As we kick off another year in transport, and in advocating for the issues that matter most for freight operators and those they employ, safety is once more set to be a recurring theme confronting the industry.
And rightly so following a horror 2019 on Victorian roads where lives lost increased by over 25 per cent compared with the previous year, with increases in truck driver fatalities in Victoria consistent with fatality and injury spikes across all driver classifications.
Statistics showing almost one in five (17.1 per cent) of every road death last year involved a heavy vehicle, and numbers of single vehicle truck driver deaths are around five times higher than the five-year average, should give every operator pause to reflect on their safety practices and make improvements where warranted.
So, if there’s anything we can all agree on it’s that responsible operators need to focus on providing and investing in the safest possible working conditions for their drivers, who must be equally focused on deploying safe driving practices every time they get behind the wheel.
The Victorian Transport Association is therefore pleased to announce a new recognition and reward program that acknowledges drivers who demonstrate best-practice safety in the course of their duties.
The program – to be known as VTA Driver Salute – is sponsored by leading truck tyre manufacturer and retailer Goodyear and Dunlop Tyres, and powered by DriveRisk, a leading driver behaviour management company that uses video technology to provide information to help operators and drivers change behaviour and identify risk.
What makes Driver Salute different from the many other worthy safety recognition programs out there is that it uses in-cabin video technology and telematics to provide evidence and visual proof of drivers who demonstrate safe practices in the course of carrying out their duties.
As we all know, technology is changing our industry every day and especially so when it comes to safety, where it is saving lives through active and passive systems that both prevents crashes from happening and mitigates the impact on drivers and their passengers when they do.
Under the Driver Salute program, Victorian-based transport operators that deploy DriveRisk video technology and telematics in their fleets can submit in-cabin footage of drivers demonstrating sustained best-practice safety behaviour in the course of their duties.
The submissions will be reviewed by an independent panel of judges, with winners announced on a bi-monthly basis and presented with a certificate and vouchers from Goodyear and Dunlop Tyres.
The six bi-monthly winners will then be in the running for the annual Driver Salute major award, to be presented at the end of the year.
As well as rewarding drivers that exhibit safe driving practices behind the wheel, Driver Salute is intended to help operators embrace technology as a key tool for improving safety.
An example of this is DriveRisk’s DriveCam program, which identifies, prioritises and helps prevent the causes of poor driving before a collision can occur.
This approach helps operators that use the technology to transform their safety culture, which can have positive and far-reaching impacts on the bottom line.
Technology is also intrinsic in other heavy vehicle OEM and aftermarket products like tyres, which is why we’re so pleased to have Goodyear and Dunlop Tyres on board as our major Driver Salute sponsor.
Innovation is fundamental in Goodyear and Dunlop Tyres range of commercial truck tyres, so it is fitting that they have so generously backed Driver Salute, in this its inaugural year.
We know anecdotally that for every incident you hear about involving a truck there are dozens of examples of professional heavy vehicle drivers that live and breathe safety every second they are behind the wheel and on the job.
These are the drivers and their stories that Driver Salute aims to unearth and celebrate, so that we can promote the safety culture that operators enshrine within their organisations every day.
If you are interested in learning more about VTA Driver Salute I would encourage you to contact the VTA.
I look forward to announcing our inaugural winner at the end of the month, and in sharing other Driver Salute safety stories as the year unfolds.