With so many safety methods and products available to the trucking industry, it can be difficult to know where to start. A motor carrier's safety efforts should start simply and grow as the company’s needs evolve.
In my travels, I often see carriers overlook the fundamentals in favor of unnecessarily expensive or complex actions. For example, I have seen management spend hundreds of thousands of dollars upgrading equipment to address their Vehicle Maintenance BASIC score, when only a few pieces of equipment or a couple drivers caused the issues. Instead, they should have begun by focusing on the basics, including:
I recommend addressing these fundamentals in three steps. Step one is assessing your company's policies and procedures, whether informal or not. For example, do procedures adequately address driver hiring and training and empower drivers to be successful with the right tools and equipment to complete the job safely and on time?
Step two is operations. Are the activities outlined in policies and procedures actually completed, or are those policies just gathering dust? For example, if a driver is not able to drive per company policy, is he or she dispatched anyway, for just one more load? Or if a safety defect is found, is the equipment used anyway until maintenance has time to fix it correctly?
Step three is auditing. Are you achieving the desired results from operations that you expected or needed to achieve? If not, what can be adjusted in policies and procedures to positively impact operations so the desired results can be achieved?
Management must lead the way. Providing appropriate top-down support is essential to creating safe operations and helping a motor carrier achieve success.