As a critical component of the U.S. economy, commercial trucking faces myriad operational and liability risks. Developing a risk management program to identify and to mitigate those risks ensures continued profitability. In the first part of our risk management strategies series, we illustrated the importance of fleet risk management in protecting drivers, vehicles, and business assets. We then identified the four key components of safety in trucking and began to dive deeper into these components. In this second part, we will continue to provide fleet owners with safety-oriented risk management practices that supplement the protection of truck insurance.
Driver Training: Focusing on Safety
Many of the most successful fleet operations in the United States have their own driver training programs. These programs provide drivers with advanced knowledge, preparing them for the challenges they will face on the road.
Safety-oriented driver training programs must be conducted with new hires as well as on an ongoing basis with more experienced team members. This training can take many forms, but typically includes training modules like:
- Defensive driving practices
- Inclement weather driving strategies
- Distracted driver training
- Procedures for handling breakdowns or roadside emergencies
- Safe parking and overnight practices
- Personal protection for drivers
- Regulatory requirements for truckers
It is important to note that driver training is an essential element in any fleet risk management program. This training provides drivers with the knowledge they need to operate safely as well as reinforces the company’s commitment to establishing a safety-oriented culture.
Accountability: A Top-Down Approach
In modern commercial fleet operations, the entire organization is involved in developing and maintaining safe practices. From owners to managers, dispatchers, and drivers, each individual must be accountable for their actions. Accountability is a core component of fleet risk management and is as important to the overall strategy as trucking insurance.
What does accountability in trucking entail? It begins with communication, allowing stakeholders to share their insights and concerns with others. One of the best ways to foster communication within the organization is to deploy robust reporting tools, giving drivers and managers an easy way to address problems and to offer potential solutions.
Technology also plays a role in fleet accountability; many businesses have adopted telematics and camera systems to monitor driver behaviors on the road. Telematics systems use an array of sensors to give fleet managers granular overviews of vehicle operating conditions, truck routing, engine idle times, and fuel management. In-cab camera systems record drivers as they operate vehicles; the footage can be used to address unsafe behaviors like distracted driving and is best utilized as a learning tool for the entire organization. Examples of driver behaviors recorded by cameras can be rolled into future training seminars for drivers, allowing them to gain an understanding of safer driving principles.
Camera systems can also be used for incident reconstruction, such as after a vehicle collision. Liabilities can be assigned more accurately, serving to implicate or vindicate drivers as well as bolster the protection of trucking insurance should an accident occur. Finally, these systems help to enforce fleet policies, such as those pertaining to operating mobile devices like phones or tablets while driving.
Investing in Safety
Fleet owners know that a safe operation is an efficient operation. When drivers are well-qualified, well-trained, and monitored on the road, the rate of claims against trucking insurance policies is reduced. This can save fleets substantial amounts in overhead expenses each year.
If safe driving practices are so valuable from an expense perspective, why do many companies appear resistant to implementing fleet risk management programs? The answer is the perceived expense associated with these programs, which can include:
- Costs of recruiting and hiring qualified drivers.
- Costs of training programs for initial hires and more experienced drivers.
- Costs of adopting telematics, GPS, and in-cab camera monitoring systems.
- Costs of developing safety policies and processes within the organization.
While the costs of developing and implementing an organization-wide fleet risk management program can be significant, these expenses are more than outweighed by the cost-saving potential. Injuries are reduced, on-the-road accident rates drop, and trucking insurance premiums are managed due to reduced claims volume and severity. Most importantly, the fleets that adopt a safety-oriented culture position themselves for continued success and profitability well into the future. This alone makes the fleet risk management process worth undertaking for any trucking company.
About Western Truck Insurance Services
Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more!