Trucking safety is important for many reasons including lowering CSA scores, attracting truck drivers, truck driver retention, cutting costs and more.
1. Focusing on safety can lower scores associated with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program, which can be important for securing new business and improving a company's image. Private fleets' CSA scores are accessible with a few clicks of a mouse, and a number of shippers use private fleets' CSA scores to determine which companies they will do business with. Even if shippers want to do business with a particular company, policy may prohibit it if their scores are low, placing those with poor CSA scores at a competitive disadvantage.
2. A safe company can attract drivers. Today's drivers are becoming more selective about where they want to work and often turn to private fleets' CSA scores to help them make the decision. Drivers know that, given the FMCSA's Pre-Employment Screening Program, any violations become part of a driver's resume, including five years of crash history and three years of inspections. While a number of violations ultimately come down to the driver's responsibility, some are dependent on the organization and a growing number of drivers are no longer willing to work for a company that doesn't make safety a priority.
3. An emphasis on safety can improve driver retention. Not only can a strong safety record get drivers in the door, it can keep them at the company. With an industry-wide turnover rate of 90 percent for both large and small private fleets in the second quarter of 2017, this can be especially important to private fleets.
4. When crashes occur, they can have catastrophic results. In 2015, 4,311 large trucks were involved in fatal crashes, the FMCSA reported. That was an eight percent increase from 2014. When crashes occur, drivers of large trucks and other vehicles involved in truck crashes are ten times more likely to be the cause of the crash than other factors, such as weather, road conditions and vehicle performance, according to the Large Truck Crash Causation study conducted by the FMCSA with the help of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. FMCSA reported that the top critical reasons trucks crashed included driver decisions, such as speeding or aggressive driving, and the driver being inattentive.
5. Safety cuts costs. Improved safety can minimize expenses in a number of areas, including fines for violations and driver recruiting costs. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the National Center for Statistics and Analysis (NCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the average costs associated with a commercial truck accident is roughly $59,150.
6. Bad publicity can wreak havoc on a company's image. One catastrophic accident that is widely covered in the news can cost companies greatly in terms of their public image. A June 2014 crash involving a Wal-Mart truck and comedian Tracy Morgan received extensive media coverage, and a Google search of the crash brings up more than 400,000 results, including news articles in a wide range of media outlets ranging from People magazine to Fox News. Wal-Mart settled with Morgan, who was injured in the crash, for an undisclosed amount. In addition to the cost of the actual settlement, Wal-Mart had to deal with the media scrutiny and the public's reaction to the crash.
7. Safety goes beyond the driver. While many believe the driver is ultimately responsible for the safe performance of a vehicle, safety goes much deeper than who is behind the wheel. In addition to the people who load the trailer and the technicians who maintain the equipment, the equipment each driver uses also plays a critical factor into the overall safety of a vehicle. Recent advancements in active safety systems are designed to help prevent or mitigate road crashes. Active safety systems are comprised of technologies such as lane departure systems, electronic stability control, collision avoidance, and automatic braking. This means that private fleets need to embrace a safety culture at all levels of the business.