Many fleet managers like the idea of upgrading the safety technology on their fleet. The problem is they feel there is no time to install new technology. Few managers have the luxury of pulling a truck out of service to retrofit it with new gear. If you’re a big shop with a 24/7 garage, it’s less of a problem, but if you’re running an 8-hour garage schedule, it’s hard to fit in any non-essential work. With some foresight and planning though, many fleet managers may find that there is actually ample time to make these upgrades.
Anytime large vehicles occupy the same space as pedestrians and bicyclists, bad things can happen. When a fatality occurs, it is usually because an individual falls into the exposed space along the sides of high-clearance trucks and get crushed beneath the rear wheels. On construction and mining sites, companies are able to limit the interactions between people and trucks. On the average road or city street, though, such control is virtually impossible. The combination of truck blind spots and distracted driving, walking, and even bicycling is a recipe for disaster. For decades, many countries have had ordinances in place that require large vehicles to be equipped with side guards covering this open space along the sides of vehicles. Only in the last few years have these ordinances started to appear in cities across the U.S., but there is growing momentum.
With deadlines to meet, customers to please, and budgets that can often be tight at best, safety can easily take a back seat to cheaper, faster short-cuts. Anyone who has ever dealt with the aftermath of an on-the-job accident or fatality will be the first to attest that not only should safety be in the front seat, it should be the driver.
When it comes to fleet safety, technology giveth and it taketh away. The good news for fleet managers trying to improve safety is that with fleet telematics becoming more available and less expensive, capturing all manner of fleet operations data is becoming vastly easier. But as technology makes life easier in one dimension, it creates new challenges as managers assemble teams to improve fleet safety.
In the past decade, telematics devices have become common place in company vehicles and fleets. Less common however is employee understanding on why their driving is being monitored. Often, employees are under the assumption that someone is constantly looking over their shoulder, just waiting for them to make a mistake.
The European Union has a special name for certain parties who share highways and streets across the continent. They are the VRUs: vulnerable road users. These pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists account for almost 50 percent of Europeans injured or killed each year in accidents involving vehicles—and 28 percent of those injured or killed in large truck crashes. More than half of these large truck incidents take place at low speeds. In Germany alone this year, more than 20 cyclists have been killed by right-turning trucks alone. The numbers are predicted to grow as governments across Europe promote walking and biking over driving and as more urban construction projects begin.
New highway regulations in Texas have fleet managers looking for ways to equip specific heavy haul trucks with roll-stability systems and blind spot protection. The new regulations, as laid out in Texas Senate Bill 1524, address heavier oversize and overweight intermodal vehicles that carry oceangoing or international trade containers within 30 miles of a port of entry or international bridge. SB 1524 mandates that roll-stability systems and blind spot protection be installed on these vehicles as a precondition of receiving an operating permit from the Texas Department of Transportation.
Most people enjoy receiving incentives. Buy groceries at the store and pay lower gas prices at the pump through a rewards program. Stop smoking, start exercising, and watch your health care premiums drop. The question a lot of companies are asking, though, is can this same approach work to improve work site safety. And, if so, how do incentives work in an increasingly data-driven world?
Millennials are now the largest generation in the American workforce, and with the Boomer population aging into retirement, they will quickly be taking over positions of management and leadership in all trades. This handoff between generations can often be a shaky one, simply because of the difference in life-experience—it’s not uncommon for the older generation to write-off or displace the younger generation as lazy, rebellious, or entitled. However, Millennials are quickly proving themselves to be not only ready to take charge, but to do it in safer, more efficient ways than past generations.
The world would come to a grinding halt without utility workers and the companies they work for. With all utility companies and workers have to worry about, safety priorities for vehicles and drivers have a tendency to get pushed down the list.