Every quarter the company has a 45-minute online training requirement for all of its 6,000 drivers to meet--these cover such topics as rollover prevention and space management. Ryder also posts a monthly training topic online. The most recent topic was driver fatigue. After the driver reviews the document, he must successfully complete a quiz on it.
"Since 2005 we've given approximately 100,000 online lessons," notes Montalbano. Having training through the internet allows Ryder's drivers to take the courses at their own pace, from home or from work. "It works especially well with remote drivers, who are unable to report to a location every day. In addition, doing it over the internet allows us to track who's taking the training."
Montalbano is able to create a scorecard report that utilizes the information (it uses the Protrend internet training program from ITI). Once a month he goes over the scorecard with all of his operations executives. The scorecard lists every team in his chain and the percentages for each team in terms of who has completed their monthly training sessions. "You want to be close to 100 percent on that call," he says. "That's how we drive accountability."
At G&C foods, monthly safety talks take the form of paper bulletins that are sent out with the drivers' paperwork. Topics have included subjects such as driving through construction sites and season specific topics such as slipping on ice.
Companies such as Mennel Milling Co., a Fostoria, OH-based milling company that produces a variety of hard and soft wheat flour products, rely on driver meetings to pass safety information to its rank and file.
"At our last driver meeting one of our older drivers related how he has moving from the left lane to the right lane, when an aggressive driver in a little car spun around him--even though he had his turn signal on--and got up beside him. Our driver ran him right off the road because he couldn't see him back there," says Gary Strausbaugh, vice president of transportation for Mennel.
"So we got into a discussion about it at the meeting and the driver presented what he could have done differently."
Getting all the drivers together at one location at the same time can be difficult, Straushbaugh admits. "But we try and do it when we think we're going to have some downtime."
Safety Through Technology
Modern technology allows a company's safety culture to extend beyond the boarders of its brick and mortar business, into the truck itself.
"The touch screen computer in the cab, as well as the onboard computer that's attached to the truck, sends information back and forth through the Internet," explains Tom Flies, senior vice president of product management for on-demand fleet software company XATA, based in Eden Prairie, MN.
Through its proprietary XATAnet software, XATA collects vehicle information like speed, fuel consumption, RPMs, braking and mileage and communicate the information to driver and the office. "It's like a black box flight recorder, but for trucks," Flies explains.
Similarly, Manchester, NH-based Cadec's own Mobius TTS electronic tachograph feature provides fleet managers with information directly from the truck engine such as speeding, sudden deceleration and over-revving. This information drives Cadec's "Green-Yellow-Red" Report--which provides key performance indicators to fleet managers in an easy to address format.
"The report has a green, red, yellow visual scorecard based on how a driver's performance has been over time," says Frank Moreno, vice president of marketing and product management for Cadec. "Companies post the report in the driver break room so that they can see their performance against the company standard and against their peers."
One of the problems with employing technology-based safety solutions is that drivers can react negatively to something they see as an intrusion into their workspace--the cab.
"If you just drop the system in there overnight, you're going to have unhappy drivers," says the NPTC's Petty. "Some might quit, some might sabotage the system, and some might just grumble and plod on."
When implementing new safety measures, Petty and others suggest doing some test modeling with a small group of drivers--six or so. Typically, the test group ends up realizing how the new technology will actually protect them and make their lives easier. After that, the positive word of mouth spreads to the rest of the fleet and smooth adoption is assured.