Truck Drivers are in a unique position of being trusted with expensive company assets and valuable customer property away from the direct control of their managers. All of the new legislation which is being developed or considered currently is looking at ways to enforce that this situation is controlled more and more.

This week in Canterbury we have seen two major crashes involving trucks, both at low speed, both with devastating consequences. When a truck crashes at open road speeds the outcome is worse. The cost is not just the cost of the truck repairs, it is the cost to the brand perception, the clean up cost, the cost of the goods to be replaced for the customer and the associated lack of trust which that can breed. Of course additionally there is the the counselling for the driver and the relief driver and truck required whilst the driver recovers both physically and emotionally.

In summary nobody wants to see a truck crash.
The Police, NZTA and Accident Investigators are quite clear that speeding trucks cause crashes and yet speeding trucks continue to be a source of frustration for transport managers up and down the country.

Here are some stories that we have gathered across our customer base in the last few months:

•A fleet that has multiple “sister ships” identical trucks of the same age working on the same run, but the fuel efficiency for each pair varies significantly. Digging further, it is clear that the truck with the better fuel figures spends less time over the speed limit, peaks at lower top speeds and spends less time idling. He also costs his boss less in fuel and maintenance costs.

•An owner driver running linehaul between Nelson and Christchurch offered to try out this “new” idea of driving to the speed limit. He had recently bought a truck with sufficient horsepower to suit his preferred driving speeds through this challenging route. Driving at the speed limit for the whole route, saw him arrive consistently 10 minutes earlier and fresh enough that he felt he could almost do a second shift.

•A driver doing multiple drop deliveries across a broad region who was triggering many over speed alerts in built up areas on the main routes changed his style of driving to make sure he was down at the speed limit as he entered the speed zone, instead of starting to slow down as he passed the speed limit sign. He reported an initial increase in fatigue to the concentration required to break the habit but was very pleased with the 10 – 20 litres of fuel saved per day for his efforts.

One of our customers who has been struggling with poor driver discipline around speeding and the constant threat of the driver shortage has recently had a revelation that every transport company who they respect is also trying to manage speed. This has given our customer the confidence to take a hard line on speeding in their fleet. If their drivers don’t like it and choose to leave, they will be leaving to go to a company with worse conditions, or they will have to step up and be accountable for their speeding behaviours if they apply to a more reputable fleet.

Speeding is a risk. It is the constant risk of crashing, the real risk of spending hard earned profit on too much fuel and inflated insurance premiums and the risk of losing your customers if they lose respect for your brand on the road. One fleet close to us has recently lost a driver because he wasn’t receiving the feedback he craved regarding his driving style: He has moved to a fleet where he knows he will get this feedback.

For every fleet, the benefits gained by tackling this elephant in the room more than pays for the costs invested in the initiative.

Two of the three key pillars of such an initiative are making the drivers a part of the solution, and providing consistent feedback to them. The third pillar is getting started….

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