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DSC Takeaway: Coaching Drivers and Preventing Accidents in the World of Technology

By Caroline Perkins, 11/14/2016

Attendee's Session Response in the Show App
Did you gain information that will help you make:
# 1: more informed decisions about an immediate issue? YES: 82%  NO: 18%
# 2: more informed decisions about a future issue/investment? YES: 100%

In-cab safety technology has been around for a number of years, providing real potential for transportation supervisors to bridge coaching gaps that traditional methods may miss. During the IFDA Distribution Solutions Conference, a panel of transportation leaders weighed in during an Expo Theater Session on how they are using video driver safety programs to prevent and account for accidents, and improve driver performance and safety.

The panel included Matt Krol, EHHS (environment, health, safety and security) manager at US Foods, Ken Cosby, director of safety and compliance at Reinhart Foodservice, and Mike Hummel, driver training supervisor at Martin Bros. Distributing Co. Del Lisk — vice president of safety services at Lytx — moderated the discussion. His company manufactures DriveCam, an in-cab video system used by a number of distributors.

Panelists at the session included (top photo) Matt Krol of US Foods, Mike Hummel of Martin Bros. Distributing Co., Ken Cosby of Reinhart Foodservice, with Del Lisk of Lytx as moderator. Bottom: Attendees at the Expo Theater session.

Exonerating Innocent Drivers
To demonstrate what in-cab video systems can capture, Lisk opened the discussion with several videos showing actual crashes that, without the recorded proof, could have been blamed on the distribution driver. He asked the panelists what led to their decisions to use this camera technology.

Ken Cosby of Reinhart said that from a safety standpoint, they tell drivers “you’re the billboard of the company, the face, the salesman.” On the one hand drivers are a great asset, but can also be a great liability.  

“We saw an opportunity from a safety and risk standpoint,” said Cosby. “We investigated DriveCam and saw videos much like the ones we just watched. We went very quickly from a small pilot into a full blown implementation to reduce the risk of personal liability to our company and gain a fact-based way to coach drivers.”

Matt Krol of US Foods said that at first, their adoption of the technology was to reduce costs, but Krol also noted that the industry is getting younger and that less experienced drivers sometimes struggle with making good decisions. “We found DriveCam instrumental in behavioral change. We can coach drivers in correct decision making as they begin their careers,” said Krol.

Educating Drivers about the Benefits
The panel agreed that, in the beginning, some drivers show resistance to the idea of video systems thinking it too “big brother,” and that it means someone is watching their every move. It took time for management to educate drivers not only about the benefits to them, but also the fact that the video systems are event activated, and that no one is sitting back at the distribution center monitoring each driver.

Mike Hummel of Martin Bros. said their drivers had the same initial reaction — they would be watched at all times. Hummel said the best way to overcome this was to load up the platform and walk drivers through it. “We even manually created an event-triggered video, uploaded it, and showed them this is the only way it happens,” said Hummel. He said demonstrating the process to drivers led to rapid acceptance.

Cosby of Reinhart said that his company’s first implementation wasn’t as smooth as it could have been, but with anything knew there is a learning curve. “If you get those guys who are the most vocal on your side and understanding what this technology does, it makes your job a lot easier,” said Cosby.

Cosby also noted that if you find a driver is doing everything right, that you want to reward and recognize it. Ultimately, Cosby said, the system is “really there for their protection.”

Coaching Opportunities
While exonerating a driver of fault is one part of the system, the panelists agreed that a major goal of the in-cab system is to improve driver performance. Each event that is recorded is a teaching opportunity if the driver has exhibited behavior that is a safety concern. The issues primarily include wearing seat belts or distracted driving due to cell phone use or eating or drinking while driving.

Mike Hummel’s take is that each piece of video can provide a unique opportunity. “It’s good to meet with the driver and discuss how they can avoid a bad behavior. You learn from one driver and you find ways to convey that to your other drivers and help the entire group,” said Hummel.

For Ken Cosby, he said that while his company had a strong desire not to use the information in a punitive way, in reality they had to pull back from that. “If you see repeated troubling behavior, you have to take decisive action for safety’s sake,” said Cosby.

Matt Krol of US Foods said: “We thought we had a safe fleet out there and in many respects we did — but DriveCam gave us a totally different window into what the reality is. It helped us support our seatbelt policies, our no cell phone policies, our no food and drink policies.” The technology also shed light on additional opportunities to improve safety.

The panel also discussed the effectiveness of rewarding good behavior by awarding certificates, holding celebrations like barbecues, or through any form of public or private recognition.

Key Takeaways
• In-cab technology can save the company money from incorrect liability claims.
• Video can exonerate drivers if they are not at fault.
• Success of the process relies on communication with and education of the drivers about the benefits.
• Videos provide coaching tools to improve performance.
• Rewarding good driving behavior is an incentive for all drivers to improve their skills.