VIII. ASSIGNMENT EVALUATION/QUALITY ASSURANCE REVIEW
As mentioned in the Overview, each trip is prototypical for pilot/escort vehicle operators (P/EVO): regardless of similarities that may exist among multiple trips (identical load, same vehicle configuration, same load driver, same route, etc.) aspects of each trip are unique (weather, hours of daylight, vehicle failure, work zones, unexpected road closures, etc.). This means that each trip is a valuable source of information, and the experiences of the entire team should be evaluated for lessons on how to make operations safer not only for all highway users, including load drivers and P/EVOs, but also to improve the safety of the load, the load and escort vehicles, other vehicles, and the transportation infrastructure.
A post-trip review is an opportunity for team members to voice concerns and suggest possible changes to operating procedures. Discussions about what went right, what went wrong, and what can be done better are critical. Team members must feel safe to raise issues and offer suggestions.
Information gained during the evaluation should be captured and distributed in a written report. By doing this, team members who cannot be involved in the actual post-trip meeting can get the information about what was learned and aspects of the load movement that may be modified if/ when similar situations arise. The after-trip report provides feedback about the performance of team members, the adequacy of pre-trip planning, as well as the operations during the load movement. In addition to evaluating the overall assignment, specific topics to address in post-trip evaluation include the route survey, communication equipment and processes, and the adequacy of any emergency responses, as discussed below.
A. TRIP LOGS
Post-trip evaluations, including written reports, should include discussion about all aspects of load movement, including the adequacy of pre-trip planning, preparations for the move, operating procedures used during the trip, and, if an emergency occurred, the adequacy of the team's response to it. When writing reports, be inclusive. Make every attempt to include both the comments and recommendations that have been agreed to during meetings and other interactions as well as suggestions for changes in procedures. Front and rear facing cameras, still cameras, and digital voice recorders are all useful to keep accurate records of events during load movement. These materials should be preserved as part of the trip log.
Trip logs should include a detailed summary of the assignment: the dates of the trip, origin and destination, load description and vehicle configuration, description of the route, and information about emergencies, inadequacies, and malfunctions. Record names of team members, the carrier and P/EVOs, as well as support personnel and notifications documentation. Emergencies should be documented in every detail possible, including onboard camera footage and still photographs.
The report should address any training needs that are apparent, the levels of experience that are needed, and any special expertise required, such as height pole operation, route survey specialist, or P/EVOs with experience moving long loads. The focus of the report is inherently to provide an honest critique of the trip. The report need not be negative; rather the focus of the critique is to learn from experience. The report should address the primary question: based on the experience gained on this trip, how can we do a better job?
Written trip logs, as well as any video and audio recordings should be completed, filed, and labeled for future use when needed. This is true for any assignment, but is especially important if an incident occurred, including a collision, a negative inspection result, or any other emergency that may have occurred. These documents are important sources of information when P/EVOs are considering similar loads, similar routes, or working with certain companies or P/EVOs.
Each member of the team should be encouraged to evaluate the overall load movement process. This should be done as soon as possible after the load movement is complete for several reasons. First, once the team disperses to different jobs or home States, a face-to-face meeting is less possible. Second, memories and issues related to the trip will be most accurate and inclusive immediately at the conclusion of the trip, rather than at some later time. It is important to point out that whoever leads this meeting must ensure that team members feel safe to discuss any aspect of the trip without reprisal or having their ideas and thoughts belittled or ignored. The goal is to get as much information as possible from each of the team members.
The focus of the assignment evaluation should be on the procedures used to assess and address risks during pre-trip planning and related meetings. This evaluation addresses the following questions:
- During planning, were the risks assessments adequate?
- Did additional risks become apparent during load movement?
- Were procedures designed to reduce risk adequate? Were plans specific enough?
- Did all team members know and understand the roles they were assigned?
- What should be done to correct any risk assessment deficiencies?
- If an emergency did occur, what was the impact on public safety? The load movement team? The load? Infrastructure?
The report should provide an accurate assessment of:
- The quality/adequacy/accuracy of advance communication about assignment.
- The quality/adequacy of the pre-planning process.
- Whether there was adequate/accurate risk identification.
- The adequacy of addressing unforeseen risks and emergency situations.
EVALUATE ROUTE SURVEY
- Accurate and complete?
- Information provided useful to load movement team?
- Adequate identification of potential hazards?
- What would make the route survey better? What might be added?
EVALUATE COMMUNICATION EQUIPMENT AND PROCEDURES
- Did communication equipment work properly? Was the equipment adequate?
- Was communication among team members effective and efficient?
- Was information useful, accurate, and timely?
- What changes should be made to communication equipment?
- What changes should be made to communication procedures or processes?
EVALUATE OVERALL TEAM DYNAMICS
- Was load movement efficient?
- Did team members promote the sharing of information?
- Did team members promote safe load movement practices?
- How might the team function more safely? Were there any "close calls" or concerns?
- How could the team function more efficiently?
EVALUATE EMERGENCY RESPONSES
- Assess impact(s) on public safety and the load movement.
- Quality/adequacy/accuracy of addressing the emergency situation.
- Quality/adequacy/effectiveness of contingency plans.
- How might emergency have been avoided? Impact(s) reduced?
- Plan(s) for prevention/future events.