Auction safety means much more than ADESA employees wearing high-visibility vests and ensuring that no one walks across the lanes when a car is moving through.
As I’ve said before, it is accomplished by instilling individual stewardship of safety, developing partnerships with our customers on safety and investing in the right infrastructure and technology. This formula has successfully contributed to a 60% reduction in the rate of accidents at ADESA locations over the past six years. Beyond the numbers, we have a fundamental obligation to each and every team member and their families that they return to their homes in the same (or better) condition than they went to work. Safety is a basic and implicit expectation, no matter where each of us works.
Instilling a culture of safety is a cornerstone of the operations of every ADESA auction, and messages that reinforce process and policy are frequently cascaded to all members of the organization to ensure they are consistently and constantly followed.
While we have made excellent strides in creating meaningful partnerships with commercial customers and ensuring safety is the responsibility every ADESA employee, I want to emphasize the progress that has been made through KAR Auction Services’ significant investment in technology and infrastructure.
Using Technology to Provide a Safer Auction Experience
A few months ago, with the support of major automotive brands such as American Honda Finance Corporation, we launched ADESA VirtuaLane® as a major step toward physical auction safety. This live, in-lane technology has since gone on to create a safer marketplace for our customers at locations throughout North America.
VirtuaLane auctions are almost identical to physical, live ADESA auctions — with one exception. Instead of driving cars through the lanes, big-screen monitors show you the vehicle and its features during bidding.
Dealer customers can still access detailed condition reports, photos, vehicle history and valuation tools, but all without the potential for danger that comes with operating a vehicle at auction.
As a result of VirtuaLane auctions being implemented, the possibility for accidents in the workplace has been drastically reduced. And, by bringing together the best aspects of in-lane and online buying, the customer experience is easier and much more efficient.
Advances in Auction Infrastructure
In addition to groundbreaking technology like VirtuaLane, KAR has also invested heavily in auction infrastructure to more firmly secure risk hotspots. Through thorough and detailed analysis, we found that the majority of accidents occur in three places at auction—inside the arena, at the auction entrance and at the exit of the building.
To address these areas, rope was placed at the entrance and exit of the arenas to create a visible barrier between the vehicle and pedestrians. Also, at the exit, vehicles are given an extra 10-30 feet of straight road before they turn a corner, so they don’t pose a threat to people exiting the arena.
Inside the arena, we changed the standard procedure to put 20 feet between every car that stops at the block and redesigned all lanes to ensure ADESA auctions could accommodate this new process. We also changed the flow at all but two auctions to eliminate left turns, which are five times more dangerous than right turns.
The Rise of Safe T. Sam
While working for the Walt Disney Company, David Vignes, KAR president of remarketing services, learned the power of mascots, and he created Safe T. Sam as a character that people could connect with to drive home important safety messages in a simpler way.
Now, nearly half a decade later, the Safe T. Sam program has become synonymous with safety, and the National Auto Auction Association (NAAA) has adopted it to reduce accident rates across the auction industry — with more than 82,000 auction employees participating in Safe T. Sam training to date. It is such a comprehensive and successful program that even KAR customers, like Toyota Financial Services, are adopting it for their employees who regularly visit vehicle auctions.
I’m proud of the advancements in safety we’re been able to achieve at ADESA and KAR Auction Services. With focus on our safety culture and continued investment in the arenas of technology and infrastructure, I am confident that we can lead the auto auction industry in setting the standard for safety and security.