Can you have a driver that registers the lowest number of speed events through your GPS system but who is not your safest driver?

This is the question that came up at a customer review meting recently. It brought home to everyone that a manager’s intuition is an important part of interpreting the stats recorded by the GPS system.

Stats aren’t the whole story; they will tell you what has happened in the area you are looking at. If you are only looking at top speeds, they won’t tell you there is a problem in cornering speeds. If you are only measuring part of the operation, you could be missing something.

In this case, top speed is absolutely critical in managing safety of the fleet on the road, but it is not the only measure. The customer was baffled as to why Driver One was flagged as a red risk in the number of times he had gone over the speed limit, and the speeds he was reaching, but it was Driver two on the same route which was attracting all of the complaints.

When you overhear a conversation from the driver that he “couldn’t quite catch the guys to join in on the CB conversation” it suggests that the stats are right – Driver One is definitely pushing the truck faster than the managers were happy with, so there is something to work on there. But what about Driver Two?

In the absence of any GForce monitors in the trucks to measure fast / dangerous cornering, a target area or “Geofence” is being set up in the GPS system to monitor the transit time of both trucks through the risky area on the route that they both travel. It is expected that Driver Two will have a much faster transit time through that twisty challenging section.

He is probably trucking along at 90km/h on the straights but keeping his boot right up it around the corners. Driver One is probably the opposite – cautious on the corners but winding up the speed on the straights.

Here’s the trick – as a manger you have to deal with both situations. Granted you will need to take a different approach with both drivers as they have different issues, but both are likely to harm your fleet image, and eventually your finances. This isn’t a question of priorities (I’ll start with Driver One and get round to Driver Two later”) this is a question of clear and present danger.

The speed limit for trucks is 90km/h.

I will often ask a manager “have you ever told your drivers not to speed” and occasionally I get the right answer. But my new question is “have you told them what speed you expect them to drive at?” We are constantly asked to monitor the speed of trucks over 95 km/h rather than 90km/h, but in doing this, you are sending a message to your drivers that 90-95 km/h is OK.

I completely understand that when you start looking at the speed of your fleet, you get a shock at just how fast some of the trucks are going and getting them back to 95km/h is a big enough challenge. I also understand that speed has a part of the industry for so long that it feels like a mammoth task to address it. But you have to. Here’s why:

  • Crash records show that faster your drivers go, the more likely they are to crash
  • The more often your drivers go too fast, the more likely they are to crash
  • The Chain of Responsibility makes you, your managers and dispatchers just as much at fault as your drivers
  • The Operator Rating System 5 star challenge could be won and lost on speeding alone
  • Your performance in the ACC Fleet Safety Programme will also be affected

Getting the speed of your drivers under control sends a clear message that you expect professional behaviour from your drivers which will have other positive spin offs for your business – instead of the kind of spin off that could land your truck in the ditch.

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