Why Liking Milk Leads to Safer Roads

All Good Kids Like Milk

It’s been 16 years since I’ve used that phrase, but it still rings in my ears today. I remember it better than my kids’ birthdays! When you think about it, that’s understandable as it was drilled in my head every day for 15 years as a UPS driver.

All Good Kids Like Milk is a mnemonic device UPS drivers use to remember the 5 Seeing Habits for Safe Driving:

A – Aim High in Steering

G – Get the Big Picture

K – Keep Your Eyes Moving

L – Leave Yourself an Out

M – Make Sure They See You

Every driver must recite the “5 Seeing Habits” on demand. With over 100,000 drivers on the road, UPS is understandably very draconian in regards to driver safety. Unlike most transportation companies that focus on driver safety with only newly hired drivers, UPS driver safety training occurs virtually every day. The idea is to keep safe driving at the forefront of even the most experienced drivers’ mind. I can recall several sessions where veteran drivers were warned about becoming too complacent on the road.

New Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) Rule

The current driver shortage has brought about a potentially concerning change in how it will affect public safety on US highways. To help expedite the process for new drivers to enter the workforce, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published its final rule for Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT). This rule goes into effect February 2017.

Under the new Entry-Level Driver Training (ELDT) rule, no minimum number of hours will be requiredfor classroom or behind-the-wheel training. Certified Driving School Trainers will determine the competence each commercial driver’s license (CDL) applicant displays in order to certify a driver has completed training.

While this will no doubt fast track many new drivers in to the workforce, one has to wonder if highway safety is being put at risk for expediency. A premium driver training school will be able to simulate or duplicate real life incidents via simulators and behind-the-wheel road courses. However, schools with fewer resources will not. For those operating a heavy duty vehicle, the amount of actual behind-the-wheel experience is essential in avoiding major incidents.

Parental Anxiety

Every parent has felt the pang of anxiety as they watched their teenager drive off, alone behind the wheel, for the first time. Why does this anxiousness arise within us? Because we know our precious child does not have enough experience behind the wheel. Because we know the chaotic and unpredictable nature of the highway. Because we know there are a multitude of ways to become severely injured or even die. I’ve lived through this three times, and each time the feeling was the same. “Drive like everyone WANTS to kill you,” I often said. Perhaps my method of driver training was a bit harsh, but my goal was to keep my kids alive. And though that directive may be a bit of an overstatement, at times, it certainly feels true.

“Big Trucks Don’t Have Little Accidents.”

Now the FMCSA wants to turn loose drivers with little to no over-the-road experience piloting multi-ton vehicles. Similar to how I felt with my kids, the thought of these new drivers on the road gives me pause. Next time you see a semi-tractor trailer to your left and then to your right, try to guess which driver has the most experience behind the wheel. You won’t be able to tell. Each time as I drive alongside one of these behemoths of the boulevard, I recall what a veteran UPS driver related to younger drivers, “Big trucks don’t have little accidents.”

Technology Can Fill the Gaps

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently published its 2017-2018 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. Several items deal with using technology to correct and avoid behaviors that can result in a major accident.

With the FMCSA’s electronic logging device (ELD) mandate looming, vehicle tracking will become the norm across the transportation industry. The presence of in-cab video systems is becoming more common as well.

One comforting bright spot is that this next generation of drivers seems to be more receptive to the use of technology. This attitude may make the next generation more receptive to a critique of their driving skills and the need to take corrective action.

Back in my day, we did not have vehicle tracking and telematics. And that caused a lot of anxiety for supervisors. Thankfully, with today’s technology, fleet managers can keep an eye on their drivers and address driving behavior issues before they result in a major accident. The data can also be used to acknowledge good driving behavior, and possibly even promote a healthy sense of competition between drivers.

Geoforce can help take the anxiety out of driver safety. The GO7 Advanced Vehicle Tracker, when paired with Geoforce’s Advanced Vehicle Tracking solutions, can provide information concerning multiple aspects of driver behavior, including speeding, harsh driving, seatbelt usage, and idling. This information is presented across an entire fleet and down to the individual driver. With the multitude of reports available, supervisors have solid data to show to their drivers and adjust behavior. Contact Geoforce today for details and a demonstration.