If your business deals in delivery or transportation, truck driver safety ought to be at the top of your priority list. Every time your drivers hop into one of your fleet vehicles, they risk their physical wellbeing and even their lives.

According to the US Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), there were 4119 fatalities on American roads involving trucks in 2019. Sixteen percent of these fatalities were truck drivers or occupants. With harsh statistics like these, ensuring the safety of your drivers is a pertinent responsibility, one that your organization cannot afford to ignore.

Not only is it in the best interests of your employees, but it is also important for the sustainability of your business. Route planning enables you to improve your truck driver safety, and this article will tell you how!

What Is Route Planning?

Route planning is a method of calculating and choosing the ideal transportation path through multiple delivery stops or destinations. It is about finding the best route that is cost-effective, time-conscious, and safe for your drivers. Route planning generally involves consolidating a list of orders and their delivery destinations, developing an ordered route to schedule tasks, and ensuring that deliveries occur timeously.

Other terms associated with route planning include route mapping, journey planning, journey mapping, and route sequencing. Route planning and route optimization also tend to be used interchangeably, although some people argue that there is a distinction.

Essentially, however, route planning is about formulating delivery pathways that optimize your costs, truck driver safety, time, and resources.

Why Route Planning (or Route Optimization) Is Important For Your Business?

Strategy and planning are vital parts of running a successful business. Of course, planning as a business ideology and practice has its own benefits. Here’s how planning helps within your organization:

  • Facilitates action and implementation

  • Allows for informed decision-making

  • Promotes motivation and inspiration 

  • Helps develop standards and quality checks

  • Enables flexibility and adaptability

  • It leads to better resource allocation and utilization

  • Eliminates uncertainty and confusion

  • Supports the establishment of good policies and procedures

  • Promotes discipline and commitment

With benefits like these, you definitely shouldn’t slack on internal planning of any kind.

How Route Planning Can Increase Truck Driver Safety

GPS tracking & monitoring

Fleet safety is not an easy thing to master. It is not quite like in-office management where you can oversee tasks and ensure your employees comply with rules and guidelines.

With fleet management, there is only so much you can do about your employees’ behavior on the road. Your drivers could be making unscheduled stops, breaking the rules of the road, or following their own paths to delivery stops. All of these things can put their well-being at risk, compromising their safety and the safety of other drivers on the road.

Journey planning software includes GPS tracking - like watching an Uber driver on their journey to pick you up - with the live location of your vehicles. This feature allows you to monitor whether drivers are following their routes and gives you their precise location. 

Not only does this encourage your workers to abide by both your rules and road regulations, but you can also easily locate your drivers in the case of an emergency.

 route planning truck driver safety

Easy navigation

Driving is an exercise in multitasking and focus, a paradox that your drivers must balance. They have to keep tabs on their delivery time, avoid potential hazards on the roads, and stay conscious of other drivers, among other demands driving places on them.

Making easy-to-follow routes - with step-by-step driving instructions - available to your drivers, you can assist in alleviating some of their anxieties.

Getting lost can cause confusion and panic, emotions that can be dangerous on the road. A Telegraph and YouGov for Aviva survey of 1094 drivers indicated that getting lost deteriorated driving ability. 27 percent of those surveyed pointed to getting lost as having an enormous effect on their road safety. The survey revealed other pertinent statistics affecting driver safety:

  • 33% of drivers said they speed up if they’re running late.

  • 16% said poor attention led to increased speeding.

  • Distraction was the third most popular reason drivers identified as a cause of road incidents.

With route planning, your drivers can get acquainted with routes before they hit the tar. In addition, they can avoid stressful circumstances like getting lost or high traffic. This way, they have a lot less to be concerned about. They can focus more on driving safely and staying aware of other vehicles than on direction.

Vehicle care

The journey mapping GPS feature has another useful benefit for truck driver safety. Now that you are able to keep tabs on the distance your drivers cover, you can correctly plan and schedule your vehicle maintenance and servicing. Vehicles experience normal wear and tear from daily driving, but it can become dangerous if left unattended for too long.

Distance tracking allows you to keep a better eye out for vehicle damage and schedule repairs accordingly.

Other Ways Route Planning Can Benefit Your Business

Reduces Fuel Spending

Introducing route planning means you can select shorter routes, reducing your delivery times. This can result in decreased fuel consumption and, thus reduced fuel spending.

Reduced Maintenance Costs

You can also save on maintenance fees if you plan for shorter and safer routes. Effective routing will result in less wear and tear on your vehicles and, thus, cheaper maintenance costs.

The safer driving practices nurtured by this system also affect your risk management and spending resulting in less wear and tear, fewer incidents or accidents, and reduced insurance claim costs.

Drivers will also spend less time trying to find their stops, getting lost on the way, or sitting stuck in traffic. For you, this means fewer working hours or delivery times leading to more affordable labor costs.

Boosts Your Brand Reputation

Route sequencing benefits your business’s reputation in two ways. First, it indicates that your business has an interest in the safety and wellbeing of your workers. People make up an organization, so it’s imperative that you care for the people that work for you. This is an excellent entrepreneurial practice that can improve your brand image and prime you for business collaborations and corporate sponsorship.

The second benefit you can leverage from route planning is customer-facing.  The ability to plan and estimate your delivery times more accurately means you can give customers better ETAs for their orders. Driver delays don’t just affect one customer but all the other stops planned for that route. With route mapping you can communicate efficiently when delays occur, ensuring you keep the customer happy!

6 Ways To Improve Your Route Planning Systems (And, thus, driver safety!)

1. Gather & Analyze Information

Route planning centers itself around information and data management. To maximize the benefits of a journey planning system, you need to remain pragmatic and critical in your analysis of data. Observe tracking and travel data like delivery times to better estimate how long drivers may take to reach a destination.

Your data can also give you insight into possible delays based on previous trips. For example, if traffic is common at a specific time in an area, you will be able to pick this up from comparing data sets. It is also a good idea to establish a feedback channel where drivers can document any delays and the reasons for them after a trip.

Collecting as much information as possible is a great way to learn from your trips and improve your planning for efficient routes.

2. Factor Stops & Delays Into Travel Time

With the data and feedback from your drivers, be sure to include possible delays and stops in your calculations. It’s no use forcefully pushing for shortened trips if they aren’t possible. Life happens so factoring in obstacles will result in better accuracy. Factors that can influence delivery delays include:

  • The building type and the number of floors

  • The order size

  • Distance

  • Peak traffic hours

  • Business hours in that area

  • Driver experience

  • Delivery time

  • Vehicle conditions

  • Number of deliveries and stops on the way

  • Distance between different stops on the trip

3. Choose A Suitable Vehicle

Your fleet can consist of various types of vehicles - from scooters to tuk-tuks, and trucks to sedans. Ensure that each driver is using the best type of vehicle for their journey. Here you should factor in the size of the delivery, its location, and size too. In addition, you should consider the number of stops the driver needs to make.

It doesn’t make sense to dispatch a whole truck for a jewelry order, for instance. And navigating a huge truck in a congested city isn’t very practical either. Choosing the ideal transportation type can support your planned route in the right way. It can also lead to increased driver safety.

4. Optimize Delivery Options

Customer convenience is key in today’s business climate, and deliveries are no exception. Companies can offer multiple delivery options for consumers to choose from. This may have the benefit of convenience for your clients, but it can have the opposite effect on your fleet management.

Offering different delivery options like next-day, same-day, evening, or weekly options complicates your order management. You can prompt customers to choose a particular option by limiting their options at checkout, giving them specific times when your drivers may have orders in their area. This way drivers have less to juggle and they can optimize their time by completing several orders in one trip.

5. Update Routes Regularly

You must consistently update your routes, factoring in daily changes like weather that can affect road traffic and conditions on different roads. If there is an additional order added to a trip, adjust times and navigation instructions too.

 truck driver safety

6. Utilize Route Planning or Route Optimization Software

There are so many factors to consider when implementing route planning techniques like the ones above. If you want to leverage the methods above to get optimal outcomes, then adopting route optimization software is the way to go. Track-POD’s software offers fantastic features including:

  • Electronic delivery notifications

  • A handy application

  • Geotags and timestamps

  • Images and visual documentation

  • Driver navigation

  • Map-based scheduling

  • Distance-tracking

  • Electronic signatures

  • Cross-data tracking

  • ETA for your customers

  • Analytics

  • Safety management

Using software like this can reduce your company costs, optimize time and resources, and improve fleet and employee efficiency, making it a sustainable system. This includes environmental sustainability due to the reduction in driving time and fuel consumption.

It can also boost the satisfaction of both your workers and your customers as compact routes are convenient for them both. Lastly, it supports your management’s decision-making through informed data processing and analytics.

How Track-POD’s Software Works

Track-POD’s route optimization software can simplify your planning in four easy steps.

Step 1 - It imports your orders from your systems, allowing you to add relevant delivery details like the order ID, weight, item summary, delivery address, shipper info, quantity, volume, and more. It also provides you with an automatic or manual input option for your convenience.

Step 2 - The software allocates orders to available drivers who can access them via a convenient, easy-to-use mobile app. The app instantly sends assignments and updates to drivers on their mobiles.

Step 3 - At the delivery or collection, drivers can document proof of delivery with a picture or electronic signature. Added data is uploaded onto the system in real-time. No contact is required, ensuring COVID-19 safety for drivers.

Step 4 - Customers receive a copy of the completed delivery information with all details. It also connects this information with your account processes.

The Bottom Line

Route planning software and route optimization platforms make driver safety easy. They also ensure your delivery processes are cost-effective and efficient.

When you send your drivers out onto the road, you should do so with the utmost confidence that you’ve reduced the risks they face while making deliveries. Route planning makes sure of this and more, streamlining your delivery and fleet management process for optimum use. Plus, it helps improve your bottom line, meet’s your customers’ convenience, and leaves your drivers satisfied. Everybody’s happy…and safe!