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8/29/2016 4:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Fleets See Return on Investment in Safety, Training

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Private carriers are adding to their safety efforts by spending more on training, upgrading equipment and taking steps to recognize their best-performing drivers.

When Tom Halpin, a retired state trooper, took over as transportation safety manager at Bozzuto’s Inc., a grocery wholesaler based in Cheshire, Connecticut, one of his first priorities was to install cameras in truck cabs to capture images of crashes and risky driving behavior. The result was a sharp decline in accidents, lower insurance premiums and improved driver safety scores.

The quick payoffs from investments in safety technologies are driving many fleets to do more to protect drivers from risks associated with highway crashes.

At Gemini Motor Transport, a fleet that delivers fuel to Love’s Travel Stops & Country Stores, Vice President of Transportation Brent Bergevin said he is adding air deflectors to tank trailers to make them more stable and working with equipment manufacturers to design a concept trailer that will “push the limits of capacity.”

“We’re constantly looking at how we are spec’ing the truck and trailer,” said Bergevin, who earlier this year also handed out $3.4 million in bonus checks to 135 top-performing drivers.

Drivers for Gemini who maintain spotless records for 10 years are eligible for bonuses equal to six times a driver’s average monthly salary.

Bergevin said he is evaluating the use of in-cab cameras and systems to monitor driver fatigue but doesn’t believe that those systems are advanced enough to currently deploy in his fleet.

At Meijer Inc., a supermarket operator based in Lansing, Michigan, Carol Heinowski, logistics manager for safety and compliance, said she is testing adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and active brake assist technologies.

“Overall, we’re getting good feedback from the drivers,” Heinowski said. “But we’re experiencing some false reads, such as active brake assist triggering when the only thing around is an overhead bridge or guardrail. So the technology is not perfect.”

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By Daniel P. Bearth
Senior Features Writer

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