SmartDrive Systems, a leader in driving performance solutions that reduce collisions and improve fuel efficiency, announced at the BevCap Management Best Practice Workshop that Virginia Eagle Distributing, the largest Anheuser-Busch beverage distributor in Virginia, has experienced notable improvements in safety, compliance and cost reduction since adopting the SmartDrive video-based safety platform.
Virginia Eagle initially rolled out the SmartDrive solution to achieve its primary goal of reducing mobile device usage by drivers, and has also experienced tangible benefits across the organization. In addition to experiencing a 71% reduction in mobile phone usage, the fleet also reduced the number of insurance claims by 18%, and severity of claims went down 35%.
A member of the BevCap Captive Group, a captive insurance program for beverage distributors, Virginia Eaglehas long demonstrated a commitment to running a safe and compliant operation. Increasingly stringent federal regulations surrounding mobile device use and anecdotal stories of other fleets’ experiences with collisions in which drivers were using phones were among the motivations for Virginia Eagle to start looking at video-based safety solutions.
“Of course, there’s always room for improvement where safety is concerned, and we knew we had an opportunity to further reduce the number and severity of accidents across our fleet,” stated Todd Hargest, Director of Safety and Transportation for Virginia Eagle. “After looking at a variety of competitive solutions, we selected the SmartDrive video analytics platform because it offers a fully managed service. It made our work simple and efficient, was easy for our service managers to incorporate into their existing management and operational environment, and SmartDrive delivered on its promise of seamless customer support.”
Hargest appreciated that the SmartDrive program provided the most comprehensive solution available, which alleviates the significant workload his team would have been required to take on with other video systems. Because SmartDrive not only manages the data, reviews and scores triggered events and delivers a “Three Steps to Coach” workflow, service managers at each of Virginia Eagle’s six locations spend only 5 – 10 minutes each day addressing the most significant incidents.
“With other systems we looked at, our managers would have to spend hours every day downloading data from a card, reviewing videos and sorting through which drivers they needed to speak with. I just don’t have an employee I can spare to manage this fulltime,” added Hargest. “SmartDrive makes it so easy for us. They even customized the risk scoring to align directly with Virginia Eagle’s priorities, so we know we’re measuring and acting on what’s most important to our business.”
Despite strict company guidelines around cell phone usage, the fleet remained concerned about the risks and liabilities associated with device usage on the road. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), each day more than eight people are killed and 1,161 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver. As a self-insured company, reducing risk is always top of mind.
“Virginia Eagle is among a growing number of fleets to tackle the inherent risks and potential financial ramifications associated with drivers’ use of mobile devices by turning to a video-based safety and analytics program,” commented Steve Mitgang, CEO of SmartDrive. “Distractions come in many forms. To reduce this risk in a meaningful way, safety-minded fleets are implementing the road and cab-facing camera configuration that SmartDrive provides for expanded visibility and full protection—showing, without question, what was happening inside the cab in the case of a collision or other incident.”
Based on risk scoring SmartDrive customized for Virginia Eagle, Hargest implemented a 50-point violation scale for drivers. In any one month, drivers who have no more than three 3-point violations and zero 4-point violations are eligible for a bonus. Videos are now used regularly during the monthly safety meetings at each fleet location to reinforce positive driving behavior, and friendly competition to attain the best safety score has added an element of fun to the program.
While there was some initial skepticism from drivers when the system was first introduced, Hargest and his team took a proactive approach to rolling out the SmartDrive platform across the fleet, and communicated early on that the program was intended to protect and help employees. Since implementation, the company has seen seatbelt infractions drop by 96%, coupled with significant reduction in mobile phone usage and notable improvement in the fleet safety score.
“The way I see it, being able to exonerate just one driver in one collision has paid for the system,” said Hargest. “There is no question that we now have safer drivers and a safer fleet because of SmartDrive.”
SmartDrive is exhibiting in booth #13 at BevCap Management Best Practice Workshop, held May 3 – 5, 2017, in Orlando, Florida. Jeffrey Ferrell, Senior Director of Private and Public Fleets at SmartDrive, will also present a session focusing on the benefits of video-based safety solutions as well as trends in driver coaching and big data on May 3 at 4:00 pm EDT.