The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

DS Waters Uses 'Holistic' Approach to Manage Driver Risk

September 2007, by Staff

When Michael Belcher joined DS Waters of America as director of safety, he was committed to reducing accident rates across the company’s fleet. “I had limited resources to do so and needed to find something that would give me the biggest bang for the buck,” he recalled. “I wanted a holistic driver risk management solution that offered more than just training.”

Headquartered in Atlanta, DS Waters produces and distributes bottled water products to homes and offices throughout the U.S. under the brand names Belmont Springs, Hinckley Springs, Kentwood Springs, Crystal Springs, Sierra Springs, Sparkletts and Alhambra. The company bottles water at more than 25 manufacturing facilities, employs 5,000 people in more than 30 states, and operates a fleet of 3,000 vehicles and drivers.

DriveCam Helps ID Risky Actions
Committed to the safety of its employees and the general public, DS Waters was determined to reduce vehicle accident rates and related claims costs across its fleet while increasing management oversight of vehicles and their freight once they left distribution centers for customer sites. Belcher selected DriveCam’s Driver Risk Management Solution to help DS Waters identify and improve risky driving behaviors across its fleet.

Belcher had heard about DriveCam, a driver risk management company and was aware of DriveCam’s record inhelping enterprises reduce vehicle damages, Workers’ Compensation, and personal injury and claims costs by as much as 50 percent.

DriveCam’s results are based on predictive software and analytics capabilities, tens of thousands of actual events demonstrating risky driving behaviors combined with transportation and safety experience. The DriveCam palm-sized, exception-based video event recorder is mounted in vehicles behind the rearview mirror and captures sight and sound inside and outside the vehicle. Exceptional forces trigger the recorder to capture the critical seconds immediately before and after an event.

Looking at Accident Causes
“Prior to deploying the Drive-Cam solution, we had made some strides in knowledge-building and were gathering information on driving behavior through ‘1-800’ feedback stickers on our vehicles, but we needed and wanted to go beyond that,” said Belcher. “We needed to delve deeper into what that feedback meant, determine the root cause of accidents, and take preventive measures to reduce collisions. DriveCam had proven results and could help us identify and improve the specific behaviors putting our drivers, our products, and other motorists at risk.”

Belcher secured executive approval to test the DriveCam solution in DS Waters’ Belmont, Mass., and Oceanside, Calif., sites. The pilot phase began in April 2006 and the system quickly was deployed across 62 test vehicles.

Prior to installing the video event recorders in vehicles, Belcher and his team led a comprehensive education campaign designed to help drivers understand the system and allay concerns they might have as to its purpose. Specifically, Belcher described the system operation, use, and benefits. In addition to facilitating meetings and conference calls with drivers and supervisors, Belcher distributed brochures highlighting the Drive-Cam system and promoted the pilot in DS Waters’ internal newsletter.

Because the DriveCam solution captures actual risky driving behaviors such as hard braking, tailgating, and distracted driving when the video event recorder is triggered rather than simply when an accident occurs, DS Waters fleet supervisors were able to coach drivers to improve behavior before it resulted in accidents.

“One of the first trends we identified with the DriveCam solution is that employees we thought were good drivers because of their accident-free driving records often were the ones speeding, running red lights, and behaving most aggressively behind the wheel,” noted Belcher. “It was apparent that while they had not been involved in any accidents to date, they were truly ‘accidents waiting to happen’ and required coaching to improve their risky driving behaviors.”

Pilot Test Results Significant
The 2006 pilot results were significant:

  • The Belmont site experienced 13 vehicle crashes in 2006 versus 43 in 2005.
  • The Oceanside site had two accidents in 2006 across 14 total vehicles versus 14 accidents in 2005. Both accidents were judged nonpreventable.
  • Belmont liability losses (auto claims only, not including property damage or administrative costs) dropped to $13,200 in 2006 versus $82,100 in 2005.
  • Oceanside auto liability losses totaled $0 in 2006 versus $16,705 in 2005.
  • Oceanside drivers, known for incurring one of DS Waters’ highest “1-800” driving complaint rates, received only four complaints since the system was deployed.

    With risky driving events captured on the video event recorder, supervisors identified drivers who needed coaching. They also spotted drivers in violation of the company dress code, seat belt, and cell phone usage policies and were able to correct these behaviors as well.

    “We had no idea the volume of cell phone use was so high,” said Belcher. “We knew our drivers were using them, but we didn’t realize to what extent.”

    The DriveCam system has also helped reduce product damage, including bottle cracks, by promoting smooth delivery vehicle operation among drivers.

    Belcher reports drivers have been receptive to coaching and appreciate the objective evidence saved on the recorder, especially in accident situations for which they previously relied on memory and witness testimony to reconstruct the incident and determine fault.

    A dedicated DriveCam account team ill work directly with Belcher and DS Waters to manage and monitor the program and deliver consistent, timely review of saved events so supervisors can deliver drivers the coaching they need. DriveCam also will provide DS Waters in-depth, unbiased reports illustrating the program’s effectiveness and comparing frequency and severity of events across the organization. “DriveCam enables DS Waters to reinforce the safe driving habits we have instilled in our drivers and make them stick,” said Belcher..

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