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.

Three reasons to consider changing your trucking insurance

Whether you operate a tractor trailer, haul materials with a dump truck or drive any size or type of truck for a living, you are aware of the complexities required to insure your vehicle. But is there enough incentive to consider changing your insurance company? Maybe, depending on how your company stacks up to the list below.

Your insurance agent needs to be attentive, thorough and ready to move quickly. If that isn’t your agent, look elsewhere.

The obvious reason for switching is usually not the right answer: lower premiums. By using due diligence and comparing similar coverage plans, you can probably save on your premium, but most likely you are paying a competitive premium.

What you might be missing is a company that saves you money in other ways. The first of which is

1. Speed. Or lack thereof. Has your current insurance company ever made you lose working days because it took them a long time to get you your required paperwork?  That delay alone can decrease what ends up in your bank account. Think about what a slow insurance agent could cost you in the event of a significant accident claim.

Your insurance agent needs to be attentive, thorough and ready to move quickly. If that isn’t your agent, look elsewhere.

2. A trucking insurance specialist. Be careful with this one. In the insurance business, many companies claim to be specialists at everything. Don’t buy it. Just because a company can fill out the paperwork does not mean that they are providing the best advice to your specific need.

Run this test: go to your insurance company’s website and look at what they list as their specialties. Do they include everything under the sun? Where is trucking insurance listed? First? Last? At all? You can quickly gather whether your insurance agency is actually a “specialist.”

What is the benefit of working with actual specialists? They ask the right questions and provide coverage that is exactly right for you. In the long run, they lower your risk and raise your peace of mind.  With all of the state, DOT and Federal Motor Carrier regulations (and they fines they impose) having an insurance agent who is a “specialist” is critical.

3. An insurance company that is in a different time zone than you. If you drive your truck for a living and you are based in Ohio, do you really think it is a good idea to work with an insurance company operating out of Texas or California? Insurance regulations differ from state to state. Asking someone in Sacramento what is best for your Cleveland company raises your risk for bad advice.

If you do look into changing your insurance agency, start within your own state. The odds that a local agency is up to date with your state’s ever-changing rules are much better. You will get the right kind of coverage for your area and not end up paying for additions that may not even apply to your region.

The Jones & Wenner Insurance Agency is an Ohio-based insurance agency that has specialized in trucking insurance for almost 40 years. To test our ability to work efficiently and effectively, contact me or any of our agents to find out if we are a good fit to insure your truck or fleet.