Trucking Industry Spends $14B in Safety; MTM’s Tech, Training Investments Paying Off

A driver with a clipboard.

By MTM Team

The U.S. trucking industry spent $14 billion in improving highway safety in 2022 with initiatives that align with efforts here at MTM Trucking and Logistics, where investments in technology and safety are paying off in multiple ways.  

According to the American Trucking Associations Safety Spend Survey released Dec. 11, 2023, the industry has invested $14 billion in technology, training and additional measures, an amount that is 40% higher than that spent in 2015, when the last survey was conducted.

Similarly, MTM has invested in safety through technology upgrades, driver incentives and training programs. After implementing state-of-the-industry software from Samsara, the MTM team has begun using the platform in myriad ways, from monitoring road and vehicle details in real time to compiling data for later viewing.

The payoff for MTM has been fewer truck repairs, lower maintenance costs and higher driver satisfaction as drivers are educated about taking care of their vehicles and incentivized to do so.

Driver records in cabinet
Drivers complete their pre- and post-ride reports and file them in the MTM office.

“Samsara’s capabilities include customized safety reports,” said MTM Vice President Taylor Santiago. “Then we can pair those reports with our point-based safety incentive program for our straight truck and Class A drivers.”

That safety incentive program, which was implemented at the start of 2023, is tied to monthly bonuses that are accrued and will be paid to drivers at year’s end. Those monthly bonuses are awarded according to the drivers’ safety scores, which are based on the number of incidents involving harsh turns, harsh breaking, excessive speeding, roadside violations and preventable accidents.

Driver participation in the safety incentive program requires drivers to complete driver vehicle inspection reports before and after their shifts and to avoid at-fault accidents. 

To hold the drivers accountable, an at-fault accident on their record results in their removal from the safety incentive program for a full quarter. After one quarter “clean,” they are back in.

“Safety is one of our top priorities at MTM,” said MTM Vice President of Operations Ryan Penix.  “It is about providing the safest environment for freight, drivers, and fellow motorists on the road.”

Vehicle speed, harsh turns and other on-road behaviors have for several years been statistically determined to be predictors for truck crashes, so monitoring those behaviors has become integral to MTM operations. 

 According to a 2022 truck crash report by the American Transportation Research Institute (PDF), understanding the “predictors” of crashes is key to improving highway safety. “There is no better time to have this data in our hands,” according to Dan Horvath, the ATA’s vice president of safety policy. 

“Trucking is a diverse industry, but our survey results show that regardless of carrier size or type, these companies are committed – just as ATA is committed – to reducing crashes and making our highways safer,” Horvath said. “These investments go far beyond simply complying with existing regulations. Our industry’s commitment to deploying the latest technologies, providing additional training, and incentivizing safe driving behaviors show just how seriously we take the job of reducing crashes on our highways.”

Santiago can’t agree more.

The combination of outward-facing cameras on the vehicles, consistency with drivers completing their DVIRs pre- and post-trip, and the safety incentive program, she said, has “motivated drivers to perform their best and take care of MTM equipment.”

Penix uses the footage from the outward-facing cameras to review with drivers. “The drivers really have taken an interest in this and enjoy reviewing the videos,” he said. 

ATA’s Safety Spend Survey broadly categorized fleets’ investments over five main areas: onboard safety technology, training, incentives, safety-related maintenance and compliance costs.

Those are the same areas MTM has targeted in the past year, putting the Aberdeen, Maryland-based company squarely in the middle of the companies touted in the ATA survey as putting a premium on safety.

“Alongside of our in-house safety incentives, we are working with our truck insurance provider to determine the best short training videos that will be updated and sent out to drivers bi-annually,” Santiago said.

These videos, which are sent out through a companywide app, can be easily accessed by drivers, who watch them on their mobile devices and then take quizzes on the content. Driver completion of the videos is tracked. “The insurance company commends our safety practices with a discount on our premium,” Santiago added.

“Building this program, investing in these tools and further integrating our systems for user convenience has increased our team morale,” Santiago said.  “Our repair and maintenance costs have been cut in half from 2022 to 2023, and our insurance costs are matching our efforts. 

“Our drivers are happy. We’re all safer – and for that I’m happy, too.”