Carriers’ crystal ball: Averitt Express boosts safety with FleetRisk Advisors

| June 30, 2014

Fleets for years have used performance data in driver scorecards to help identify and address problems. Now, with the help of companies that specialize in collecting and analyzing data, fleets are trying to go beyond identifying problems. They aim to head them off before they happen.

Part 1 of this series surveyed the predictive analytics landscape among trucking companies and the economy at large. 

This story is the first of three remaining installments that examine three data management systems and three fleets that use them, with varying degrees of predictive analytics, to improve retention, safety or both.

  

Averitt Express uses FleetRisk Advisors, whose clients are mostly 500-plus truck fleets such as Maverick Transportation, Roehl Transport and Covenant Transport. It uses extensive trucking data, such as drivers’ starting times or change in empty miles relative to fleet average, to help fleets with safety, retention and workers comp.

Averitt Express uses FleetRisk Advisors, whose clients are mostly 500-plus truck fleets such as Maverick Transportation, Roehl Transport and Covenant Transport. It uses extensive trucking data, such as drivers’ starting times or change in empty miles relative to fleet average, to help fleets with safety, retention and workers comp.

In its six years of working with FleetRisk Advisors, Averitt Express has made big safety improvements, says David Broyles, operations manager. The Cookeville, Tenn.-based company is using FleetRisk Advisors for the 1,300 to 1,400 trucks in its truckload division and the 700 in its dedicated division. 

Largely due to the FleetRisk program, the fleet has seen a 41 percent drop in preventable accidents over the last three years in its truckload division, Broyles says.

FleetRisk, a unit of Omnitracs, offers modules for safety, workers comp and retention. Averitt is using only safety, but has found retention to be a “byproduct” of that effort, Broyles says. With the advent of Qualcomm years ago, Averitt, like many fleets, “quit using the telephone like we used to,” he says. “You lose that relationship-building with drivers.”

Now, when the data identifies at-risk drivers in need of remediation, “We’re forcing the fleet manager to get back in the business of talking to drivers on the phone.”

Like many FleetRisk customers, Averitt started with identifying the 10 percent of drivers most likely to be facing an accident in the near future. As the accident rate dropped for that group, managers began addressing the top 30 percent.

Annually, Averitt and FleetRisk examine the accuracy of predicting factors and change them if necessary. Some typical predictors at Averitt have been financial stress, accidents in the past 90 days, and the frequency of working midnight to 5 a.m. in the past two weeks.

Broyles says some “curious” predictors also have emerged. Even though the company pays for empty miles, drivers with the most empty miles have been the most accident-prone.

One big operational change has been getting proactive with fatigue. By measuring the frequency of overnight driving, each driver gets an ongoing fatigue rating. “If the fatigue number goes up, we change their dispatch,” he says.

Another has been the response to a first accident. Previously, Averitt simply would send a terse Qualcomm message saying the accident has been reviewed and stating the number of lost points. The driver often would be nervous about the effect on his pay and job stability, and often had higher rates of a repeat accident. Now a manager will phone to discuss the accident, how to get safety points back and how to avoid further problems.

 “Just by changing our methodology,” Broyles says, the risk of a second accident for those drivers is almost as low as the risk for all other drivers.

When a fleet’s data lists at-risk drivers, managers typically hold a 15- to 20-minute remediation talk with each one, says FleetRisk’s Jain. “Not to address the issue necessarily, but to assure them the fleet is there to support him through his challenges.”

Related

Author Eric Siegel: Predictive analytics

Predictive modeling should hold a lot of potential for fleets looking to improve safety, says author Eric Siegel, an expert in predictive analytics.   When it comes to concerns over companies in trucking or other industries using data to gauge loyalty or predict performance, “There are places where the world is not comfortable with that yet,” ...

It’s common to find certain behaviors point to a driver stressed for a personal reason – a pregnant wife, a sick child or a pending divorce. The solution is to decrease the stress, Jain says, by helping the driver “manage that situation” – whether through counseling or other means – and not to punish him.

A fleet customer talked with a driver who appeared to be at risk and discovered that his wife of 30 or 40 years had died. He kept driving “just to keep his mind off things,” but had not come to terms with the death, Jain says. The fleet gave him a week or two of paid leave.

Related

Carriers’ crystal ball: Fleets using driver performance data more than ever

Fleets have long used performance data in driver scorecards to help identify and address problems. Now, with the help of companies that specialize in predictive analytics, fleets are trying to head problems off before they happen.

Every one of FleetRisk’s customers has seen retention increase. When fleets remediate with the 10 percent of drivers most at risk for an accident, those drivers have post-remediation accident rates that are 85 percent lower than what the remaining 90 percent of drivers experience, Jain says.

Next: John Christner Trucking gains from ‘big data’ 

  • guest

    Yep..they pay low wage so they have to babysit their clowns. More of the ongoing JOKE trucking has become…..More strait jackets for their drivers will solve everything…..cheap labor and obediant slaves is what they actually want….totally Monitored with cameras and devices. They cant make a move without being observed…..lol
    They have Union Style managent but poor man wages to increase profits…..Sweat Shop on wheels anyone?? Sign Up Now!

  • Jack Simon

    The most ‘proactive’ thing that they could do for drivers is to pay them what they are worth. OTR drivers have many things that stress them out; crappy shippers and receivers that hold them at docks just as their hours to drive run out making them either late for the next load and then they lose the load, wives at home with sick kids, dying parents, not enough money to pay for things like college education. . . . The list goes on. The “Driver Shortage” is because of crummy pay for the amount of work that is required to keep an OTR driver driving and make it worth his/her time away from home and still be able to make ends meet with a comfort zone to make retirement a possibility. If pay was good, there wouldn’t be any shortage. It is manufactured by the companies that swear that we are the best resource that they have. Treat us with respect and pay us what we are worth and we will hang around for the log term. Pay us like crap and have our nanny hanging on the dashboard telling us when to sleep, when to wake, how fast to drive and sound bells when we exceed the artificial speed that the company deems necessary and we will eventually rebel and find someone else that does what we need.

  • Big R Phillips

    Same ol’sh-t re-warmed!