Big vehicles bring big risk. Property damage is an ongoing hazard on and off the road, and a single serious incident can lead to an insurance claim that impacts your ability to continue your operations.
Repair costs have increased over the years as more vehicles feature more advanced technology – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, costs after a collision or other transport-related incident can come from all angles: property damage can be steep when a heavy commercial vehicle is involved, and injured parties can claim accident benefits. Keep in mind that your company’s reputation can also suffer tremendously if your fleet is frequently involved in collisions or unsafe driving events.
The good news is that there are measures you can take to avoid transportation claims. While there’s no guaranteed escape from a sudden event or the attention of a savvy criminal, it pays to know your risks and your tools to manage them. Here are some of the most common causes of transportation claims, along with tips on how to coordinate your efforts to avoid them.
1. Vehicle collisions
Not surprisingly, many transportation claims result from vehicles colliding – whether they’re moving or sitting still. Sideswiping, rear-ending, and reversing into vehicles or property can lead to major damage, and whoever is to blame, it’s not a situation a driver or fleet manager wants to experience.
Keep in mind that your company’s reputation can also suffer tremendously if your fleet is frequently involved in collisions or unsafe driving events
Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to drastically reduce your chances of striking another object. If rear-ending is a concern, discuss safe driving distances with your drivers. For instance, the minimum recommended following distance when operating a 21-24 metre vehicle is eight seconds. Also remind them to take weather, road conditions, and traffic flow into account and be sure they understand how vehicle weight affects stopping distance. Next, get proactive: you can equip trucks with disc brakes to reduce stopping time and install a telematics system to monitor driver behaviour and guide your driver training program.
Of course, nothing can replace the solid knowledge of your vehicles. Well-adjusted mirrors, a firm understanding of dimensions and agility, and looking out for overhead objects will go hand-in-hand with any advanced collision avoidance system or high-tech lighting to improve your chances of avoiding an incident.
2. Single-vehicle rollovers
Hauling a lot of weight with a top-heavy vehicle can set the stage for a rollover, especially when fatigue and high speed are at play. Drivers need to get the sleep they need to beat fatigue and stay safe – consider implementing a fatigue management program to get to the heart of the problem at your company.
Adjusting speed when approaching on and off ramps is a crucial habit for drivers to adopt, but an equipment upgrade could help prevent rollovers, as well. You can install an electronic stability control system that monitors vehicle motion and automatically decelerates the engine and applies braking before a rollover occurs.
3. Animal strikes
Highway driving brings the risk of an animal crossing – an event that can have devastating consequences. Aside from the initial trauma of the collision, you could be left with major vehicle damage. Trucks with reinforced bumpers or “roo bars” can handle the impact better, but there are several habits drivers can adopt to avoid the incident in the first place, like:
- Watch for animal crossing signs and pay extra attention in these areas during dusk and dawn hours
- Maintain a safe speed and scan the road from shoulder to shoulder
- If you see shining eyes ahead, reduce your speed and pass carefully
- Animals move unpredictably – don’t expect to simply steer around them
4. Trouble with turns
Intersections are recipes for disaster: turning right or left successfully depends on close consideration, good decision-making, and trust in the drivers around you. Drivers must know (and follow) the rules of the road and be aware of vehicles trying to squeeze in at the side of the truck, but there are also ways for fleet operators to help their drivers avoid collisions when turning. A training refresher is never a bad idea: it gives you the chance to focus more generally on defensive driving best practices, but address problematic behaviour more specifically, as well.
5. Cargo problems
Hauling delicate, perishable, or otherwise complicated cargo can put your load at risk of spoilage and theft. To avoid having to make a claim related to spoilage, you’ll need to pay greater attention to your temperature-controlled equipment: make a maintenance schedule and stick to it, train your staff to properly set the temperature, and if your budget allows, consider installing satellite technology to monitor and remotely adjust cargo temperatures while in transit.
Cargo theft can be a more complex threat to manage. Sophisticated crime rings are operating all over the country, and thieves dream up new ways of stealing cargo all the time. Your risk management routine will need to start by addressing your fleet’s unique operations, along with any vulnerabilities, and respond with appropriate anti-theft devices and practices. The final step is to ensure you have the appropriate coverage for your operation and the risks you meet on a daily basis.
To learn more risk management techniques for your fleet, visit our blog.