Brand Talk: Modern fleet technology is driving the future

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Safety Tips by PLM

The numbers are staggering. Drivers of tractor trailer trucks and smaller delivery trucks, like those used in the lumber building and materials industry, experienced a higher rate of fatal and nonfatal injuries than the average of all private industry occupations in 2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the same time, truck drivers and those who drive for sales purposes experienced a rate of fatal injuries that was seven times above the workplace average. That year, 756 truck drivers died, while another 65,000 were injured or became ill in work-related incidents.

Typically, lumber building and material dealers use trucks to deliver or transport products from a manufacturer to a retailer or from a retailer to a worksite. For these purposes, trucks used can range from pickups and smaller box trucks to flatbed trucks and those with a boom or moffett attached. These vehicles are critical in keeping the industry moving, but in order to keep the industry’s employees safe and margins profitable, proper safety protocols must be implemented and followed. New technology is helping to further this mission.

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With the rapid pace technology is changing around us — our smartphones seem to be outdated before they first enter our pockets — it should come as no surprise that commercial driver safety technology has also made tremendous advancements. Collision mitigation systems, telematics, GPS monitoring and electronic logging devices among other technologies are helping to protect commercial drivers, cargo and company bottom lines.

One of the newest options available in safety technology for commercial drivers are collision mitigation systems. These systems monitor and process information from vehicle radar, video and braking systems. From this information, the technology can visualize driver conditions. The technology can scrutinize driver behavior and tap into emergency systems when necessary. One of the best parts of this new technology — data can be transmitted in real time to a fleet manager. Additionally, some systems contain Automatic Onboard Recording Devices to record and share data for future driver training.

Telematics is a term that is becoming more familiar within industries where commercial driving is a necessity. More than a GPS, telematics serve as a form of electronic logging device that send data from vehicles to fleet managers operating remotely. Telematics take GPS technology a step further. Using vehicle on-board diagnostic ports (OBD-II) on the driver’s dashboard, telematics track a number of driver and vehicle diagnostics. They examine and gather a variety of information from driver behavior statistics, including speed and braking patterns to engine temperature. These systems can even include safety features like collision avoidance systems. This technology is not only critical to driver safety, it can also help with locating lost vehicles and help saving money on vehicle maintenance.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration actually mandated the use of electronic logging devices for the industry in December 2017. Now, drivers’ hours of service are required to be logged electronically. Full compliance of the rule is required by December 1019. For building and material dealers, many will be required to use electronic logging devices that are certified as compliance with the FMCSA.

Unfortunately, all this technology does not come cheap. For example, a collision mitigation system can run roughly $10,000 per vehicle. However, business owners should not be put off by the high price tag. Other options are available, allowing business owners to purchase partial systems which can also make a big impact on driver safety and performance.

Another key in promoting safety on the roads is monitoring driver Motor Vehicle Records. These MVRs can show a pattern of high-risk behavior and help identify drivers who may be more accident-prone. Typically, employers pull MVRs for each state an employee has a driver’s license. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for employers to check these reports regularly. Policyholders of Pennsylvania Lumbermens Mutual Insurance Company have access to a tool that will monitor that data for them. Company partner SambaSafety provides continuous monitoring of driver MVRs and alerts managers when an employee moving violation is identified.

While all this new technology may seem overwhelming, it is something employers in the lumber building and materials sector should recognize as the way of the future. This technology can and will vastly improve driver safety. At the same time, it will improve safety for all of us on the roads.

By investigating and implementing new technologies, lumber building and material dealers can reduce much of their risk related to commercial driving. However, some risk will always remain. To fully protect a business, businesses need to partner with the right insurer — one who knows wood risks and driver safety.

A good insurer who knows the industry, like PLM, can be a valuable resource when it comes to making sure you have the right coverage for your business, and the right amount of coverage. Experts in the industry for more than 100 years, PLM has extensive risk management knowledge that can help lumber business operate at their best.

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