Transportation Industry Outlook 2022: Part II: Finding Solutions to Yesterday’s Problems Today

January 25, 2022

Loss Control, Commercial Transportation


By Todd Bateson – EVP, Commercial Transportation and Tom MacCallum – VP, Loss Control

Creating a culture of safety, hiring and managing qualified drivers and being meticulous when it comes to maintaining SAFER scores are critical — but they’re also table stakes in 2022.

 Finding new solutions to the same age-old problems will be key to ramping up drivers to meet demand, keeping them safe and reducing potential for adverse lawsuits this year.

 Part I of our Transportation Industry Outlook for 2022 focused on 2022’s emerging trends and what fleet operators can do to reduce their risks proactively. In Part II, we’re talking about two legacy risks and why getting them under control now is critical to reducing potential liability in the coming year.

26129984_lYour fleet CAN thrive in 2022, despite these challenges. The keys to doing so will be balancing safety and performance while bringing on new drivers and engaging technology to simultaneously reduce your risk of an adverse lawsuit. Doing these two successfully will simultaneously reduce your potential liability as well as help manage operational and insurance costs.
Here are IAT’s best practices for getting your legacy risks under control:

 LEGACY CHALLENGE #1: Balancing safety and performance will be key to bringing on new drivers successfully. Ramping up your driver roster while maintaining safety and performance will require strengthening several key operations, with the goal of keeping maintenance, insurance and operational costs down. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Design a well-documented training and development program customized to the size of your organization. Make sure it includes everything necessary for drivers to know from skills training as basic as lane changes and defensive driving to truck maintenance. 

TIP: Regardless of the type of program you create, make sure driver participation is documented. This way should there be a lawsuit or driving infraction, it would be easy to prove your business’ compliance with driver training requirements.  

  1. Balance HOS with route planning. Don’t just hand a route to your driver, have a conversation around expectations on the route. If it’s an irregular route, any support you can provide will help. Doing so gets rid of the “noise” around the driver’s job. Hours of service (HOS) are greatly affected when drivers wait for a load for two to three hours, driving up cost and inefficiency while reducing driver profit.

TIP: A critical component of effective route planning is having clear communication with customers, which allows you to ensure the right times and exactly what’s ready to be picked up. This plays into driver retention too.

  1. Champion driver performance. The cost of insurance is directly related to driver performance. How well you monitor driver behavior will greatly influence the cost of insurance and potential for adverse lawsuits.

TIP: When drivers change companies, they have a higher degree of propensity to get into an accident due to new routes and new procedures — regardless of how much previous experience they have. To reduce your loss activity, train everyone that walks in your door on your company’s rules, regulations, driving culture and more.

LEGACY CHALLENGE #2: Tech can reduce the effects of nuclear verdicts. Rigs on the road are targets for lawsuit abuse when involved in an accident. But in-cab cameras can help mitigate some lawsuit abuse by revealing the true events of an accident.

Insurers like IAT will provide a discount for use of dash cams as a component of your safety program because it affects how the underwriters think about your controls when evaluating your company. Drivers often appreciate the cameras because it helps defend them if there is an accident and they’re doing something right. Technology also supports management of driver behaviors enabling you to address unsafe practices.

We can’t control what a judge or jury does, but as a business, you can reduce the chance of run-away verdicts by how you run your operation. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Use video to coach drivers and inform them of the effectiveness of your safety program. Cameras tell the whole story. But, if you do nothing with the story, it’s not much help. If you have telematics, make sure you’re using it to train your drivers.

      TIP: It’s not enough to have telematics installed in the cab, you must document that you’re using the information to coach the driver. Without that, you’re putting yourself in an untenable situation that a            plaintiff’s attorney can easily capitalize on. Work with drivers who exhibit unsafe behaviors: sharp turns, excessive speed, poor parking, poor decision making and hitting something when backing up.

  1. Consider the effect of inspections. Documentation of inspections – both on the road and pre-trip inspections — can help reduce your exposure in a court of law. It also has a direct financial impact on out of service violations that costs your company money.

Lack of use of telematics, driver scores, texting and cell phone usage are goldmines for plaintiffs’ attorneys who use these to create fear with the public and the jury pool.

TIP: Roadside inspection data is public and available to everyone, and plaintiffs’ attorneys will use that as evidence that your company isn’t championing safety. Doing pre-trip inspections can reduce the risk of a poor roadside inspection. Consider how you can create a culture of safety that encourages pre-trip inspections.  

Reach out to IAT Insurance for more information about managing your fleet risk in 2022.