D.M. Bowman Inc.: Improve driver safety and get real-time data
Published on April 4, 2015
The challenge: An eye on safety
When D.M. Bowman Inc.’s insurance carrier, Protective Insurance Company, offered to pay for the company’s installation of Geotab on the fleet vehicles for a study, Barry Wertz, the director of safety and risk management, says the possibility of improved fleet safety was a no-brainer.
The usage-based insurance program Protective Insurance presented — called MileMarker — collects fleet miles driven with Geotab’s vehicle monitoring system, in order to audit insurance premium payments. This program enables insurance premium discounts and it is available to all customers enrolled in the MileMarker program.
When the option was initially presented, Wertz explains that he researched what Geotab could do for this transportation, warehousing, and logistics company’s fleet. Though D.M. Bowman was previously employing another type of telematics system on the fleet’s Volvo and Mack trucks, Wertz says he was enthused about the product after he discovered that Geotab’s telematics technology could give the company real-time data about driver behavior. The kinds of data that are beneficial to D.M. Bowman in particular are seatbelt compliance, receiving information about the speed of the truck versus the posted speed limit and receiving data more than just once a day.
The company began installing the Geotab units about two years ago, and currently 300 of the fleet’s 325 trucks have the telematics devices fitted. The fleet has plans to hit the 100% mark soon.
The importance of real-time data
Part of what a company agrees to when signing on to Protective Insurance Company’s MileMarker program is the establishment of safety-related company driving standards and the management of drivers who fail to meet those standards. Protective Insurance Company also provides recommended management categories and options including number of speeding minutes allowed per week, the max speed limit, number of hard braking events per week, and the number of hard turning events per week.
The importance of real-time data
After Wertz and his team receive an alert about unsafe driving, Wertz is able to immediately call the driver in and address the issue. He says that by seeing this information, drivers become more aware of the risks they are taking on behalf of the company. Geotab allows Wertz and his team to verify data, and to follow-up on driver behavior just before a crash occurs. Plus, it can clearly notify him when a driver isn’t wearing his seatbelt. Since they began using Geotab two years ago — and with the addition of a number of safety programs that D.M. Bowman put in place last year to continue to diminish unsafe driving — the company has seen a 20% reduction in accident costs.
Wertz explains an instance after a vehicle crash where the company saw benefit from Geotab. Since D.M. Bowman trucks are governed at 63 miles per hour, the system records if a driver goes over the 70 miles per hour mark for a minute or more with severe and automatic driver consequences. The Geotab system allowed Wertz to see that a driver involved in a crash several weeks ago was driving at 55 miles per hour during a heavy rainstorm. Company regulations dictate that he should have been going slower and the data clearly shows that he wasn’t.
Telematics and fleet management
Besides getting all this data, which Wertz thinks is the best benefit of installing Geotab, he’s found that it has benefitted other areas of the company’s fleet management as well.
Wertz says that Geotab’s varied reports are very simple to run, share and interpret, which makes his department’s jobs far easier. “Since our trucks are governed, the speeding isn’t occurring on the interstates, it’s happening out in the rural areas, on side streets, and byways. Areas where there is a lot more risk. We’re able to see that.”
The mapping program is also a feature that D.M. Bowman employs frequently. “We do have some other ways we can figure out where a truck is, but hands down most of our fleet managers will turn to the Geotab website to quickly locate where a truck is at any given moment,” Wertz says, adding that he hopes to expand D.M. Bowman’s use of the Geotab system. “We’re constantly trying to figure out more ways to pull data out to continue to improve what’s going on with drivers to reduce our accidents and cost severity,” he says.
For example, the company will begin using it for operations to help with truck routing. The system can also show when there are engine faults so the maintenance department may be able to use that data to help better maintain the trucks on a real-time basis. Plus, Wertz looks forward to taking advantage of all the different types of reports the company hasn’t even begun to use yet. He says, “We’ll do anything we can to make ourselves more efficient since, as you know, this industry is about pennies.”
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From the fleet manager
“We do have some other ways we can figure out where a truck is, but hands down most of our fleet managers will turn to the Geotab website to quickly locate where a truck is at any given moment.” — Barry Wertz Director of Safety and Risk Management
Transportation, Warehousing, and Logistics
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