We live in an age of big data. We’re flooded with new information daily—often hourly or minute-by-minute. But information is only useful if we can make sense of it.
Once upon a time, the transportation industry was relatively simple. Plan routes on paper maps and track orders in spreadsheets. Load everything in the truck. Drive from the warehouse to the destination, unload, and repeat.
But those days are long gone. In today’s hypercompetitive market, you need every advantage possible in terms of fleet and driver performance. That’s why big data—collecting an abundance of information on every aspect of your business—has the potential to streamline your operations.
Syntelic’s Transportation Analytics software is a business intelligence application designed specifically for the transportation industry. When you partner with us to implement Transportation Analytics, we customize the software to the needs of your business. Extensive reporting capabilities allow you to make sense of incoming data and provide insights that help you optimize your business processes.
One feature of Syntelic’s Transportation Analytics is the ability to create driver scorecards. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into driver scorecards to see how they can benefit your trucking operation.
What Are Driver Scorecards?
A driver scorecard is a report on various aspects of a driver’s individual performance.
In the old days, monitoring driver performance was limited to collecting inspection reports, moving violations, and late deliveries. In recent years, however, the rapid development of telematics technology has enabled transportation companies to gather detailed information on a wide range of driving behaviors, often in real time.
Telematics is the use of remote technology for data collection. In the transportation industry, available technologies include:
- GPS devices
- Electronic logging devices (ELDs) using OBD II
- Dashcam video
Telematics technologies allow trucking companies to track:
- Safety performance by monitoring individual driver behaviors
- Fleet status by monitoring things like engine status and fuel consumption
- Productivity by monitoring things like route adherence and on-time deliveries
A driver scorecard is a compilation of all the telematics information for an individual driver.
Driver safety is so important that some companies track metrics for driver safety scorecards. Safety scorecards focus exclusively on driving behaviors that increase the risk of accidents or might exacerbate an accident. The term driver scorecard sometimes refers to a driver safety scorecard but may also refer to a scorecard that tracks a wider range of metrics for fleet status and productivity.
How Driver Behaviors Affect Your Fleet
Driver behaviors can have dramatic effects on your fleet—good and bad. If you don’t have a way of tracking driver performance, all you can do is live with the results. But using scorecards for truck drivers empowers you to curtail poor practices and continuously fine-tune your fleet’s efficiency.
Fuel expenses are a significant budget item for any transportation company. Some driver behaviors add to your fuel costs, including:
- Excessive idling
- Out of route miles
- Aggressive acceleration
You can easily track these practices with driver scorecards.
Damage to Vehicles
All vehicles need maintenance and repairs, but some problems are avoidable. Many unsafe driving practices—like frequent sudden braking and hard cornering—add unnecessary wear and tear to your trucks. So do simple things like driving with the engine light on or ignoring a low tire pressure alert.
Driver scorecards let you know which drivers are putting your vehicles at risk.
There’s no way to eliminate all accidents, but promoting safe driving can reduce their frequency and mitigate their severity.
Aside from their obvious human costs, accidents, directly and indirectly, drain monetary resources. Direct expenses include vehicle repairs, the temporary loss of a driver and/or truck, and the cost of damaged or destroyed merchandise.
Indirect expenses are more far-reaching and can include:
- Higher insurance rates
- Workers’ compensation payments
- Potential litigation
- Possible investigations
- Strained customer relations due to late/damaged goods
- Resources diverted from productive activities to rerouting, rescheduling, and managing the aftermath of an incident
Driver safety scorecards promote safe driving by highlighting common dangerous behaviors and pinpointing particularly unsafe drivers.
If you don’t track driver performance, detrimental driver behaviors can have cascading negative effects on your company.
Driver inattention to vehicle problems may lead to safety violations, emergency repairs, and delayed or missed deliveries. Delivery issues, in turn, hurt customer relationships.
Unchecked aggressive driving leads to driver violations and accidents. A bad accident can trigger lawsuits, negative media coverage, and unwanted attention from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMCSA).
Why Are Driver Scorecards Important?
When they’re considered within the context of how driver behaviors affect your fleet’s performance, the question isn’t whether you should use driver scorecards, but rather, can you afford to not use driver scorecards?
Fundamentally, driver scorecards are important because they give you critical insight into your drivers’ performance and indicate what steps you need to take to help them improve.
Important Driver Metrics to Evaluate Performance
Let’s cover some important metrics to include in scorecards for truck drivers. They fall into three broad categories: safety, fleet optimization, and productivity.
Driver safety scorecards commonly track:
- Seat belt use
- Hard braking
- Rapid acceleration
- Hard cornering
Newer vehicles include lane departure and collision warning systems—additional data that indicate driver safety. Systems that incorporate dashcams can monitor aggressive driving, distracted driving (e.g., phone use while driving), and dozing while driving.
Fleet optimization data help ensure the proper use and maintenance of your trucks. Fleet optimization metrics include:
- Fuel economy
- Idling behaviors
- Driving with the engine light on
- Compliance with vehicle inspection requirements
Because some unsafe driving practices can damage or prematurely wear out vehicle components, there is some overlap between safety and fleet optimization metrics.
Driver scorecards can help you pinpoint prime opportunities for optimization at the fleet level and for individual drivers. Driver productivity metrics include:
- Ratio of driving time to delivery time
- Out of route miles
- Late deliveries
- Starting later than the scheduled time
- Recording when a driver’s engine is on
- Compliance with hours of service requirements
How to Use Driver Scorecards to Improve Driver Performance
You can use driver scorecards in several ways:
- Incentivize good driving by rewarding drivers for top scores.
- Identify specific problem areas for each driver.
- Discipline/provide remedial training for unsafe drivers.
- Analyze overall driver performance to identify areas in which your fleet needs additional education or training.
One Syntelic Transportation Analytics customer periodically posts driver scorecard rankings by driver ID number (that is, without names). Naturally, no one wants to be at the bottom of the list—but someone always occupies that spot. A spirit of competition prompts low-rated drivers to improve. Over time, this boosts overall scores.
Also over time, you’ll learn to piece together the puzzle of each driver’s performance from their driver scorecard. This often involves reading multiple metrics in tandem and making inferences.
Suppose a driver is frequently late and also has lots of out-of-route miles. If you’re using a route planning program like Syntelic’s Route Planning software, you can be confident that the planned route is probably more efficient than the driver’s altered route. Work with the driver to stick to the planned route, and delivery times will improve.
Suppose a driver is consistently early for the day’s first delivery but gets later and later as the day goes on. A metric like driving time to delivery time ratio might alert you that a driver is spending too much time chatting with customers at each stop. You can also take steps to optimize delivery times by using Syntelic’s Load Planning software.
Setting Expectations With a Safety Policy
Considering the far-reaching implications of safe driving in the trucking industry, it’s a good idea to set clear expectations for driver safety. You can easily accomplish this by designating different safety performance tiers based on driver safety scorecards. When drivers see what tier they’re ranked in, they know immediately where they stand. In addition, their category scores will clarify what they need to work on.
Syntelic Driver Scorecards Can Help You Optimize Delivery Operations
Many OBD hardware providers offer driver scorecards with preset categories, often with equal rankings for each performance metric. In contrast, the integrated driver scorecards in Syntelic’s Transportation Analytics software are fully customizable.
With Transportation Analytics, not only can you determine what metrics you want to track, but you can also weight each metric according to your company’s priorities. For example, if you’ve had a spate of accidents, you might emphasize safety metrics. But if you need to reduce fuel consumption or increase on-time deliveries, you’d put more weight on other stats.
One strength of Syntelic’s Transportation Analytics software is its ability to generate a wealth of reports. Transportation Analytics reports aren’t confined to fixed templates; you can filter and drill down into your data to isolate the information you need. When you’re analyzing driver scorecards, this facilitates the identification of correlations between scorecard categories.
With driver scorecards from Syntelic’s Transportation Analytics, the key to maximizing the efficiency and safety of your drivers is at your fingertips.
We view our customers as partners; each implementation of Syntelic software is tailored to your needs. Contact Syntelic today to learn more about how driver scorecards and Transportation Analytics can help you improve driver safety, streamline fleet operations, and continuously boost productivity.