Trucking Safety Measures for Fleet Management
Managing a fleet encompasses so much more than trucks – it requires a team of experienced, talented, and dedicated drivers as well. Finding good drivers is one thing, but keeping those drivers happy is something entirely different.
Any business knows that interviewing, hiring, and training new employees is not only time consuming, it’s also expensive; especially in comparison to retaining qualified workers. In the world of truck drivers, it’s no different. There is a lot of responsibility involved in being a good truck driver, so keeping your best staff members happy is crucial.
Fortunately, the trucking industry is making strides towards this, because if there’s one thing that results in companies losing drivers and chasing potential ones away is the failure to enhance driver safety. Following are some of the ways trucking companies address safety measures, driver contentment, and more, including both traditional and creative methods.
Commercial Drivers Are Vital to the Nation’s Economy
The trucking industry is an integral part of everyone’s lives. Individuals and businesses alike rely on truck drivers to transport everything from food and clothing to medical supplies and furniture. Statistics indicate that truckers deliver approximately 70% of all goods in the U.S., totaling $671 billion annually. Needless to say, without commercial truck drivers, our lives would be significantly transformed.
With more than 3.5 million Americans employed as truck drivers, it is one of the largest professions and is ever growing. Driving a commercial truck is so much more than earning a commercial driver’s license, rather these individuals are required to go through extensive training and hours of preparation. Commercial trucks are much larger and more difficult to operate, which means drivers must earn and maintain various certifications.
The Trucking Industry Routinely Implements Safety Measures
While it is imperative that truck drivers do their part in practicing safe driving tactics, the industry is continually implementing new safety measures, and providing support to drivers in various ways.
#1 Ongoing Driver Training
Companies are offering ongoing driver training such as education and coaching in safe driving protocols, informing drivers about hazardous materials, and providing bonuses and increased compensation for safety compliance and improved performance.
#2 Performing Compliance Checks
Regulations are in place and enforced for both drivers and equipment, in an effort to improve safety. From routine maintenance and repairs being required on equipment to drivers being evaluated on driving history and tested for substance abuse.
#3 Improved HOS Rules
The Hours of Services rules were put into place as a means of preventing driver fatigue, thereby improving safety for all motorists. The current HOS regulations that require a driver to work 14 consecutive hours followed by a 10-hour break does not provide the flexibility truly necessary to accommodate driver fluctuating energy levels.
So, as of September 29, 2020, the HOS rules will be revised to allow a truck driver to split the solid 10 hour break into two, either 7 hours/3 hours or 8 hours/2 hours. This way, should a driver need a break during the work day, his productivity and on-duty hours will not be affected.
#4 Creating a Strong Safety Culture
A study conducted by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute’s National Surface Transportation Safety Center for Excellence, revealed that companies committed to building a strong safety culture displayed exceptional improvements.
Such an environment starts with company executives leading by example and making safety a top priority. For instance, from the moment a potential employee is interviewed and hired to the point of putting them behind the wheel, protocols are in place and drivers are held accountable for their actions.
#5 Employing New Technology
Trucking companies should also utilize advanced safety technologies including, lane assistance, blind-spot detection, automatic emergency braking, and video monitoring systems.
These features not only enhance the driver’s experience, it improves their protection, provides crucial data that can be utilized for future training and education, and so much more. According to this VA Tech research project, six out of nine participating carriers experienced a decrease in accidents with these upgrades.
#6 Using Positive Reinforcement
Regardless of profession, when an organization shows that they care for their employees, workers are more likely to remain loyal, content, and even more committed to doing a good job. In addition to increased salaries, rewards, or bonuses for those with consistent safe driving records and improved safety practices, public praise and recognition are also excellent staff motivators.
Go The Extra Mile
Other improvements that further engage truck drivers include the open door policy, where drivers can voice safety concerns without fear for repercussions. Companies are also adjusting work schedules and providing important information about hazardous materials being transported. Communication, respect, and support are vital to attracting new drivers and retaining the best employees.