Coaching Corner

What Is Your Goal for Highway Safety - Part One

By Mike Hitchcock, Lead ICSA Safety Consultant

Everyone in business – whether small sole proprietors or mega corporations – has goals. Some goals can be too high and therefore unachievable while others may be too low and too easily achievable. That statement can apply to many areas of business (and life in general) but what if we apply it to highway safety?

What are your business’s safety goals? It would be easy to have perfect safety; just park the truck! That is not a practical solution, right? So, you must decide, will you invest in modern technologies or in driver training, or both? Will you hire experienced drivers or raw recruits and train them yourself? Each decision you make will affect your business’s bottom line, insurance costs and loss experience. What will your ROI be versus your investment?

Managing risk is complicated when it comes to highway safety. As a business owner, you must decide what works for you. What technologies can you afford and how will you fill the gaps to help reduce your business risk?

There are many creative and effective technologies, and more in development, which improve highway safety and save lives. Trucks can now stop without driver input. Drivers can be alerted when they have traffic in their blind spots. Drivers can receive audible warnings when they are following another vehicle too closely. Adaptive cruise control can help a driver maintain a proper following distance and brake only as necessary. Event recorders can capture video in front of a tractor, during an accident, to help determine who is at fault. The data kept by event recorders can be used to develop and educate drivers to perform more safely. The list goes on. The drawback is that these technologies are expensive unless you invest in ICSA and leverage our buying power.

Event Recorders: Every business owner in transportation must determine their own safety goal and how to achieve it. What technology can you afford and how will you fill in any technology gaps to achieve your safety goals? One of the most effective returns on investment lately has been event recorders. They capture crash events to protect your business from false claims AND they offer you the opportunity to develop your drivers. Help them learn from their mistakes and reduce the risk of being in a costly crash.

The Navy is a fitting example. Naval pilots videotape every landing on an aircraft carrier and formally review them with safety leadership. They do this not because they are bad pilots but because they have a professional (and self-preserving) interest in becoming better every day.

In trucking, we use event recorders the same way: coaching drivers to be better drivers. Using event recorders as a safety tool affects your bottom line in several ways. First, you reduce the frequency and severity of any crashes your drivers may have. They will never be perfect but the difference between a rear-end collision that dents a bumper ($2500) and one that pushes the bumper into the back seat and potentially injures or kills someone is about one second. One extra second of following distance can be the difference between a bent bumper and a potential injury or fatality crash. To realize this type of safety improvement you need to know your event recorder inside and out. Know the program and use the coaching tools built into it.

Join me June 8 for ICSA’s Member Orientation, when I will talk about the value of your event recorder system. And watch Coaching Corner next month for Part Two of this series when I’ll tell you about free ICSA training courses and other tools to help you improve your safety score.

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