Proactive Safety Management
Posted by Cliff J. on November 12, 2018 in Trucker Focus

In my role as Trucking Specialist with Acuity, I have the privilege of meeting a great many motor carriers. Though many are cutting-edge and understand their costs and effectively work to address them, others, including smaller firms, struggle understanding how to integrate safety into their operations and reduce claims, fines, maintenance costs, and driver turnover. 


Truckers have to contend with unsafe behavior from other drivers, especially with all the new technologies available in vehicles today. I have seen drivers of passenger cars and trucks reading a newspaper, shaving or putting on makeup, and even talking and texting on the phone. Trucking has additional challenges of traveling to new areas, understanding road restrictions, navigating low bridges, as well as tracking miles, hours-of-service (HOS), and other paperwork. 


Unfortunately, truckers are also targets for lawyers when accidents happen and have suffered large judgments. For instance, a truck driver near Savannah, Georgia, drove into a line of cars that had stopped due to a previous accident, killing several people. The truck driver, who denied falling asleep and driving distracted, was hit with an $80 million verdict. 


In another accident in New Mexico, a jury awarded the family of a person killed in a truck-involved accident $58.5 million in damages. The case alleged that the motor carrier allowed trucks to run with numerous safety and traffic violations, as well as improper repair and maintenance issues. After the crash, the carrier also altered their HOS records. 


In trucking, we often hear about the importance of tort reform and other legislation to reduce claims. Though that is certainly a valid discussion, I would like to talk about motor carriers returning to the “basics” themselves. Improving your BASICs scores starts with ensuring that your operation has:


  • Written policies and procedures that:

  • Ensure you are hiring safe drivers.

  • Are providing the necessary training to new drivers for their success.

  • Provide and enforce disciplinary policies around failure to follow rules regarding driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs), HOS, and so on. 

  • Business operations that focus on safety, including:

  • Defining who is responsible for safety in your operation. (The answer is “everyone.”)

  • Training dispatchers to effectively address vehicle maintenance issues, weather, and available driver hours.

  • Ensuring the maintenance department understands violations a vehicle has last received, what enforcement officers are looking for during roadside inspections, and how the DVIR process works to keep the equipment and driver at peak uptime. 

  • Audit and review of policies and procedures to address whether:

  • Current policies and procedures are affecting operations in the manner intended.

  • Preventable crashes have been reduced.

  • Vehicle citations have been reduced.

  • Driver turnover has decreased.

  • Tools are available to drivers for tasks such as cargo securement.

  • Employees are actively participating in your safety efforts and culture.


These basic steps will help truckers enhance their ROI, understand their FMCSA Safety Measurement Systems 7 BASIC scores, and develop methods to enhance the safety of their operation. At Acuity, our insureds also have access to our Motor Carrier Tool Box filled with required forms and guidance, FMCSA’s Safety Management Cycle, as well as Loss Control services and our JJ Keller Safety Training videos.



Cliff J. is our Trucking guru
I bring over 30 years of trucking industry experience to Acuity. I worked my way up from driving to managing the safety operations of a transportation company, culminating in owning and managing my own regional trucking company. My main goal at Acuity is to help you, the motor carrier, the owner/operator and the driver better understand the insurance industry and help shape Acuity’s products and services to better meet your needs. I regularly provide ongoing trucking training to Acuity employees to help them understand the unique needs of those in the trucking/transportation industry. With over 30 years in the transportation sector, as both a company driver and as owner and manager of a trucking company, I have first-hand experience that helps me understand the challenges truckers’ face, and detailed knowledge of transportation regulations. My experience coupled with a background in insurance loss control can help answer and provide solutions to any issues that may arise.

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Posted By: Cliff J. on December 5, 2018 in Trucker Focus
Are you considering updating your company's heavy trucks and trailers and, if so, what factors do you use to make these decisions? One thing is certain, there is no right or wrong answer, as a crop farmer’s needs will be completely different than a regional general freight motor carrier.
Posted By: Cliff J. on August 15, 2018 in Trucker Focus
Truck drivers must understand the items needed on the open road. This knowledge is shared from driver to driver. We then add to this wisdom from our own experiences and personal needs. For example, a long-haul driver operating from coast to coast will need different resources than a local driver who is home most nights. Drivers need to be prepared for delays due to weather, inability to get loaded or unloaded, breakdowns, inspections, fatigue, and even sickness.