High demand for last mile delivery
The Covid-19 crisis and subsequent lockdowns have forced consumers around the world to shift shopping routines from physical stores to e-commerce. In the U.S., e-commerce sales jumped 49% in April. This abrupt and dramatic change is creating unique challenges for last mile delivery companies and many are scrambling to keep up with this new demand. Some mobility companies are modifying their businesses to capitalize on the opportunity. Uber, for example, has just launched a last mile delivery service for everyday essential supplies. Now more than ever last mile delivery companies should focus on driver safety.
Ensure driver safety while expanding capacity
Imagine you're in charge of a last mile delivery service faced with peak holiday volume every single day, week after week, month after month. At the beginning of the crisis, it was no surprise that delivery services focused squarely on getting this new demand under control. Their immediate challenge was figuring out how many extra vehicles they needed to lease and how many new drivers they needed to hire.
Naturally, as these companies rapidly increased the number of drivers they hired to deliver their packages (through a combination of new employees, short-term independent contractors and/or gig economy workers) the overall quality of the drivers and the service suffered. As we pointed out in a recent post, there are numerous indicators that driving behavior has actually become more dangerous even though there have been fewer cars on the road with new, inexperienced private car drivers surely contributing to the problem.
One important new development we’re seeing is that last mile delivery companies are starting to address the importance of safety.
This interest is not only coming from delivery companies wanting to protect their assets (the delivery van or truck, for example) but it’s also coming from the drivers. The drivers, whether they’re employees or contractors, expect some modicum of safety standards and protections as they buckle up and rush off to deliver packages.
In the face of this new pressure, what can delivery companies do to ensure their drivers are safe?
Driver Safety in the Short Term
Make a safety plan
The first step is recognizing that safety should be an integral part of your operation. You should formalize a safety plan, one that underpins your delivery operation as it scales. Make a prioritized list of the things that matter most to your operation, including but not limited to:
- Driver safety: Your primary concern should be the safety of your drivers.
- Vehicle safety: If you own the vehicles your drivers are using, this could be one of your biggest expenses.
- Route safety: Optimize routes for safety and efficiency, minimize delays, prolonged idling, and unnecessary stops by the driver.
Mobile-based driver profiling program
Many delivery accidents (last mile or otherwise) are caused by risky driving behaviors such as U-turns, reverses, hard accelerations, hard brakes and distracted driving. Implementing a mobile-based driver profiling solution is a logical place to start to get insights into these areas.
There are clear benefits of a mobile-based driver profiling solution:
- Cost-effective: They don’t require expensive hardware devices. It’s as easy as downloading a mobile application.
- Highly accurate: With Sentiance technology, driver profiling is as accurate or more accurate than expensive hardware solutions.
- Scalable: Importantly, mobile-based solutions are far more scalable than hardware solutions. Especially since last mile delivery services often use contractors who may use their own vehicles.
- Driver-centric: Mobile-based solutions are the only way to truly measure the individual driver as opposed to measuring the car or truck, which may be used by multiple drivers.
Sentiance technology uses the sensors in a smartphone to accurately detect each of the aforementioned driving behaviors in real-time. With these insights, last mile delivery companies can have rich insights into the driving behavior of each driver.
By analyzing the sensor data from your delivery driver's smartphone, Sentiance technology can generate rich driving behavior insights. Delivery companies can leverage the Sentiance platform to see each driver's driving scores and we can tailor the scores to each client’s specific needs.
Driver Safety for the Long Term
How can delivery companies build and maintain a long-term strategy to ensure their drivers are safe? Looking beyond the foundational driver profiling, here are other key components of driver safety that should be considered:
Imagine if one of your drivers is in an accident. What would you do? You'd want to know immediately so you can act appropriately. First, you’d want to know if your driver is safe. If not, you'd want to immediately mobilize an emergency response vehicle. Second, if you own the vehicle, you’d want to know the status of your vehicle. If it was damaged, you'd want to alert your insurance company, mobilize a tow service and dispatch a new vehicle to deliver its goods. When accidents happen, every second counts.
Today, last mile delivery companies don't need expensive equipment to detect crashes. Sentiance has developed the world’s best crash detection solution that applies machine learning techniques to detect and analyze collisions in real-time. By making use of the sensors that are already in every driver's smartphone, last mile delivery companies can react with precision and speed to minimize their loss.
Driver profiling helps to understand how drivers drive. But what can be done with these insights to improve their driving? Our in-house behavior change team supports our clients to reduce the overall number of accidents by encouraging safer driving behaviors. We have established a contextual behavioral change framework that uses proven behavior change and coaching techniques that reduce phone usage to help drivers improve their driving behavior. Our solution includes:
- Real-time dashboard for behavior monitoring
- Dynamic risk reduction advice
- Tailored challenges
- Contextualized coaching
Consumers have been spoiled with shorter and shorter delivery schedules. At the same time, more and more people are increasingly concerned about the environment of our home planet. According to global communications firm Edelman, 64% of consumers around the world will buy or boycott a brand that doesn't appear to share their social beliefs. The trend of sustainability is everywhere. Delivery companies can benefit in many ways by making eco-friendly delivery a part of corporate social responsibility.
Studies have shown that aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by roughly 15% to 30% at highway speeds and 10% to 40% in stop-and-go traffic. Measuring eco-driving scores can save fuel costs and fulfill the end customers' dream of contributing to a better world.
The last mile is the crucial mile
The last mile is the crucial mile and it’s the last step to customer satisfaction. In the rush to making their customers happy and meeting increasing demand, delivery services must focus on safe and sustainable driving for the benefit of everyone.
Is your delivery business ready to focus on safety?