Safe roads are good for business

Ports should care more about what happens to trucks once they head out of the gate. Credit: Péter Gudella, 123rf.com Ports should care more about what happens to trucks once they head out of the gate. Credit: Péter Gudella, 123rf.com
Industry Database

COMMENT: With the annual increase in containerised trade across the globe, we collectively put more heavy trucks on our roads each year, writes Wouter de Gier.

The UN Decade of Action for Road Safety is coming to an end in 2020 but as an industry we have done surprisingly little to make our roads safer during the past 10 years. That strikes me as odd, as the immediate business gains of safer roads are many.

Ports and terminals mandate safety briefings at their gates and keep an eye on the truckers while inside. Out on the public roads though, truck drivers are often on their own, working remotely and unsupervised over long and irregular hours. This creates a toxic mix that may result in tragic accidents involving the driver, school children, cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

Some logistics companies have started installing Vehicle Tracking Systems in their fleets which record trip data but also record truck driver behaviour. Unfortunately, this data is often used to punish drivers for poor performance (such as speeding) which is detrimental to changing driver behaviour.

We should instead use the trip data to reward safe driving. A positive incentive changes behaviour. Previous projects in West Africa showed that by offering simple and small incentives to drivers, safe driving increased 300% in less than two months. In addition, the number of road traffic accidents and near misses nose-dived.

Lower overall speed means safer driving, lower fuel consumption, reduced wear and tear on truck and chassis, lower insurance costs, fewer accidents and less downtime. The positive driver incentive program results in motivated and productive drivers. When adding this all up, such program will pay for itself.

That is quite a value proposition: a reliable and more efficient supply chain at zero net cost. We could be saving hundreds if not thousands of lives as a bonus each year. Who’s in?

Wouter de Gier is director for global safety and environment at APM Terminals and chairman of ICHCA’s Technical Panel.

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