Smithfield Foods, Inc., Smithfield, Va., deployed the SmartDrive video-based safety program from SmartDrive Systems, San Diego, Calif., across its entire fleet of nearly 600 Armour and Eckrich branded refrigerated box trucks.

“We found ourselves reacting to accidents and situations, rather than training our drivers to get ahead of them,” says James Michael, senior operations manager at Smithfield Foods. “There was a growing concern and some anxiety over the question, ‘what if the next accident is worse than the last?’ We knew we needed an effective way to reduce risk, and the SmartDrive program was the perfect solution.”

To improve its safety record, Smithfield embarked on a side-by-side comparison pilot of two video-based safety systems in its vehicles across the country.

“The SmartDrive results were overwhelmingly positive,” adds Michael. “Soon after deploying the SmartDrive program, we went from 20 preventable accidents on the roadway where we lost two trucks to accidents, to only eight preventable accidents and no truck losses during the same time period the following year. In addition, the online dashboard, coaching workflow and client support convinced us that the SmartDrive program would be the most beneficial solution for our fleet.”

The SmartDrive system installed in the Armour and Eckrich branded trucks includes both cab- and road-facing event recorders to provide clear insight into risk factors that occur both behind the wheel and from other motorists on the road. Being able to see what drivers were doing during risky maneuvers and having the ability to coach them on needed skills has already yielded positive results for the fleet.

“We have 40 branches across the country—both union and non-union facilities,” says Michael. “We engaged our drivers in a conversation, so they understood the program and how it works. Once it was clear to them that video is only recorded if a risky maneuver or external G-force is detected, many drivers made a personal commitment to avoid causing a trigger by driving safely each and every time they hit the road. The results speak for themselves.”

“Like many companies that are dedicated to the highest safety standards, Smithfield realized video-based safety is the only way to have full visibility into risk when drivers are on the road,” says Steve Mitgang, chief executive officer of SmartDrive. “The SmartDrive program not only shows fleet managers exactly where their risk lies, but also how to address it to prevent collisions before they happen.”

“Some companies are worried about having a video-based system due to liability issues in case a driver actually is at fault in an incident,” says Michael. “However, the benefits, including being able to exonerate drivers when not at fault and being able to prevent accidents far outweigh the risks. As a private fleet, we want to ensure our brand is synonymous with safety. Leveraging the SmartDrive video-based platform is a key tool for us to protect our drivers, the motoring public and our reputation.”