Bill Skinner, safety director of Fueliner, a petroleum delivery company, recalls when one of the company drivers had a truck roll over in 2009. After that, the company downloaded the engine control module (ECM) and found that the driver had several hard stop and hard brake events right before the accident. Skinner says if the company had that information beforehand, or known that particular driver had a history of hard stops and hard braking, it might have been able to prevent the problem. “You can’t trust how well drivers drive based on their word alone because they’ll tell you they had a great day but when you look at the data, you’ll see speeding events, hard brakes, hard stops, harsh cornering and all those little events,” he says. “Those little events could lead up to the big one.” And for Fueliner, it did.
With 15 tanker trucks and 6 straight delivery trucks in 4 locations throughout Iowa, Illinois, and Minnesota, Skinner explains that tracking driver behavior was the biggest driving force for acquiring Geotab telematics and he appreciates the software’s flexibility and ease of use for drivers.
The previous GPS system Fueliner utilized didn’t have a visual screen to allow drivers to see how many hours they had worked in their day or how much time before they could take their break. But as a commercial company, having this visibility is important to stay on top of Department of Transportation (DOT) Hours of Service (HOS) compliance. Skinner says Geotab helps keep drivers aware of their weekly hours so they can stay within regulations. The drivers simply login to the HOS function on Geotab, which then creates a standard driving log.
The HOS function has already helped the company prove compliance during a DOT audit (see quotation below). The technology also gives dispatch a useful tool to make schedules and determine each truck’s location. Skinner says specifically that dispatch uses a weekly summary function to manage drivers’ loads on a day-to-day basis.
Skinner says to address poor driver behavior the company gives drivers monthly reports and points out areas with room for improvement. Before taking any disciplinary action, Fueliner offers drivers chances to modify their driving tendencies and then rewards them with positive recognition for any good behavior displayed. Skinner says this is a way to manage fleet safety without coming down on drivers. And he points out that the company has seen success with this method.
Though there was initial pushback from the drivers, Skinner says that with the right approach, his drivers got on board fairly quickly. “Some drivers think that just because they haven’t gotten into an accident, they are safe drivers. When they are shown their event history it is easy for everyone to see areas of improvement and driving behavior changes,” Skinner notes. Once Fueliner emphasized the safety of the fleet and how easy the software was to use, the drivers agreed with the decision. Taking safety a step further, with the help of Geotab, the company was able to successfully fight a lawsuit. When someone pulled out in front of a Fueliner vehicle without leaving any braking time for its driver, the resulting litigation was defused when Fueliner were able to show the logged events from that day. Skinner says the data showed that the Fueliner driver was keeping well below the speed limit and that it was in fact the other driver who caused the rear-end accident.
Additional benefits Skinner has seen with Geotab include being able to track idling, time card reports, and maintenance scheduling. Plus, he says he loves the real-time capabilities, and that the software updates quickly and automatically so there is no need to switch out the physical device. Skinner also mentions that the company sees insurance benefits from having fewer and less severe events each year. Thanks to Geotab, Fueliner hasn’t seen a premium increase for the last five years, saving the company around $177,000 in insurance costs annually.
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“I was able to prove our HOS compliance by easily printing 6 months of driver logs. I use the HOS function every day to easily check to see if drivers are within their hours. I love it, and it is the easiest system to use for drivers and management compared to other systems out there.” — Bill Skinner, Safety Director of Fueliner
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