Sam Tucker is the founder and CEO of Carrier Risk Solutions, Inc., an Atlanta, Georgia based transportation risk management startup. Prior to this venture, Sam spent 13 years underwriting trucking and logistics accounts at some of the most well known insurance companies. He holds degrees in Business Economics and Finance/Risk Management as well as multiple professional insurance designations. Carrier Risk Solutions' innovative safety management platform can be found online at MySafetyManager.com. Reach Sam by email at STucker@CarrierRiskSolutions.com.
Nobody really wants to do business with the folks that are consistently giving the finger to the FMCSA or that are being involved in accidents.
Frankly, many shippers are getting to the point where they no longer want to bear the reputational risk associated with partnering with motor carriers with poor safety performance.
If your company continues to struggle with DOT regulatory compliance and/or accidents, consider these three potential culprits.
1) Your safety policies are straight off the shelf.
If you don't take the time and make an effort to tailor safety policy and procedure to your organization, then you shouldn't expect compliance with them.
While you don't really have a reasonable choice about complying with the Federal Motor Carrier regulations, your approach to designing and implementing compliance policies should be unique to your company's operations.
While each of the 500,000+ motor carriers are in the business of moving goods from one point to another, each operates in different conditions and have different capabilities.
Bake those unique characteristics into your approach to safety and you should achieve better compliance. When it comes to fleet safety, one size definitely does not fit all!
2) You are using the Ron Popeil "Set it and forget it" method.
Fleet safety programs aren't RonCo Rotisserie Grills (although those things are pretty freaking awesome)! You can't Set them and forget them! All safety policies and procedures should be living documents.
Set aside a scheduled time each month to review a particular area of safety for the month. Perhaps chose Driver Qualification File maintenance for January. During a set time each day for a week, dedicate yourself to reviewing and making any needed changes to your policies and procedures around your DQFs.
Review any legal or regulatory changes, ensure that you have enough supplies on hand and schedule some times throughout each month to update each CVO's file. Be sure to document any major changes to policies and procedures and provide notices to all employees!
Make sure that you get a signed statement back from every CVO that states that they understand the changes and consider doing some sort of "check for understanding" exercise with your CVO fleet at your next safety meeting or in your next safety newsletter.
Make it fun! For instance, include a short (5 question quiz in the next newsletter with the policy changes. Give every CVO who answers the questions correctly a small gift (like a $5 gift card to a quick service coffee retail store).
3) A lack of true management support for safety initiatives.
If company owners and managers merely give lip service to safety policies, how could you possibly expect anyone else in the company to respect them?
Any safety policy or procedure that isn't fairly and consistently applied throughout the organization was dead before it was even written. Just like house rules for your kids, how would you expect any of your commercial vehicle operators to blindly follow policies and procedures that are simply made and not enforced.
The management of almost every motor carrier says "We care about safety". Some even lie to you and say that "Safety is our number 1 priority". Everyone knows that's horse crap.
Yeah, safe operation and compliance with laws and regulations is important..but making money is the primary goal of any business. Duh, that's why we're all in business. We wouldn't be if we didn't make money.
Every company owner, manager, dispatcher, CVO, capacity planner, CSR and janitor (and everyone else) should care about safety. Mostly, because safely operating reduces costs and increases revenues!
For more information about the Transportation Safety Professionals Association of America, click here.