Claim Spotlight

Predictive analytics, part 2: an escape route from accidents

August 10, 2017

Motor carriers use a variety of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and applications to monitor driving behaviors. Most of these technologies are designed to alert management if drivers exceed safe thresholds for speed, acceleration/deceleration rates, g-forces and other vehicle operation and sensor data.

Many can also score driver behaviors and create risk profiles. To get picture-perfect visibility of behaviors and metrics that accurately predict accidents, a growing number of fleets are using video-based driver risk management systems.

With forward and inward-facing event recorders, the systems capture risk factors due to weather, driver distractions, short following distances, traffic violations and other bad habits that cannot be detected by sensors alone.

Some technology providers offer managed services where their analysts will review video clips of critical events to capture such risks. Additionally, some have devised powerful algorithms to correlate driving behaviors with collision risks.

The algorithms translate a complex set of driving behaviors into easy-to-use scores and drill-down reports to manage risk.

The SmartDrive video-based safety system has a scoring algorithm that combines recent observations of risky behaviors with the predictive value of these observations. Its algorithm normalizes individual driver scores for risk exposure based on hours or miles driving.

The SmartDrive Safety Score identifies specific skills and behaviors that individual drivers need to improve on to reduce collision risk. Fleets use these scores alongside video clips to coach drivers and change behaviors.

Postal Fleet Services, a major mail hauler that primarily contracts with the United States Postal Service, was not using any technology to monitor driving behaviors before it deployed SmartDrive.

“We did it old school,” says Jeremy Collins, director of business and safety development. The St. Augustine, Fla.-based carrier was assessing risk by looking at MVRs, employment history, logbook records and road tests, among other manual practices.

As a result, management was “reactive” to information that came in from CSA inspections, citizen complaints and accidents, he says.

The company piloted the SmartDrive system and within a few weeks saw its SmartDrive Safety Score decrease by 85 percent. The company has since deployed the technology in its fleet of 700 trucks, he says.

The system gives Postal Fleet Service visibility of risky driving behaviors like texting, not using seat belts and many kinds of distraction. Collins specifically remembers an instance where the system discovered a driver had a bad habit of drifting to the left.

“It was a small behavior that he was not aware of,” Collins says. “That is the level of detail we can get to.”

Risky combinations

As fleets adapt new safety technologies on the path towards autonomous vehicles, some risky driver behaviors will go away but others may emerge.

On a monthly basis, Lytx, which provides the video-based DriveCam safety system, analyzes the correlations its algorithms find for behaviors and risk to see if “anything has significantly changed,” says Michael Phillippi, vice president of software development and operations.

Lytx’s algorithms assign point values to risky behaviors from analysis of a database of more than 70 billion driving miles. The Lytx score increases as drivers accumulate risks the system identifies from driving events that trigger video capture.

The risks include observed behaviors and scored combinations of behaviors. An example of a behavior combination is a driver being distracted by a handheld cellphone while having less than two seconds of following distance. This combination would have more risk than the sum of the individual behaviors. In other words: 1+1=3.

Lytx says its algorithms move past causal relationships of risk, such as drowsy driving, and identify correlative behaviors that multiply the risk. Not wearing a seat belt is an example of a correlative behavior. Its data show that an unbelted driver is 3.4 times more likely to get into a collision than an average driver.

The overall goal for the Lytx score, Phillippi says, is to provide fleets and drivers with easy-to-use information that makes coaching events as effective as possible.

On the fast lane to an accident

According to the theory called Heinrich’s Pyramid, for every 300 acts of risky behavior there are 29 acts that lead to a minor incident or scary near-miss, and one act that leads to a serious injury or fatality.

The risks are much higher for driving, according to analysis by Lytx. By analyzing over 50 billion miles of driving data, Lytx found that for every 190 acts of risky behavior there are 6 minor injury and/or property damage collisions and one fatality accident.

Taking a closer look at the Lytx data from DriveCam-captured events, about 50 of the 190 acts of risky behavior are drivers not wearing seatbelts, or being distracted by hands-free/handheld cellphone use, or food and drink in the cab.

Combinations of behaviors are even more serious. Lytx data reveals the riskiest combination of behaviors as:

  • Not looking far enough ahead combined + insufficient following distance
  • Not looking far enough ahead + handheld cell phone
  • Not scanning intersection + entering intersection with a stale yellow light
  • Cell phone use (hands-free or held) + poor lane-keeping

Making real-time predictions

Omnitracs offers seven predictive models that tailor to different types of fleets and industry challenges. For larger carriers, the company builds custom models that use any data the customer is willing to share — safety, operations, finance, demographic data and more.

For smaller carriers, Omnitracs offers two predictive models that both use hours-of-service data for different purposes. One detects turnover risk and the other accident risk. By using hours-of-service data, the predictive models have a standardized data set for analysis.

Ram Renganathan, senior data modeler for Omnitracs, says the company is working on projects that will be able to make real-time predictions, and deliver predictions to managers and to drivers. He notes the company has already invested in the infrastructure necessary to handle big data and real-time analytics.

As an example of what is possible, imagine a driver getting a message that recommends pulling over to take a nap when a system detects a high accident risk due to fatigue.

Omnitracs is looking for opportunities to create such real-time predictive models. As one step in this process, its Critical Event Video product could be updated with algorithms that identify traffic signs and objects. This would make it possible to capture drivers’ reaction to speed limits and stop lights as well as monitor their following distances, he says.

 

CCJ Digital

 

Claim Spotlight

Preventable or not: Merging four-wheeler mauls truck’s fender

August 9, 2017

Shortly before the accident, tractor-trailer driver John Doe was listening with disbelief to a Channel 19 account of a luckless New Jersey carrier being fined thousands of dollars by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration because forklift operators weren’t wearing seatbelts. Huh? Are these enforcement guys nuts? The last time Doe had heard of a forklift flipping was back in 1968 during a wild New Year’s Eve barrel race between a Clark and a Hyster!

At the moment, Doe was moseying along at 55 mph in the far-left lane of three-lane one-way Muttonbutt Road, approaching the intersection with Route 4. The light ahead had just turned green, and Doe’s lane was devoid of traffic. Cautiously decelerating to 35 mph before entering the intersection – where vehicles in the center and right lanes had started to move – Doe suddenly noticed a dull-green Mercury Cougar in the middle lane whose left-turn signal was flashing.

Whoa! Suspecting that the Cougar intended to leap across his bow onto Route 4, Doe hit the brakes, sounded his horn and swerved to the left. But alas, the Cougar’s elderly driver, Matty Munchley, was sure she could squeak past the nasty ol’ truck, and … WHUMPPO! Oh no! Doe had been struck, with his right front fender sustaining a spontaneous structural reconfiguration. Munchley was OK, albeit mighty miffed.

Since Doe contested the warning letter from his safety director for a preventable accident, the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee was asked to resolve the controversy. NSC quickly ruled in Doe’s favor, concluding that there was nothing more he could have done to avoid being pounced upon by the Cougar.

 

CCJ Digital

Industry Insights

Indicators: Trucking adds a few jobs in July, report indicates contract rates still weak

August 9, 2017

Trucking added 400 jobs in July: Total employment in the for-hire trucking industrygrew by 400 jobs in July, according to the latest employment report issued by the Department of Labor.

July’s gains come after three months of declines in industry employment. However, due to strong gains in February and March, trucking industry employment is still up compared to 2016. July’s total, 1.4706 million, was 22,000 jobs greater than the same month last year.

The U.S. economy as a whole added 209,000 jobs in the month, pushing the country’s unemployment rate to 4.3 percent.

The construction industry in July added 6,000 jobs. Manufacturing grew by 16,000 jobs.

Shippers Conditions reflect weak contract pricing:Market conditions in May for shippers, as measured by the monthly Shippers Conditions Index from FTR, reflects “moderately favorable truck freight growth and continued weak contract pricing,” FTR reported this week. Spot market rates for truckload segments have been climbing most of the year, but such pricing increases have yet come to fruition in the contract market.

FTR predicts the industry capacity to tighten over the next year, which would “alter the landscape,” FTR notes, likely to put upward pressure on rates. We are back at the status quo, with moderate growth in both the overall economy and truck freight,” says FTR COO Jonathan Starks. “Contract pricing remains relatively favorable for shippers. It is only in the spot market, which continues to show strong results on both demand and rates, that we see the signs of changing conditions. We continue to expect implementation of ELDs, coupled with moderate increases in freight, to make for a more fraught environment for shippers.”

CCJ Digital

Industry Insights

Revolutionizing Uptime: Navistar’s OnCommand™ Connection helps fleets operate more efficiently

August 9, 2017

OnCommand™ Connection is part of the OnCommand™ family of fleet management services from Navistar and is the first open architecture system that works with all telematics systems. Navistar’s connected services specialists answer your questions about how OnCommand Connection works for your fleet. Linda Negel is the senior manager for business strategy in Navistar’s Connected Services and holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science with a specialty in heterogeneous database technology. Andrew Dondlinger is vice president, general manager of Navistar’s Connected Services business and is a 28-year veteran of the technology and automotive industries, including IBM and PriceWaterhouse Coopers. He has been with Navistar for 12 years.

Q: How does Navistar’s OnCommand Connection work with a fleet made up of multiple makes and models?

A: OnCommand Connection (OCC) uses a unique, open architecture diagnostics platform that leverages the SAE J1939 communication standard used by all OEMs. This allows OCC to support remote diagnostics for all makes and models of heavy-duty trucks and buses. To date, over 250,000 vehicles are registered in OCC, 60 percent of which are vehicles from other OEMs.

Q: What kind of maintenance information do your customers find most valuable?

A: The most valuable data comes from our Fault Code Action Plans (FCAPs), which are available only in OCC. FCAPs not only give customers information about what is happening with their vehicles in simple English, but they also provide questions to review with the driver to determine whether they have a fault or a problem. Once we know we have a problem, the FCAP also speeds access to diagnostic and repair information to get the truck back in operation faster.

Q: How do predictive maintenance alerts work?

A: OCC can be customized to send alerts when certain conditions occur. For example, a fleet manager can set an alert for a specified time, date and frequency whenever a low fluid condition occurs.

Q: Describe some interesting patterns that have emerged from studying customer data.

A: We applied a machine learning technique to group vehicles based on their actual usage data. We looked for any unusual patterns between the groups. It quickly picked up a fleet that was beginning to have a high rate of failure on a component. We were able to work with them to replace it proactively and save them from unscheduled downtime. We also noticed an increase in our Class 8 long haul vehicles traveling off road in the fall in the Midwest. Turns out they were driving out into farmers’ fields to pick up corn to deliver to processing locations.

Q: How can OnCommand Connection help a fleet manager take the guesswork out of managing their fleet?

A: Let’s consider the example of a fleet manager who schedules a report in OCC reporting that a low coolant condition occurs. The driver may have added coolant and made the diagnostic trouble code go inactive. The manager has been notified of the condition and can decide that a repair is needed before any progressive damage can occur.

Q: How do you monitor the health of the vehicle in real time?

A: The electronic components on a vehicle are constantly sending information to the communication network or “CAN bus”. This information includes status and health information about the vehicle as well as Diagnostic Trouble Codes – messages about potential issues. TSP’s collect this information as it is generated and send it to OCC. Customers can see this information in the OCC portal as soon as it is sent.

Q: Describe how an action plan works?

A: Fault Code Action Plans (FCAPs) are unique to OCC. While the data from TSPs tell what the condition of a vehicle is, FCAPs tell the “why” and the “how”. They even provide a list of questions to ask the driver so a fleet manager can fully understand what issues are occurring and what needs to be done to get the vehicle back on the road.as soon as possible.

Q: How do the mapping and alerts tools add to a fleet’s bottom line?

A: Alerts tell the fleet manager about potential issues immediately – before they become catastrophes. Mapping tells the manager where the vehicle is when immediate attention is needed, and where the nearest service facility is. Our customers have reported up to an 80 percent reduction in roadside breakdowns and more than 30 percent reduction in maintenance costs as a result of using OCC.

Q: Will there be an ELD offering?

A: Yes. Our ELD product is currently in development and will be available in 2017. It will leverage our OnCommand Link device, which provides 2-way communication with the vehicle communication network.

 

CCJ Digital

Claim Spotlight

Preventable or not? Hard braking for deer spells trouble

August 9, 2017

Much to his relief, the palletized load of drums for Pooka’s Pool Supply was John Doe’s last scheduled delivery for the day. After backing his trailer to the loading dock, supervising the unloading process and completing the usual exchange of paperwork, he hurried over to the employee vending area to buy some heavy-duty coffee.

Returning to his rig, Doe saw forklift operator Morty Furndock returning a 55-gallon drum to the trailer. It appeared that the drum was destined for Pooka’s second store on the other side of town. So Doe found some rope and secured the drum to a section of rub rail by the rear door. The rest of the trailer now was empty.

A few minutes later, Doe was cruising down the freeway at 55 mph in the wake of another truck. Suddenly, the trucker in front panic-stopped to avoid a deer, so Doe also hit the brakes hard, causing the drum to break free, slide down the length of the metal-floored trailer and smash into the header, damaging it severely. Since Doe contested the warning letter for a preventable accident from his safety director, the National Safety Council’s Accident Review Committee was asked to make a final ruling.

NSC quickly ruled in Doe’s favor because he had been traveling at a safe speed for conditions, had been following the truck at a safe distance, had made a totally-controlled stop and presumably could not have anticipated the heavy rope he had acquired from Pooka’s Pool Supply was faulty and, therefore, insufficient to restrain the drum during rapid deceleration.

 

CCJ Digital

Industry Insights

Report classifies nearly 56,000 U.S. bridges ‘structurally deficient’

February 20, 2017

Approximately 1,900 bridges along the United States’ interstate system are deemed structurally deficient, a fraction of the nearly 56,000 bridges with the same designation, according to a report released by the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).

The organization’s analysis of U.S. Department of Transportation data on bridges in 2016 found that the country’s 55,710 structurally deficient bridges are crossed more than 185 million times each day. The number of bridges in the report is down a half percent from 2015.

The average age of the nearly 56,000 structurally deficient bridges, according to ARTBA, is 67 years old, compared to just 39 years old for non-deficient bridges. Additionally, 41 percent of all bridges in the U.S. are at least 40 years old and have had no major reconstruction work done to them.

“America’s highway network is woefully underperforming. It is outdated, overused, underfunded and in desperate need of modernization,” says ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black. “State and local transportation departments haven’t been provided the resources to keep pace with the nation’s bridge needs.”

Looking at the bridge data state-by-state, ARTBA found that Iowa, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, Ohio and New York have the most structurally deficient bridges. Washington, D.C., Nevada, Delaware, Hawaii and Utah have the least, the report states.

ARTBA says at least 15 percent of the bridges in eight states – Rhode Island, Iowa, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, West Virginia, Nebraska, North Dakota and Oklahoma – are also structurally deficient.

During regular inspections of bridge decks and support structures, bridges are rated on a scale of zero to nine, with nine being “excellent” condition, ARTBA says. A bridge is classified as structurally deficient and in need of repair if it scores a four or below.

 

CCJ Digital

Industry Insights

Making the case for advanced safety systems

January 30, 2017

Safety-conscious fleets understand the role that driver training and ongoing coaching programs play in reducing accident rates and keeping Compliance Safety Accountability scores low. But even the safest drivers for the safest fleets can have accidents. And if a company driver is at fault, the costs could be catastrophic depending on the severity, especially for small to mid-sized operations.

Enter advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). These new technologies developed by suppliers and OEMs rely on a combination of radar- and camera-based components to intercede on the driver’s behalf to eliminate or greatly decrease a collision’s severity.

Employing ADAS in a fleet operation goes beyond accident avoidance. Most products on the market today can integrate with telematics providers, allowing safety managers to monitor driver performance in real time and create scorecards based on exception events such as harsh braking, following distance alerts, lane departure warnings and speeding. Safety managers can target drivers exceeding a threshold for intervention and retraining and can reward high-performing drivers for safe behaviors.

Last year, Jacksonville, Fla.-based Cypress Truck Lines ordered 30 new International ProStars equipped with the Wingman Fusion collision mitigation system and BlindSpotter side object detection system, both from Bendix.

“Safety is the most important thing we do,” says Thad Penland, Cypress’ vice president. “It all starts there. You can’t haul the first load if you’re not safe. It’s a major focus for everyone at the company. Every single decision of any significance is looked at from a safety standpoint first and foremost. In terms of equipment, we believe in active safety devices. They are a big part of our safety program.”

Calculating the return on investment for collision mitigation systems and other ADAS can be difficult since their effectiveness is hard to quantify. Still, says Penland, the technologies available today make his drivers even safer and likely already have saved the company money.

“We’ve already seen incidences where one of the Wingman systems prevented a potential accident, including two that would have been rear-end collisions,” he says.

In the future, these advances in safety technology may become more commonplace, if not outright mandatory. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s June 2015 final rule mandating the use of electronic stability control technology for all Class 7 and 8 tractors with a GVWR greater than 26,000 pounds takes effect in August. NHTSA said the mandate will prevent as many as 1,759 crashes and save 49 lives annually.

 

CCJ Digital

Claim Spotlight

COLD FIRE: A Dramatic Success Without Dramatization

January 30, 2017

Last December, Dixon Auto Transport driver Mike Wehling was traveling on a rural Texas road when he noticed the flames and smoke in his passenger side mirror.  His passenger side drive tire was on fire.  He pulled off to the shoulder, grabbed his new Cold Fire Tactical extinguisher, and ran around to the side of the truck.  By this point, the tire had exploded and flames were shooting six to seven feet in the air.  Mike could see the steel brake drums glowing cherry red in the overwhelming heat.  He deployed the extinguisher, and, in a matter of seconds, the fire was extinguished.  When the smoke cleared, he could see the heat had melted the aluminum wheels.

Fire losses are among the most devastating losses motor carriers suffer, yet they have always plagued the transportation industry.  Between the equipment and the cargo, the damages may easily range from $200,000 to over $500,000.  Even the best maintenance may not be enough to prevent a fire, as the causes vary widely, such as a defective wheel bearing, worn out wiring insulation, or simply an under-inflated tire.  However the fire starts, it is nearly impossible to extinguish due to the quantity of combustible materials surrounding the fire and the intense heat the fire emits that makes those same materials reignite after the initial flames are put out.

Reignition is one of the most common reasons that turns what may have been a manageable loss into an expensive conflagration.  Most dry chemical fire extinguishers put out fires by driving away the oxygen to smother the flames, but they do not address the retained heat in the object that was burning.  However, new available fire safety products, such as Cold Fire Tactical, will not only put out the flames but will also super cool the heat source and surrounding areas, thus preventing the heat from reigniting the fire.  With the right product, some fire stories like this one end in success instead of disaster, as Dixon Auto Transport discovered.  Dixon had just outfitted its entire fleet with Cold Fire Tactical extinguishers the month before.

A few weeks after the fire, in a phone conversation with Thom Payson, the president of Cold Fire Tactical, Mike explained that he was a volunteer firefighter in his South Georgia hometown and shared his experience with Cold Fire Tactical.  As a trained firefighter, Mike said he knew there was no way a regular dry chemical extinguisher could have even touched that fire, let alone put it out.

Bill Fralic Insurance Services and Cold Fire Tactical congratulate Mike Wehling for his level-headed response and decisive actions that turned a catastrophe into a spectacular success story.

For information on Cold Fire Tactical:

Contact Thom Payson

(913)908-2167

thom@coldfiretactical.com

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Industry Insights

Trump orders agencies to freeze new regulations, ELD mandate likely shielded

January 25, 2017

President Trump issued Friday an order to executive agencies directing them to freeze all new regulations pending further review by Trump and his team. It’s unclear, however, whether this rule will affect any coming trucking regulations, especially since the administration’s memo, circulated by Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, allows for regulations related to “health, safety, financial or national security matters” to continue.

A spokesperson for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration said the impact of Priebus’ memo on pending regulations by the agency is “being assessed.”

The agency’s most recent report on coming regulations, issued in December, showed no new regulations on its calendar, following a dash at the end of former President Obama’s presidency to publish new rules.

Lane Kidd, director for the Trucking Alliance, said such memos are standard procedures for new presidential administrations. Kidd says barring further action, the rule to mandate electronic logging devices does not fall under the order, as it’s already law and is backed by a Congressional mandate. Also safe are the recently published rules to establish a CDL Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse and a rule to set national driver training standards, says Kidd.

CCJ

Industry Insights

221 cargo theft incidents reported in first quarter

May 23, 2016

The number of cargo thefts in the United States in 2016’s first quarter was up 8 percent, but the average value of the thefts was down 56 percent when compared to the first quarter in 2015, according to FreightWatch International’s quarterly report, released this week.

FreightWatch recorded a total of 221 thefts in the quarter with an average loss value per theft of $112,467. No thefts with a value over $1 million were reported in the quarter, FWI reports.

Of the 221 incidents recorded, 66 occurred in January, 90 in February and 65 in March.

Food and drinks continued to be the most stolen product type in the quarter, accounting for 20 percent of total thefts in the U.S. Home and garden ranked as the second most stolen product type at 14 percent of the total.

FWI saw “a dramatic increase” in the theft of building and industrial products, 263 percent, over the first quarter in 2015, and FWI noted a correlation between geographical surges in stolen building supplies in states where the housing market is growing, most notably Texas.

In 2016’s first quarter, California tallied the most thefts with 21 percent of all recorded thefts, which represented a 42 percent increase over 2015’s first quarter. Texas ranked second with 15 percent of all thefts, followed by Florida with 14 percent. Alabama saw the biggest increase year over year in thefts, seeing a 600 percent increase – 43 percent of which were building and industrial products.

Unsecured parking continues to be the No. 1 location for thefts, accounting for 89 percent, FWI reports. Theft of full truckload also continues to be most prevalent, making up 83 percent of thefts.

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