By Nick Martin
The most successful fleets are those that have a proactive safety culture and do more than what is dictated by federal and state regulations. They take full advantage of the resources available to them, such as telematics, dash cameras, traction control technologies, established driver training, and follow their hiring and retention strategies accordingly. In addition, they engage in industry best practices and continuously look for ways to improve safety – entertaining suggestions and recommendations from others such as consultants or their insurance carrier’s Loss Control team.
Here are four case studies of fleet motor carriers utilizing available resources to address safety concerns:
- North Carolina-based general freight trucking company | Fleet size: 33 power units
During a routine visit to a motor carrier, our Loss Control Specialist found this motor carrier had 92% of their drivers employed or leased to them for more than one year, which exceeded the 70% benchmark for retention rates. They also determined that the motor carrier had an accident frequency below 8% during the current and prior two policy terms. Both indicated strong risk management practices and helped IAT bind their business for the next policy term.
During the policy term, however, retention rates and accident frequency both became a concern. Retention rates dropped below 65% and their accident frequency and accident severity increased.
An IAT Loss Control Specialist assisted the owner and the safety director in evaluating the causes of the issues. It was determined that the motor carrier had not been adhering to its own standards for hiring and retaining drivers.
IAT’s Loss Control team helped this fleet reinstitute and adhere to a proactive safety culture. This helped them identify driver training needs and corrective actions. Due to these changes, the motor carrier incurred no additional losses and driver retention rates improved.
- Central Illinois-based general freight trucking company | Fleet size: 40 tractors and drivers
This company is seen as having a strong, proactive safety culture — one that goes above and beyond what is required by the regulations. They are always looking for different ways to promote safety with their employees. Even with this safety and risk management approach in place, they wanted to look for further ways to improve their practices.
Working with their IAT Loss Control Specialist, the freight company developed a CMV driving tips program similar to that promoted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. To enable success, they incorporated their own in-cab camera data for a firsthand look at what can go wrong, and in some cases, what has gone wrong, and they discussed ways to avoid these concerns going forward.
Here’s how they do it: The motor carrier saves various short video clips of their camera data to show their drivers near misses, actual accidents, mistakes by others, and distracted driving. Drivers are then asked to consider what they could have done differently or how the situation could have been avoided altogether.
As a result, the company has experienced an increase in driver-initiated discussions about safety and driving techniques and enhanced its safety awareness communication across the entire operation. They continue to look for proactive and different ways to bring improvements to their overall safety culture.
- St. Louis-based trucking company | Fleet size: 56 tractors and drivers
Form and manner violations are very common — making up 25% of all roadside inspection violations. These violations develop if a driver fails to complete all the required fields on their record of duty status on paper or electronic logs. This St. Louis-based trucking company was accumulating form and manner violations far beyond acceptable standards.
To address the issue, their IAT Loss Control Specialist helped them develop mock inspections on their property. When drivers came to the yard, they were required to complete a mock roadside inspection with imitation DOT officers who ‘pulled drivers over’ and performed various levels of inspections with the fleet of drivers and equipment. They focused on the big picture of a roadside inspection, but also on form and manner violations. Because of the initial success of the program, the trucking company continues to use it during new driver orientation and will bring back mock audits for the entire fleet every six to 12 months. The success of these inspections has helped lower their HOS Basic score from 80% to 55%.
- Phoenix-based trucking company | Fleet size: 20 power units
As a company with a proactive safety culture, this motor carrier wanted to reinforce the importance of pre-trip inspections with their drivers. So, they prepared a tractor with two out-of-service violations and six non-out-of-service violations at their terminal. As drivers returned to the terminal after their load was complete, they were asked to perform a pre-trip inspection on the prepared equipment and identify all violations.
Drivers who could not find all the violations had to review that information with their safety director to avoid future violations that could have been discovered during a quality pre-trip inspection. Now it’s part of their ongoing training and orientation process with new drivers. These efforts can help the business reduce costs of potential inspections, violations, and accidents, all a direct reflection of their proactive safety efforts and culture. The company found success in implementing this procedure. It increased driver awareness and although early in the implementation to see noticeable CSA score improvement, the total number of violations have started to decline.
The key to preventing safety issues
The common denominator among these four stories is each fleet’s willingness to accept and carry out best practices to prevent safety issues and control loss. They leverage available resources, including their insurance carrier’s resources, to proactively monitor and improve their safety programs. With this approach, fleet motor carriers can position themselves for greater future success.
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 Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration “CMV Driving Tips - Overview,” February 10, 2015.