The number one priority for anyone involved in the trucking business should always be safety. Trucking accidents pose serious risks for your employees and can result in severe financial loss. For risk managers of company fleets and business owners whose services utilize commercial trucking, having a strong trucking safety program will decrease your risk of damage and loss. Regardless of what industry your trucking services focus on, having a written safety and accident prevention plan will ensure all members involved in your trucking operations have access to high-quality education and tools.
What is a Trucking Safety Program?
A tucking safety program is a lot more involved than just tips and tricks on how to safely operate a truck. Trucking safety programs are comprehensive training programs that should include all safety training protocols related to trucking. A well-rounded program will encompass detailed written manuals, live or recorded training presentations, an onboarding process for new hires, detailed information about your company’s fleet, and follow-up training/educational material. Programs should ensure that new employees are able to follow protocols easily and that existing employees can continuously practice safety guidelines and have access to newly introduced safety protocols.
What Should Your Trucking Safety Program Include?
All training programs will be bespoke and tailored to represent the protocols of each individual business. However, there are a few standard guidelines that you should follow when putting together your safety program. These include:
Driving Safety Training
This one may be the most obvious on the list, but your program should include safety for actual driving, and a test drive after the training has been completed. While there are a lot of great drivers, some employees may come on with little trucking experience and not know how to best operate a larger, commercial truck. When onboarding new employees, include physical driving training to ensure they are strong drivers and understand all features and mechanics of the truck. If a new employee is not able to grasp proper truck driving, they may be a risk to your business.
Equipment Check Protocols
A lot of truck drivers end up driving long distances with varied weather conditions, leading to mechanical wear and tear. Your safety program should include a step-by-step guide on equipment checks for drivers to run through prior to every drive. Though this is likely the most overlooked step in a trucking haul, it might just be one of the most important. This will help ensure maintenance appointments are always on time, and any unforeseen mechanical issues are taken care of as soon as possible. A properly maintained fleet will in the long run save fuel costs, prevent injury, and ensure your operations run as scheduled.
Mandatory Safety Meetings
Including mandatory safety meetings as part of your core safety protocols is key to long-term risk management and employee accountability. At a minimum, these meetings should be required on monthly basis. They can be an opportunity to take a deep dive into the various materials included in your written manual, a chance for your employees to pose safety concerns or questions, and an opportunity to provide extra education.
Driver Wellbeing Plan
Of course, the drivers themselves are an integral part of maintaining a safe and low-risk fleet. Businesses should equally focus on the maintenance of the vehicle, and the well-being of the driver. In fact, driver fatigue is a contributing factor in 30-40% of all trucking accidents. The driver's well-being education should include education about proper sleep, hydration, and nutrition. In addition, ensure your business has prevention protocols in place for drivers who might experience fatigue. For example, include a rotating schedule for drivers to ensure they can stick to a regular sleep cycle. You should also allow for planned breaks with access to lodging and food.
The most important message you should promote in your driver's well-being is open communication. Ensure that if a driver is too tired to drive without posing a risk, your business has backup plans set in place to excuse the driver without harming your operations.
Red Flag Protocols
Your safety program should include a list of red flags for drivers that would lead to a behavioral warning system. Continuous speeding, going off route, not updating maintenance, or receiving multiple traffic violations can all be characteristics of an unsafe driver. Ensure that upon initial complaints, your business has a protocol for a probation period, safety re-training, and eventually termination if the driver is found to be too much of a risk.
Safety Programs are Key for Risk Management
Without a proper safety program in place, your business's fleet operations pose a huge risk to your business. Not only will you be more likely to hold liability in the event of an accident, but your employees could suffer severe physical and financial losses. Even your insurance carrier may consider you more of a risk without a proper safety program in place.
In addition, safety programs help ensure the well-being of your fleet operations. Keeping up with maintenance, logging trips, and following best driving practices will have your trucks running better, lasting longer, and requiring less investment.
Putting together a comprehensive safety program for your fleet will give you more security and confidence in your business. The effort will go a long way in terms of protecting your businesses financially and ensuring all of your employees are as safe as possible.
Find The Best Coverage for Your Fleet with ECBM
Insurance is a key aspect of risk management and provides an additional layer of protection in the event of a claim. ECBM has extensive experience with the trucking industry and will ensure you get the best coverage, at the best price. Contact one of our agents for more information on our trucking insurance services.