INSURANCE: Top Tips for Driver Safety

In today's tight trucking insurance market, there's incentive for waste companies to make safety a priority.

A study by the Washington, D.C.-based Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration states that the average accident involving a truck costs approximately $217,000, which includes medical expenses, emergency services, property damage, lost productivity, and pain and suffering. If the accident involves a death, the expenses can total as much as $3.5 million.

Instating a formal safety program can demonstrate that a company takes action to prevent accidents, works to correct safety problems and ensures compliance with regulations, all of which can help lower insurance premium costs.

Whether a business has one truck or an entire fleet, the rules of a company-wide safety campaign should include four principles:

  • Keep rules short and sweet. This will help workers remember and understand them.

  • Management should always set a good example by following the rules like everyone else.

  • Develop ways to correct safety violations. Promptly address any safety compliance failures through educating the group rather than only punishing an individual.

  • Rules should not require behavior contrary to human nature or infringe on the basic rights of individuals.

Additionally, safety rules should be consistent with a company's overall philosophy, which will help to communicate that management is committed to the effort.

The safety checklist can be divided into categories, such as the:

Basic safety policy:

  • States the company's overall commitment and involvement to safety.

  • Addresses driver and supervisor responsibilities.

  • Asserts the importance of maintaining safe vehicles.

  • Reinforces the need for initial and ongoing driver training.

  • States substance abuse policies and the use of seat belts, cellular phones, and vehicles for personal and family reasons.

Driving record examination:

  • Reviews driving records and accident histories with potential employees. A company may decide that more than three moving violations in past three years is unacceptable. Also, a business may decide not to hire someone who has been convicted of any alcohol-related or drug-related driving offenses during the past five years.

  • Checks references by contacting previous employers, assessing experience and skills.

  • Verifies that driver licenses are valid.

  • Conducts periodic reviews of motor vehicle reports (MVR), which should be kept confidential.

  • Establishes specific, progressive penalties for any driving violations. For example, after two chargeable accidents or a DUI, a hauler loses driving privileges.

Accident reporting guidelines and investigation procedures:

  • Has a policy on how to report accidents and establish procedures, including media relations procedures.

  • Requires vehicles to carry accident kits to help the driver follow procedures.

  • After an accident, determines how the incident could have been prevented and what actions should be taken next time.

Vehicle inspections and maintenance procedures:

  • Drivers should document daily pre- and post-trip inspections.

  • Has procedures for reporting and repairing defects.

  • Implements preventative maintenance schedule.

  • Maintains vehicle maintenance and inspection records.

Driver training program:

  • For new hires, requires a defensive driving course, certification to operate equipment, and a training class for company procedures and policies.

  • For employees, provides an ongoing driver safety program that includes all important safety topics.

  • Requires attendance at regular safety meetings.

Launch a recognition program:

  • Includes performance evaluation guidelines and rewards for safety.

Create a disciplinary program:

  • Issues a written safety policy to drivers, making sure they understand and can follow each point.

  • Creates specific consequences for each safety violations.

Additionally, companies should ask their insurance carrier what other important checklist rules demonstrate a commitment to safety and hopefully reduces accidents and insurance costs.

In the end, establishing a written safety policy will help to emphasize the safety program's rules, as they can be an important part of daily operations and employees responsibility.