Nuclear verdicts arise when fleets have major process inconsistencies. For example, when a fleet has a safety policy but applies it inconsistently.
“That kind of inconsistency makes it easier to paint fleets as negligent,” explains Mark Murrell, president and co-founder of CarriersEdge.
Murrell lists five steps to a safer fleet.
1. Apply Fleet Safety Programs Consistently.
Murrell recommends using technology such as dashcams, telematics devices, and online safety training to monitor and develop safe driving practices.
“Too often fleets cherry pick which drivers get this technology to save money,” he says. “They pick drivers they think need it. But they may be unaware of other drivers exhibiting unsafe behaviors. Later, they end up with a nasty surprise in court. They must apply safety technology consistently across their fleets.”
2. Follow Up On Safety Concerns.
It’s not enough to gather data. Fleets must do something with it. It’s easy to say every driver will complete online training every month. But fleet managers must follow up on identified problems.
“Too many fleets do nothing with the information they gather and never follow up with drivers who need help,” he says. “But the first thing a plaintiff attorney will ask is: ‘What did you do with this data? Did you coach the driver? Did you fill in their knowledge gaps?’”
3. Tailor Programs to the Fleet.
Most fleets can access data on how drivers operate their trucks, the lanes they travel, and other concerns. They can use predictive analytics to pinpoint problems and driver behavior issues. But companies also can use this data to tailor safety programs to their needs, he adds.
4. Keep Training Records.
It’s one thing to say, “We train every month.” But it means little without records.
“Lawyers will tell you, if you cannot prove that it happened, it didn’t happen,” he says.
5. Develop a Safety Culture.
A safety culture grows when the entire company from top-to-bottom gets involved.
“Safety programs become more effective when all employees become active participants,” he says. “The safety program becomes the foundation for a better workplace culture.”
Learn how to build a safety culture at your fleet.
This article appeared as a sidebar in the October 2022 issue of Heavy Duty Trucking.
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