KeepTruckin Blog - Electronic Logs and Fleet Management Software for Drivers..
KeepTruckin gives your drivers a free and easy to use mobile application to record their logs on their iPhone, iPad, or Android device. KeepTruckin is on a mission to improve the efficiency and profitability of America's trucking industry by building great technology products for truck drivers and fleet managers.
The video accompanying this blog post was taken at KeepTruckin’s Nashville office. We invited customers in to talk informally about their challenges and how KeepTruckin’s fleet management solutions are helping their business.
A front-facing dashboard camera or dash cam records what the driver sees. That information can be invaluable.
“I highly recommend everyone have a forward-facing camera,” says Norman Bright, a safety and fleet manager for Woodford Oil. “It’s really for safety, training and the ability to see what goes on during an event. That has been priceless for us.”
Bright recently had all 50 of the trucks in his fleet outfitted with dashboard cameras.
“You can see so much more than just the event. You can also see the context around a hard-braking event,” Bright says.
A summary of Bright’s step-by-step process for how he implemented dash cams:
KeepTruckin Customer Talks About Implementing Dash cams - YouTube
1. He introduced the Smart Dashcam to a veteran driver first
To ensure all Woodford’s drivers felt okay with the dash cams, their most veteran driver tried one first. Bright explained to him that it was for safety. He also clarified the camera only recorded events if the driver performed a hard break, hard acceleration or hard corner.
Getting drivers on board
Some drivers who post on various trucker’s forums worry that the company they work for will use the cameras to spy on them. The best way to combat that issue is to be transparent and open with your drivers, says Bright. Get feedback from them, so they are involved in the process.
You might ask your drivers if they’d feel comfortable with the cameras if they protected their own family members.
“We let our drivers know that we don’t want to watch them drive down the road,” says Bright. “But if there’s an issue we want to be able to see what happened.”
Truckers also feel better when told the KeepTruckin Smart Dasham is only forward-facing, so they don’t feel like they’re being invaded. If the dash cam reveals the driver is doing something wrong, coaching may be the next step.
2. He asked the veteran driver to share his experience with other drivers
When the company started getting recorded video footage, management talked to the first test driver about the results. He then told the other drivers what was happening.
“Everyone was then accepting of the forward-facing cameras (in their truck),” Bright says.
3. He worked with drivers to set event triggers
Woodford’s owner, another executive, and Bright reviewed every video to make sure they all agreed on what they saw.
“We started at the lowest end and the easiest trigger,” says Bright. “We adjusted from there, increment by increment until we felt we were where we needed to be.”
Then Bright had a 30-year veteran driver gauge where they set the triggers. He agreed that anything beyond that was a safety issue and should be looked at.
“In the beginning, we marked every event as either coachable or uncoachable. We also made notes to go along with the videos,” recalls Bright.
When the triggers were set, the cameras let management see the speeds and track their trucks. The footage also shows the momentum and shift of the vehicle, Bright says.
When Norman was setting triggers, he also took into account the nature and condition of the roads.
“We’re in a very mountainous area, with curvy roads and we’re dealing with hazmat (loads), says Bright. “Rollovers are one of our biggest concerns. So, we spent a lot of time getting our triggers set.”
Bright says he tries to coach drivers once a week now, which is a steady cadence so the information is easily manageable.
4. Norman and other managers took notes after watching dash cam videos
Bright looked at the first video footages from their trucks and noted whether an event was “coachable” or “uncoachable.” This is a feature that comes with the KeepTruckin Smart Dashcam.
If an event is coachable, one of Bright’s dispatchers will reach out to the driver. He or she will tell him what they saw on the video (hard brake, hard acceleration, etc.).
Then the dispatcher records the outcome of that interaction in the driver notes section.
The Driver Coaching feature compiles all the information made on individual drivers. If someone had five coaching notes in a month, it’s evident that driver is having trouble driving.
That makes him liable, but it also shows that Woodford Oil is being careful and responsible by keeping records of what’s going on.
Videos recorded by the dash cams help fleet managers who use the information to identify drivers who may need coaching. Ultimately, it is the drivers who benefit from the dash cams.
Fleet and safety managers should highlight this when getting drivers on board.
“The selling point we used with our drivers was ‘it’s going to be to their benefit’,” says Bright.
Here are three main benefits that dash cams offer.
Benefit 1: Liability
The biggest issue Woodford has had since installing the cameras was determining which vehicle was at fault in an accident. The camera footage proved the Woodford driver wasn’t in the wrong. The Smart Dashcam can prove the trucker was doing what he was supposed to be doing.
“Once our drivers realized the dash cam’s benefits, they accepted them,” says Bright.
Dash cams help improve the overall safety level of a fleet.
With video evidence, driver coaching programs become much more effective. Conversations between drivers and safety managers are based on evidence, facts, and records, instead of just assumptions.
Benefit 3: Efficiency
Keeping truckers safe leads to a more efficient-running business and better CSA scores.
How the Smart Dashcam promoted a culture of safety
By utilizing the driver scorecards feature and the KeepTruckin Smart Dashcam, Norman Bright promoted a culture of safety in his fleet. Apart from the obvious efficiency and safety benefits, installing the dash cams also provided Norman the much-needed peace of mind in the form of video evidence.
“When we decided [to install the KeepTruckin Smart Dashcams] in every truck, we knew the evidence was going to be there,” says Bright. “You’re going to be either innocent or guilty [in a crash].
It eliminates all the time and money that goes into fighting an unknown. You won’t have the back and forth with insurance companies nor the attorney fees. The camera tells the truth from the beginning.”
The final verdict from Norman
How does Bright feel about his company’s decision to install dash cams in all their trucks now?
“The camera doesn’t lie. I highly recommend dash cams to anyone. It’s for safety, and training. The ability to see what goes on during a driving event has been priceless for us.”
If you’re interested in finding out more about what the KeepTruckin Smart Dashcam can do for your fleet, call 855-434-ELOG or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Employees’ Choice Awards program is based solely on the input of employees who voluntarily provide feedback on their jobs, work environments, and companies. The reviews are posted on Glassdoor, one of the world’s largest job and recruiting sites.
KeepTruckin keeps growin’
This honor comes at a time of tremendous growth. Over the past two years, we have built the world’s leading network of connected trucks. More than 250,000 drivers and 50,000 trucking companies use our technology to improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of their fleets.
“Trucking is the backbone of the American economy but has largely been ignored by Silicon Valley. Our mission is to connect the world’s trucks and bring this industry online,” said Shoaib Makani, CEO and co-founder of KeepTruckin. “This award and our incredible growth are a direct result of our values based culture that empowers people to do their best work. None of this would be possible without the exceptional team we have built.”
Jai, our new Head of Product, wrote a blog post about why he decided to join KeepTruckin. Jai, who was previously at Uber, explains, “Without exaggeration, trucking is the lifeblood of our modern economy. Trucks move over 70 percent of the nation’s freight by tonnage, moving nearly 11 billion tons of freight annually. This represents 200+ pounds per person, per day!”
KeepTruckin’s new leadership is just part of our aggressive hiring throughout 2018. Our company now has more than 800 employees that span six global offices, including a beautiful new office in the heart of Nashville, TN.
(Image: Our ribbon cutting ceremony at KeepTruckin’s Nashville office. CEO Shoaib Makani cuts the ribbon and is joined by Nashville Mayor David Briley and Commissioner Bob Rolfe.)
Creating a culture that fosters teamwork and productivity, coupled with plenty of office perks like hobby hour (where team members teach other a favorite skill), bi-monthly karaoke parties, and free lunches are just a few reasons why KeepTruckin is a great place to work.
What do our team members love about KeepTruckin?
The Glassdoor reviews speak to the collaborative and transparent culture which make for positive and happy work vibes. Here’s what some team members had to say:
“I’m very impressed with the professionalism, sincerity, and drive exhibited by the entire staff. It’s refreshing to have a leadership team that is really making the extra effort to make KT a place where people are genuinely happy to go to work.”
“One of the most collaborative and transparent companies – which is amazing, especially with the radical scaling that’s happened overnight. The people who do really well take the initiative, from bringing ideas, executing them, and optimizing.”
“I’ve worked at multiple SaaS companies, across many different segments, serving multiple industries. This is the first company I’ve been a part of that has it all.
The leadership at the top is experienced and outstanding. The industry has a huge potential that’s completely underserved by technology. The culture is amazing, employees can be themselves, along with having the ability to make a real impact.”
“This company has done an incredible job getting top talent and great people. It’s honestly, a joy to come to work every day, not to mention the flexibility when you need it to take time off.”
“CEO and COO are extremely approachable and transparent in everything the business does. It’s no wonder the company is one of the fastest growing SaaS companies in history and another reason we are poised to scale on top of that.”
Hailing from Twitter, Uber, Google, and Amazon, these new additions bring depth to KeepTruckin’s executive team during a period of rapid growth.
Over the past two years, we have built the world’s leading network of connected trucks. More than 250,000 drivers and 50,000 trucking companies depend on KeepTruckin’s hardware and software technology to improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of their fleets.
But there is still much work to do and many more problems to solve.
Siva and Jairam bring deep experience in machine learning and AI and will help us build the products that enable our customers to run smarter and safer fleets. Maureen and Alice bring marketing and people operations leadership that will allow us to scale our impact while preserving our culture.
I’m excited to build the future of trucking with Maureen, Alice, Siva, and Jai.
According to the Alabama Department of Transportation, only 3.3 percent of all road accidents that year involved trucks. Still, the Interstate 10 or I-10 in Alabama, which connects to the southernmost interstate highway in the U.S., is ranked by the USDOT as one of the most dangerous roads for truckers.
A considerable percentage of truck-related accidents—12.4 percent—was due to improper lane changes.
This report indicates that I-10 Alabama and I-95 Florida are the only roads that average over 200 fatalities per year. It also reveals that Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are the worst days for accidents on these roads.
3. Idaho State Highway 75
Highway 75 in Idaho, which is a route that begins from the U.S. Route 93, is rated by USDOT as the third most dangerous road in the country.
Idaho collectively has a high fatality rate of 42.6 percent for accidents that involve commercial motor vehicles. Its location and varying elevations, however, make HWY 75 particularly dangerous during the winter, particularly within rural roadways where 54.3 percent of all fatal accidents take place.
4. Interstate 40 Arkansas
Drivers who reside in Arkansas probably saw this coming.
According to the executive director of the Arkansas Asphalt Pavement Association, Park Estes, around 80 percent of the roads in this southern state are in “less-than-good” conditions.
“We’ve got about 33 percent that are in poor condition right now,”says Estes.
5. US-1 Florida
Apart from the USDOT study, other sources state that the US-1, which stretches through Central Florida, is one of the most dangerous roads in the country.
Although Florida tends to stay relatively warm throughout the winter season, you still need to be careful. When passing through US-1, driver fatigue is a major contributor to the highway’s high crash rate.
6. M-20 Michigan
The M-20 in Michigan is a state trunkline stretching between US-31 and US-10.
A specific concern among motorists is the frequency of deer-vehicle collisions, which may occur all year round. The poor visibility and reduced road traction during the winter season can increase the risk of these accidents.
7. Interstate 80 Nebraska
In May 2018, Nebraska’s Interstate 80 saw multiple fatal crashes that involved semi-trailer trucks and passenger vehicles.
The length of the highway, which may cause driver fatigue and loss of focus among truckers, is only part of the equation. Investigators believe that some drivers were texting during these incidents.
CO-5 passes through the Mount Evans Wilderness, which has steep, narrow, and winding roads at the summit. The fact that CO-5 does not pass through any well-lit town or community makes it difficult to spot black ice.
Colorado police and safety advocates are likewise concerned about the increase in road crashes related to marijuana use ever since its legalization.
3 Ways to prepare your fleet for safety this winter
You can try to avoid these roads altogether, but that’s not always an option. The best way, therefore, is to make sure your fleet is fully prepared for the harsh winter season.
Here are a few tips that may help:
1. Install dash cams
By installing road-facing dash cams, you can see driving events unfold from the driver’s perspective. Videos can be used to pinpoint what went wrong and how drivers can avoid making similar mistakes in the future.
In case of an accident, dash cam videos can be used as evidence to exonerate drivers if they were not at fault.
Statistics show that passenger drivers are at fault for 85 percent of all crashes that involve trucks. Unfortunately, it’s not common for truck drivers to get the blame whenever road accidents occur.
Another study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety concludes that video-based technologies can prevent 63,000 truck crashes. This equates to an annual savings of 5.73 billion in the industry.
2. Prioritize driver training
Make sure that drivers understand the unique challenges that they face during winters. Driver training programs should be initiated with a special focus on the upcoming winter season.
If you are a KeepTruckin ELD Plus user, you can minimize poor driving practices with the KeepTruckin Driver Scorecards feature. It allows you to monitor problematic drivers by tracking unsafe habits such as speeding, harsh braking, harsh acceleration, and hard cornering.
3. Invest in vehicle maintenance
USDOT data also reveals that more than half of truck accidents involved at least one vehicular defect. With proper vehicle maintenance, you can ensure that vehicles are in perfect conditions and reduce the likelihood of road accidents. Click here to learn more about the USDOT study.
The personal trainer in me can’t help but pay special attention to Will’s comments about his neck or back aching at the end of a long day of driving. I have tried to find things or ways that will provide him some comfort but also things that can help prevent further pain.
Our bodies were designed to move. Most of the movements our bodies do use several different muscles and joints that seem to work in sync effortlessly. When we remove much of the daily movement from sitting for very long stretches of time day after day, certain muscles can become weak.
Just one weak muscle or muscle group can create an imbalance that can be felt throughout the entire kinetic chain of our body.
The long hours spent sitting behind the wheel can cause a variety of health issues for truck drivers, such as poor blood circulation and bad posture. Having poor posture can lead to certain muscles becoming weakened and others being overused. This will result in physical pain in the back, neck, shoulders or even hips, during simple everyday movements.
While keeping in mind that everyone is already short on time, I will share some tips that I hope will help you ease the impact of sitting for long hours behind the wheel.
Improve your posture
The impact of the vibrations from long hours of driving will impact your spine and discs.
To help ease the pain and damage done, adjust your seat to the most supportive placement for your own body—one that will help you maintain a proper sitting form. Proper form has a slight curve on your lower back.
Another thing that can help is a lumbar support pillow to place in your seat while driving. They are easy to find, and they come in various sizes. I have found several different options by searching on Amazon.
Focus on your core
The muscles in your abdomen and back make up your core. These muscles are important for just about every single movement pattern. However, these muscles can become weak when you regularly sit for long periods day after day.
My favorite way to keep those muscles strong is doing planks. Planks engage several muscles in your body and help reduce the risk of lower and upper back pain. Additionally, planks also help with metabolism and body posture.
You can begin by doing them with no additional weight and simply focusing on the contraction of the muscle. It’s always more important to exercise with proper form.
Squats For Beginners: How to do a Squat Correctly - YouTube
Don’t forget to stretch
The lack of physical activity and the strain of extended sitting can lead to strained hip flexors. Having strained hip flexors can cause you to feel back pain, thigh or hip pain just to name a few side effects.
The best way to avoid tightened hip flexors is to do stretches.
You can stretch the muscles while laying down either before going to sleep or when waking up.
Trying to take an extra minute or two to focus on stretching your whole body every time you are able to stop and stand is super important. It will help improve your posture, relieve tension, and improve circulation.
Be stronger and healthier
I tried to keep these tips simple and quick because when I try to help Will, I am often met with a tired yet sarcastic “Yeah, I’ll do that.”
I understand that it can feel more like a chore for truck drivers who have a tough job that already requires a lot of physical and mental strength. But it’s very important to keep yourself healthy, fit, and strong.
At the risk of sounding super cliche and preachy, I will leave you with the same line I use on him.
“Helping your body function at its best is just as, if not more, important than making sure your truck is running as it should.”
My name is Rebecca Cervantes-Kling, and I am trucker wife and mom to four daughters. I currently work from home as a certified personal trainer. Follow Rebecca on Instagram @MomFitFor4 and look out for more stories from her!
In the trucking industry, we talk a lot about the driver retention problem and potential ways to solve it, but one aspect not often discussed is the key role that dispatchers can play in this important issue.
The dispatcher shapes the driver’s experience, and therefore can significantly improve it. This is why we’ve put together a cheat sheet for dispatchers to help guide decision-making and simplify complicated workflows. This can create a more seamless and less stressful experience for both dispatchers and drivers.
1. Go for a ride
First and foremost, the key to building a more streamlined workflow is to understand what it’s really like to be a truck driver. I’ve spoken to many drivers throughout my time writing about trucking, and each time, without fail, I learn something new about their job. There is much more to it than simply getting from point A to point B, and as an outsider, it’s impossible to really understand all of the variables that drivers must deal with in their work.
Consequently, as a dispatcher, you must learn those variables if you are going to effectively manage drivers. When hired as a dispatcher, try to get in the truck with a driver while onboarding. Talk to the fleet manager or see if you can jump in the cab on one of the shorter trips. This experience will enhance your ability to schedule and manage drivers with greater understanding–keeping your drivers happy and on the road.
This increased awareness of the challenges drivers face will also help you protect your drivers. On the road, accidents happen, and more often than not it’s not your truck driver’s fault. Unfortunately, all too often, it’s the truck driver that gets blamed.
By experiencing life on the road first hand, you’ll have more empathy for drivers and a better ability to protect them when accidents occur. Here at KeepTruckin, we can make this important task even simpler.
Tip: We created our road-facing Smart Dashcam that easily integrates with your KeepTruckin ELD and collects exonerating evidence so that your drivers don’t get blamed. Your drivers will thank you for it!
2. Get to know your drivers
Another important, and often overlooked, step in creating an effective workflow is to get to know the drivers. Each driver brings his or her personal preferences and professional goals. Learning these will serve you in two ways:
You will better understand how to manage a specific driver’s loads to keep him or her happy. And, as you can imagine, a happy driver is more likely to keep truckin’.
You will also form a good working relationship with each driver so that when unexpected issues inevitably arise, you will be able to better work together towards a solution without unnecessary tension.
3. Communicate (and then communicate some more)
Consistently checking in on your drivers and customers enables you to more quickly resolve issues that come up–helping drivers work effectively and without undue stress.
Establish communication processes, and stick to them. Set specific times to communicate new jobs, to check in and to confirm details.
Use a centralized system to document all relevant information. Drivers should always know where to go to find any information they need to complete their job. All details should appear in written form rather than simply relying on verbal communication.
Confirm details before every job. Never assume all details have been received and understood. A simple confirmation before each job can prevent time-consuming and frustrating errors.
Without sufficient communication, issues build up. This creates a situation where you must make less-than-ideal decisions. You’ll start sending drivers out on “Mission Impossibles,” which as one driver on Trucker Form describes as “loads so tight they have virtually no margin for error. Even stopping to use the bathroom means risking on-time delivery.”
Trucking is fraught with unexpected delays and changes, particularly due to the weather. To give you an idea of how much damage the weather can cause for a trucking company: According to the US Dept. of Transportation, trucking companies lose an estimated 32.6 billion vehicle-hours due to weather-related congestion per year. Also, nearly 12 percent of total estimated truck delay is due to weather in the 20 cities with the greatest volume of truck traffic.
An effective dispatcher’s workflow, though, remains prepared for such unexpected events. This involves remaining keenly aware of:
Where all drivers and loads are at any given moment
Where they are heading
What the weather is doing (and will do) in those areas
As a dispatcher, you must also include time to make adjustments in case of other unlucky surprises along the way.
According to one staffer at Trucker Forum, “Dispatching may look easy on paper, but then factor in a truck that breaks down midway to the consignee, a driver that runs out of hours midway, really bad weather, or a mistake at the shipper” and you begin to realize the unpredictable nature of this business.
5. Keep the four C’s in mind
And finally, here’s an overview of the four C’s all dispatchers should consider when mapping out a workflow:
Consolidation: Consolidate items in a container based on safety and the maximum amount of space utilization balanced with ease of transport/delivery.
Cost optimization: Consider fuel costs, how long it will take a particular driver to get to the pickup location, etc.
Collaboration: Work with your drivers to find who has the right amount of space and time to execute a certain load. (This is where that communication thing becomes so important.)
And finally (and arguably the most important in terms of keeping drivers happy), Compliance: Lots and lots (and lots) of drivers feel stifled by regulations. This particular dissatisfaction with truck driving causes plenty of drivers to look for work elsewhere. While a dispatcher can’t eliminate these regulations, he or she can help avoid compliance issues—relieving this pressure off of drivers.
We’re all depending on you
Obviously, a dispatcher’s job requires exceptional multitasking skills, the ability to make quick decisions, and a solid understanding of this complicated industry. The right workflow, though, can make your job simpler and even more rewarding.
Remember, as a dispatcher you have great influence on the driver experience. By maintaining a solid workflow with the driver always in mind, you can play an important role in solving the issue of driver retention.
This story was written by Katlyn Whittenburg (@katlynisit), who is a technology writer specializing in logistics and transportation. She accidentally discovered her love for logistics after working for a startup. Katlyn strives to make the industry that drives our economy as interesting to everyday people as it is to her.