STC has been busy conducting mock audits and operational gap analysis lately. These typically begin with an opening interview in which we discuss the schedule of events, our methodology, and the types of violations and operational gaps for which STC is investigating. There’s usually a back-and-forth in which the carrier will lead us to concerns they have while touting the progress they’ve made. This “progress” almost always includes the adoption of some new technology or service. Safety directors beam about their progressive adoption of proven safety tools and are eager to discuss in detail the many benefits the technology or service provides.

All too often, however, the investigation uncovers many of the violations or poor behaviors the technology or service is designed to mitigate or eliminate. The safety director is, undoubtedly, confounded.

STC is a big proponent of using data and technology to improve compliance and safety but warns motor carriers to not be distracted by shiny objects. Implementing these systems and technologies take careful and deliberate planning. Programs, policies and procedures need to be drafted, socialized and implemented. They need to be properly communicated and responsible parties need to be empowered to succeed and be held accountable for failures. Properly implementing these programs often take additional staffing or an adjustment of current staffing priorities. Failing to do this necessary planning often makes things worse, not better.

There has been a lot of innovation in the safety and compliance space in the last several years and STC has been pleased that so many committed fleets have adopted these tools in hopes of improved safety. But adoption means more than adding new shiny objects to trucks or in the back office. As the old saying goes “prior planning prevents poor performance.”