheck” report back to a fleet and been able to name the problem drivers without meeting anyone except the operations manager.

Face your statistics – know who is looking after your gear and your reputation and who is just roaring around making lots of noise and costing lots of money. You don’t need any flashy government statistician to tell you that some drivers simply cost you more than others – in fuel, tyres, body kit and maintenance (new gear box? higher consumption of brake components?).

What is needed here is to speak to your drivers about their numbers. Take the emotion out of the debate and discuss fuel economy, speed events, anything that you can prove by running a report. Make an example of a few and make it the good few. Everybody loves praise, but we are all rubbish at giving it – far too easy to pick holes (perhaps even to yell or scream) when something has gone wrong. Things happen in the yards of “high risk” operators that wouldn’t be dreamt of in a best practice yard. What we want here is for drivers to aspire to be the best, most legally compliant, safest and most patient driver on the road. If the schedules are done right, the driver needs to be efficient with his loading and unloading and relaxed on the road. He doesn’t need to be panting on the bumper of the car in front and throwing his considerable loaded weight around the corners trying to save a couple of minutes from the transit time. Perhaps you could mention that to a few chosen staff?

When will you next have chance to offer a “thanks mate?” to a driver who has driven for a whole week without breaking the speed limit (it’s 90km/h) and still met his schedule? What will it take to get your whole fleet to that level of performance? I know you can do it – and the transformation within your fleet when you get there is well worth it.

Are log books important?

I’m trying to untangle the fatigue issues which are plaguing our industry. 70 hours a week is an unusually long working week, and 14 hours is certainly a long working day, but what of the laws that are supposed to prevent drivers from nodding off behind the wheel and creating those graphic headlines of another truck hanging over another bank? Because surely, if they are following the laws, they are safe right?

I’ve got a few scenarios that have got me thinking:

1. Recently I trialled one of the new electronic log books during a 2 day road trip visiting clients. My day is varied; driving, meetings, phone calls and emails, then some more driving, but the 5.5 hour watershed came and went and I hadn’t taken a bona fida 30 minute break. At the point it was due, I hadn’t eaten for 6 hours and felt I needed to press on to take a break somewhere where I could find food. Healthy food would be nice, but some form of food was a real necessity. Even then, it was a 20 minute grab and go stop, not the truck driver requisite 30 minute minimum, to ensure I was on time for my next appointment.

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2. A customer reported a big smash in his fleet was due to the driver falling asleep behind the wheel. The log book was clean and was an accurate record of the driver’s work day so far. But, before reporting for work, the driver had driven 4 hours in his personal vehicle, returning from a night with his new girlfriend and her young children who don’t sleep through the night.

3. A dairy farmer friend of mine supplements his income by working for the local contracting company. He will work with the crew, often shifting loads of silage in a tractor and trailer, but he won’t do the journey in a truck because he can’t make the log book work. Dairy farming is a 7 day a week 0430 start job which is not consistent with the log book rules.

4. Office workers are encouraged to stand up and move around for a few minutes every hour. Most don’t bother and there is no penalty for failing to ensure that they do (except the future threat of back pain).

All of the scenarios above are real. All are legal in so far as the work time rule is concerned, but all are marginal when it comes to the proactive management of fatigue.

About 5 years ago, I had a conversation with a fleet owner who knew he had an issue with log book compliance in his fleet. He was looking forward to electronic log books to flush out the problems and improve compliance.

But, electronic log books don’t force you to take breaks. They don’t conjure up a large layby with clean toilets and healthy food when your break is due. They don’t stop people having long distance relationships outside of work, and they don’t teach anyone to drive any better.

There is no question that we need guidelines which promote the management of fatigue. There is no “one size fits all.” That’s why there is the option of filing an alternative fatigue management plan with NZTA – so you can look at your operation and design a safe system of work for your staff. Not many companies have taken advantage of this. Perhaps now is the time to take another look at it and make it part of a discussion with your staff about when and where they would like to take their breaks, and how they manage their time outside of work to support a better outcome for everyone.

The best way to get the message to your drivers and staff

Have you ever left your RTANZ newsletter on the end of your desk, meaning to pass information on to your staff and drivers, only to find it weeks later when it is out of date?

RTANZ and CCS Logistics have developed the answer to this problem. CCS TV is a screen mounted in your staff room which displays the RTANZ news and updates that are relevant to your drivers and operational staff.

Scrolling through news such as health and safety updates, changes to roadside facilities, traffic and roading issues, the screens will keep your drivers up to date with the changing environment out there and can also be used to display your own company news or performance reports.

You get:

  • All RTANZ national and regional updates relevant to drivers and operational staff
  • Up to date operating conditions
  • Safety information
  • Compliance requirements
  • Summary RTANZ newsletter content

The offer:

  • Use your N3 membership (which you get with your RTANZ membership) to purchase a suitable* TV direct through Noel Leeming.
  • One off setup cost of $650.00 + GST per screen
  • $200 per month + GST for the first screen in your business
  • Additional screens on the same invoice: $150 per month + GST

* CCS Logistics will supply the minimum TV specification to you

Why not upgrade and add the following to your display?

  • Local news
  • Company newsletters
  • In house performance reports

For a demonstration of how this will look click here

 

For more information, or to place your order, please email rtanz@ccslogistics.co.nz or call CCS Logistics on 03 348 2048

 

Now is a good time to slow down

Have you ever thought how compliant your drivers are in the urban areas?

Do they behave the same in these areas as they do on the open road?

Urban speed areas are complex in their need to provide safe travel for foot, bicycle and motorised traffic. They are supposed to provide a safe environment for all users.

At CCS Logistics we monitor many drivers and fleets whose open road speed behaviour is exemplary but when it comes to the urban areas you would think that another driver had jumped into the cab. So much of your focus can be based around the open road performances of your drivers that you can easily forget about the dangers within the urban areas, Schools, shops and community centres are just a few of the dangers that lurk for your drivers. The results of an accident in populated areas scare the life out of me and I prefer not to look at the stats, however;

  • 20% of all fatal truck crashes occur in urban areas.
  • A person struck by a vehicle travelling at 60km/h is twice as likely to be killed as they would be if the vehicle had been travelling at 50km/h

The high visual presence of your trucks makes them easily recognised by the public and none more so than through the populated areas. Children in particular take notice of which trucks pass by their school or home. One school, situated on State Highway 1 in North Canterbury, has built a road safety awareness program around the relationship with local trucking companies. The children know the trucks that keep to the speed limit and take special note of those that don’t. When the road patrol is in operation the kids give a big “thumbs up” to the drivers that maintain the speed limit and a big “thumbs down” to those that ignore it. A friendly letter from the children is sent to the offending companies as a reminder that their school is on the main road and that they appreciate those drivers that comply with the speed limit.

The fact of the matter is that the majority of over speed events in urban areas occur within 200 metres of the speed sign. This means that the decision to slow down is either not made early enough or in some cases the reduction in speed does not start until the sign is reached.

A gradual reduction in speed so that you are travelling at the correct speed by the time you pass the sign is more fuel efficient and easier on the machine than braking at the last moment.

For drivers with regular routes these urban speed zones should not come as any surprise and they have no excuses for infringing in these areas. For a new driver it is important that he or she become familiar where these zones start and finish.

50 / 60 / 70km/h speed zones need to be factored into the trip times to ensure that drivers are not pushing the boundaries and are not frustrated by what often seem to be unnecessary speed restrictions.  Make it your business to remind your drivers and yourself about these urban speed areas and the importance of complying with the speed limit.

Standing out like a sore thumb is par for the course for a big shinny truck so while you are telling everyone who you are, why not show them how good you are?

Intelligent Transport Systems – what and why?

Could we soon be tearing up the rail tracks and using the rail corridors for platooning trucks?

Last week I was invited to a seminar on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) presented by MoT in Auckland. Incidentally the seminar was held at 9am on a Monday morning on Queens Street in Auckland, meaning that what should have been a 90 minute drive for me, turned into a 3 hour slog taking 1.5 hours to get from Drury to the central city. There are so many things I could have better spent that time doing, and I had plenty of time to contemplate driverless cars whilst I was locked in the commuter traffic; The motorway being the ideal place to give over control of the car to an all seeing eye whilst I planned my week, or sorted some calls or emails.

So, Intelligent Transport Systems? The use of data to optimise the flow of goods and people from A to B. Note, that this isn’t about optimising traffic flows – more trying to ensure everything and everyone get to where they are going as efficiently as possible.

As Henry Ford said: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse”

Statistics show that the next generations are not so car hungry as we are. Fewer are buying cars, and increasingly, many are putting off even getting a driving license. Transport for many of them is a service to be subscribed to when they need it – a bus service, a taxi, even car sharing is being talked about again. Great timing then for the introduction of automated cars. In 9 out of 10 models, traffic over the next 30 years is projected to reduce, and this means that investment in roads needs to be reviewed with this in mind.

ITS is about using the data we have about our existing travel patterns and using that to design a system that meets our needs.

Nobody NEEDS transport. Everybody NEEDS food in their cupboards. Trucks are the way we get things to the supermarket at the moment, and for most of us, cars are the way we get those goods to our houses. But transport isn’t the end game, it is the enabler.

Platooning trucks have been in the news these last few months – multiple trucks locked together under their own control. But where would these trucks bring benefit in NZ’s road system? In Europe, my university studies suggested rail wasn’t viable over distances of less than 250 miles (400kms) due to the handling at each end. Platooning trucks must have a similar business case in NZ. Given the small amount of true motorways we have that would otherwise be ideal for this technology, SH1 isn’t a realistic prospect, but it was suggested that the current rail corridors would be ideal for plattooning trucks to get from Auckland to Wellington and Picton to Christchurch, because really, it’s not like the rail business case stands up any more is it? (Their words not mine!)

When it costs more to move goods across Sydney than it does to transport them from China, its time for another go at this. We have so much data on who will be where, what goods are needed where and what travel times and weather are looking like now, tomorrow, next week. Google alone, knows what 50% of people are doing at any one time – they know more than the transport authorities. Think about all of that GPS data being gathered from your trucks. How useful it will be to pull all of that together from all trucks to get the travel patterns, directions, volumes and use that to plan a network that works.

One of the biggest challenges facing researchers is that heavy transport companies are reluctant to get on board with any trials for this data. If we are going to have a supply chain that works, we need some fact based decision making. So first, we need some facts. If you are given the opportunity to share your GPS data anonymously, aggregated via your GPS supplier (i.e. they won’t know it is your trucks or data) for this sort of modelling, I urge you to do so.

 

Addressing Compliance from a Waikato base

I’ve been based in the Waikato for 2 months now and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. Thanks to all operators and suppliers who have made me feel so welcome in the region.

I’ve been trying to get around and introduce myself as much as possible, but if I haven’t got to you yet, please get in touch.

One of my first outings was to the RTA seminar in Hamilton covering some of the existing and future challenges in Health and Safety Management. Paul Chapman from NZTA gave a presentation on the current findings under ORS and there were no big surprises there. The top three offences committed by your drivers that affected your ORS:

  1. Speeding
  2. Log Book Offences
  3. Seatbelt

Over the last 10 years in this role I have learnt a few things:

  • It isn’t always the driver at fault
  • Sometime it is the driver at fault
  • A good manager can make a big difference
  • Almost all managers have good intentions, but conflicting priorities and there only being 24 hours in a day are limiting factors

Last month a customer had a young driver pull out in front of one of his trucks. The truck driver had very little chance to brake before he hit the car. The teen was shaken but got out of the car. A review of the GPS data by the CVIU showed that the truck hadn’t exceeded 88km/h all day and was travelling at 73km/h at point of impact. There were three key findings:

  • If the truck had been travelling any faster the implications for the young driver could have been much worse
  • If the truck had been travelling any faster, part of the blame for the collision could have been put against the truck driver, although it was the car that pulled into his path.
  • The driver, and the trucking company avoided further time consuming and nerve wracking investigations into their operation.

Speed

Nothing changes until you recognise that there is a problem. Every week we review GPS data for a new operator, and we find examples of chronic speeding issues in a few drivers in the fleet which the manager was not aware of.

Managers, supervisors and dispatchers create the environment which dictates how much pressure is on the driver. A stressed driver will rarely make great decisions. Putting a plan in place demonstrates respect for the people in every position in your organisation.

 Log Books

Log Book offences are so often the case of a driver doing the wrong thing (creative log book entries) for the right reason (getting a delivery made on time).

  • This is rarely an issue that the driver can change on his own.
  • We applaud loyalty and great customer service, but not when it causes fatigue and errors of judgement which is what the work time rule is designed to protect against.

Getting visibility of creative log book issues can give some initial discomfort (the extent that this is an understatement will vary by fleet). Addressing the issue as a team of drivers, dispatchers, managers and even customers can create a bond of trust and respect which is invaluable not just in preventing fatigue related issues, but in highlighting other opportunities to challenge decades old assumptions.

Just because “it’s always been done that way” doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do for your people, your business health, or your stress levels.

Think of the driver in the crash described above. How many of your drivers would get a clean bill of health for their driving speeds and log book accuracy if the poor judgement of a 3rd party stopped them in their tracks on any day?

If you are still looking for the time to get started in addressing these issues, consider getting outside help. An experienced contractor can guide you around the pitfalls and provide tried and tested tools which can save thousands of dollars and man hours.

And finally, a thought expressed by two of my customers within the last 6 weeks. “You can’t put a price on knowing you are compliant, and getting a full night’s sleep.”

 

CCS Logistics Establishes North Island Presence

CCS Logistics is celebrating 10 years in business by opening a North Island office on the outskirts of Morrinsville. Having been based in Christchurch since 2005, the growth of activity in the “golden triangle” has prompted the move north.

With their TrucKing continuous improvement programme notching up many hundreds of thousands of litres in fuel, thousands of speeds events removed, six digit dollar savings in ACC and insurance premiums and a few roll overs avoided, it is a message worth spreading.

Founder Corinne Watson will become an increasingly familiar sight around the region, whilst the Support Office remains in Christchurch with the established team continuing to deliver phone and email support to nationwide clients.

People drive the success measured by your systems.

Can you judge the success of the culture in your business by the number of windscreen claims you have? One of our customers can! Cutting windscreen claims from 23 to 4 within 12 months was a great indicator of the wholesale changes within the fleet.

In the art of running a business, it is all about people people people.

In measuring success, yes numbers play a big part, but the numbers don’t get better without the people making changes.

My business is about measuring success. But measuring anything, success or otherwise, isn’t very exciting if there is no improvement. To get that improvement, requires change, and to get the change, means engaging the people.

“As a management team, we made a commitment to be a best practice fleet in all areas of the business, this required an attitude change from the top down.”

Culture starts at the top and if your staff don’t have a credible example to follow, it’s going to be really hard to get them to be ace performers. Yes, dictatorship works to a certain degree, and yes, I know that it feels like it is the only way to get through to some. But each person on the staff is a human with a basic desire to please people.

Speeding is a classic example where some drivers will put their foot down to make sure the freight gets there on time – because that is what the business needs right? Have you told your drivers that speeding is not the answer? They are doing the wrong thing for the right reason… instead, help them to see the bigger picture and to help resolve the source of the problem…. The one that made it late to start with? How can you both make sure that the truck is loaded and ready to go on time?

Ask the drivers to help you to meet the business goals.

Tell them what you want to achieve. Spend a bit of time thinking about how you word that. Make some short, simple statements. Don’t overcomplicate it, then ask for feedback.

What happens next will astound you. The ideas and questions that come forward will give you an insight into the parts of the business they are more familiar with than you are, and herein lies the key to what changes need to be made, partly by drivers and partly by management to achieve your goal.

“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough that they don’t want to” (Richard Branson).

Top 5 characteristics of a good manager as ranked by employees in 2014:

  1. Clearly communicates where we are going
  2. Gives honest feedback on how I am going
  3. Trusts me with challenging work
  4. Fair/even-handed/reasonable
  5. Listens to/respects my input into decisions

* Source: LMA LEAD Survey 2014

Don’t let your employees guess what you want from them, tell them what you want, and ask them to help you to achieve it. If you show people that you are genuine, and ask them to get involved they will amaze you with their ideas and enthusiasm!

Now, a dose of reality. Whilst 90% of your drivers and support staff will applaud you for this type of approach, there will always be a few who really don’t feel like playing ball.

Are you prepared for a driver to leave if they repeatedly don’t fall into line?

Here is what a customer said to me when this topic came up.

“Some of the troublesome speeders have now left the company – speed wasn’t their only vice, and they got sick of us nagging them to get in line. Getting these guys out of my company is a good thing – both for avoiding the mistakes they made when they were there, but also for showing others that this lack of care is not the way we do things round here.”

Your business is not just a dysfunctional collection of metal and payroll, it is a group of people who want to see the business succeed

Let’s talk about speed tolerances

There is a lot of talk in the news covering the confusing messages about speed tolerance over the Christmas break. I think Joe and Jane public just inadvertently had a quick insight into the tricky world of the truck driver.

The law says trucks can travel no faster than 90km/h on the open road. It’s not an easy thing to work with when cars can go up to 100km/h, and some cars only manage to achieve this in the overtaking lanes dropping back to 80km/h again when the opportunity to pass has gone.

There has been a rumour for about a year now, of increased speed limits of up to 110km/h on some roads, and yes, I would support an alignment of heavy and light vehicles’ speed limits, to promote better harmony between the road using community. The truth is that this is still a rumour and we don’t get to make the rules we only get to follow them.

In the mean time, we need to be clear on what the rules are, because there is a few different things going on.

  • The heavy vehicle speed limit is 90km/h
  • HPMV have zero tolerance for overspeeds, but anecdotal evidence suggests that this is not enforced any more rigorously than for any other truck
  • Other heavy trucks may be treated to a discretionary tolerance of up to 5km/h by the police, but this depends on each circumstance. It also brings another question: Does that mean that 95km/h is ok or 96km/h is ok? It doesn’t really matter, does it?

When driving, your speedo is your primary way of checking your speed. This is good as most speedos will tell you that you are going faster than you actually are. So if you think you are driving to the speed limit, you are probably 1-2km/h just below it– perfect!

Extra confusion starts though when your manager comes to you with the GPS records from your travels. GPS is much more accurate than your speedo to know how fast you are travelling. Those of you with a TomTom on the windscreen will have noticed that it is normally reading a bit slower than your speedo. Haven’t got a TomTom? Use the “Your Speed” signs on the side of the road. These will read the same as a police speed radar.

Whilst the police can’t be everywhere, GPS can.  BUT, despite your manager telling you there is a zero tolerance for speed in his (or her) company, you will often be able to drive a bit over the speed limit and you won’t hear anything out of your manager. Why is that?

Some GPS systems do not even start to report speed events until 94, 95, 96km/h (depending on the system), whereas others as soon as you are at 91km/h, boom! alert! and your manager is at the door waiting for you when you get home.

Just like those grumpy car drivers over Christmas, the best way to avoid all of this confusion is to drive no faster than 90km/h on your speedo, giving you a true road speed of about 88 or 89km/h, safely inside the law and whatever policy your boss and his funky GPS tools will clock you for. Yes you will use a bit more fuel going uphill without a good downhill runup, and yes, a few car drivers will get irritable, but you are a professional with a precious cargo, an expensive rig and many more hours experience than them.

Think about this:

  • If there was a long flat piece of road 350kms long, with no towns along the way and you could maintain an AVERAGE SPEED of 95km/h including all corners and traffic lights, stray dogs and pie stops, you would arrive at the end 12 minutes faster than if you had an average speed of 90km/h
  • That piece of road doesn’t exist – you can’t drive 350 km at a constant top speed anywhere in the country.
  • No truck can maintain an average speed of anywhere near 90km/h

So the story is that speeding doesn’t get you there sooner.

Here is what we have seen over the last several years looking at GPS data:

  • Those who drive faster, often have a lower average speed, taking longer to do the same stretch of road. Don’t believe me? Talk to a driver trainer near you.

I can’t tell you what combination of engine brakes, retarder, gear selection or manual vs auto in any given truck on any given hill, that’s not my job. What I do know is that when you speed, you use more fuel, jeopardise your employer’s reputation, their Operator Rating Score and potentially gain demerit points on your license which will affect your ability to do your job.

Speeding doesn’t save time, it doesn’t protect the engine from undue wear and tear and it is not an excuse for allowing the truck to over run going down hill to save fuel. If you don’t know how to keep your truck below 90km/h, ask for some training. It’s time we stopped taking advantage of the tolerance and drive to the law. That way if the police or your employer provide you with any lee way, it is for a valid one off events.

Your employer is under pressure to demonstrate best practice in Health and Safety in 2015, with a lot of strict new legislation being introduced. What gives you the right to decide whether his company is closed down or not, because you choose to be unprofessional?

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