Survey reveals trucking benchmarks, best practices

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The number one way to prevent crashes in fleets and to subsequently have lower injury frequency rates is to hire drivers based on their ability and past performance. That’s the news from Liberty Mutual Group, which recently tallied results from its annual Truckers Survey and revealed best practices in areas of auto liability and worker’s compensation.

Liberty Mutual polled all 243 of its Business Market trucking customers and received responses from more than 81 percent, providing a good sampling of safety program and management practices that impact injury frequency and injury cost rates. The total miles logged by the truckers with auto coverage exceeded 1 billion, and the average miles per trucker were 8 million. The benchmarks were incurred losses from Jan. 1, 2006, to Dec. 31, 2006, valued at April 1, 2007.

To compare truckers with different levels of exposure, Liberty developed benchmarks for each of the following groups: flatbed, full load, logistics, less-than truckload and tanker. Liberty placed each trucker into a group based on a combination of equipment used and operations, and then compared each company’s results with the median injury frequency rate for their group.

The median crash rate for 2006 went down compared to the 2005 median crash rate. The overall driver quality was slightly better, measured by drivers with clear records, drivers with serious violations, and drivers with four or more violations/crashes in the past three years. Over the past several years, crash rates have tended to move with the economy, which is mostly a function of freight volume and reflects quality driver availability, Liberty says.

Based on a review of the crash and injury rates per million miles and the customer survey responses, Liberty identified six key actions that companies with lower crash frequency and injury frequency rates have in common:

  • Selecting drivers based on their ability and past performance, and workers based on their ability to perform essential job functions;
  • Setting and maintaining high expectations for driver/worker performance;
  • Measuring driver/worker and management performance frequently;
  • Providing feedback on performance;
  • Using interventions to change behaviors associated with crashes/injuries; and
  • Adopting and enforcing specific policies to reduce injury and crash potential.
  • Liberty notes that its survey’s best practices and industry-accepted practices focus on safety programs, but advise that companies should adopt practices to address specific injury sources for their operations, and that management should establish guidelines for common tasks and monitor worker performance in relation to those guidelines.

    The survey’s liability and physical damage-only crashes had distinctly different source types; however, the underlying causes and prevention strategies are the same for both types of crashes. Liberty plans further studies of the physical damage crashes to develop benchmarks to allow a more detailed comparison.