Take command of Fleet Risk Management

Approaches for reducing accident cost and frequency

In 1997, Boyd Bros. purchased Welborn Transport, which is now WTI Transport. That company is also a flatbed carrier with a shorter length of haul.

Together, Boyd Bros. and WTI own and operate more than 1,000 conventional tractors, and nearly 2,000 48-foot, 102-inch-wide, spread-axle flatbed trailers. Each tractor is equipped with satellite communications, an on-board computer and automatic load tracking.

About half of the power units are International 9400 sleeper tractors. These tractors are being replaced with the new 2011 International ProStar with the MaxForce engine. There are also some Peterbilt 386 and Freightliner Cascadia tractors in the fleet.

The typical tractor has a 435-horsepower engine and a manual transmission. Some 100 tractors have automated transmissions. Wide-base tires on tractors are becoming standard in the fleet as trucks are being replaced.

Boyd Bros. has three full-service facilities, which include complete maintenance shops, in Birmingham, AL; Cincinnati, OH; and Clayton, AL. There are service centers in Cartersville, GA; Cofield, NC; and Greenville, MS. WTI has a full-service shop in Tuscaloosa, AL, and yard facilities in North Carolina, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia and Florida.

9 basic steps to managing fleet risk

This list of elementary steps for taking control of fleet risk management comes form the Insurance Bureau of Canada, the national industry association representing Canada’s private home, car and business insurers.

1. Determine the extent of fleet loss exposures (types, causes, sources, number and cost of potential accidents):
• Use the risk management process to identify and determine the frequency and severity of fleet risks.
• Use benchmarking to compare losses to others in the industry.

2. Implement a preventative maintenance program.

3. Create fleet policies and procedures that could include:
• A motor vehicle safety policy that would establish the organization’s philosophy of safety and the way it expects drivers to perform.
• A vehicle selection and acquisition policy that would establish the minimum safety requirements for new vehicle purchases.
• A preventative maintenance policy.
• A policy for the disposal of vehicles to ensure that ownership is entirely transferred.
• A driver screening and hiring policy to establish minimum requirements of drivers (e.g., number of years experience, maximum number of traffic violations, etc.).
• A list of unauthorized uses including driving while impaired (drugs, alcohol, prescription medications, health impairments, fatigue, etc.), personal use, driving outside given geographical areas, etc.
• Maximum allowable speeds.
• Safe following distances.

4. Create a fleet safety manual for drivers. Each driver should have access to a copy. If each driver has read and has access to the policies and procedures, there is no excuse not to abide by them. Include all company policies and procedures related to driving. Create a pocket manual with key points, for quick and frequent reference.

5. Communicate any policy/procedure changes to all drivers. Have them sign to acknowledge that they understand the new policy/procedure and will abide by it.

6. Encourage drivers to give feedback and suggestions about how to improve fleet safety.

7. Ensure drivers receive regular training. Provide refresher courses.

8. Reward and publicize safe driving.

9. Ensure drivers know the procedure to follow in the case of an incident/accident.

Every time a rig comes through one of Boyd Bros.' or WTI's full-service facilities, it is required to first go through a safety lane where it is fueled, inspected and PM'd if scheduled, before it can move on to the yard. Any necessary repairs are made at that time. If the repair is more than a simple fix, the unit is moved into a separate shop bay where the work is completed.

Each safety lane has its own shop computer. Once the equipment information is entered, the maintenance software alerts technicians to any required work that needs to be performed.

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