The importance of investing in your drivers
A new driver (Sandy) has just started work at a medium sized transportation company. Just two weeks in, she’s overwhelmed by the new systems and routes that she needs to learn and, after a momentary lapse in concentration, Sandy collides with a stationery vehicle. Although she’s not seriously harmed, she’s shaken and will be kept off the road for a couple of weeks. Fortunately, Sandy will fully recover and there were no other injuries; the transportation truck on the other hand is badly damaged and the company is at risk of not being able to fulfill some critical service commitments.
Sandy’s employer faces a slew of costs associated with the collision and finding a replacement driver to cover her routes while she’s off recuperating. The insurance policy will cover some of the loss but without a doubt the company will be out of pocket. This is an unfortunate sequence of events to be suffered by a medium-sized transportation company.
It would be easy to conclude that this type of loss is just the cost of doing business for a transportation company. But it doesn’t have to be. Sandy’s employer could have reduced the potential of an accident happening by providing Sandy with more training, but they were short-sighted and eager to get her out on the road as soon as possible. Rather than spending time on new driver orientation training and activities, the management team wanted her clocking up the miles on the road. They didn’t appreciate the importance of investing in their drivers to avoid this type of early employment accident.
“Fleets with drivers that have the right training, tools, equipment, attitude and employer support positively impact their own on road performance. Automobile insurance pricing favors fleets that invest in these areas.”
Experienced fleet managers know that their insurance policy, no matter how comprehensive, is a secondary line of defence. Being proactive and mitigating risks before they happen is how you build a resilient business. If Sandy’s employer had taken such an approach, she likely would still be on the road, the vehicle would be undamaged and the company wouldn’t be facing a potentially costly loss. In the transportation industry, we know it’s so important to think ahead because you’re dealing with situations like Sandy’s every day.
“One of the most effective measures is investing in your drivers,” explains Boyd Cooley, Commercial Auto Underwriting Manager at Sovereign Insurance. “Carefully screening new driver hires is also critical. You want to have the right person with the right attitude behind the wheel.”
Training drivers to operate vehicles as safely as possible - and providing guidance on defensive driving - is so important. Drivers may have a clean record with no prior collisions, but it’s vital they receive ongoing training and education to enable them to perform at a higher standard.
“A better prepared fleet operator is a better insurance risk,” says Cooley. “Fleets with drivers that have the right training, tools, equipment, attitude and employer support positively impact their own on road performance. Automobile insurance pricing favors fleets that invest in these areas.”
The benefits for an organization that adopts a proactive approach to risk mitigation are clear. From improved driver morale and insurance savings to more miles being covered due to fewer accidents, forwarding thinking companies are better positioned to attract and retain good drivers and at the same time boost organizational profits.
For companies that don’t invest their time in implementing risk mitigation best practices, the consequences are wide ranging. “The risks are serious; from the safety of your employees and the public at large, to financial business risk threatening the viability of your operation,” says Cooley. “Fleets that don’t invest in risk management may find insurance coverage prohibitively expensive or even unavailable. Fleet operators have a lot at stake and need to be proactively managing their risk. At Sovereign, our Fleet Underwriting and Risk Assessment Specialists are here to help.”
Here are some helpful tips for creating a culture that promotes safe driving:
- Educate drivers on safe and defensive driving techniques from day one
- Develop training materials on fatigue management
- Create a buddy system in which newer drivers have an experienced person to turn to for advice
- Place organizational emphasis on safety rather than hitting targets
- Don’t retain drivers who break the rules
- Foster a culture of continuous learning and pride of workmanship
We can work with your Broker to help you strengthen your current Fleet Safety Program. Contact your broker to learn more.