The power of truck data

The power of truck data

The ELD mandate was originally signed into law in order to improve road safety and reduce accidents. The core tenant of the law was to enforce hours-of-service rules through electronic logging devices (ELDs) that capture all truck movement and duty status changes.

While the goal of the ELD mandate was safety, a major side effect has been that the trucking industry has gone from lacking granular data to being awash in it. We believe that this will have beneficial consequences for the industry that go far beyond what was intended when the mandate originally was signed into law.

Consider this: within the short span of two years, an industry that has long been deprived of digital connectivity now has a connected device in every cab. This enables fleets to monitor driving events, such as hard braking and speeding, while also having a better understanding of how to improve fuel efficiency across the billions of miles driven. In this blog post, we’ll explore the ways KeepTruckin is working to help fleet managers use this data to make their companies safer and more efficient.

Let’s start with size. KeepTruckin has one of the largest “virtual fleets” in the world, with more than 250,000 ELDs in the market. We have made it a top priority to be at the forefront of data-driven innovation for the trucking industry. Some facts from our database:

  • Trucks with KeepTruckin ELDs drove over 10 billion miles in the past year. They cover just about every mile of every interstate highway every day.
  • We receive about 200,000 GPS pings every minute from trucks hauling all kinds of trailers and cargo
  • We have data on thousands of trucks from every major manufacturer – over 75,000 Freightliners alone!
KeepTruckin Traffic Heatmap
One Week in Data: Fleets use KeepTruckin on every major road in America. Brighter yellow means more vehicles drove the road.

Context is everything when it comes to understanding ELD data

As mentioned above, we believe the ELD mandate will have a much larger effect than just hours of service (HOS) compliance. Fleet and safety managers suddenly have access to new insights about their trucks in real-time.

But it’s not sufficient to just count hard breaks and hard corners when it comes to driving safety and optimize costs such as fuel. It’s a step in the right direction, but it’s only half the story. No two miles are the same – you need to consider the terrain and the conditions the driver is traversing.

This jibes with what we’re hearing from customers. When we talk to our customers, they say that, while basic ELD reporting is beneficial, it lacks context to really be actionable. Some examples include:

  • Driving down a steep hill: It’s almost impossible not to brake hard, so this shouldn’t count against the driver’s safety rating.
  • When hauling a heavy load uphill, a driver’s fuel economy will not be efficient, and this shouldn’t count against the driver.
  • When driving through a flat section of an interstate in good visibility, a harsh brake shouldn’t be overlooked — this was most likely the result of the driver tailgating.

KeepTruckin’s massive network enables context

We’ve listened to our customers and are working to solve these problems. You can’t have a safety manager ride along with every driver every mile on the road, but we’re striving to reach that level of understanding by studying the context in which drivers operate.

Due to the massive quantity of data created by our network, we can compare actions from the road to understand what typical, safe behavior looks like in every setting. This captures important insights, such as:

Road conditions when an event occurred

Are these kinds of events common or uncommon? For instance, when driving downhill, safety managers could probably ignore light braking events because it’s common on that stretch of road.

Speeding behavior

When there are roads with heavy traffic, we can observe instances of heavy acceleration and sudden slowdowns (which are both unsafe and inefficient because of how much gas it burns).

Fuel efficiency

Which kinds of trucks are your drivers using? This matters when comparing how fuel is being consumed.

When setting benchmarks, you need to know how to make comparisons that are realistic and actionable for your fleet. Due to the industry-leading scale of KeepTruckin’s virtual fleet, we can help you measure what matters.

An example

One key area where our data shines is in safety. Hard braking is often used to measure driver safety on the road, but many different kinds of road conditions may be responsible for causing high incidents of this behavior. For example, both of the following roads have very high rates of hard brakes, but which one would be considered more dangerous?

Hard braking - location 1

Hard-braking - Location 2

By using data to understand the context in which they occur, KeepTruckin can tell that a hard brake (especially at high speeds often observed) around a tight highway on-ramp is much riskier than one approaching a four-way intersection (where speeds are often low).

Here’s why this is important: if your safety rating is purely based on hard brakes, it’ll confuse dangerous driving with driving in routine traffic – thus unfairly assessing some drivers while potentially missing risky maneuvering of others.

Data privacy is critical

Finally, whenever you talk about data it’s important to mention privacy and security.

KeepTruckin feels strongly about providing the finest service for our customers, and part of that is being a responsible and conservative warden of their data. We take extensive steps to anonymize benchmark data. We also provide an easy one-time opt-out if your fleet has any concerns about your data being included in the KeepTruckin network.

You should always make sure that any partner you work with is respecting your privacy and taking the utmost steps to ensure it remains secure.

The future is all about data

The ELD mandate has opened up newfound visibility into safety, efficiency, and utilization for truck fleets. We are excited to release a slate of new data-driven products to provide a deeper context. A recent example includes the launch of our first data product, Facility Insights. With Facility Insights, you can schedule your truck arrival windows to reduce detention time and make smarter load decisions by knowing exactly what to expect before accepting a load.

Now, with the power of a massive network and extensive investment in science, KeepTruckin is unlocking the next step of context-aware benchmarks and features.

We will be providing more details in future blog posts, but expect new features on safety, fuel efficiency, and maintenance to roll out soon. Until then, KeepTruckin.

Disclaimer: All content and information on this website is for informational and educational purposes only, does not constitute financial, business, or legal advice. Although KeepTruckin strives to provide accurate general information, the information presented here is not a substitute for any kind of professional advice, and you should not rely solely on this information. Always consult a professional in the area for your particular needs and circumstances prior to making any professional, legal, business and financial or tax-related decisions.

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John Sears

John Sears is the Head of Fleet Data Science and Analytics at KeepTruckin. His teams use statistics and machine learning to build advanced tools that empower fleets to be safer and more efficient on the road.

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