As a major truckload carrier, there’s one thing that matters more than anything to us – safety. That not only includes the safe delivery of our customers’ freight, but also the safety of our drivers, friends, families, and neighbors who share the road every day. It’s a huge responsibility, but using the following technologies, it’s one we’re able to take on.
Hair Drug Testing:
In 2019, we began using an advanced drug testing procedure as part of our pre-employment screening – hair testing. Many hard drugs (like cocaine, opioids, and heroin) can exit the body within 48 hours, becoming undetectable in a urinalysis. Hair testing can detect drug use going back 90 days.
“When we began using pre-employment hair testing in 2019, around 14% of driver candidates tested positive for banned substances,” said Greg McQuagge, Vice President of Safety and Compliance at U.S. Xpress. “Even today, most carriers are still using urine testing, and when doing the math, you can easily see a concerning number of drivers are slipping through the cracks at those carriers.”
External Event Recorder:
Installed in every truck as of 2018, our external event recorders are small cameras that take 12 seconds of video whenever a triggering event, like sudden stops, following too closely, significant speeding, or swerving, occurs. It’s primarily a tool to help us coach drivers at orientation and through continuing safety education. Watching real-world examples of these events — and how drivers react — helps modify behavior.
The two triggering events we tend to coach on most heavily are following distance and speeding. Since we began coaching based on the video footage, we’ve seen significant improvements in accident rates.
“Though it’s a significant expense for our 6,500-tractor fleet, the value event recorders provide to our company, our drivers and our shippers is immense,” said McQuagge.
With slower speeds come fewer accidents. So, we have equipped all our trucks with speed limiters – a WiFi-enabled technology that allows operations to set maximum tractor speeds for use of the pedal and for cruise control to help reduce accidents and improve fuel efficiency.
Part of that technology includes a collision mitigation system that monitors various safety metrics when a driver uses cruise control. It allows us to gauge following distance, safely adjust speed, and reduce driver fatigue.
Often, drivers need to exceed the maximum speed set by our speed limiters to safely pass another vehicle. That’s why we have begun rolling out PassSmart to the entire fleet. The technology allows our drivers to determine their own maximum speed for 30 minutes every 24 hours, not only giving them some autonomy, but also improving safety numbers around passing vehicles and lane changes.
Air Disc Brakes:
In 2016 we were one of the first carriers in the nation to begin installing air disc brakes on our tractors.
“It’s a technology that most of us take for granted – most passenger vehicles have had disc brakes for decades, but many trucking companies have been slow to adopt,” said Shaun Sadler, Senior Vice President of Equipment. “We’ve invested in air disc brakes on all tractor and trailer axels to shorten stopping distances and reduce accidents across our entire fleet.”
We plan to continue updating our systems and finding new solutions to help keep everyone on the roads safe, but our most crucial safety tool is our drivers. So, we’re proud to have recently celebrated some of the best – our 2020 Million Milers – those who have reached one, two, or even three million miles without a preventable accident. We’re so grateful to have them on our team.
Want to learn more about the safety initiatives we’re working on here at U.S. Xpress? Just visit www.usxpress.com/safety.