It has been nearly two years since we last urged motor carriers to take control of their operational safety, please take this very seriously. The safety culture within your company can be the driver for your company’s success or failure. At any moment, a serious crash by one of your drivers could derail your whole operation. Having in place and enforcing a meaningful safety plan is imperative to protecting what you have worked so hard for.
Money, money, money. You’ve seen it over and over in radio ads, TV and billboards - accident attorneys targeting and villainizing the trucking industry. Verdicts handed down in truck accidents have gone nuclear, with awards in the hundreds of millions. Even politicians have tried many times to increase the minimum amounts of liability insurance for motor carriers touting that it would lead to a safer environment. In accident cases, attorneys will scour your company’s maintenance logs and driving records in an attempt to paint a picture of negligence and irresponsibility. To start, they will look for hours of service violations, at-fault accidents, citations, drug tests, inspection reports and whether or not there were follow ups to those reports. It is your responsibility to not only have a safety plan in place, but to regularly maintain and enforce it. Having a meeting once a year to discuss safety with your drivers and staff is not enough.
Not only attorneys are looking at these records. Your insurance providers and your customers are also looking at these things and deciding whether or not to offer you insurance and if so how much to charge you for your risk.
A meaningful safety plan will include what is expected of your drivers, staff, contractors and visitors. Yes contractors as well! Over and over again, carriers have been labeled as careless and negligent when a subhauler they hire has a questionable record. Your safety plan should also have an enforcement arm to it that serves to garner compliance. Regular meetings to discuss safety are very helpful.
In planning your safety program, consider what an attorney might look for if you were being audited and fortify those areas. This can be done with regular internal audits and interventions. Talk regularly with your insurance agent about any accident trends and share this in your driver meetings. Consider offering incentives for accident-free or violation-free time periods. Reinforce your commitment to safety with yard banners/posters.
Knowing where you stand is important. Everything you do to minimize risk gives you more control over your operation by reducing downtime, litigation, insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs. It also increases driver retention and serves to instill confidence in your company’s reputation.