Recently we spoke with a FedEx contractor that has created an interesting safety product. Born out of necessity, Gus created the backup counter as logical way to help his drivers potentially reduce accidents. Here is his story:
I have been a FedEx contractor for about four years. Two years ago my drivers had three backing accidents in a very short time. Backing accidents account for 90% of all commercial accidents. Backing is the number one cause of death in children involved in a vehicle accident. This troubled me greatly because I was having safety meetings and ride-a-longs, but it was obvious that I still had a problem. What I suspected was that my drivers would agree with the safety meetings and put on good behavior during the ride-a-longs, but when I was out of sight, they did whatever they wanted. I realized that the only way to change this was to modify driver behavior. Although we had other safety devices like backup cameras, these do not modify driver behavior. I determined that I needed a way to monitor my drivers when I was not with them.
I targeted backing because I felt that if I could reduce the number of times my drivers backed up each day, it would greatly reduce backing accidents. I came up with the idea to install a device that would count the number of times a driver backed up his truck each day. I asked a local electronics expert and he told me that what I wanted couldn’t be done. I just couldn’t believe this so I asked my brother, who isn’t an electronics expert but is an extremely smart guy, to help me. I told him the problem, which was that I wanted to count how many times the transmission went in reverse but did not want to count how many times the transmission went into reverse as it passed from park to drive. My brother, Jerry Bowman, said that he could do it. It took a couple weeks for him to come up with a design and after a couple trips to Radio Shack he came up with a working prototype. We called it Backup Counter, tested it on my trucks, made some small changes and decided to make it available to others in the transportation industry. We made it easy to install with only three wires.-one to positive, one to ground, and one to the reverse light. It is small and will fit on virtually any vehicle.
Here is what I have discovered. First, I put the Backup Counter on my trucks without telling my drivers. The data told me that they were backing up 60-100% percent of all stops. This number is atrocious! Next, when I told the drivers that I had installed the device and I would be monitoring their backups, their backing went from 60-100% down to 35%. This is a great improvement. That means if a driver makes 100 stops a day this improvement would reduce the amount of backups by at least 6,500 times a year. Next, I told my drivers that they needed to reduce their backups to 20%. Every one of my drivers are now backing up less 20% or less of their stops. That is at last 11,500 fewer backups a year. This is a staggering number when you consider that 90% of all commercial accidents involve backing. Simply put, less backing means fewer accidents.
Since installing Backup Counters on all of my trucks over a year ago, we have had no backing accidents. I also think that this is making my drivers more aware of other safe driving practices. Feedback from others who have purchased the Backup Counter are the same as for me. The drivers are reducing their backups. I am convinced that this device is helping eliminate accidents.
We wanted to price the Backup Counter low so many could take advantage of this great safety device. It is priced at only $129.00 and available on our website at www.backupcounter.com
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