On a typical day, more than 700 people are injured in distracted driving crashes — according to the National Safety Council. At Sunstate Equipment Co., Phoenix, this issue is taken very seriously. Monthly safety meetings are held company-wide which always include a portion on safe driving. Quarterly driver meetings also have been held at each branch for more than two decades. Jake Kidd, safety manager, says while those meetings have been held for a long time, in the past five years they have become more structured.
“A large aspect of the meetings is focused on whichever safety campaign we have for just the drivers. We also cover a lot of DOT [Department of Transportation] material and safety information that they may have missed in the monthly branch meeting because they were out driving,” says Kidd. “But the two main parts are the safety campaign and any new regulations or violations with DOT.”
In the fall of 2020, the company wrapped up an eight-part series, “Decide 2 Drive.” This campaign — which was the focus of the quarterly driver meetings for about two years — covered the “7 ways to avoid the 7 deadly sins of distracted driving.” Posters were displayed at each branch and one of the seven aspects of distracted driving was discussed during each meeting.
Sunstate drivers currently are taking part in “The Professional Driver,” a safety campaign created solely by the company. This program takes a deeper dive into topics like approaching an intersection, how to avoid driving in reverse, parking lots, planning a route, proper lane selection and more. This campaign will run for the next two to three years.
Another key aspect of safe driving at Sunstate is the use of DriveCam cameras.
“Every delivery vehicle, branch manager truck and outside sales truck has an onboard behavior modification camera which records a 12-second video if the camera is jarred from some sort of G-force — whether that’s a hard break, too sharp of a turn, hitting a curb or an accident. It records eight seconds before the physical force that started the camera and four seconds after,” Kidd says.
The company has been using the cameras for a little more than five years.
“That, coupled with everything else we’re doing, has really had a positive impact on incident rates and severity of incidents. The exonerations are huge and has helped remove any deception from the other drivers involved. Over the course of five years, it has saved us a tremendous amount of time, effort and money in potential litigation,” he says.
Kidd stresses the importance of having a structured safety program in place before an accident occurs.
“Here’s what I know and every other large rental company will say, no matter what the incident is that caused a lawsuit to happen or caused a case to go to trial: ‘The company is on trial and our processes are on trial.’ So, it helps to have as much structure as possible before an incident happens,” he says.