Keeping last mile delivery drivers safe

05/19/2022
Last-mile delivery drivers are under extreme pressure to make more deliveries than ever, faster than ever. This is mainly as a result of the huge pandemic-driven growth in eCommerce. That growth isn’t going to stop as we come out of COVID-19, and the pressure is increased because we’re in the midst of the most severe labor shortage in living memory.

As you deal with the challenge of ensuring your fleet can meet customer demand, it's equally important to ensure that your drivers are safe. The problem is that it’s all too easy for a driver with a challenging delivery target to neglect safety and security procedures. 

A safety-first company

BrightDrop is a tech startup focused on decarbonizing last-mile deliveries. For us, last-mile isn’t just one of many market segments, it’s why we exist. That means we’re entirely focused on the needs of the last-mile market. We see eCommerce as a holistic ecosystem, meaning that we consider every stage of the package’s journey.

With last-mile now employing such vast numbers of drivers, fleet managers must take safety seriously. We believe the answer is purpose-built products and connected software. Products such as BrightDrop’s electric vans and Trace eCarts which are designed from the ground up with safety and efficiency top of mind.

Addressing the differences

The last-mile is different from other driving environments because the driver spends a lot of time pulling up to the curb, as well as driving through residential neighborhoods where small children could be playing near the street. To ensure that our last-mile vans are suited to this environment, we’ve included three specific safety features.

The first of these is Front Pedestrian Braking, which detects if someone walks out into the road. Since last-mile runs also involve a lot of pulling away from the curb, we’ve included a Side Blind Zone function, which alerts the driver to vehicles in the blind zone.

Reversing the delivery van is also very common during last-mile deliveries as drivers negotiate cul-de-sacs, narrow roads, and tight parking situations. A Rear Cross Traffic Braking function predicts the backing up path and detects whether other road users – including pedestrians and bicycles – are within proximity of the van. The system alerts the driver and, if needed, brakes automatically.

Stops and starts all day long

Last-mile drivers are parking all day long while making deliveries. Advanced parking assistance features will help lower the risk of costly bills to your company as a result of accidents, as well as reducing the likelihood of infuriated residents calling up to complain about badly parked vans. On BrightDrop’s vans, a Front and Rear Park Assist function can warn of potential collisions when parking. This ties in with a Safety Alert Seat which vibrates the driver’s seat to indicate which direction a potential collision is coming from. Additionally, an HD Rear Vision Camera provides enhanced clarity while reversing.

Safety on larger roads

Finally, last-mile vehicles also do plenty of driving on larger roads, so BrightDrop vans include a series of relevant safety features as standard. A Following Distance Indicator alerts drivers if they are too close behind another vehicle. If the van is about to hit a vehicle it is following, a Forward Collision Alert system warns the driver, while Enhanced Automatic Emergency Braking can apply the brakes if needed. A recent study says 1.5 million drivers swerve annually to avoid accidental lane drifters. In BrightDrop vans, a Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning system can alert drivers and deliver steering wheel nudges to stop accidental lane drift. Finally, the IntelliBeam Auto High Beams function automatically dims high beam headlamps when oncoming traffic is near.

100+ years of institutional safety experience

BrightDrop vans are manufactured by General Motors, meaning we benefit from decades of safety experience. Many of the safety features on our vans evolved out of features that have been deployed commercially for many years, and we also benefit from utilizing many safety features that are used in GM’s consumer vehicles, as well as working with GM’s team of experienced safety engineers to develop new features.

The recruitment factor

We’re in one of the worst labor shortages in living memory, and drivers are in huge demand, so fleets need to stand out as employers. There’s lots of evidence that workers changing jobs right now are often doing so for a better working life (rather than always for a pay raise) so if the vehicles in your fleet have better safety features* it can be a strong draw for recruitment.

*Based on January 2021 vehicle offerings. Read the vehicle owner's manual for important feature limitations and information.

To continue the conversation about delivery driver safety, follow us on LinkedIn, or get in touch today.

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