New Technologies Aimed at Improving Driver Safety Tops American Society of Safety Engineers’ Improving Fleet Safety Conference in Georgia
Atlanta, GA (September 14, 2007) — As transportation accidents continue to be the number one cause of on-the-job deaths, occupational safety and health professionals, law enforcement and academia from 27 states, Canada and Switzerland met at UPS headquarters in Atlanta, GA, this week for a sold-out American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) “Improving Fleet Safety” symposium to identify additional ways to prevent injuries and fatalities on the roads. The focus of the symposium was to offer safety, health and environmental professionals an opportunity to participate in sessions and panel discussions on new challenges faced within the transportation industry, management processes and best practices.
Pilot programs involving new technology aimed at understanding driver behavior and the lone-worker environment were some of the many topics discussed at the two-day conference. In addition, the presentations went beyond addressing large trucks to include personal vehicles used for work, vans, utility vehicles and more.
In 2006, 5703 people died from on-the-job injuries in the U.S. and nearly one out of four of those fatal work injuries were transportation related. Worldwide, roadway crashes and fatalities are at an all time high. In the U.S. there were 6,159,000 vehicle crashes in 2005 resulting in the death of 43,443 people and injuring 2.7 million more. Those accidents cost the U.S. $230.6 billion. For businesses, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) estimates that the per crash cost for a fatal crash involving a company vehicle to be $3,604,518.
Topics offered at the conference included ‘in-vehicle technology: managing crash risk before the crash occurs’, ‘diagnosing fleet safety systems to achieve involvement, exemplary compliance, and sustained loss reduction’, ‘best practices in hazardous materials transportation’, ‘event recorders – how one company’s pilot program proved to be a success’, ‘what are the leaders in fleet safety doing? — what separates the best from the rest’, ‘an overview of new technologies to improve transportation safety’, ‘update from the FL cargo theft task force’, ‘improving driver safety through feedback’, and, ‘building safety into your company’s retention process’.
Speakers included Lt. Bill Shiver of the FL Highway Patrol, Captain Bruce Bugg of the GA Department of Public Safety, retired UPS Corporate Fleet Safety Manager Charlie Halfen, UPS Vice President of Health and Safety for Freight Phil Warren, Georgia Institute of Technology Assistant Professor- School of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s Jochen Teizer, Ph.D., Senior Loss Prevention Specialist for Risk & Insurance Management Company (RIMCO) Bill Hinderks, Director of Safety for DS Waters of America Mike Belcher, CSP, Greyhound Lines, Inc. Safety Director Alex Guariento, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation’s Michele L. Tokar, Fed Ex Express Managing Director of Corporate Safety, Health and Fire Prevention’s Scott Mugno, President of Daecher Consulting Group Carman Daecher, Vice President and General Counsel – National Tank Truck Carriers, Inc.’s Tom Lynch, ASSE Transportation Practice Specialty Administrator Doug R. Cook and Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety’s Director of Transportation Technical Consulting Services Dave Melton, CRSP, CDS.
Seatbelts and company programs aimed at reducing aggressive and distracted driving can work, conference participants said, but many are looking at in-vehicle cameras, vehicle and cargo tracking systems and the importance of safety coaching and actively managing employee performance.
One attendee from North Carolina noted 27 firefighters from one town lost their lives due to traffic crashes and not wearing their seatbelts in the last three years. Town officials developed and implemented a program aimed at increasing seatbelt use among firefighters. The program, he said, has worked. They have seen a major reduction in traffic crash related on-the-job deaths and a major increase in use of seatbelts for firefighters.
Attendees agreed that safety is good business and transportation crashes not only cause injuries and fatalities, but increase maintenance costs, lead to road repair, retraining, hiring new drivers, and slice away at a company’s good reputation.
“We need to continue to mitigate risk and improve driver safety by using the technologies available to us now such as electronic driver monitoring and feedback technologies, driver selection processes, and policies and procedures for optimizing transportation safety,” Nadine Levick, CEO of Objective Safety, said.
Founded in 1911, the Des Plaines, IL –based ASSE has more than 30,000 occupational safety, health and environmental professional members located globally who manage, supervise, research and consult on safety, health, transportation and environmental issues in all industries, government, labor and education. ASSE is committed to protecting people, property and the environment. For more information check ASSE’s web site at www.asse.org and go to Practice Specialties.