Natural Gas Safety for Fleets

Natural Gas Safety for Fleets

Natural Gas Safety for Fleets

Alternative fuels are being used more today to fuel commercial fleets. Compared to using other types of fuel, using alternative fuels such as compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquified natural gas (LNG) has great benefits for employers. Some of these benefits include fewer emissions, reduced operating costs and price stability. While working with and handling natural gas is not new, many employees have never had to fuel vehicles with it. Accordingly, there are natural gas safety measures to take note of and train your employees on.

Each fleet determines its needs for what type of alternative fuel should be used. This is largely based on what type of vehicle it will be used for or the distance of the routes. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) provides the standards for fuel storage and delivery systems of CNG and LNG. These standards should be referred to when necessary.

Natural Gas Properties

LNG is a colorless, odorless and environmentally nontoxic gas made primarily of methane and ethane. It is cryogenically cooled by bringing the temperature down to -259 degrees Fahrenheit for ease of storage and transport. Since LNG is liquid, it is stored unpressurized. When LNG is used, it converts back to its gas form. If LNG is leaked, it transitions into a vapor cloud and dissipates because it is lighter than air.

CNG is an odorless compressed methane gas that is stored at very high pressure. There is an odor additive mixed in with the gas called mercaptan that gives it the smell of sulfur or rotten eggs. It is used to alert people that there is a leak. CNG is lighter than air and dissipates quickly, making it more flammable, unlike when it is in its liquified form.

Safety Concerns for Natural Gas

LNG and CNG can be more preferable choices for fuel because there are fewer hazards in the event of a spill. The gas is lighter than the air, so it dissipates quickly and therefore, there is no substantial clean up. Put another way, it does not have the same spill concerns as petroleum products.

LNG and CNG have slightly different safety requirements while working with them. LNG has more requirements for what personal protective equipment (PPE) should be worn and the training that should be completed, while CNG is hazardous due to the pressurized lines.

Personal Protective Equipment

PPE is always necessary to minimize exposure to potential hazards. There are differences in what PPE should be worn when working with LNG or CNG.

Since LNG is stored at such a cold temperature, recommended PPE includes:

CNG requires similar PPE, but since CNG is not cryogenic, the requirements are a bit different. When working with CNG, recommended PPE includes:

All pieces of PPE are meant to keep workers safe while working with CNG or LNG. Remember, though, some pieces are required for different job tasks when working with the gas. Make sure workers fill out a job hazard analysis (JHA) to determine the appropriate PPE for the job task at hand.

Employee Training for Natural Gas

Make sure employees know the gases they are working with and review the safety data sheet (SDS). When using LNG, there should be specialized training for the job tasks that require its use. If employees are fueling vehicles with LNG, have standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place to train them on. Make sure the employees understand the hazards associated with each form of gas and why the PPE is required. 

When working with CNG, it is very important the employees are trained on the hazards of working with pressurized gas lines and what to do in case of an emergency or a leak. Make sure there are SOPs in place for fueling vehicles with CNG.

Emergency Preparedness and Response

If your organization works with either natural gas, an emergency preparedness plan must be developed and utilized. Start with completing a spill risk assessment to determine how a spill may occur. Then develop a spill response plan and procedure to follow when there is a spill. Make sure to identify the proper agencies and authorities that need to be contacted in case of a spill. The best practice would be to have the local authorities (fire department) meet with you to help develop the plan. There should be an alarm system in place to alert the proper personnel when a spill occurs. Once the plan is completed, make sure to train all affected employees on the specifics of the plan.

By understanding the risks of LNG and CNG, risks of workplace hazards can be reduced, and your organization can enjoy the benefits of working with cleaner fuels.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more. The GDI team has developed an “insurance cost reduction” quoting plan, that provides you with the best coverage at the best rate!

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business.

Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive insurance quote!

The Benefits of Telematics for Commercial Fleets

The Benefits of Telematics for Commercial Fleets

The Benefits of Telematics for Commercial Fleets

Managing a fleet and drivers can be a challenge, particularly given the potential for accidents, employee injuries, liability concerns and increased costs associated with vehicle upkeep. Nevertheless, your fleet—whether it be a handful of cars or dozens of commercial vehicles—plays a major role in the success of your organization. There are many benefits of Telematics for Commercial Fleets.

As such, it’s crucial to take a proactive approach to fleet management. To help accomplish this, many businesses have started to equip vehicles with devices known as telematics. These devices can help reduce numerous fleet risks, improve efficiency and promote safe driving behaviors. This Risk Insights provides an overview of telematics and the benefits that this technology can provide for your organization. For detailed information on the telematics solutions available to your fleet, contact us today.

Telematics for Commercial Fleets

The Basics of Telematics for Commercial Fleets

Telematics is a form of vehicle software that combines the features of telecommunications and informatics to help employers effectively manage and monitor their fleet. This software operates by connecting to telematics devices installed in a vehicle, including GPS technology, sensors, mobile applications, dashcams and vehicle engine diagnostics solutions. Common data collected by vehicle telematics software includes:

  • Vehicle speeds
  • Vehicle locations
  • Diagnostics data related to fuel efficiency and vehicle performance
  • Driving behaviors (e.g., braking intensity or acceleration frequency)
  • Vehicle weights
  • Movement patterns of a vehicle
  • Distracted driving incidents (e.g., smartphone usage)

Telematics can be used in a variety of different commercial vehicles, including cars, cargo vans, tractor-trailers, buses and heavy equipment. Many employers use this technology to monitor vehicle deliveries, determine routes, communicate with drivers, review employee driving practices and detect vehicle maintenance concerns.

Telematics for Commercial Fleets

Why You Need Telematics for Commercial Fleets

Utilizing telematics software can benefit your fleet by:

  • Reducing operational costs—Telematics software can help keep drivers updated on upcoming traffic concerns or road hazards, offer rerouting options and locate preferred gas stations—all of which can contribute to maximum fuel efficiency and lowered operational costs.
  • Encouraging safe driving—Because telematics software detects driving behavior, employees will be even more motivated to follow safe driving practices and meet organizational standards. In addition, this technology allows employees to better monitor their individual driving habits and detect flaws that they might not have realized otherwise. In some cases, employers can send immediate in-cab alerts to correct dangerous behaviors in real time. What’s more, fleet managers can use the data that telematics collects to personalize driver coaching, helping employees actively address potentially dangerous driving behavior.
  • Fostering employee engagement—Drivers spend the majority of their workday confined to a vehicle with minimal communication opportunities, which can be harmful to both their physical and mental health. By implementing telematics software in your fleet, drivers will have an increased ability to digitally communicate and interact with others (e.g. their supervisor, co-workers and dispatchers) regarding travel progress, road conditions, delivery requests or vehicle concerns.
  • Bolstering fleet security—Due to advanced tracking and communication features, telematics software can also help keep your fleet safe and secure in an emergency. For example, you can utilize telematics tracking to detect the location and route of any stolen vehicles—thus simplifying the vehicle recovery process. What’s more, many forms of telematics software allow you to implement advanced security features in each vehicle, such as requiring the driver to enter a passcode before driving to reduce the risk of theft altogether. Apart from preventing theft, telematics software can also help drivers quickly alert the proper authorities and share their exact location in the event of an accident on the road.    
  • Ensuring vehicle maintenance—Telematics software is able to detect a wide range of vehicle breakdown or maintenance problems, such as engine issues or diagnostic concerns. From there, this technology is able to inform the driver of the problem and locate the nearest repair center or garage. Also, telematics software can be programmed to inform drivers of routine maintenance requirements, such as an oil change or tire pressure check. Many employers pair telematics with a preventive maintenance program to streamline the upkeep of the fleet.
  • Reducing administrative costs—Telematics allows employers to digitize records that would otherwise have to be maintained manually, which can be a time-consuming process. Specifically, through telematics, employers can generate reports regarding expenses, driver performance, maintenance and fuel expenses, thus simplifying a business’s recordkeeping practices overall.

For additional insurance and loss control guidance, contact GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. today.

GDI Insurance Agency, Inc.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more. The GDI team has developed an “insurance cost reduction” quoting plan, that provides you with the best coverage at the best rate!

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business.

Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive insurance quote!

The Benefits of Telematics for Commercial Fleets

The Motor Carrier Inspection Process

The Motor Carrier Inspection Process

Motor carrier inspections often occur at weigh stations and ports of entry, but they can occur wherever inspection officers feel it is safe to perform one. When it comes to inspections, there are differing procedures for drivers and vehicles.

Motor Carrier Inspection Driver Inspections

Approximately 5% of driver inspections result in OOS orders, underscoring the importance of understanding what the inspection process entails. The following sections provide an overview of the main components of driver inspections.

motor carrier inspection

The Interview

Driver inspections typically begin with an interview. In this portion of the inspection, the inspection officer will start by approaching the vehicle, making note of its general condition. The more issues an inspector notices as they approach the vehicle, the more likely they are to perform a full inspection as opposed to a driver-only inspection.

Once the officer reaches the driver, they will introduce themselves and begin the interview. Typically, officers will start with general questions, which can include the following:

  • What is your name?
  • Who do you work for?
  • What are you hauling?
  • Where are you coming from?
  • Where are you going?
  • Where and when did you start your day?
  • What problems have you encountered lately?

Officers will compare the driver’s answers to these questions to other information gathered throughout the inspection. Furthermore, during the interview, the officer will provide basic instructions to the driver and prepare them for the rest of the inspection.

It should be noted that inspectors will also examine the driver’s behavior throughout the interview and inspection. Specifically, the inspector will try to determine if the driver may be impaired by illness, fatigue, drugs or alcohol. Based on the inspector’s suspicions, drivers could be subjected to:

  • A fatigue assessment
  • A field sobriety test
  • An examination by an officer trained in drug recognition

In some cases, drivers may be arrested and asked to take a drug or alcohol test.

Motor Carrier Inspection

Motor Carrier Inspection Document Verification

As part of driver inspections, officers will verify what motor carrier the driver works for and whether or not that driver is qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle. Often, inspectors will ask drivers for the vehicle’s registration, logs, shipment paperwork, medical cards, licenses and similar paperwork.

In terms of motor carrier-related information, inspectors will check that:

  • The motor carrier’s DOT number is current and not inactive.
  • The motor carrier does not have any outstanding OOS orders.
  • The motor carrier’s Unified Carrier Registration is current (used for interstate carriers).
  • The carrier has valid for-hire authority, if applicable.
  • The vehicle’s required credentials are correct and valid.

For drivers, inspectors will:

  • Run driver’s licenses to secure a motor vehicle report (MVR). This is done to verify that the driver’s license is current and valid. Inspectors will also note any classes, endorsements and restrictions detailed on the license, ensuring drivers are qualified to operate the vehicle.
  • Verify that the driver is medically qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle. For commercial driver’s license holders, this involves ensuring medical information listed on MVRs is current. For other license holders, inspectors will review the driver’s medical card. Inspectors will also check that drivers are complying with any medical terms listed on their license or medical card (e.g., checking that the driver is wearing corrective lenses).
  • Check that drivers have the necessary exemptions if they have a condition that would normally disqualify them from driving.

HOS

As part of the inspection process, officers will review a driver’s RODS, as well as any supporting documents (e.g., bills of lading, shipment paperwork and fuel receipts). This is typically the most time-consuming portion of driver inspections.

As part of this process, inspection officers will examine logs for the previous seven days, checking that:

  • The correct logs are being used, whether it be electronic or paper logs.
  • There isn’t any missing information or entries.
  • There are no HOS violations.
  • Records aren’t being falsified.

The specific steps involved in an HOS review will depend on the type of log the driver is using.

Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs)

As part of driver inspections, officers will ask for DVIRs. While drivers aren’t typically required to carry DVIRs, officers can request that drivers present them if they are readily available. When officers review DVIRs, they will check for unresolved vehicle issues and ensure any DVIRs that indicate issues were completed correctly. This is important, as there are significant fines for drivers who operate vehicles with known defects.

Annual (Periodic) Inspection

Inspection officers will verify that the vehicles have undergone an annual inspection, also referred to as a periodic inspection. For combination vehicles, officers will ask for proof of an annual inspection for each piece of equipment in the combination. To prove annual inspections were completed, drivers can provide a copy of annual inspection reports or show the inspection officer a decal that indicates an inspection was performed.

Once proof on an annual inspection has been provided, officers will verify that the inspection took place within the last 12 months. If drivers can’t provide proof of an annual inspection, or if an investigation shows the inspection didn’t occur in the last year, the officer will write a citation.

Motor Carrier Inspection Wrap-up

Driver-only inspections typically conclude after officers verify an annual inspection was conducted. When completing the inspection, officers will make note of the driver, motor carrier, vehicle and any violations that were discovered.

Officers will then compare any issues to the CVSA’s North American Out-of-Service Criteria to determine whether or not the driver should be allowed to continue to operate a commercial motor vehicle. Again, drivers may be placed OOS for a variety of reasons, including if they are caught driving with a suspended license, carrying the wrong type of license, operating a vehicle impaired or violating HOS regulations.

After the inspection is complete, officers will provide drivers with a copy of the report. If the driver is placed OOS, they will be given clear instructions as to what they need to do before they can operate a commercial motor vehicle again. If the driver received a violation, but that violation did not result in an OOS order, drivers must rectify the issue as soon as possible.

Vehicle Inspections

Approximately 20% of vehicle inspections result in OOS orders, underscoring the importance of understanding what the inspection process entails. The following sections provide an overview of the main components of vehicle inspections.

Driver Prep

Before beginning the vehicle inspection, officers will generally provide an overview of the process and highlight safety precautions to ensure the inspection goes smoothly. For instance, officers may instruct drivers not to move the vehicle or operate any of the controls unless explicitly asked.

It’s critical for drivers to follow the officer’s instructions throughout the entire inspection process. A lapse in concentration could result in injury or failed portions of the inspection (e.g., the officer asks the driver to activate headlights, but the driver doesn’t follow their instructions).

Walk-around

During the walk-around portion of the vehicle inspection, officers will review all visible lights and mechanical components. They will not look under the vehicle at this stage of the inspection.

To begin, drivers will be asked to open the hood of the vehicle so all engine and steering components can be examined. In particular, officers will be looking for damage as well as loose components, connection points or hardware. They will also examine the compressor and look for any leaks. For full vehicle inspections, officers may check brake adjustments as well.

After inspecting the engine and steering components, the officer will walk around the vehicle, performing a visual inspection as they go. At this point, they will check that the following components are functioning and free of damage and excessive wear:

  • The windshield and side windows
  • The windshield wipers and washer system
  • Any required lights
  • Visible air and brake lines
  • Cargo securement systems
  • Coupling devices
  • The exhaust system
  • Visible portions of the vehicle’s frames
  • The fuel system
  • Visible suspension components
  • Wheel assemblies, including the tires, rims, lugs, wheels and hubs

In some cases, inspections will end after the officer completes the walk-around. In these instances, the officer will document the driver portion of the inspection as well as any vehicle defects.

The Underside of a Motor Carrier Inspection

For full vehicle inspections, officers will inspect the underside of the vehicle after performing the walk-around inspection. During the full vehicle inspection, officers will examine the following:

  • Brake systems, including the lines, chambers, connecting hardware, pads and any other related parts
  • Brake adjustments
  • Driveshafts and driveline components
  • Lower exhaust components
  • The inside of the frame
  • The lower fuel system components
  • The inside of suspension components

Braking, Steering and Coupling Testing

Following an inspection of the vehicle’s underside, inspectors will work with the driver to test braking systems, steering systems and coupling devices:

  • Braking systems—Officers will check tractor protection valves and trailer emergency brakes. For air brake vehicles, drivers will have to disconnect air supply hoses. Drivers will then be asked to step on the brakes, which allows inspectors to verify whether or not the protection valve has closed. As part of their review of braking systems, inspectors will also verify that ABS and low-air warning lights function as intended.
  • Steering systems—To test steering systems, officers will position themselves where they can measure the steering wheel movement. The officer will then have the driver move the steering wheel, measuring how far it travels before the tire moves.
  • Coupling devices—To test coupling devices, the officer will remove the chocks. They will then wiggle the truck or tractor against the trailer while the trailer brakes are locked. This is done to measure free play in the coupling system.

Inspection Wrap-up

When completing the vehicle inspection, officers will make note of the driver, motor carrier, vehicle and any violations that were discovered. Officers will then compare any issues to the CVSA’s North American Out-of-Service Criteria to determine whether or not the vehicle should be placed OOS.

Again, vehicles may be placed OOS for a variety of reasons, including the following:

  • The vehicle has a flat tire.
  • The brakes are defective or damaged.
  • A critical required light is not functioning.
  • Cargo is secured improperly.
  • Steering components are defective or excessively worn.

If a vehicle is placed OOS, the issue must be corrected before it’s allowed to leave the inspection site. For critical issues that cannot be fixed on-site, vehicles may need to be towed away. For violations that do not result in OOS orders, issues must be rectified as soon as possible.

GDI Insurance Agency, Inc.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more.

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business. Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive commercial auto insurance quote!

FMCSA Relaunches Crash Preventability Determination Program (CPDP)

FMCSA Relaunches Crash Preventability Determination Program (CPDP)

FMCSA Relaunches Crash Preventability Determination Program (CPDP)

On May 1, 2020, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that it was relaunching and expanding the Crash Preventability Determination Program (CPDP).

The CPDP was previously launched as a pilot program in July of 2017, but was suspended last year while the administration made adjustments.

What is CPDP?

The CPDP program allows motor carriers and drivers to argue that a crash was not preventable. This is important, as nonpreventable crashes are not counted against a motor carrier in the FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) system. As such, the crash would not result in a higher chance of the carrier being targeted for warning letters or investigations. For drivers, a nonpreventable crash has less of a chance of affecting future employment prospects.

The program is available for crashes that occurred on or after Aug. 1, 2019. Carriers or drivers who want to challenge the preventability of a crash can submit a Request for Data Review through the FMCSA’s DataQs website. Submissions should include a police accident report and any photos, videos or other supporting documents.

commercial driver safety

The Type of Collisions

The relaunched version of the program expands upon the types of crashes eligible for inquiries compared with its pilot predecessor. Motor carriers and drivers can now submit requests for review for the following types of collisions:

  • Struck in the rear—When a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) was struck in the rear or on the side at the rear
  • Wrong direction or illegal turns—When a collision was caused by either driver operating in the wrong direction, or by another motorist making an illegal turn
  • Parked or legally stopped—When a CMV was struck while parked or legally stopped at a traffic control device
  • Failure of the other vehicle to stop—When a CMV was struck by a motorist who failed to obey a traffic control device, or did not stop or slow in traffic
  • Under the influence—When a collision involved a motorist under the influence, such as operating while intoxicated
  • Medical issues, falling asleep or distracted driving—When a CMV was struck by a motorist experiencing a  medical issue that contributed to the collision, or by a motorist who fell asleep or was distracted
  • Cargo/Equipment/Debris or Infrastructure Failure—When a CMV was struck by cargo, equipment or debris, or an accident stemmed from the failure of infrastructure
  • Animal strike—When a CMV struck an animal
  • Suicide—When a CMV struck a person committing, or attempting to commit, suicide
  • Rare or unusual—When a collision does not meet another eligible type and may have had an unusual factor, such as an airplane or a deceased driver

Click here for the FMCSA’s news release regarding the relaunch of the program.

GDI Insurance Agency, Inc.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more.

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business. Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive business auto insurance quote!

The Key to Commercial Drivers Safety

The Key to Commercial Drivers Safety

The Key to Commercial Drivers Safety

Not only must commercial drivers contend with heavy traffic, other motorists, dangerous weather conditions, and wandering wildlife, but they must do so while operating large trucks and often carrying heavy and sometimes dangerous cargo. One mistake carries possible huge repercussions. Concentration is key to commercial drivers safety.

Successful motor carriers have always made commercial drivers safety a priority, both to safeguard their employees and lower the costs associated with accidents and lost freight. But, since the number of drivers on U.S. roadways is increasing, there’s also a rising number of accidents and collisions. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that fatalities from large truck crashes have reached their highest level in 29 years.

If you are looking for a Commercial Auto Policy, give GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. a call at 209-634-2929.

Commercial Driving Safety Guide

The Real Cost of Accidents

Accidents can lead to a number of direct costs from medical bills, property damage and vehicle repairs. However, as the demand for increased freight capacity continues to increase, employers that sacrifice safety for increased capacity may not consider these indirect costs:

  • Loss of revenue—Most vehicles involved in an accident need to stay idle for a significant amount of time, leading to lower efficiency or even the complete loss of a delivery order.
  • Fines and penalties—Trucks that cause an accident may face significant traffic violations and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) penalties. Plus, a significant FMCSA violation can add to your compliance requirements and take some of your organization’s attention off of your regular operations.
  • Legal fees—Accidents can lead to significant legal fees from lost freight, third-party claims and more. Long legal proceedings can be an overwhelming drain on your finances, regardless of whether you win or lose a claim.
  • Insurance premiums—Insurance carriers are continuing to raise commercial vehicle policy rates as the number of accidents continues to increase. Even small incidents can lead to significant insurance rate increases as insurers try to recover funds lost from claims.
  • Reputation—While the demand for more freight capacity remains high, motor carriers with significant safety issues may struggle to find new business. Additionally, it may be harder to attract new employees during the ongoing driver shortage.
commercial drivers safety

Increase Your Commercial Drivers Safety

The best way to make safety a priority during any commercial driving operation is to establish a comprehensive safety program. This should start with a collaborative effort between managers, fleet supervisors, drivers, mechanics and other stakeholders in order to identify safety risks across all aspects of your organization and develop effective and proactive solutions.

However, it isn’t enough to do a single sweep of your organization’s risk exposures. While this may help to reduce your costs, an effective safety program should be engrained in your day-to-day operations. You should also regularly gather feedback on the program’s effectiveness.

Setting Goals and Objectives For Commercial Drivers

While many motor carriers share common safety risks, your organization also needs to tailor its safety program to meet your unique operations. The best way to consider all of these risks to establish a set of clear goals and objectives for your program. Here’s a list of topics to consider when considering goals:

  • Hazard identification—Your organization needs to consider every aspect of your workplace and operations to identify safety hazards. You should also consider the individuals or groups that are best prepared to identify unique hazards. For example, fleet supervisors may not be able to identify safety risks associated with vehicle maintenance.
  • Risk assessment—Each hazard you identify needs to be addressed by your organization. However, your safety program should prioritize risks so you’re prepared to resolve the most serious or likely dangers first.
  • Incident investigation—Safety incidents occur at even the most cautious organizations. Your program should have procedures in place to investigate what actions or inactions contributed to an incident to ensure that it can’t be repeated.
  • Communication—Every employee at your organization should have access to your safety program and receive regular updates on safety initiatives. You should also establish a system that allows employees to submit safety concerns anonymously to help address hazards that were overlooked.
  • Program reassessment—Your organization should make regular updates to your safety initiatives to account for updates to your operations, equipment, workforce, legal obligations and more.
commercial driver safety

Hiring and Onboarding Commercial Drivers

One of the most important topics concerning commercial driving safety is to ensure that the drivers themselves are qualified and trained to operate their vehicles. And, even after carriers have completed pre-employment screenings to check a driver’s history, they also need to establish training programs to address common risks and maintain health and fitness programs. That way, both carriers and drivers will be prepared to boost safety both in the workplace and on the road.

It’s no surprise that putting more drivers on the road is a great way to increase capacity, but carriers need to make sure they hire talented, qualified drivers. Even during a driver shortage, onboarding a single inexperienced or incompetent employee can expose you to costly fines, crashes and a damaged reputation.

Best Qualified Commercial Drivers

The best way to make sure you’re employing the most qualified drivers is to perform comprehensive pre-employment screenings in accordance with DOT and FMCSA regulations. Here are some best practices for performing these screenings:

  • Document the entire pre-employment screening process. Make sure that all stakeholders involved in the hiring process record why a decision is made and what information the decision is based on. You should also keep documents and personal information secure in a safe location or in a password-protected computer system.
  • Make sure that the Social Security number that a candidate provides is valid. Since you’ll use this number to perform other checks, it’s important to make sure it’s correct early in the process.
  • Use the commercial driver’s license information system to check a candidate’s license and learn what states you’ll have to request driving records from.
  • Verify a candidate’s previous three years of employment history. If a driver’s previous DOT-regulated employer doesn’t use an electronic employment history database, you may have to send in a manual request. You can also ask previous employers for recommendations, but carriers are only required to verify a driver’s work history.
  • Request motor vehicle reports from every state where a candidate held a commercial driver’s license by contacting that state’s department of motor vehicles.
  • Obtain a candidate’s drug and alcohol test results from the previous three years from past employers.
  • Use the FMCSA’s pre-employment screening program to check a candidate’s last five years of crash data and last three years of roadside inspections. Even if a candidate meets all FMCSA and local requirements, you should carefully check the reports to see if any driving or maintenance habits stand out.
  • Perform criminal history and sex offender checks in all states where a candidate lived or worked. However, keep in mind that state laws regarding the use of this information in employment screening may vary.
  • Have candidates perform a pre-employment drug test. A negative test result is a mandate for all commercial drivers.
  • Make sure that all candidates are medically qualified to drive by obtaining qualifications from a licensed, certified and registered medical examiner. A list of examiners can be found in the FMCSA’s National Registry.

When screening applicants, your business should also make efforts to check for any state and local pre-employment requirements, criminal histories and other relevant information to see if candidates are the right fit.

Commercial Driving Safety Guide

Driver Training

Although commercial drivers must meet state and federal requirements to obtain a CDL license, they still need to be trained on important driving topics specific to the vehicle types, cargo and other unique industry hazards to stay safe on the road. Hazards such as weather conditions, distractions, road construction and team driving can be unfamiliar for drivers depending on their backgrounds. Drivers should undergo retraining when their driving behaviors do not align with company policies. Additionally, even veteran drivers will need reminders and retraining on certain safety topics.

Defensive Driving

Even the best commercial drivers can’t predict the actions of surrounding traffic or hazards that appear suddenly. Make sure all of your drivers know basics behind defensive driving techniques:

  • Remain constantly alert for any driving errors made by surrounding traffic, along with a willingness to make regular adjustments to avoid accidents.
  • Anticipate how to react to changing conditions caused by the commercial vehicle’s condition, changing weather, type of road surface, amount of light, the driver’s state of mind and more.
  • Follow the rules that determine right of way and yielding to other vehicles.

Additionally, defensive driving training programs should highlight these safety tips:

  • Avoid distractions from things like entertainment systems, cellphones and conversations with passengers to focus on surrounding traffic and changing road conditions.
  • Never wait to see how a hazard develops. Once a driver notices a hazard on the road, they should react to it immediately to avoid an accident.
  • Double-check all blind spots of the vehicle before driving to stay aware of potential hazards.
  • Keep all lights, mirrors, windows and the windshield clean to get the clearest possible view of surrounding traffic.
  • Think about how other drivers will react to your driving. For example, other vehicles may change lanes and interfere with traffic if a commercial vehicle makes a sudden movement.
  • Never force other drivers to brake or steer because of an obstacle. Instead, wait until traffic is gone to drive around obstacles.
  • Take extra care around pedestrians, especially if they could be present around blind spots or curves in the road.
commercial driver safety

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving has always been a major hazard on the road, as it’s the leading cause of accidents. It’s important to encourage drivers to avoid distractions so they don’t become a danger to themselves and surrounding traffic.

Any time a driver reaches for an object or gets distracted by outside stimuli, the chances of an accident drastically increase. In fact, studies show that simply by dialing a cellphone, the likelihood of a crash is six times greater.

To remain safe on the roads, drivers need to be aware of common distractions that can put them and the public in danger:

  • Using electronic devices such as a GPS, MP3 player, radio, cellphone or laptop
  • Reading maps, books, texts or printed directions
  • Combing hair, putting on makeup, shaving, brushing teeth or performing similar grooming activities
  • Eating, drinking or smoking
  • Talking with passengers, or tending to children or pets
  • Focusing attention on visual distractions outside the vehicle, such as collisions, police activity, street signs, pedestrians, construction or billboards
  • Multitasking
  • Daydreaming

Tips for Employers

The following are some ways organizations and their fleet managers can help reduce the risk of distracted driving:

  • Create a driver safety program and a distracted driving policy. Regularly communicate your policies using things like emails, blogs and posters.
  • Use applications to detect when your drivers are on the road. Many of these applications prevent individuals from contacting a driver while their vehicle is in motion.
  • Instruct drivers to pull off the road and park if they need to use their phone or an electronic device.
  • Equip vehicles with lockboxes that drivers can use to store potential distractions, like smartphones and tablets.
  • Educate your drivers on the risks of driving while distracted. Use real-life examples and stories to explain how dangerous distracted driving can be.
  • Update your organization’s handbook, noting any disciplinary actions you will take if you identify unsafe driving behavior.
  • Ask your employees to sign a pledge form indicating their willingness to drive in a safe and courteous manner.
  • Work with drivers to plan trips. This ensures that drivers have a clear understanding of their routes, which can reduce the need for GPS and other potentially distracting navigation devices.
  • Manage driver schedules to ensure employees are well-rested between trips.
  • Use telematics, driver monitoring programs and in-cabin camera systems to evaluate individual drivers. Whenever possible, reward positive driver behavior to encourage a culture of safety.
  • Perform a safety audit, which will give you a high-level overview of distracted driving risks and other concerns.

Tips for Drivers

While employers must provide training and guidance to prevent distracted driving, road safety is ultimately up to individual drivers. The following are tips your drivers should keep in mind whenever they’re out in the field:

  • Remain educated on the risks and consequences of distracted driving. Attend any refresher courses your employer provides.
  • Do not text, dial a cellphone or use dispatching devices while you drive.
  • Avoid distracting activities such as eating, personal grooming and reaching for items.
  • Install an application on your cellphone that recognizes when your vehicle is in motion and responds to texts and calls with a preset safety message.
  • Minimize the potential for distractions by planning your routes. Research your drive ahead of time to eliminate the need for GPS, maps and other navigation tools.
  • Organize your vehicle’s cabin to ensure personal items you may need during a long trip are well within reach. To eliminate the need to reach for items while you drive, program your GPS, adjust your mirrors and tune your radio before you hit the road.
  • Avoid multitasking when driving. If you need to make a phone call or respond to a text message on the road, pull over beforehand. Even the use of a hands-free device is dangerous and can create a cognitive distraction. To help eliminate the urge to use cellphones and other devices, turn them off and stow them out of sight in a safe compartment.
  • Ensure you are well-rested prior to getting behind the wheel. When you drive fatigued, the chances of becoming distracted and getting into an accident increase.
  • Focus on driving and do not let anything divert your attention. While you drive, actively scan the road, using your mirrors to watch out for other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.
  • Plan your meals in advance and avoid eating while you drive.
  • Understand and adhere to distracted driving laws in your state.

Follow employer-mandated guidelines outlined in distracted driving programs and similar policies.

GDI Insurance Agency, Inc.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more.

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business. Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive Commercial Auto insurance quote!

Prevention for Commercial Fleet Distracted Driving

Prevention for Commercial Fleet Distracted Driving

Prevention for Commercial Fleet
Distracted Driving

For many California commercial fleets, driver and public safety is a top priority, and organizations take great care to prevent costly and potentially deadly accidents. While a number of factors can lead to a crash, distracted driving is a common preventable cause of accidents. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates that every year, up to 391,000 people are injured and 3.450 people are killed in crashes involving distracted drivers. Commercial Fleet Distracted Driving Prevention is more important than ever for your business.

Contact GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. for your comprehensive commercial fleet insurance quote 209-634-2929.

Commercial Fleet Distracted Driving

Why is Commercial Fleet Distracted Driving So Dangerous?

Distracted driving reduces awareness, decision-making and performance, increasing the likelihood of driver error, near-crashes or crashes. What’s more, distracted driving is not always attributable to a medical condition, alcohol and drug use or fatigue.

Distracted driving is an ongoing safety concern for commercial fleets. However, the widespread increase in cellphone use over the past decade has brought the issue to the forefront.

Studies have shown that many collisions and near-collisions involve some form of driver inattention, often just three seconds prior to the event. These statistics are particularly noteworthy for commercial fleets, as many commercial vehicles have poorer driver visibility than personal cars and are much more difficult to control or stop in the even of an emergency. For commercial fleets, distracted driving can lead to increased commercial auto insurance premiums, costly repairs, decreased productivity, reputational damage and driver injury or death.

Distracted Commercial Fleet

Types of Commercial Fleet Distracted Driving

Often, when thinking about distracted driving, it’s easy to focus on inattentiveness caused by cellphones and other electronic devices. However, while texting and taking phone calls while driving are major causes of accidents, they aren’t the only distractions.

Distracted driving can be broken down into one of four categories:

  1. Visual Distractions: Any distraction that diverts a driver’s eyes from the road (pedestrians, collisions or road signs).
  2. Physical Distractions: Any distraction that causes a driver to take their hands off the wheel (eating, drinking or tuning a radio).
  3. Cognitive Distractions: Any distraction that causes a driver to think about something other than the duty of driving carefully (daydreaming or multitasking).
  4. Auditory Distractions: Any audible distraction that diverts a driver’s attention away from the road (listening to music or talking to passengers).

Any time a driver reaches for an object or gets distracted by outside stimuli, the chances of an accident drastically increase. In fact, studies show that simply by dialing a cellphone, the likelihood of a crash is six times greater.

To remain safe on the roads, drivers need to be aware of common distractions that can put them and the public in danger:

  • Using electronic devices such as a GPS, MP3 player, radio, cellphone or laptop
  • Reading maps, books, texts or printed directions
  • Combing hair, putting on makeup, shaving, brushing teeth or performing similar grooming activities
  • Eating, drinking or smoking
  • Talking with passengers or tending to children or pets
  • Focusing attention on visual distractions outside the vehicle, such as collisions, police activity, street signs, pedestrians, construction or billboards
  • Multitasking
  • Daydreaming

Responding To Commercial Fleet Distracted Driving

Even the most experienced drivers can become distracted from time to time. In order to maintain safe driving practices, organizations must take a top-down approach to combating distracted driving. Only through effective policies and training can commercial fleets identify and respond to potentially harmful driving behaviors.

Distracted driving

Tips for Commercial Fleet Distracted Driving

The following are some ways organizations and their fleet managers can help reduce the risk of distracted driving:

  • Create a driver safety program and a distracted driving policy. Regularly communicate your policies using things like emails, blogs and posters.
  • Use applications to detect when your drivers are on the road. Many of these applications prevent individuals from contacting a driver while their vehicle is in motion.
  • Instruct drivers to pull off the road and park if they need to use their phone or an electronic device.
  • Equip vehicles with lockboxes that drivers can use to store potential distractions, like smartphones and tablets.
  • Educate your drivers on the risks of driving while distracted. Use real-life examples and stories to explain how dangerous distracted driving can be.
  • Update your organization’s handbook, noting any disciplinary actions you will take if you identify unsafe driving behavior.
  • Ask your employees to sign a pledge form indicating their willingness to drive in a safe and courteous manner.
  • Work with drivers to plan trips. This ensures that drivers have a clear understanding of their routes, which can reduce the need for GPS and other potentially distracting navigation devices.
  • Manage driver schedules to ensure employees are well-rested between trips.
  • Use telematics, driver monitoring programs and in-cabin camera systems to evaluate individual drivers. Whenever possible, reward positive driver behavior to encourage a culture of safety.
  • Perform a safety audit, which will give you a high-level overview of distracted driving risks and other concerns.

Creating a Commercial Fleet Distracted Driving Policy

Even if employers provide adequate training and oversight, drivers are effectively on their own when they’re out in the field. To help prevent distracted driving long after training is complete, fleets need to develop and implement a distracted driving policy. These policies are typically part of larger driver safety programs and promote safe driving practices through well-communicated initiatives.

While the specifics of policies may differ from fleet to fleet, they should include the following:

  • A policy statement that clarifies your organization’s stance on distracted driving. This statement should specify the purpose and goals of the policy.
  • A definition of distracted driving. This definition should highlight the dangers of distracted driving and the ways it affects your organization.
  • A summary of whom the policy applies to. In general, your policy should account for all company employees, even if driving a vehicle isn’t a regular part of their daily duties.
  • A list of what constitutes as distracted driving and actions that are strictly prohibited to ensure driver safety.
  • A list of suggested practices to reduce the risk of distracted driving.
  • A list of potential consequences if the terms of the policy are breached.
  • A space for the employee’s and fleet manager’s signatures.
GDI Insurance Agency, Inc.

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more.

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley, Northern California and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business. Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive California commercial fleet insurance quote!