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Managing risk in truck fleets no mean feat

Transervice executive vice-president, Joseph Evangelist, wrote for this week discussing the inherent dangers in trucking, as well as how to mitigate them.

Joseph Evangelist, Transervice

Joseph Evangelist, Transervice

His short article, written to US fleet readers, has a number of points that translate to Australia, although exact regulations are worth further research and should not be taken as applicable in Australia.

Public liability insurance for freighting hazmat payloads is the 101 of high-risk transport, regardless of the pacific ocean separating our countries. In the States, “A haz mat carriers needs to maintain a total of (US)$5 million of public liability coverage, while a fleet delivering general freight may only need (US)$750,000,” he wrote.

“Then a fleet owner faces physical damage related to the vehicle itself. Every fleet should have comp[rehensive] and collision coverage,” he wrote.

Evangelist adds that even though fleets have the option of going through an insurance company to cover their risks, self-insuring or some combination of both, there a catch.

“If you choose to self-insure, you need to demonstrate that you have the financial wherewithal to cover a loss,” he wrote. Equipment, however, is not the only damage risk, nor the most important. “Fleets have risks related to their drivers and the potential for workers’ compensation claims.”

“The last common risk involves what’s inside the trailer,” he concludes, “Equally as critical is damage to your reputation if one (or more) of your trucks is involved in an accident, especially is that accident garners media attention.”

Evangelist links this public image problem to ongoing business potential for hauliers.

“Fleets also risk damaging their CSA (Compliance Safety & Accountability) scores which could impact their ability to gain new business and acquire the requisite insurance coverage on a cost-effective basis.”

The article highlights four simple key points to focus on to maintain a safe fleet.

  • Make a commitment to safety: As the top priority in a fleet, “Safety culture starts at the top and should infiltrate every area of the fleet operation.”
  • Spec vehicles properly: Whether it’s telematics systems, aftermarket or OEM rear-view cameras, or the latest clever crash avoidance tech like lane departure warning, autonomous emergency braking and rear-cross traffic alert, “there is a technology a fleet manager can spec on vehicles to lessen the chance of an accident… All are worth the investment.”
  • Maintain vehicles properly: Certainty that drivers are filling out the logbooks (where required) and DVIRs, and guaranteeing that technicians perform safety inspections regularly, “each and every time a truck is in for service,” keeps risk low.
  • Properly train drivers: Ensure drivers get safe driver training, “when they first join the fleet, but also sharing safe driving tips with them on a regular basis,” bolsters their ability to self-manage their own risk.

Transervice is a US fleet management solutions provider of technology, software, leasing and maintenance.