Safer trucking is essential for everyone who is involved in the trucking business. The safety of a fleet is a major worry for trucking companies, irrespective of their size. Inadequate drivers, vehicles, and various other elements can cause accidents, resulting in injuries.
To maintain fleet safety, certain safety measures must be followed by your organization. This can help your company function more efficiently and save money. Hence, it is crucial for everyone in your organization to prioritize safety.
As individuals who have built careers around ensuring fleet safety, we often believe that a comprehensive safety program can solve all problems.
However, this is not entirely true, as there is a wide range of companies with varying sizes and needs. Therefore, there is no universal safety blueprint that can be applied across the board.
Nonetheless, there are a few fundamental concepts that can be implemented by any fleet, regardless of its nature. These concepts are simple to comprehend and have been tried and tested in real-world scenarios.
However, there is a condition that must be met - a wholehearted commitment to prioritizing safety in all aspects of the business. While this may seem daunting, it could be the solution you've been seeking all along.
There are several ways you can make your trucking fleet safer and prevent future accidents or collisions. Let’s discuss some simple steps to ensure a safer trucking fleet.
In the trucking industry, safety is often viewed as a liability and a drain on finances. However, by reframing safety as a worthwhile investment and even a potential source of profit, it becomes more palatable to implement.
Despite this, many fleets struggle with this mindset shift, as it goes against conventional wisdom that hauling more freight equals more income. Yet, a robust safety program can actually increase overall profitability by reducing expenses associated with accidents and liability.
Of course, many fleets are currently struggling to make ends meet and perhaps focused solely on immediate financial obligations. However, it's crucial to eventually adopt this forward-thinking approach to safeguard the long-term viability of your business. I'm here to support you on this journey.
Some truck drivers prioritize compensation, while others consider the equipment to be more important. Many have had negative experiences and express that honest communication from the company is all they need, even if they must work with subpar equipment and earn low wages.
However, they just want to complete their job and return home safely to their family. They believe that companies have a moral obligation to protect their drivers. Additionally, drivers perceive that companies that do not value human life are not concerned with getting tasks such as payroll and scheduling correctly.
If you can demonstrate to a driver that you prioritize their safety and take all necessary steps to back up this statement, you will likely have a driver who will not only stay with your company for an extended period but also utilize their well-earned skills to excel in their work.
Nevertheless, you must back up this commitment. If a driver has exhausted their hours of service, the Department of Transportation (DOT) will not take into consideration how time-sensitive a load is. If a driver is tired, their body will not care how essential a particular customer is. If the road is icy, the laws of physics will not take into account how this impacts dispatch's plans.
Drivers who feel less valued and appreciated tend to leave their jobs, hence contributing to already increased driver shortage within the trucking industry.
By demonstrating that you value the lives of your drivers more than anything else, you can considerably enhance your employee retention. The money you save by reducing the need for advertising, recruiting, and training new drivers will far exceed any losses you believe you have incurred.
Therefore, emphasizing driver safety is one of the most important steps to ensure a safer trucking fleet.
Another step to ensuring a safer trucking fleet is rewarding your drivers. The responsibility for ensuring safety on the road ultimately falls on the drivers, even though they expect their employers to have safety measures in place. Professional truck drivers take pride in their ability to operate safely, and it's essential to recognize and reward those who go above and beyond in this regard.
When setting up a safety bonus program, it's important to keep it focused on safety to avoid sending mixed messages. Disqualifying a driver from a safety bonus because of poor fuel mileage undermines the program's purpose.
The reward should be significant enough to demonstrate the company's commitment to safety, even to drivers who don't prioritize it. Bonuses should also be frequent to maintain morale and give drivers a chance to learn from their mistakes.
Even the safest drivers make mistakes occasionally, and they need opportunities to improve and get back on track.
When companies make the conscious decision to take risks with safety, it is often to avoid disappointing their customers. As customers are the backbone of our businesses, upsetting them could result in our businesses failing.
However, this type of thinking not only puts our drivers in harm's way but also makes assumptions about our customers that are unfair. We should look our customers in the eye and assure them of our concern for their safety.
When we have to postpone a load due to safety concerns, we should call the customer and explain why it's necessary. We should emphasize that the safety of our drivers comes first and that their cargo is the next most important thing. We should also assure them that we will do everything possible to ensure the safe delivery of their goods, even if it means a delay.
Finally, we should apologize profusely and plead with them not to drop us as a carrier. Chances are, they will appreciate our transparency and commitment to safety and will continue to do business with us.
This could result in a long-term customer relationship and make it easier to negotiate rate increases. Remember that our customer's customers are at the end of the supply chain, and they don't want their products scattered all over the road.
Investing in a strong safety program can lead to significant cost savings in equipment repairs and downtime. For carriers who are self-insured on their own equipment, repairs can directly impact their bottom line.
By promoting safer driving practices, carriers can reduce the need for repairs and increase their safety bonus money. This holds true regardless of the number of trucks a carrier has. Additionally, having fewer trucks in the shop means more time on the road generating revenue.
For carriers with their own shop, prioritizing preventive maintenance inspections and services over body work can help catch small problems before they become larger and costlier issues.
Ensure that your drivers are proficient in using the advanced technology that you are equipping their trucks with. It is mandatory for drivers to comprehend and utilize an ELD, which includes annotating, editing, and certifying RODS.
In addition, they must be familiar with displaying and transferring data to authorities upon request. By providing thorough training on the technology, both drivers and enforcement officials can benefit from smoother roadside inspections.
By emphasizing the advantages of the new tech tools, such as ELDs, transportation management systems (TMS), and in-cab cameras, the transition can be made easier. Sharing a success story about how a camera helped a driver prove their innocence in an incident could be a convincing factor for drivers who may be hesitant about adopting new technology.
Can a safety program alone resolve all issues in the trucking industry? Definitely not, as it is a challenging and inherently hazardous job.
However, by implementing a comprehensive safety program and following steps to ensure a safer trucking fleet, you can establish a strong base that can effectively address the majority of problems.
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