The Struggle is Real when it comes to Regulating Autonomous Vehicle Safety

Posted by Ed Burke on Mar 23, 2017 3:00:00 PM

autonomous vehicle.jpg

Self-Driving vehicles (or AV's - autonomous vehicles) are the undisputed next frontier in consumer transport technology. Automakers, it appears, are anxious for Federal Guidelines to be put in place in order to tailor their roll outs, and be assured that they are in compliance with safety expectations, as well as in order to circumvent the mess of State's adopting their own patchwork regulations in leiu of uniform federal regulations. 

There is a difficult cost-benefit analysis in play on timing rollouts, especially as pertains to Safety. 

AVs have the potential to have a life changing positive impact on people who are disabled or otherwise not physically able to drive a standard vehicle. Additionally, AVs remove human error from traffic incidents - and human error is estimated to be responsible for 94% of all traffic fatalities. 

The problem is, how safe is safe enough for AVs to rollout?

It's somewhat of a "catch 22" - autonomous vehicles "learn" to adapt by reacting to real world driving situations to improve their own safety, essentially, but what is the threshold at which we allow them out onto the roadways to improve in the first place? How much of a risk will early adopters be taking? 

I wrote an article for this month's issue of Oil & Energy Magazine on the topic of making Autonomous Vehicles safe enough - what that means, and what the next steps are for the industry and the federal government. You can read that article here: "Making Driverless Vehicles Safe"

Read More

Topics: Safety, Technology, AVs

Uber's Otto Delivers on Driverless Big Rig Technology

Posted by Ed Burke on Feb 20, 2017 3:00:00 PM

otto.jpg

This past October, a Volvo 18 wheeler delivered 2,000 cases of Budweiser in Colorado - with no driver at the wheel!

Say hello to Otto, Uber's self-driving big rig.

Before you panic - It's hailed as a solution for the trucking industry's driver supply problem, versus being a replacement for drivers in general. The company is quick to point out that the application is only really able to be used on the highway i.e. long haul routes. The technology is nowhere near where it would need to be to even consider reacting to real world tough urban obstacles like bike riders, pedestrians, and things like tourists trying drive through the Back Bay in Boston.  

As of now, the pilot programs appear to be going well when it comes to these self driving big rigs. Arguably, long haul truck routes should be the initial phase in of AV technology, because of the lack of aforementioned city obstacles.

The how safe equation is an ongoing issue when it comes to autonomous cars as well (you can read about that here: "The Struggle is Real when it comes to Autonomous Vehicle Safety" But it appears that the big rigs are passing thus far with flying colors, and multiple manufacturers are looking to get similar options onboarded. It's big news potentially for the trucking industry as well, as drivers retire and move on, there has been a real struggle to find qualified applicants to fill the spots. (They just don't make 'em like they used to, as they say... We're looking at you Kevin!)

I wrote an article for this month's edition of Oil & Energy Magazine detailing Otto's debut, and what it means going forward for the trucking industry as well as the technology itself. You can read that article here: "Otto: Uber's Self Driving Big Rig Delivers"

Read More

Topics: Safety, Oil & Energy Magazine, AVs

How Effective is Your Safety Program?

Posted by Ed Burke on Sep 30, 2013 8:01:00 AM

We run a big fleet of trucks, including tankers, straightjobs, box trucks and a fleet of company vehicles driven by our sales team - so we have put a LOT of thought into safety program effectiveness. 

One of the main things we've learned is - It works if its working Proactively.

So how do you implement a proactive program? Think big picture. There are dozens of areas that when you think about it, ought to require a policy or procedure to avoid future issues. For example, we implement company policy on the following items, and make sure that all drivers and operations department personell are fully trained and informed on the policies so we are all on the same page. We have a full time Safety Manager and Operations Department that tracks and enforces all the variables, which may or may not work for your organization depending on size and need - but either way, if you run a trucking company, most or all of these items ought to be on your radar 

    • Rigorous Pre Employment Screening

    • Training - 15 days of documented training for new hires partnered with a senior driver or trainer

    • Distracted Driving Policy

    • Drug and Alcohol Testing Policy

    • Emergency Procedures - breakdowns, roll-overs, spills, etc. 

    • Vehicle Safety Compliance Policies

    • 90% max tank fill policy for site deliveries

    • Daily, documented pre and post trip vehicle inspections

    • Hours of Service Logs and Policy

    • Safety Meetings

    • Safety Bonuses

    • Full compliance with local, state and federal ordinances, laws and mandates

    • Tracking KPI's on DOT, CSA, and OSHA metrics, as well as tracking insurance variances, fines, and cost changes

     

    The list goes on, but these are the mission criticals. I get into a little more detail on each of the items in Septembers Oil & Energy Article (you can read that by clicking here)  

    What areas does your business focus on, and how do you measure your Safety Programs success?

 

 

 

 

 

Read More

Topics: Safety, Safe Driving Policy, Oil & Energy Magazine

Hedging Risks Outside of the Finance Department Pays Big Dividends

Posted by Ed Burke on Jun 17, 2013 10:20:00 AM

We're all familiar to some extent with the payoff that can come with hedging financial risks in the industry. However, there are a lot of other risks out there for your company, so the question becomes 'how are you hedging that?'

I cannot say enough about our Safety Director, and the positive impact that our proactive Safety Program has had on everything from insurance costs to employee morale. A side effect we saw from really focusing on safety in all aspects of the job from drivers to office workers, was that documenting safe, proper procedures for everything from paperwork to offloading not only reduced errors and enhanced safety but ended up saving a lot of everyone's time.

In some ways, perhaps the underlying strategy for practical risk mitigation is efficiency.

Can your office handle several employees being out at once without losing days to "catch up" work? It can if you properly cross-train employees, and if you have documented, step-by-step process outlines for important tasks.

Can you streamline your inside teams - customer service, accounting, inside sales and save them time relaying customer information to your outside sales team? You can with proper networking and remote access. All our outside sales team members have server access as well as access to cloud based customer management systems and pricing modules, this allows them to find and use in-depth customer information without calling in or being stuck in the office. This lets them focus on their job, as well as reducing the time inside team members are taken away from their responsibilities.

Essentially, whether we are looking at spill prevention, bulk oil offloading, or preparing for the fiscal year ending coinciding with flu season (don't you love that?) we've found that focusing on mitigating potential risks ahead of time is a lot more effective than coming up with a crisis management plan after the fact - Just like it pays to watch the market and hedge your risks in case of price spikes, instead of hoping for the best and scrambling afterwards.

I wrote an article for O&E magazine on the topic of Operational Risk Management (ORM) - the steps involved in the approach, and some specific examples of where it has helped streamline our operations and mitigate our workplace risk. You can read the article in PDF form by clicking on the following link: Oil & Energy - Reduce Workplace Risk With A Proactive Approach

 

 

 

 

Read More

Topics: Safety, Oil & Energy Magazine, Workplace Risk

Safety and Regulatory Compliance - a Culture, not a Program

Posted by Ed Burke on Jun 20, 2012 3:59:00 PM

Below you can link to an article I published the in May 2012 issue of Oil & Energy Magazine on the importance of Safety in the industry. In my mind, it is critical to prioritize safety and compliance in order to foster not just a safety program, but a Safety Culture. In the article, I run through why I think Safety is so critical, a little about how we created and fostered the strong Safety Culture present at Dennis K Burke, and how our company and employees have benefitted.

Click here to read the Article as a PDF or Click here to Read Oil & Energy Online 

 

Read More

Topics: Safety, Oil & Energy Magazine

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all