Your Company Safety Policy: Get It In Writing

You take good care of your trucks. You are an experienced, safe and efficient driver. Your customers are happy. So maybe it seems like a chore for you to develop a written safety policy. But the truth is that a good safety policy is not hard to establish and will solve a number of challenges.

Many states require a policy for approval of intrastate carriage. For example, the  Public Utilities Commission of Ohio requires motor carriers operating intrastate in Ohio to provide proof of compliance with Federal Motor Safety Regulations, and a complete safety policy is the best way to do that.

Also, you need insurance, and a good safety policy can result in lower truck liability insurance premiums. Insurance companies want to reduce risk and they like truck operators who make the effort to develop a written policy, because those employees are more likely to be aware of and practice good safety principles. Even if you are an independent owner/operator, this holds true.

Besides being required by state regulations and helping to reduce your insurance rates, having a policy in place improves behavior overall. It signals to your drivers that safety is a priority and you won’t tolerate unsafe actions. Having something in writing makes it easier for you to enforce these rules.

A Few Helpful Tips

There is more to a safety policy than safe driving. Include proactive precautions such as pre- and post-trip inspections, checking weight and using designated fueling stops. Also, keep it simple: the best way for drivers to obey the policy is for it to be stated in clear, simple language.

Your Written Policy Should Contain These Sections

  1. General policies: a statement of the importance of safe behaviors and your intolerance of any unsafe actions. Clearly state standard procedures such as background checks or drug testing.
  2. Accident procedures: how to secure the site, who to call, immediate actions to take.
  3. Controlled substance or alcohol abuse, dishonesty, any other immediate grounds for dismissal.
  4. Hours of service, logging: what information is required and how frequently should it be recorded.
  5. Safety rules and requirements: specific rules for driving, speed limits, cell phone use, parking, overnights, truck maintenance.
  6. General information, such as paperwork requirements, fueling stops and inspections.
  7. Signature page, for the employee to acknowledge having read the policy.

Steps Toward a Safety-Focused Company

A great first step in writing your policy is to consult the federal and state departments of transportation, in particular the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Program for regulations, guides for program topics, and other relevant trucking issues.

A safety policy extends to more than rules of the road for your drivers. You need to perform background checks on all prospective drivers, including their states’ department of motor vehicles for a report of their driving record—both on and off the clock.

Provide training to make sure your employees are trained in safety, courtesy and responsible road behavior.

Develop a safety checklist of actions that drivers are required to perform, as well as a documented truck checklist of safety inspections on the vehicle, including a place to record required repairs or adjustments.

On today’s crowded highways, keeping safety top of mind pays off.