Ferrellgas is taking a proactive approach to safety by using technology to reduce the dangers of distracted driving.
The nation’s second-largest retail propane company implemented Truce Software, a mobile device management platform that limits distractions behind the wheel. Ferrellgas rolled out the software earlier this year in 3,500 company vehicles nationwide.
The system prevents the driver from distractions such as texting, emailing, interacting on social media or surfing the web while the vehicle is moving. Incoming calls are even blocked.
“You have options for setting it up and deciding what functions it allows,” explains Rufus Youngblood, Ferrellgas’ director of safety. “Some employees use phones for mapping functions, and any emergency calls, of course 911, are still available with the software enabled.”
Truce views its software as effective mobile device management – striking a balance between what needs to be accomplished with the device and protecting workers from its safety risks.
“We are trying to help our customers refocus the way their workers use mobile technology in the workplace – to drive safety and productivity – and help them get the most out of mobile deployments while managing some downside challenges,” says Truce CEO Joe Boyle.
For the program to work, the software application is downloaded to the employee’s personal or company cellphone (the app is required by Ferrellgas on any phone in the cab of any company vehicle). A solar-powered device, described as a “beacon,” is mounted to the vehicle’s windshield. That beacon interacts with the phone application to support the company’s safety preferences.
“With any new program, there is always some initial reluctance and questions that come up about it,” Youngblood says. “But I can tell you that our corporate and field leadership are all very supportive of the program. They have imparted that thinking to all of our people out there. They know the main goal is simply to reduce distracted driving.”
From early April, when the system was activated, Ferrellgas vehicles have traveled more than 1.5 million miles, the company reports. In that period, Truce has blocked more than 92,000 calls and 360,000 text messages from reaching their intended recipients while the vehicles were in motion. In addition, the system has blocked more than 700,000 notifications coming from other cellphone applications since that time.
Based on Truce customers’ usage, Boyle says the software is reducing vehicle accidents by 35 to 45 percent.
“We’re pretty impressed with these numbers,” Youngblood says. “[The phone] is one less thing that’s distracting the drivers.”