In-App Weather Alerts Can Help Fleets Prevent Accidents & Nuclear Verdicts

Reading Time: 5 minutes

In 2014, a 7 and 12-year-old were killed when the driver of a pickup truck lost control on an icy interstate near Odessa, Texas. The roadway was included in a National Weather Service storm warning at the time.

The pickup crossed the median and spun into the path of an oncoming tractor-trailer going 25 mph below the speed limit. At first glance, most people would blame the driver of the pickup truck for the accident since they lost control and entered the lane of the tractor-trailer. However, the courts and jury didn’t see it that way. In their view, the truck driver wasn’t going slow enough.

In 2018, a Texas jury awarded $92 million to the family of the crash victims. In May, the case was upheld by Texas’ 14th Court of Appeals. The appellate judges unanimously agreed on these factors:

  • There was black ice on the highway.
  • The truck driver did not reduce his speed by an adequate amount to compensate for the weather.
  • Injuries from striking the pickup would have been less calamitous if the truck was operating at a slower speed.

Given these factors, a FreightWaves article noted the judges wrote in their decision that the defendant motor carrier “should have reasonably anticipated that it created unreasonable dangers for other travelers who were traveling in treacherous weather conditions.” 

All motor carriers can learn a valuable lesson from this landmark case. One is the importance of sending weather-related communications to drivers about foreseeably dangerous conditions.

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, weather or environmental issues are to blame for 3% of large truck accidents in the United States. While this may seem like a small number, these accidents can be very expensive. The good news is they are largely preventable if truck drivers and fleets take proper precautions.

To protect your business and its drivers from danger on the road and in the courtroom, consider using technology to put weather-related information in the right place at the right time. Below is an example of how a fleet does this using its custom driver app.

Communication is Key

Custom driver apps can help fleets update their communications strategies by connecting drivers with everything they need to do their jobs as safely and efficiently as possible. In-app weather warning alerts can be part of the daily workflow for drivers.

Using a custom driver app lets fleets get pertinent information to their drivers quickly, which not only helps keep them up to date on weather conditions but can also increase driver safety, satisfaction, and retention.

With integration into real-time weather tracking systems, a custom app can alert drivers of inclement weather conditions along their routes to ensure they receive accurate information and instructions to operate safely.

With a custom mobile driver app, fleets can instantly reach drivers inside and outside the cab with hands-free communication and set specific alerts for urgent messages that are easily identifiable and safely accessible

In addition to alerting drivers to bad weather on their routes, fleets can use the same information in the back office to notify customers of potential slowdowns or late deliveries. 

In-App Weather Warnings In Action

K&B Transportation, a leader in the transportation of perishable food products with more than 2,000 assets, is experiencing the benefits of automated weather alerts with its custom driver app developed and supported by Add On Systems (AOS), a certified Eleos integration partner.

K&B and AOS tailored the app to deliver real-time weather alerts that prepare drivers for inclement weather to help them safely plan routes. The company made the alerts easily accessible by creating a separate newsfeed in the app devoted strictly to weather warnings.

“We put quick links to SafeTravel USA and other weather sites in the menu of our custom app so that drivers are in tune with the weather and how long it’s going to last,” said Matt Fengler of K&B Transportation, which is headquartered in Nebraska. “It’s really improved our communication with our drivers. They appreciate that we’re trying to communicate with them and doing what’s in their best interest by keeping them in the loop as to what’s happening.”

Prior to adding this feature, K&B’s operations department was calling each driver and alerting them of weather incidents and where road shutdowns were occurring. It was a time-consuming effort at a time when immediate notifications were paramount. Now, everything takes place automatically through the custom app in a way that is impossible for drivers to miss.

The weather alert feature takes over the dashboard to notify drivers when a serious weather issue requires action. The alert is also read aloud to help driver distractions. The warning can result in the driver pulling over until the weather passes or it may re-route the trip to take them out of harm’s way. The driver must acknowledge the alert before they can access the menu of features on the dashboard, ensuring the message is not overlooked or ignored.

“Being able to quickly deliver that information has resulted in a reduction of our DOT recordable accidents by about 80%,” noted Fengler. “And, so far, this year, there’s about the same decrease in our insurance claims for weather-related accidents.”

Those numbers become significant when you consider how much the weather has impacted roadways this year. 

“There’s been a lot of weather that has impacted our travel, and we’ve made it through with minor incidents and claims,” Fengler said. “And our ability to communicate with our customers as to when their product is going to get there or where it is along its route is so much cleaner this year. We can relay delivery changes to customers and really speed up the process of getting everybody back on the road and ensuring products are delivered safely.”

For K&B, adding weather warnings to its custom app filled a vital communication gap that will continue to pay dividends in the years ahead. “It’s really been a game-changer,” stated Fengler.

Improve Communications with Eleos

Contact us if you’d like to see how we’ve helped other fleets create their own custom driver app.

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