Sunbelt’s Engage For Life safety culture is successfully mitigating risk and retaining drivers with the help of Lytx
As transportation safety director and long-time veteran of Sunbelt Rentals, David Haug is no stranger to managing risk. He is on the front lines as Lytx® Video Safety Application is deployed and has key learnings about how to encourage adoption, have difficult conversations, and leverage the technology in ways that are “transformative” for your safety culture. Read what David had to say in this recent interview.
Lytx: Thanks for joining us. Can you tell us about yourself?
David Haug (DH): My name is David Haug and I am the transportation safety director for Sunbelt Rentals. I've been with Sunbelt Rentals for almost 23 years. In my current role, I oversee our transportation safety programs and training, including most recently, the implementation of the Lytx technology.
Sunbelt is the second-largest equipment rental company in the United States. We will soon have over 1,200 locations in North America. By the time we finish the implementation of Lytx technology, we’ll have over 7,500 trucks with the system. As of today, we're about 12% deployed, but we are installing in multiple cities across the country as we speak. We’re already starting to see the benefits of the system and the ROI.
Lytx: What started your journey with Lytx in the first place? What caused you to look around and say we need something?
DH: Sunbelt’s continuous improvement and growth strategy has been to implement the latest technology available. That certainly is true for our operations but is also true for our safety. The initial conversation took place a couple of years ago, quite casually via email between myself and my boss. So, after that email, we began the very assertive and deliberate process of getting a dash cam pilot program up and running.
We looked at several vendors. At our stage of safety evolution, we needed a technology partner that was well established and could provide us with the kind of support I predicted we would need to get this thing to the finish line. After talking to multiple vendors, it was pretty clear that Lytx had that depth and ability to support us, in multiple ways.
And that support started on day one with our initial conversations and team calls. Everybody has proven to me time and time again that they are committed to our success.
The privacy element, for instance. In the simplest terms, this is a camera in the vehicle. Employees tend to view their vehicles as a personal space. In some respects, that's true; but it's also their workspace and we're trying to mitigate risk. It's not a surveillance tool. That type of conversation has to be done very carefully because if you don't know what to say to a driver who has these concerns, you're never going to win their support or trust. Lytx has helped teach us how to have those conversations.
Lytx: When you met with the privacy resistance and the fear of surveillance, what did you find was effective in having those conversations?
DH: It really comes down to education. Educating our drivers, leaders, and coaches, about what the system does and does not do. There are a lot of different triggers. There's a lot going on in that little box. I don't even call it a camera; I call it a computer. It's computing risk.
Another concern they have is that we’re going to use this to try to catch them doing something wrong, so we can get rid of them. Anybody who works in transportation or in any field where you must hire drivers knows they are hard to come by—especially skilled drivers.
The way to retain drivers is to make them better and help them identify potentially unsafe choices that could harm themselves, other motorists, or their career. No one is served by allowing unsafe choices to exist in perpetuity. Everyone is served by identifying them and helping that driver find better choices on the road.
Lytx: Do you have a success story of a particular driver who started out really risky?
DH: At Sunbelt, we created a high-risk driver monitoring and intervention process. The Sunbelt Risk Committee didn't want to create an exit door for drivers for the reasons we talked about earlier. Drivers are hard to come by. We need to retain drivers.
So, what happens when we suddenly know drivers are driving risky? They may not have had incidents or accidents in their history, but the leading indicator data provided by the application now tells us an incident is much more likely. We must act upon that.
A couple drivers in the early part of our implementation were identified as being very high risk. We started running them through our monitoring intervention process. In this case, the drivers were still demonstrating unsafe behaviors after their initial coaching sessions. The managers were frustrated. The drivers were frustrated. And no risk was being mitigated.
I set up teams calls with myself, the branch manager (who is also the coach), the district manager, and regional safety manager. And most importantly, the driver was on these calls. These were one simple way we could have a productive, positive, engaging conversation that matters with our drivers.
And we're starting to see the needle move on even extremely high-risk drivers. We're also looking into some other ways to get creative with the coaching, such as peer-to-peer coaching.
Lytx: Do you find that the application helps you and the company have conversations about not just safety, but compliance and improving culture?
DH: The name of our newer safety culture is Engage For Life. It's a very appropriate term to use for our efforts because it’s about life. Sunbelt, like many other companies, has suffered employee fatalities. And that is the ultimate price you pay.
So, the conversations we've had throughout our Engage for Life transformational journey have set us up well for the proper language, the proper approach, and the proper attitude. Not only from senior leadership, but our field leadership, our safety support personnel, and our drivers. The Engage for Life journey has changed the mindset overall in that we need to take bold steps.
I don't think anyone would argue that the Lytx application is a bold step when it comes to transportation safety. It's transformative. When we're introducing the system in our leadership training sessions, I say:
We’ve never had a line of sight into what’s happening inside the vehicle—the only exception being a ride along. But even during that ride along, you're not getting the real picture. Now that's changing. The Lytx system allows us to see, in real time and with consistency, what's really happening in that vehicle.
Safety professionals will talk about leading indicator data versus lagging indicator data. You want the leading indicator data because then you can help prevent the incident from happening. The lagging indicator data is after the fact. Not that you shouldn't respond to lagging indicator data, but it doesn’t allow you to be proactive.