Transportation insurance: Managing the risk behind the wheel

Published on Wed, 05/28/2014 - 18:21
Trucks parked - Transportation Insurance

If you’re involved in transporting goods, you face a host of risks every day that can threaten your bottom line. And your drivers are one of your biggest. After all, they’re the vital link in the chain for getting your goods to market, and there are numerous things that can go wrong in the process. If you want to ensure the safe transport of your goods, the safety of your drivers, and the lowest operational costs, you need an aggressive plan to manage the many risks associated with drivers.

Here are six key areas transportation risk management:

  1. Smart hiring. Failing to hire good drivers can cost you plenty – more accidents and injuries, more supply line interruption, more workers’ compensation claims, and higher insurance premiums for starters. You want the best drivers you can get, so it pays to hire smart. That means thoroughly checking the background of any prospective driver, including driving record, citizenship, past employment, work history gaps, and criminal history.
  2. Adequate testing. You should always conduct road tests that are at least two hours long as part of your driver selection process. Statistics show that companies that do this experience fewer accidents and lower overall accident costs than companies that use shorter or no road tests.
  3. Safety training. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of occupational fatalities in the U.S., according to the National Safety Council (NSC) and OSHA. And many of the most serious injuries are due to accidents. While you can’t prevent every accident, a vigorous safety training program and strict enforcement of safety policies can certainly prevent many of them. Since driver inattention and/or error are the most frequent causes of accidents, you should require defensive driving courses aimed at improving driver aptitude and awareness.
  4. Fatigue control. A number of tragic accidents in the past few years have shed new light on driver fatigue. With a sluggish economy and more global competition, companies are under pressure to deliver faster and cheaper, and drivers working irregular and/or long hours can easily become fatigued. Control driving time to help prevent driver fatigue.
  5. “No texting” rules. With texting related accidents on the rise, OSHA is urging employers to do away with procedures that force their workers to text while driving as part of their duties. In fact, if you create incentives encouraging your workers to text while driving, you’re violating federal laws. To help bring more attention to this issue, the U.S. Department of Transportation recently launched its first national distracted driving enforcement and advertising campaign. Make sure you and your drivers are fully aware of the dangers of texting while driving.
  6. Material handling training. Many drivers are injured during the loading and unloading process. You should require your drivers to use lifting aids such as cranes, hand carts, or dollies rather than lifting by hand when possible; use proper lifting techniques to avoid back injuries; and ask for assistance for heavy or bulky objects.

If transporting goods is part of your business, safe driver protocol is absolutely crucial to the success of your operations. You can’t control the road conditions, but you can promote safe driving habits by providing adequate information and enforcing safe driving policies.

You also need an insurance company that understands your unique risks and can tailor coverage to your operations. Heffernan Insurance Brokers has the industry expertise to give you a competitive advantage. We provide insurance for couriers, fuel haulers, towing companies, trucking companies, waste haulers and more. For more information about transportation insurance, contact a specialist today.