In 2018, the net revenue generated by the US freight trucking industry was $796.7 billion. The logistics business has been in existence for several decades now, functioning as the lifeline of countries, transporting everything from essential medicine to cars. For fleet managers and distribution managers, one of the biggest concerns when shipping goods is safety.
It is crucial for the company, the customers, and the government that goods are transported safely from one place to another without bringing harm to anyone involved. Damages can be costly, and one person’s negligence can lead to someone else paying the price. So, logistics industries and governments collaborate on establishing safety measures for all commercial carriers, some of which this blog describes.
5 Safety Regulations Fleet Managers Must Know
1. Vehicular Maintenance And Safety
Vehicular maintenance covers all the stages from when you buy a new truck, including regular service and pre-journey vehicle inspections. Many states in the US prohibit the operation of old or unserviced vehicles on the roads. Servicing trucks can be costly and time-consuming, but that is no excuse to avoid the procedure entirely.
With modern telematics systems attached to the truck, you get live data feed about the engine parameters that help you understand the current state of the vehicle. Moreover, AI systems analyze this data and predict the ideal time for the trucks to undergo service.
Before every journey, the vehicle inspector and the driver must be satisfied that the vehicle and cargo are in proper condition. Any repairs must be logged in the Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (most logistics companies use digitized records nowadays), and the appropriate authority must approve these before the truck starts on a trip.
2. Driver Training
Selecting the drivers and training them for the job is a critical responsibility of fleet managers. Here are some of the criteria in the different states when it comes to issuing driver’s licenses, and you must ensure all your drivers do not violate these. Your drivers must also comply with the medical examinations and license renewal policy required by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
When you conduct the background check on the drivers, note their accident record and previous employment experience(s) too. Apart from the CSA score, you can also have a driver rating system for your company, which will help you identify the best drivers and those who need further training. All these measures will ensure that you have the most qualified and safest drivers on the roads.
3. Driver Monitoring
Once you train your drivers, you also have to monitor their performance in real-time on every journey. Apart from the vehicle itself, the biggest onus for maintaining safety is on the driver. If your driver is driving drunk, or checking his text messages while driving, or is fatigued, it puts several people at risk, including himself.
To ensure every driver adheres to the safety precautions, the government allots a CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) score to every commercial carrier. Any violation of road safety rules will lead to a decrease in the CSA score, which, in turn, can have future repercussions, including denial of insurance. Note that vehicular irregularities like broken lights and flat tires also lead to penalties in the CSA score.
Trucks and carriers today have cameras installed in the steering column, which monitor the driver’s face and eyes to detect any signs of abnormal behavior. In such cases, the safety system warns the driver with flashing lights or alarms and brings the vehicle to a forced halt.
4. Vehicle And Route Management
When the vehicle is on the road, there are a few more safety measures to consider. Trucks are fitted with vehicle detectors that notify the driver when other cars or humans are in close vicinity, to prevent accidents and crashes. Electronic logging devices or ELDs on vehicles serve numerous purposes involving the collection and transmission of data, including notifying the supervisor about a breakdown or accident.
In such cases, the drivers of the vehicles must know the safety procedure to follow, including placing the appropriate warning devices. As a manager, you have to determine the nature of the breakdown and the subsequent course of action, including contacting a mechanic to repair the truck and another driver to continue the cargo delivery. Once you collect enough data about the trips your vehicles carry out, you can flag specific routes or areas as accident-prone zones, and program your GPS to suggest alternative paths for drivers in the future.
With the current rate of advancement in technology, driverless (fully-automated) vehicles will inevitably be on the roads in a few years. Such trucks can potentially eliminate all human errors, increasing overall safety for the truck and others on the road.
5. Accident Analysis
In the worst case, you may not be able to prevent an accident despite your safety measures. Every year, nearly 500,000 trucking accidents occur in the US. When you encounter such unexpected incidents, the best you can do is analyze what happened and ensure it doesn’t happen in the future.
Every truck or cargo vehicle should have cameras whose purpose is to capture the occurrence of an accident. Dashcams and driver cams serve this purpose; they are typically mounted somewhere on the windshield and rear window of the vehicle, from where they record the footage. Apart from the recorded information, drivers should also fill out a vehicle accident report for insurance or legal purposes.
You can replay this video later, understand what went wrong, and explain to the other drivers or engineers the mistake that took place so that they don’t repeat it. You should also discuss with the driver and the other parties involved to resolve any legal issues arising from the accident.
The phrase “safety first” is something you have all heard multiple times throughout your lives. As fleet managers, you must implement safety regulations and features in every vehicle in your control.
The advent of technology in the logistics sector has brought about revolutionary changes in how business is done, including the safety aspects. If your fleet is still under-equipped, upgrade your vehicles to Samsara safety standards today!