Southern Maryland Oil reduces identified collisions by 59% with Lytx
The DriveCam Difference
Founded in 1926, Southern Maryland Oil provides home, heating, and fuel delivery service; HVAC installation and service; and transportation of gasoline to gas stations and convenience stores in the Baltimore/Eastern Shore market.
Safety and compliance manager, Frank Stone, ensures that the company’s 120-vehicle fleet of fifty Econoline service vans, sixty oil-delivery trucks, and ten propane-delivery vehicles all operate safely and meet Department of Transportation (DOT) compliance standards.
“We take safety very, very seriously here,” said Stone. With oil and propane-delivery vehicles making approximately twenty stops per day, service vehicles making three to five stops per day, and most vehicles running year-round, they have good reason for concern.
Ensuring safe driving is a constant challenge, as is reducing frequency of collisions, gaining clarity in accident investigations, and limiting liability when incidents happen.
The Critical Need for Improved Safety
Ongoing vigilance around safety has helped the company attract good drivers and keep its frequency of collisions low. But it was important to monitor unsafe driving behaviors more precisely.
Speeding can be a serious problem for delivery drivers of highly combustible cargo, as can maintaining a safe following distance. Plus, according to Stone, “Propane trucks and tankers have a highly sensitive center of gravity—there’s very little wiggle room for error. The worst time for these drivers is the first ninety days on the job, because one mistake could be catastrophic.”
Southern Maryland chose the Lytx Driver Safety Program to use as a risk management and coaching tool to monitor and change those unsafe behaviors. “The fact that it would enable us to prove liability in a major accident made it a huge selling point as well,” Stone added.
Winning Over the Drivers
Having worked with Lytx for twelve years at three different companies, Stone is familiar with its valuable contribution to creating a strong culture of safety in a transportation-based organization. Stone said one of the keys to successfully implementing the Lytx Driver Safety Program is to first “keep it positive and make it their friend.”
When Stone rolled out the Driver Safety program at Southern Maryland Oil, he took ample time helping drivers get familiar and comfortable with how it works, even taking rides in the cab and looking at video footage with drivers.
He then held monthly safety meetings to review the program’s findings, both positive and negative. He emphasized to drivers the benefits of documented evidence to help exonerate them in incidents where they weren’t at fault, and looked for examples of what they were doing right to give rewards for good driving.
Stone strongly advises exercising patience in the implementation phase.
“Our drivers are a group of people proud of what they do, and they realize what they’re hauling,” Stone explained. “When you have a driver in his fifties who’s been driving for twenty years, he’s sensitive to criticism.” Stone added, “It takes thirty days to break old habits and change unsafe, risky behaviors. But changing the attitude of your professional drivers, if done correctly, can make a huge difference in the long run.”
The Power of Coaching
For Stone, one major benefit of the Driver Safety Program is its use as an ongoing training tool to help identify and transform unsafe driving behavior. Southern Maryland Oil boasts a remarkable retention rate for their drivers, many of whom had driven for 20+ years without the program.
“Now the [Driver Safety] Program is finding the problems,” Stone said. In fact, it immediately confirmed the company’s concern over drivers speeding and exhibiting other unsafe behaviors. Now, The Driver Safety Program "is part of every safety meeting and every safety committee meeting. Everyone in the company knows what it is; it’s an integral part of our safety culture.”
Stone thinks one of the reasons the Driver Safety Program is such an effective training tool is that drivers want to avoid having to face video documentation of things they did wrong. “What makes it so successful is that the drivers don’t want to put themselves in that place again.”
In fact, drivers are so motivated by what they see that Stone said that disciplinary action for unsafe driving is the absolute last step and is rarely necessary since coaching drivers after incidents makes them want to conform to improve skills.
As a result, the Driver Safety Program has helped the company reduce cell phone usage while driving by 86 percent, improve instances of unbelted drivers by 69 percent, and reduce identified* collisions by 59 percent.
Fortunately, Southern Maryland’s good track record with low accident frequency was further improved by using the Driver Safety Program. “[Our insurance company has ranked us number two] for the least amount of money spent on accidents—I’m sure the [Driver Safety] Program has a lot to do with that.”
The Driver Safety Program has also eliminated most of the vehicle damage they couldn’t account for before, saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
The Bottom Line
“From the beginning, the [Driver Safety] Program has been a major tool for our safety culture,” said Stone. “The whole way I train folks and implement safety would be changed if I didn’t have it. As long as you roll it out correctly, are transparent with the drivers about what you’re doing, set the rules, and have a thirty-day grace period, you’re going to improve your safety statistics.”
*Lytx has a strict collision definition, being when a vehicle comes in contact with another vehicle, property, person(s) or animal(s) and it appears to have resulted in human death, bodily injury, or property damage. A collision may be preventable or non-preventable.
- Risks associated with speeding and driving gravity-sensitive, highly combustible cargo
- Business need to identify and resolve unsafe driving habits amongst drivers—especially those who were new on the job
- Wanted to improve driver retention
- Needed to limit liability, and protect drivers and the company after accidents
- Confirmed concerns about driver speeding and risky driving behavior
- Reduced driving cell phone usage by 86%, improved unbelted events by 69%, and reduced identified collisions by 59%
- Eliminated “phantom damage” that previously couldn't be accounted for, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars
- Used the Driver Safety Program as an ongoing training tool
- Currently boasts a remarkable retention rate for drivers
- Rolled out the Lytx Driver Safety Program in 2013 for Southern Maryland Oil's 120-vehicle fleet
- Formally trained coaches and drivers on features, benefits, and ride-a-long demonstrations to ensure program success
- Held monthly safety meetings to review the Driver Safety Program’s findings
- Implemented driver recognition program to reinforce good driving behaviors and assist with driver retention
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