It's easy to understand why fleets are so interested in their carrier profiles. This record of driver and equipment violations ultimately has an impact on everything from a company's insurance premium...
It’s easy to understand why fleets are so interested in their carrier profiles. This record of driver and equipment violations ultimately has an impact on everything from a company’s insurance premiums to government fines.
It can even determine whether an operating authority is retained or revoked.
That explains why safety-conscious managers are so disturbed when hearing that they’ve crossed a related threshold on their way to a sanction.
Government officials establish the thresholds for a carrier profile in one of two ways.
While some jurisdictions use actuarial statistics – a process that uses the number of power units or kilometres travelled to determine the number of allowable violations – provinces such as B. C. compare carriers of a similar size. But regardless of the way the thresholds are set and compared, there can be a distinct difference between a fleet manager’s perception of safety and the documents that they receive.
The only way to address the gap between perception and reality is to ensure that carrier profiles are properly managed and maintained in the first place.
The first step to eliminating these surprises is to ensure that the profiles are reviewed at least once a month.
Fleets can simply submit a standing request for copies of the related documents to ensure that the latest statistics are always in hand.
Then it is a matter of addressing any discrepancies that exist.
The differences between a fleet’s perceived safety record and the government’s carrier profile can emerge for a number of reasons. A simple clerical error while entering the number for an operating authority could assign a fleet’s violations to a different company’s profile.
Or a new driver might be reluctant to report violations such as a speeding ticket, with the mistaken assumption that the news will be lost in the shuffle.
Luckily, a simple scan of the profile could identify many of these issues.
The bigger challenge is that fleets are not always recognized for all of the clean inspections that occur, and that can play a significant role in the calculation that determines whether the company is sitting above or below an allowable threshold.
After all, a driver may be happy to receive a verbal ‘okay’ from an inspection officer, but the lack of paperwork will offer little support to a carrier profile.
This is why drivers and owner/operators should be encouraged to make a polite request for a copy of every inspection report.
If the document isn’t forthcoming, they should simply record the date and time of the inspection and provide that information to safety managers.
Some fleets even award safety bonuses for every positive report, offering drivers an added incentive to gather the information.
Granted, a thorough analysis of a carrier profile may require a slight change to filing systems. While many carriers include inspection reports within their equipment files, the documents should also be filed by jurisdiction, making it easier to track how many inspections have been conducted, how many have been passed, and the reasons for any violations. Another approach is to track the details on a simple spreadsheet.
It’s also important to remember that this process is about far more than measuring a carrier’s experience against a government threshold. Indeed, these profiles represent a valuable tool for identifying high-risk drivers and training needs.
Look no further than the number of speeding violations for a great example. An analysis of the information on a carrier profile can help to determine if the violations are linked to a particular driver, route or customer.
An excessive number of violations relating to hours-of-service can help to identify training needs for drivers or dispatchers alike. And a spike in a particular category of equipment violations such as out-of-adjustment brakes can be used to refine maintenance practices.
By matching this information to industry benchmarks that are available through your insurer’s safety advisors, managers will even be able to identify the details that can manage driver behaviour.
Fundamentally, most drivers want to do the best job they can. A violation may simply be a wake-up call for an issue that needs to be addressed.
And who wouldn’t respond to a statistic that identifies exactly how much more likely they are to be involved in a crash over the next 12 months, complete with details about the likelihood that they will not survive?
An accurate carrier profile will provide a fleet with the statistics that help to make this point, and point the business toward a safer reality.
– This month’s expert is Rick Geller. Rick is the National Manager of Safety and Training Services for Markel Insurance Company of Canada and has more than 25 years experience providing loss control and risk management services to the trucking industry. Send your questions, feedback and comments about this column firstname.lastname@example.org.
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