The DriveCam Difference
With 3,200 employees, Houston, Texas-based U.S. Concrete is the seventh largest producer of concrete in the United States, providing ready-mixed concrete and related concrete products to the construction industry in twelve states.
When Rick Maidens, director of safety and risk management at U.S. Concrete, heard about the DriveCam program, he was intrigued. He wanted to learn more about how the solution could enhance U.S. Concrete's existing fleet safety initiatives and reduce claims costs across its 2,507 vehicles.
At the time, U.S. Concrete was averaging 172 vehicle collisions per year at a considerable cost per claim. The company’s safety program, which included behavioral observations, was good—but Maidens’ group was not seeing the substantial impact on the company’s bottom line that it sought.
Maidens wanted to reduce the frequency of collisions and costs per claim by improving driving behavior, but lacked the ability to pinpoint and then reduce risky driving behaviors. The DriveCam program offered a cost-effective solution to identify and correct risky driving behaviors before they resulted in serious incidents.
Maidens quickly secured approval from senior management at U.S. Concrete who recognized the significance of actual behavioral evidence in helping coach drivers and in defending the company against false accusations.
In December 2005, Maidens worked with a dedicated DriveCam program team experienced in concrete and construction to pilot the solution in ninety-five U.S. Concrete vehicles based in San Jose, California. In January 2006, all of the DriveCam® event recorders had been deployed and event movers were operating at this location.
Company mechanics installed event recorders on windshields behind the rear-view mirror, and members of the DriveCam technical implementation team installed wireless access points in the yard to capture events from vehicles when they return at the end of the day.
The recorders are exception-based, continuously recording sight and sound inside and outside the vehicle on a digital loop, but do not save an event unless triggered by an exceptional force such as hard braking, swerving, sudden acceleration, or collision.
When a ready-mix truck pulls back into the yard, recorded events are automatically uploaded to a local computer and then sent back to the DriveCam program review center for expert analysis.
While the event recorders began capturing risky driving events immediately, DriveCam analysts did not begin reviewing the events, assigning risk scores, and delivering reports to U.S. Concrete supervisors to help them coach their drivers 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,” said Maidens.
Interestingly, while DriveCam analysts were not reviewing events captured by the video event recorders until July, U.S. Concrete still saw an improvement in driving behavior once the recorders were installed. Knowing that their risky driving behaviors were being saved, if not reviewed, was enough to modify driver behavior across the San Jose fleet.
From January through July 2006, U.S. Concrete realized a 50% reduction in the total number of claims and a 61% reduction in cost per claim compared with the same period in 2005.
U.S. Concrete moved to full-scale implementation in California in July and quickly had 400 vehicles outfitted with DriveCam event recorders. A dedicated DriveCam team works closely with Maidens and site supervisors to ensure the success of the solution and identify and improve risky driving behaviors.
In August 2006, the company outfitted seventy-eight vehicles in Maryland and District of Columbia with the recorders. Implementation currently has begun on 571 vehicles in the Dallas-Fort Worth region and full implementation across all U.S. Concrete vehicles occurred in 2007.
All implementations are preceded by an education campaign and question-and-answer session designed to help employees understand the DriveCam program, how it works, and why U.S. Concrete has invested in it. This is done on a plant-by-plant basis.
“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,” said Maidens.
Maidens reports that responses to the DriveCam program are overwhelmingly positive, particularly when it exonerates a driver.
“More importantly, when a driver sees the video, realizes the risky behavior he exhibited, and is coached appropriately, he becomes conscious of the behavior and is less likely to exhibit it again,” said Maidens.
In just one year, U.S. Concrete realized significant results including a 65% reduction in claims costs and a 30% reduction in collisions.
In addition to reducing collisions and reducing claims costs, the DriveCam program has been instrumental in exonerating U.S. Concrete drivers in collision situations where they initially were assigned blame.
In one instance, a U.S. Concrete driver was making a left turn from a legal left-turn lane when a passenger vehicle in a right-turn lane also proceeded left. The passenger vehicle driver reported to police at the scene that the U.S. Concrete driver was at fault.
A laptop was brought to the scene to download the saved event from the DriveCam event recorder, which was shown to the officer at the scene and demonstrated the U.S. Concrete driver's innocence.
Maidens believes the biggest benefit of the solution is that it enables U.S. Concrete to manage people rather than a process.
“Prior to implementing the DriveCam program, all we could do once a driver left our plant was make sure he returned on time,” said 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.”
“At the end of the day, we also are earning our employees’ trust because what the solution does is exactly what we said it would do and the whole company is benefiting from it.”