Modern safe trucking

The Messenger

May 12, 2019

The trucking business can be a very competitive world, not only for loads to haul but also for experienced, safe drivers to haul them.   Decker Truck Line Inc., headquartered in Fort Dodge, is doing everything it can to hire and retain drivers and give them a safe, comfortable place to work.   Brad Baaed, chief operating officer, stressed the importance of the approximately 800 drivers working on the road.   “Drivers are key here,” he said. “We have a lot of long term drivers. It takes one big team to move the freight.”   Keeping drivers happy, comfortable and safe when they’re out on the road is critical. The company has recently added a number of extras to the trucks to help their home away from home be more of a home.   One of those initiatives is furry and barks.   “We’re allowing dogs in our trucks,” he said.   That actually required an investment. The company created and provides dog friendly areas at each of its facilities.   Michael Erritt, vice president of operations, said a number of drivers have taken advantage of the new policy and now ride with Rover.   “147 of our drivers have the official papers for a dog,” Erritt said.   Drivers also have a new entertainment option for their time on rest breaks.   “We have EpicVue now,” Baaed said. “It’s direct TV that goes into their trucks.”   There’s more. The trucks are being, or have already been, equipped with microwaves, APU units, double bunks, refrigerator and TV. In addition, a host of new features on the trucks themselves will make them safer and the work better for drivers.   The company is taking driver comfort seriously.   “We try to make the truck as close to home as possible,” Baaed said.   Business is also on the increase.   One of the most recent new customers for the company is the Prestage Foods of Iowa plant near Eagle Grove.   “We’ve got a great working relationship with them,” Erritt said. “It’s a growing company and we’re growing with them.”   The summer months are good for the trucking industry in general, he said. Produce, ice cream and construction products move in much greater quantities then.   “It’s a good time of the year for the trucking industry,” Baaed said.   One of the company’s big innovations on the safety side is the use of the SmartDrive system in all of its trucks.   Rick George, vice president of safety, said the event recording system is a great safety tool.   “It integrates with the active systems in the truck,” George said.   He showed a sample of the video the device records. It takes four pictures of the road ahead and the driver in their seat each second. It also records data such as speed, forward facing radar collision avoidance activation, and other critical data.   In the sample video, a truck approaches a vehicle that’s stopped to make a turn. It slows to a safe stop and there is no collision.   It was all automatic, done by the onboard systems.   “The truck did that,” George said. “It’s lifesaving tech. It is truly amazing technology.”   The recordings are used for other purposes. They’ve been used for drivers to defend themselves against citations and in accidents.   “It’s much more reliable than an eye witness,” George said.   The company is also able to use the recordings to help train drivers to be safer on the road.   “It’s helping our professionals become better,” George said. “It’s very much like reviewing a game tape. It’s a great safety teaching tool.”   Decker’s fleet of trucks have a number of safety technologies on board each one, George said. They include collision avoidance, active cruise control, roll stability, speed gauges, lane departure systems and anti-lock brakes.   The most important safety system is the human behind the wheel, though, and George is proud of them.   “We have the best drivers in the world,” he said.   The company recognizes that, too. They have an active driver of the month and driver of the year program for each division and once a year a driver is chosen as the grand champion driver of the year.   Matt Lynch, director of maintenance operations, is proud of the fleet of new trucks the company provides for their drivers.   One of the changes veteran drivers are seeing is more of the trucks being equipped with automatic transmissions.   “Even the veterans are embracing it,” Lynch said. “They feel less fatigue. Less fatigue equals more concentration.”   They have a few more speeds than most cars. The newest are 12 speed.   “They behave a lot like a car,” he said. “They really do perform very well.”

The new EpicVue+ includes live and on-demand TV, a fleet-centric channel, and more ways to educate and engage with drivers while on the road.

In-cab trucking entertainment and communications provider EpicVue unveiled a new platform that combines DirecTV with fleet communications and driver training solutions—without the need for satellite hardware installation. The new EpicVue+ was announced here at the Truckload Carriers Association’s annual conference at the Gaylord Palms Resort outside Orlando. EpicVue+ delivers DirecTV’s live and on-demand premium content, a dedicated fleet channel, and includes an interactive training platform that can be branded by carriers to provide exclusive content to their drivers. See also: Making drivers feel at home on the road “With EpicVue+, our popular EpicVue experience has evolved, eliminating expensive hardware and lengthy contracts—and includes far more than just TV,” said Lance Platt, EpicVue CEO. “Our revolutionary new platform, designed specifically for truck fleets, is unlike any other available to the industry because it lets drivers enjoy the comforts of home entertainment while also keeping them connected with their carrier.”   Platt said that EpicVue+ is easy to install in tractors. He added that the solution promotes “job satisfaction and stronger employee connections while enhancing their ability to attract and retain drivers through entertainment, education, and engagement.”   Previous EpicVue on-the-road entertainment offerings required a satellite system to be installed on the back of cabs and a five-year commitment from fleets, Platt told FleetOwner. The new version relies on internet connections through mobile, WiFi, or broadband and a less-expensive system that connects to in-cab TVs.   As a bonus, Platt noted, drivers don't even need to set a DVR to make sure they don't miss their favorite shows. "Instead of forcing drivers to think about what they are going to record, we provide 100 channels of content," Platt explained. "We record every one of them for them. So now they can stop at any time and  go back and watch that game or that news event or whatever it is. And they don't ever have to worry about missing something because they were doing their job."  

What EpicVue+ offers fleets and drivers

Platt broke down more details on EpicVue+ offerings:   Entertainment: EpicVue+ allows drivers to watch TV in their trucks with more than 100 channels of live programming from DirecTV’s Advanced Entertainment Platform with premium content from networks such as Showtime and Music Choice and a library of on-demand content. Drivers also can watch content on-demand, so they won’t miss their favorite shows because EpicVue automatically records every channel it offers.   Education: EpicVue+ provides a portal dedicated to training and education to help implement best practices and reinforce compliance. Fleet operators can easily manage content distribution or enable access to online driver training from partners such as CarriersEdge.   Engage: EpicVue+ includes a custom home screen branded for each carrier and a dedicated fleet channel to distribute company announcements and fleet news, promote incentives to reward drivers for performance, and acknowledge standout employees.   EpicVue+ can be self-installed, but the company also offers professional installation options. EpicVue also handles technical problems. The system and service are available without a term commitment and on a per-truck rate.   Platt said he’s most excited about the dedicated fleet channel on the EpicVue+ service. “The ability to engage drivers and showcase your company culture is invaluable, and it’s something we have been working on at the request of our customers,” he said. “We’ve been dedicated to the process of putting this package together, so needless to say, it's with great pride that we are able to finally offer it.”