The American general public has no idea how much the US trucking industry invests in safety. In face of a negative public perception of truck safety this has got to change. Fortunately there are a lot of things that companies can do at the grassroots and daily level.
The American Trucking Association (ATA) conducted a study in June of 2016 that found that the US trucking industry spends $9.5 billion annually on safety. $342 million (3.6%) of that is spent on training. Still, the driving public continues to have a negative perception of how safely our commercial fleets actually operate – and just how much time and effort our drivers and fleet managers spend training and implementing safety practices.
Here’s a great example: In 2013, a jury in New Mexico awarded the family of a victim in a commercial truck accident $58.5 million in damages. At that time, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported it to be the largest verdict, in terms of dollars, in New Mexico’s history. The jury released a statement after the trial and do you know what they said? “Our hope is that our judgment will clearly communicate that we expect a much higher standard of safety and training from the trucking industry.”
Obviously, that jury had no idea how much our industry pours into technology and services to make trucks safe and into driver training, monitoring, coaching and continuous improvements. As publishers and content producers, here at Cautious Coyote we are focused on safety in the trucking industry – but we are certainly not alone. After all, you are reading this article…
Even though the government doesn’t make them do it most fleets invest heavily in safety and most invest in one or more of the following:
- Professionally trained and certified safety personnel
- Continuous driver training
- Driver recognition programs
- Aftermarket vehicle safety hardware (cameras, collision warning systems, roll-stability etc…)
The problem isn’t that we don’t invest in safety; the problems is that we don’t effectively communicate awareness of these investments to the general public who make up the jury pool! Just like the DOT is demanding transparency with the ELD mandate, we must be transparent about the technology we use to monitor our fleets’ and drivers’ safety performance.
Remember that $342 million that the industry spends annually on training? That includes telematics technologies. Another 25% of the $9.5 billion spent on overall safety goes to on-board technologies like collision avoidance systems and speed monitoring programs.
Now, what do we do about this situation? First of all, now is the time to get on board with a safety program if you don’t already have one. If you have a safety program, here are some tips to help you start promoting its success:
- Wear your safety program like a badge of honor – put it on your vehicles and encourage your drivers to talk about your fleet’s commitment to safety.
- Invite your customers, your neighbors and the general public to see the advanced safety technology on your vehicles. Let them hop in the cab and see the cool technology in action.
- Make safety part of your customer value proposition; use it as a sales tool. Share your safety program details and safety performance data with your customers.
- Share information about your safety program on your website and in any additional public materials you have.
- Reward safe drivers regularly and publicly to demonstrate your commitment and your drivers’ commitment to safety.
Finally, Up Your Safety Game! Use resources like Cautious Coyote. Join conversations with other safety professionals and fleet managers. You can start by registering with Cautious Coyote and post your feedback on this article right here!