HoffmanTransportation
Hoffman Transportation2 64b57ed27f899

Bulk fleet Hoffman's elimination of rear-end crashes no accident

July 18, 2023
By focusing on safety technology and driver training, Hoffman Transportation has made rear-end accidents a thing of the past.

What’s one thing fleet managers at Hoffman Transportation /G&D Trucking Inc. have not had to deal with in over a decade? Incredibly, it’s rear-end accidents. This is a testament to the fleet’s drivers, who cover up to 12 million miles a year while transporting dry and liquid industrial chemical materials, as well as the advanced safety technology embedded in the trucks.

“The combination of skilled professional drivers and safety equipment is what it’s about,” explained Jerry Curl, director of operations for the Channahon, Illinois-based company. “The two together make our drivers safer, our company safer, and our roads safer. What could be more important? That’s your family and my family out there sharing those roads.”

Curl said Hoffman deploys Bendix Wingman Fusion advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) on its 160 Kenworth and Peterbilt tractors, as well as spec’ing Bendix ADB22X air disc brakes, Bendix BlindSpotter side object detection system, and SafetyDirect by Bendix CVS.

“We don’t own a truck without these features, and we wouldn’t,” Curl said. “I would not buy a new or used truck without them. I believe these kinds of technologies should be mandatory in every vehicle. Drivers have the toughest job, and we invest in their safety.”

Read more: Tanker fleet boosts safety with air disc brakes and ADAS

Tech support

To ensure that immaculate safety record, Hoffman emphasizes a focus on what Curl calls the “perception processing prevention zone,” or the distance between the truck and vehicle ahead critical to preventing accidents. He noted that a driver needs three seconds “to perceive what’s going on, process it in your brain, and prevent any action.”

You cannot–cannot–enter that zone," he stressed.

Hoffman’s use of ADAS technology helps keep drivers from entering this danger zone. Fusion collects input through its radar, video, and the Electronic Stability Program braking system, then combines and cross-checks the data from sensors. This includes those that are working together and not just in parallel, according to Bendix.

Fusion uses the data to provide:

  • Rear-end collision mitigation on moving and stationary vehicles
  • Active cruise with braking (ACB)
  • Following distance alerts
  • Stationary object alerts
  • Lane departure warning
  • Speeding alerts

The bulk fleet has used Bendix ADAS since adopting Wingman ACB. Bendix noted that its more recent Wingman Fusion is built on the foundational technology of the Bendix ESP full-stability system, which enables the system to help drivers avoid rollovers, loss-of-control scenarios, and additional crash situations.

The ADB22X air disc brakes Hoffman uses to aid in preventing rear-end collisions by providing shorter stopping distances, as well as reliability and consistency. They also offer longer friction life and quicker pad changes than drum brakes to reduce time in the shop and generate a faster ROI. Unlike drum brakes, ADBs also do not experience brake fade.

Read more: Decoding the disc vs. drum debate

Technology is only as good as the people operating it, and Hoffman works closely with Bendix to train the drivers and technicians.

“You can’t just put technologies on a truck and hand the driver the keys,” he said. “You have to help the driver understand why and how it works. It doesn’t matter if they’ve driven for 30 years or three years. And they appreciate that training.”

One way they do this is by leveraging the Bendix SafetyDirect platform, a web portal linked to onboard safety technologies and other sources that provides fleet managers with comprehensive feedback using vehicle data from the road.

The platform automatically transmits data, video, and event-based information to a fleet’s back office for analysis. Fleets can take the insights from this data to coach drivers and fortify safety best practices.

“SafetyDirect helps us identify good driving behaviors as well as what can be done better,” Curl said. “When you identify your weaknesses, own them, and make them your strengths, you continue to get better.”

Driving safety and retention

To support the lower 48 states, the bulk fleet operates five terminals, all located in Illinois, Tennessee, and Arkansas. The fleet’s 165 drivers average 32.5 years of experience on the road and 3.5 million miles of safe driving.

“It’s an elite group,” Curl said. “In hiring drivers, some people want the top 10%. I want the top one-tenth of 1%. I want the Blue Angels, the Navy SEALs. We have a selective hiring process based on professionalism and safety. In 42 years, we’ve never advertised for a driver–they’ve all come by recommendation, even during the pandemic. We’ve always maintained a waiting list of drivers to work here.”

According to Curl, the carrier’s driver-turnover rate was 0.3% last year. Some fleets report up to 90%, while the drive turnover average for private fleets was 22.5% in 2022, according to the National Private Truck Council’s annual benchmarking report. That was a 15-year high.

Curl noted how important introducing new drivers to the safety culture on day 1 is.

“They see the instant they walk in the door that this is a place–from our ownership and leadership and each team member–where safety is the foundation for every decision we make,” he said.

Hoffman’s partners at Bendix also recognize the effort.

“The entire team at Hoffman is serious about their mission,” said Lance Hansen, Bendix vice president of aftermarket sales, fleet, service, and field operations. “This commitment is reflected in everything from their comprehensive safety program all the way to the clean, orderly, and inviting condition of their shops. Hoffman’s actions speak volumes.”

These actions have also led to accolades. Hoffman won the National Tank Truck Carriers top safety award for fleets at or below 15 million miles in 2017 and 2019, along with many other safety awards, such as Great West Casualty Company.

“It’s the professional driver who keeps us safe on the road,” Curl said. “The equipment we spec is there to offer added layers of protection–it’s a way to provide drivers with the safest vehicle in the safest work environment possible.”

About the Author

Fleet Maintenance staff

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