Georgia Contractor Reins in Driver Behavior with Telematics

Driver safety is a concern for virtually any company that has vehicles on the road. In addition to the conduct of the drivers themselves, and interactions with those around them, there is the concern of how bad driver behavior might be perceived by the public. One Georgia contractor who operates an asphalt plant for their own paving projects and others and has a division that engages in heavy civil construction projects is using FleetWatcher telematics to rein in driver behavior. Here’s how they are using technology to reduce incidents of speeding (relative to the posted speed limit), hard braking,
fast starts and hard turns among their fleet of 150 on-road vehicles.

Paving Train-1

Vehicle data is captured from either the FleetWatcher App or from an in-vehicle device. “We have about 400 devices installed (150 of which are on-road vehicles), all of which were done in-house by our own mechanics. Most are hardwired, but we use the ODB-2 port on anything we can. The only vehicles we use the “App as a Device” for is when
third-party haulers are hauling on our projects- that way we have 100% of trucks accounted for on our shifts,” said the Business Process Manager (BPM).

This data, which is reported continuously, is used to assign a numeric score and letter grade to each driver. FleetWatcher tabulates the data into a report which is distributed to the key company personnel weekly. “The president will look over the report to see who the biggest group of offenders are, and then call their supervisors. ‘This person is not
driving great; here’s what they need to improve on. Please talk with them,’” said the BPM.

“We had one person who was driving a heavier vehicle who had earned an F the previous week,” he continued. “So, we had a serious talk with him. The next week he went from an F to an A-, so we had a lighter talk with him. ‘You did great last week, we’re all proud of you, keep it up.”

“We may not have ever known about this driver’s habits without FleetWatcher. We first tested the device to make sure everything was calibrated correctly, then after confirming the device was correct, sat him down and talked about the responsibility associated with driving. We let him know we would be watching for an improvement and gave him tips
to think about based on the habits FleetWatcher revealed (ex. Leaving more space than he thinks he should to give ample brake distance because FleetWatcher pointed out the Harsh Braking events.) After that, his score steadily.”

Since then, the driver has consistently been in the B range, which is a drastic improvement over his initial behavior. While not every example is this dramatic, then not every driver is starting out with an F.

“A big part of this was our commitment to improve. FleetWatcher gave us the tools to see what was happening and to hold drivers accountable.”

If You Can Measure It, You Can Improve It In addition to the driver safety reports that are generated within FleetWatcher, (title) also takes a deeper dive with the data using Microsoft Power BI, to help his team better visualize the data.

“Every Monday I run the driver safety leaderboard report, then take the CSV export and save it to a file folder. Then Power BI will pick it up and make the dashboard which is 4-page report.”

The first page is exactly like the driver safety leaderboard. Every driver receives a numeric score based on their driving performance for the past week – based on the 4 criteria monitored. Drivers and their scores are listed in descending numerical order, with the best driver’s score at the top and the worst at the bottom. In addition to a numeric score, each driver’s score bar chart is color coded for easy identification. Anything over a 60 is blue and anything less than 60 is red. Drivers with red color bars are typically selected for personal discussions.

The next page on the report lists the infraction type average per driver. “We’re able to look at a single driver to see that over this timeframe they had an average of this many speeding events, this many harsh braking events, this many harsh turns, and this many fast starts. It will also show a color-coded distribution so you can see immediately – ‘Oh,
that’s a lot of blue,’ or ‘that’s a lot of speeding’ and so on.

The BPM can look at all drives to see how many infractions they have and see who’s the biggest risk, and then act to counsel drivers as needed.

The next page on the report is a pie chart showing every single driver and every single infraction and what the distribution is. (title) can look at the company to see what the most common infraction is “If we’re trying to cut back on something this is where we would find the biggest influencer.”

The last page is a tabular view of the same kind of data so the BPM can quickly see that Driver 1, for example, has 28 speeding incidents including 6 moderates, 0 hard turns, 0 accelerations, and 0 hard braking infractions and he got a grade of B. The different thresholds for all infractions are set to industry standards by FleetWatcher as default.
Customers can edit those thresholds on either a company basis or by vehicle category. This contractor edited the thresholds so that heavier vehicle categories are held to stricter standards.

Overall, the company has noticed an improvement in driver behavior. In fact, BPM commented that in the asphalt paving business driver behavior has improved across the board without any driver discussions. “We had not spoken with the dump truck drivers

that haul mix and aggregate, but their scores improved as a whole. Every single one of them improved over time.”

Perhaps it was because they sign in to FleetWatcher every day and know that they are being monitored. “I don’t know if putting their name on the vehicle was the cause (for the improvement) but every single driver was already great or improved to an A or a B. It also helped us weed out a driver that wasn’t going to cut it.”

Does Proper Spacing Eliminate the Rush?
Another possible reason for the driver behavior improvements could lie with the visibility that FleetWatcher providers across the whole fleet, as evidenced on a paving project along US Highway 27. The project was a straightforward mill and overlay job, covering all four lanes of US 27 in each direction. In addition, there was a “suicide lane” in the middle, along with some median work and some patchwork, but the majority was mill
and overlay. The project required 30,000 tons of material, including base, binder, and topping. With heavy traffic in some sections, keeping trucks properly spaced with minimal waiting was a challenge. Here’s how they did it.

Roughly two years ago the company implemented the FleetWatcher Materials Management System (MMS) telematics platform. Specifically designed for asphalt paving contractors, MMS provides real-time visibility to all the company’s paving assets. Managers, supervisors, and other users can see how many trucks are allocated to a specific job, where they are, when they are due to arrive at the paver (or return to the asphalt plant), and more. If there is a traffic tie-up that is causing problems, the dispatcher

can alert trucks to take an alternate route around the problem area, saving valuable time. The (Shepherd’s title) of the company especially appreciates the Load Cycle Analysis (LCA) screen which shows him at a glance how the trucks are spaced – and whether they are bunched or staggered, etc.

“Being able to see every single truck on a shift and seeing whether they are in a stair-step pattern at a glance so valuable.”

In addition to monitoring trucks and taking corrective action in real time, this facility uses the active idle alert feature. If any monitored piece of equipment idles for more than a company-set time (which varies by equipment type), the supervisor gets an email alert. If the idling continues for long enough the supervisor gets another alert as does the
manager. As the idling continues the alerts escalate up the corporate ladder – but usually one or two alerts is all it takes to get the asset back into a productive mode.

He recalled a time on the Highway 27 project when “my inbox was blowing up. We were getting flooded with alerts from the paver which sends an alert about every 30 seconds. I looked at the LCA and saw that we had a bottleneck at the paver – so I called the foreman on site. Turns out the paver had a problem and was down for about 20 minutes.”

Rather than continuing to send trucks to wait in the line that was now forming, the dispatcher redirected several trucks to other projects.

In addition to monitoring the LCA report in real time, the BPM also creates an F4 At Source/At Destination Report each day. This tells how long each truck has been at the source and how long it’s been at the destination. This data is exported into an Excel spreadsheet and color-coded before being distributed to the paving foremen, superintendents, and managers. The longer a truck lingers at either the source or the
destination, the redder it is plotted. This provides another “at a glance” tool to see how the team is doing.

“It’s a report we run every morning so we can look at yesterday’s shifts before we start the new day, and hopefully make corrections. Maybe we had too many trucks yesterday, let’s pull one off today and see how it works.”

Regardless of whether trucks are evenly spaced due to the LCA, and therefore aren’t rushing around, or driver behavior improves from counseling, or there is some of the “Hawthorne Effect” of improvement because drivers know they are being watched. This contractor is clearly happy with the results. “Being able to ensure that smooth stair step
desired in the LCA has been huge for us. And the driver safety has also been a smooth and impactful feature of FleetWatcher for us.”


Topics: Wireless Fleet Management Construction telematics Fleet Management