In my role as Vice President of Cargo Theft & Specialty Risk Division of ISB Global Services, I frequently receive inquiries regarding options that are available for driver personal safety tracking solutions for commercial transport drivers, final mile couriers and ride share drivers.
In the transportation industry drivers are every company’s greatest asset so it is critical for a company to ensure that they have both the proper protocols and personal safety equipment in place from a due diligence and work place safety perspective, to assist a driver in an emergency incident. The use of either a hardwired GPS device with wireless panic buttons or a personal handheld GPS tracking device with thumb size SOS/panic button are simple driver personal safety solutions for consideration.
In high risk countries like Mexico where incidents of cargo crime particularly truck hijackings are prevalent the use of hardwired GPS devices with wireless panic button capabilities is common practice for logistics companies especially when transporting high-value shipments or travelling on high-risk routes. These wireless panic buttons are integrated with the hardwired GPS device and installed in the driver compartment area, sleeping cab of the tractor and used in conjunction with a wireless Bluetooth key fob equipped with a SOS/panic button that is carried by the driver. The key fob allows the driver to activate the SOS/panic feature within a 100 foot range of the tractor. In addition, some vehicles are also equipped with an “open mic speaker” capability that allows the dispatcher to call into the device to check on the safety of the driver and have a one way communication between the dispatcher and driver.
A similar hardwired GPS device configuration can be used for final mile couriers with wireless panic buttons installed in the driver compartment, rear cargo door compartment and used in conjunction with a wireless key fob with a panic button that is carried by the driver. The final mile segment of a shipment can be high-risk for cargo theft losses as third party logistics are subcontracted and there often tends to be a lack of tracking visibility for the shipper.
In Canada, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic social distancing restrictions, e-commerce companies are seeing record volumes for orders and shipments of goods which are delivered by final mile couriers making them easy targets for robberies and thefts. The same goes for cannabis delivery drivers who are transporting commodities in small weight but in volume packages making them a potential attractive target for criminals.
The easiest and simplest driver safety solution that requires no installation is the use of a personal handheld GPS device with a thumb size SOS/panic button. This type of device is versatile and can be easily concealed in a driver’s coat pocket or used with accessories such as a belt clip of arm band strap. The use of the device provides both GPS tracking visibility for a shipment, as well as providing the driver with an emergency notification call for assistance. This device is ideal for all drivers, especially female drivers in providing a 24/7 layer of personal security while at truck stops and rest areas.
Often these tracking devices are issued as part of a driver’s assigned equipment. The small handheld device has exceptional battery life with a one minute ping rate. Some devices operate with a global SIM card allowing them to work seamlessly anywhere in the world. In the event of an emergency the driver can activate the device’s SOS/panic button by depressing it for two seconds which will cause the device to send a notification alert for assistance to a dispatcher or command centre. As part of the alert notification details the dispatcher or command centre will receive the date/time and location of the alert, a Google Map location of where the device is located along with a live tracking link. The driver can also use the SOS/panic button feature as a call for assistance in the event of a motor vehicle accident, medical incident, crime of violence or a cargo crime incident.
Driver safety is paramount and having a personal safety device accessible to a driver in the event of an emergency should be considered standard equipment that can be used as an extension of a cell phone call to 9-1-1.