Take command of Fleet Risk Management

Approaches for reducing accident cost and frequency

"For the most part, the maintenance shops can do any type of work," says Baker. "However, most of the major repairs, as well as body work, are sent out so technicians don't get bogged down. It's a matter of keeping technicians as productive as possible."

Boyd Bros. is getting more involved with predictive maintenance, particularly with the more expensive engine emissions systems, he notes. Getting to know the lifecycles of various components and systems allows the company to reduce maintenance costs and vehicle downtime by scheduling service on a component before it may fail or starts causing bad operating conditions.

The fleet also does maintenance tracking and benchmarking to make sure components, vehicles and equipment are performing as expected. Drivers, along with technicians, receive training on any new equipment that is introduced into the fleet.

Because proper vehicle maintenance and repair is essential to fleet safety, keeping technicians trained and up-to-date is a main focus and a vital part of Boyd Bros.' 64-person maintenance operation, says Baker, who was a truck driver before moving to the maintenance side of trucking. All technicians go through various annual certifications and regular training from vehicle OEMs and suppliers with classroom, online and hands-on training courses.

A beneficial side-effect of this investment in technician training, he points out, is a very low turnover rate of technicians.

Drivers, along with technicians, receive training on all new equipment that is introduced into the fleet. "That is the only way to get the full benefit of anything new," maintains Baker.

To keep its drivers focused on safety and efficient vehicle operation, Boyd Bros. has its own driver simulator system and a dedicated training manager, Jason Bagley. He uses the simulator to observe a driver's performance during driving in a virtual space, under various situations and conditions, while operating the controls of an actual vehicle.

To further promote safety, drivers are brought in to the company's facilities every six months for safety reviews, as well as an evaluation of the company's and driver's performance.

"Everyone in Boyd Bros. and WTI are focused on safety," says Baker. "It's a total team effort and a part of this company's culture. Our sound safety program has all departments, with every associate, dedicated to insure we ‘Operate Safely and Legally' - our company's first ‘Corporate Belief' in our mission statement."

Both Boyd Bros. and WTI Transport have received 34 national and state safety awards since 2003, most recently with WTI Transport winning first place and Boyd Bros. winning third place in this year's American Trucking Association's annual safety awards program.

With the evolution of telematics - the combining of computers and telecommunications systems - fleets have visibility into their driver's driving behavior, says Stone of Penske Logistics. Telematics also provides the opportunity to address certain unsafe driving behaviors, like hard braking, following distance, speed, lane drift, etc., that are otherwise very difficult to determine without an observer riding with each driver. Monitoring such behavior can help reduce the number of accidents.

Information from vehicle telematics can also assist fleets in defending drivers from accusations of speeding, aggressive driving or late deliveries by verifying an their arrival at a specific location. In addition, telematics systems can increase operational efficiency through improved logistics and back-office administration.

Onboard vehicle safety technologies, also referred to as intelligent vehicle technologies, have proven effective in enhancing driver safety and helping prevent potential accidents.

"The critical and primary focus of accident prevention is skillful and safe operation of the vehicle," says Stone. Onboard vehicle safety technologies, such as adaptive cruise control, obstacle detection systems, lane change or road departure warning systems, vehicle stability systems, etc., "provide a secondary and emergency approach toward enhancing driver safety and preventing accidents and/or reducing the severity of accidents."

We Recommend