There are additional uses for an event recorder. "The data recorder that sits up by the windshield has a manual trigger on it," says Bartels. "We have our clients educate their drivers that they can take video and audio themselves just by pushing the button." This becomes valuable when there are access issues at the jobsite. It allows the drivers to identify and communicate any dangerous conditions.
U.S. Concrete, based in Houston, TX, is the seventh largest producer of concrete in the country, running 2,507 vehicles over 12 states. It had a safety program in place that included behavioral observations. But claims were still impacting the bottom line. The company was averaging 172 vehicle accidents a year.
Rick Maidens, director of safety and risk management, U.S. Concrete, heard about the DriveCam event-based video recorders. The systems promised to pinpoint risky driving behaviors before they resulted in accidents, and help defend the company against false accusations.
By January 2006, DriveCam video event recorders had been installed in 95 U.S. Concrete ready-mix trucks in San Jose, CA, as part of a pilot program. Wireless access points in the yard would capture events from the vehicles as they returned at the end of the day. These events were then automatically uploaded to a local computer and sent back to DriveCam for expert analysis.
Although the event recorders began capturing data immediately, DriveCam driving risk analysts did not begin reviewing the events, assigning risk scores and delivering reports until July, when initial Union resistance to the recorders was resolved. "At the end of the day, the Unions saw the video event recorders for what they are - technology to increase the safety of our drivers and exonerate them in instances of false claims," says Maidens.
Despite the delay, U.S. Concrete saw an immediate improvement in driving behavior once the cameras were installed. From January through July 2006, it realized a 50% reduction in the total number of claims and a 61% reduction in cost per claim compared to the same period in 2005. Now the entire fleet is in the process of being outfitted with the DriveCam system. Full implementation across all vehicles was expected by the end of 2007.
Prior to implementation at any given location, there is an education campaign and a question and answer session to help employees understand the purpose behind the event recorder's use. "Nothing is done until every one of our employees - from the delivery professionals and safety teams to plant managers, supervisors and drivers of other fleet vehicles - is aware of what the solution is capable of, how it will be used and what our motive is for installing it in our trucks," says Maidens. Responses to the system have been overwhelmingly positive, particularly when it exonerates a driver.
For example, there was an incident in which a U.S. Concrete driver was making a left turn from a legal left-turn lane when a passenger car in the right-turn lane also proceeded left. After the accident occurred, the driver of the passenger vehicle reported to police that the U.S. Concrete driver was at fault. A laptop was brought to the scene to download the saved event from the video recorder, where it clearly demonstrated the U.S. Concrete driver's innocence.
Twelve months after installing the first systems, the results speak for themselves. U.S. Concrete is realizing a 65% reduction in claims costs and a 30% reduction in accidents.
"Prior to implementing DriveCam, all we could do once a driver left our plant was make sure he returned on time," says Maidens. "Now, we are actually able to manage drivers while they are gone, and can ensure they are getting the coaching they need to ensure the results we expect.
"More importantly," he continues, "when a driver sees the video, realizes the risky behavior exhibited and is coached appropriately, he becomes conscious of the behavior and is less likely to exhibit it again."
The key to successful implementation is trust. "At the end of the day, we are also earning our employees' trust because the solution does exactly what we said it would do, and the whole company is benefiting from it," says Maidens. ?
Survival in the Rough
Even the best technologies are useless if they can't live in the construction environment. Dust and moisture are significant hazards.