Commercial Insurance Best Practices Save You Money

Best Insurance Practices

The following best practices are ways you can save money, avoid towing fraud, lower your out-of-service (OOS) scores, determine if an accident really is a DOT accident, and help stabilize rising insurance premiums.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #45

Notify your Insurance Company on a claim . . . even if you have already contacted your Attorney

Some companies and organizations keep an attorney on a retainer basis to go over any potential legal issues, including accidents, incidents or potential claims.

Some attorneys simply insist on staying informed of any situations involving potential liability for the business.

And some attorneys may provide their clients with “coverage opinions,” on whether or not the insurance liability claim on their vehicle would be covered. They will review if the policy was in effect, if the claim involves the insured or an additional insured, if there were any exclusions to the policy, and any exceptions to the exclusions, if the terms and conditions of the policy apply, and what is the effect, if any, of the endorsements on the policy.

If you do discuss an incident or claim with an attorney, be sure to also report it to your agent or insurance company.

Says one insurance company, “While we all hope to not have a claim, we know that things happen. The first thing to remember is to report the incident to your insurance company immediately.” (IFG Claims page)

Why do some policyholders delay in reporting a claim?

Some policyholders fear that reporting incidents or claims will result in higher rates, more restrictive policy terms, or even a potential nonrenewal of the policy. It’s a legitimate concern.

Some want to “handle it themselves,” perhaps paying out-of-pocket (think twice before proceeding in this direction—as it can be seen later as a possible “admission of liability”), or they rely on counsel’s opinion that the potential claim “might not be covered.”

Reality check! Delay in reporting an incident or claim can result in forgoing your insurance company’s advice and assistance in resolving the matter. Only the insurance company can make the determination, if they will cover the claim. And to do so, any claim needs to be promptly investigated.

If not notified of a claim within a reasonable time, the insurance company may be relieved of their responsibility to defend, and ultimately pay the claim. This could be costly to your company, as in some claims, the defense tab can exceed the actual claim.

Make sure your workforce reports all incidents and accidents to you, so they get properly and promptly handled.

If you have a concern your premiums will jump because of the number or claims submitted, this could be a cue it might be time to find another insurance company. As one risk manager noted, the same insurance company raising your rates because of the number or claims submitted, is the same insurance company likely to also deny claims submitted. It might be better to pay a little more in premiums in return for better service.

In Summary:

  • Always promptly report any claims to your agent.
  • Don’t merely rely on your counsel to determine, if you are covered under an insurance policy. Let the insurance company make that determination.
  • Don’t pay any claims out of pocket, unless this has been agreed to by the insurance company.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #46

A Quick Start to Lower Premiums

For some business owners, insurance is kept on the back burner for most of the year, except perhaps in the two or three months before renewals. There is always a lot going on in the business, and this insurance stuff always seems to eat up a lot of time and energy.

Reality Check: The market is firming up. Adopt a longer view, a long-term strategy when dealing with your insurance needs.

A change in mindset on how you approach insurance might be needed.

  • Can you change your structure to lower your insurance costs?
  • How much risk can you retain?
  • Are there other options in the marketplace?

Check with your agent or broker how much your premiums would go down with a higher deductible.


  • A 500 unit fleet, had a $10k deductible. Bumping that up to a $75k or $100k deductible might save them about $80,000 a year, if not more.

Some fleets “stair-step” higher deductibles, for example starting at perhaps $50k, then $75k the next year, and $100k the year after.

  • Even with a higher deductible, the claims process is the same—all claims are still handled by the insurance company.
  • Quick Tip: Retaining more risk (with a higher deductible) opens up the market to getting more quotes back from underwriting!

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #47

Was It an Accident? The Answer Could Affect Your Premiums

The U.S. DOT requires DOT regulated carriers keep an “accident register” or list of accidents with specific data.

All DOT “recordable accidents” should be listed on this required document (involving commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) rated at 10,001 pounds GVWR and greater).
Insurance companies also are interested in this information.

  • For DOT reporting purposes it is irrelevant whether an accident is classified as a “preventable” or “non-preventable” accident.
  • “Fault” does not matter here for recording purposes.
  • So what is an accident?
  • What is the DOT criteria for an accident?
  • Where is it found?

If the federal regulations were put in a book, then Part 390 would be called “Chapter One.”

Specifically, in the beginning section of 390.5 Definitions, the term “accident” is defined, as well as other terms and words that make up the definition.
To understand the definition, you need to understand all of it, including the terms as they are defined and used.

An accident . . .involves a CMV . . . on the highway . . . which results in:

  • (i) A fatality;
  • (ii) Bodily injury to a person who, as a result of the injury, immediately receives medical treatment away from the scene of the accident; or
  • (iii) One or more motor vehicles incurring disabling damage as a result of the accident, requiring the motor vehicle(s) to be transported away from the scene by a tow truck or other motor vehicle.

The DOT also excludes from the definition of a recordable accident:

  • Only boarding and alighting from a stationary motor vehicle; or
  • Involving only the loading or unloading of cargo.

Where it happen? A highway “means any road, street, or way, whether on public or private property, open to public travel.”

  • So a DOT accident can happen on any road, any where, if it is “open to public travel.” This could be a parking lot or yard, unless it was gated, guarded, or had some means of controlled access, making it NOT open to public travel. If access to the location was controlled, then it was not a DOT recordable accident.

Was anyone fatally injured?Fatality means any injury which results in the death of a person at the time of the motor vehicle accident or within 30 days of the accident.”

  • The DOT uses a thirty (30) day counting period for accident fatalities. If a person dies as a result of injuries received in a traffic crash with a CMV within thirty days of the date of the crash, that victim is considered a traffic fatality, and the accident is DOT recordable.

Was anyone injured? Bodily injury means injury to the body, sickness, or disease including death resulting from any of these.

  • The classification and type of injury are not important as the timing of the treatment. It must take place “immediately.” DOT says:
  • Guidance:The term ‘‘immediate’’ means without an unreasonable delay. A person immediately receives medical treatment if he or she is transported directly from the scene of an accident to a hospital or other medical facility as soon as it is considered safe and feasible to move the injured person away from the scene of the accident.
  • Question 20:A person involved in an incident discovers that he or she is injured after leaving the scene of the incident and receives medical attention at that time. Does the incident meet the definition of accident in 49 CFR 390.5T?
  • Guidance:No. The incident does not meet the definition of accident in 49 CFR 390.5 because the person did not receive treatment immediately after the incident.
  • Any type of vehicle, privately owned or an ambulance, may be used to transport an injured person from the accident scene to the treatment site, but it must occur immediately after the crash.

Some motor carriers only utilize the information listed on the police accident report. This can be misleading.

  • If there were really any injuries making the accident recordable, further investigation may be necessary to properly determine if any medical treatment was received, or if the person merely had a check up, or went for observations.

Was there any disabling damage requiring towing?

  • Disabling damage means damage which precludes departure of a motor vehicle from the scene of the accident in its usual manner in daylight after simple repairs.
  • (1) Inclusions. Damage to motor vehicles that could have been driven, but would have been further damaged if so driven.
  • (2) Exclusions. (Not DOT Reportable accidents)
  • (i) Damage which can be remedied temporarily at the scene of the accident without special tools or parts. (A mirror or fender can be pulled back into place.)
  • (ii) Tire disablement without other damage even if no spare tire is available. (Flat tire.)
  • (iii) Headlamp or taillight damage.
  • (iv) Damage to turn signals, horn, or windshield wipers which makes them inoperative.

Other nonreportable events would include:

  • A commercial motor vehicle becomes stuck in the median or shoulder, without contact with another vehicle. (Interpretation Question No. 12). A tow in this instance normally does not make this incident into an accident.
  • Other vehicles that leave roadway without contract from motor carrier vehicle (Interpretation Question No. 28)

Be sure to also check the DOT’s Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS), which contains a Crash summary of 4 years, and individual crashes of 1-2 years (from State crash reports).

DOT Accident Summary

  • All accidents are not necessarily DOT accidents. Be sure your required DOT Accident Register reflects only those accidents which meet the criteria for DOT Accidents.
  • Where did they occur (on a highway)? Was there a fatality (within 30 days)? Was there an injury (requiring immediate treatment)? Was there a towed vehicle (due to disabling damage)?
  • Is the DOT’s MCMIS data correct for your company?
  • Have you reviewed your Company Safety Profile in the last year?

Insurance Saving Tip #48

Understanding Towing Insurance Fraud

  • The illegal towing and recovery of commercial vehicles has become an issue for some fleets.
  • Towing operations are regulated by state or local jurisdictions, so performance can vary from area to area.
  • Some jurisdictions require a separate tow bill for a trailer, thereby doubling the bill for a combination unit.
  • While most towing operators are honest, a small number has been criticized for sharp business practices, including exorbitant fees or holding equipment and cargo hostage. Prevention of towing insurance fraud is always your best defense.

One area drawing attention recently is towing insurance fraud:

  • Non-consensual towing* of vehicles without the owner’s or operator’s consent.
  • Vehicles that are towed at the direction of law enforcement without the prior consent of the vehicle’s owner or operator
  • Towing by an unauthorized tow operator
  • Unreasonable storage and access fees
  • Towing insurance fraud can directly affect your insurance premiums.

*Non-consensual towing occurs when a wrecker makes a tow without the driver’s consent, or at the direction of law enforcement, in the interest of clearing the roadway.

Tips to avoid towing insurance fraud:

  • Ensure drivers do not park a truck on private property, then leave the premises, without an authorization to park there.
  • Become familiar with the laws governing towing in the jurisdiction of the tow.
  • Follow the TMC’s recommended practices RP 527A Vendor Selection Guidelines for Towing and Recovery
  • Carefully review towing and storage bills for inflated items or services not rendered.
  • Ask the towing company to always mail you a copy of the itemized bill.
  • File a complaint with the law enforcement unit responsible for managing the rotation wrecker list, if issues cannot be resolved.
  • Is the towing company properly licensed and adequately insured?
  • Ensure drivers are on the lookout for “runners” or “chasers” showing up offering their tow services at the scene of an accident without being requested by law enforcement or any parties.
  • Make sure you have adequate tow insurance in your policy.
  • If a towing company indicates at an accident scene that they are authorized by the insurance company to be there, verify this information with the insurance company.
  • Ensure drivers know not to sign a “consent to tow” form.
  • Drivers should photograph any tow equipment involved in a tow or recovery.

2021 Insurance Saving Tip #49

Lower Your “Out-of-Service Scores” for Lower Truck Insurance Premiums

The Out-of-Service (OOS) status reflects one or more OOS violations in a single inspection, for either the vehicle or the driver, and, if any hazardous materials were present, for any hazmat violations.

  • The OOS percentage is duly noted by Underwriters

Your Out-of-Service (OOS) Scores reflect certain roadside inspection data over the last two years, based on the number of inspections.

Out of Service Score

There are five levels of DOT roadside inspections:

  • Level 1 – a complete inspection
  • Level 2 – a walk-around inspection
  • Level 3 – a driver-only inspection
  • Level 4 – an inspection for a special study
  • Level 5 – a vehicle-only inspection
  • Level 6 – Level 1 inspection plus additional examination of Radioactive Material

The OOS scores are calculated based on the following types of roadside inspections:

  • Vehicle Inspection
  • Levels 1+2+5+6
  • Driver Inspection
  • Levels 1+2+3+6
  • Hazmat Inspection
  • Levels 1+2+3+4+5+6 (when Hazmat is present)
  • The National Average % is the percentage of all inspections conducted in the USA that resulted in an “Out of Service” status.

National Average

This carrier has about 3,000 units and is well below the national averages. This is where you want to be!

  • The fewer OOS violations found on roadside inspections, the lower the OOS percentages.

Are percentages near the National Average % acceptable?

  • Short answer—Yes. Few insurance companies will expect you to be better than “average.” Slightly below is a good goal.
  • Long answer: If you are in the long game, do everything you can to keep your vehicle and driver inspections with as few OOS violations as possible for the best possible insurance premiums.

How can we improve our OOS percentages?

  • Take advantage of every opportunity to accrue “clean” roadside inspections.
  • Remember the three Fs: Find it. Fix it. But don’t Forget it.
  • Ensure drivers are always physically and medically qualified to drive a CMV (Parts 383 and 391, especially Subpart E of Part 391).
  • Vehicles must meet the inspection and maintenance standards (Parts 392, 393 and 396).
  • If you are not a hazmat hauler, make sure drivers can identify any loads containing hazardous materials, and they always check in, if they have questions on what they are hauling.
  • If you do haul hazardous materials—Follow the standards in Part 397 and U.S. Department of Transportation HM regulations Parts 171, 172, 173, 177, 178, 179 & 180.
  • Over-communicate: Keep drivers current on what they need to know.

Make sure drivers are aware of how they can be placed Out-of-Service, and what they can do to eliminate potential violations. ■

The Delivery Area Safety Inspection

Night loading at papermill

Identifying Hazards

A hazard is sometimes defined as the precondition for an accident. Management needs to create a safety culture in which the entire organization—every employee, every function, every level—has the capability and the responsibility for hazard identification.

One effective tool for hazard identification is the workplace inspection. Inspections can be conducted at anytime and, with proper training, by employees, supervisors or managers.

The Delivery Area Safety Inspection is an example of a safety or hazard inspection which can be conducted at a dock, cross-dock, or shipping and receiving area.


  • How is the load secured when the driver is not in attendance?
  • Is there a load seal on each delivery/shipment? What is the procedure to break the seal?
  • What is the policy/procedure to check shipping papers/manifest against the delivery/shipment?
  • What is the policy/procedure to check for damage to the shipment?

Conformance to Job Safety Analysis (JSA)

  • Is there a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) on file for dock-area staff? Is the JSA signed by management?
  • What Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) are required?
  • Do drivers follow the 3 Points of Contact during ingress/egress?
  • What kind of a barrier gate is in place that prevents loading equipment from colliding with and damaging the dock doors?
  • What kind of dock-lock system or vehicle restraint is in place? Does dock-lock system have a light bar with roll-up door control? What is the plan for regular maintenance on the vehicle restraint equipment as bumpers, lights, communication packages, and other loading dock accessories?
dock lock

A dock-lock system

If no vehicle restraint system is in place, how are the tires chocked or vehicle secured against movement?

  • What is the policy/procedure for Loading/Unloading? Tank hook up? Tank filling?
  • What Safety Data Sheets (formerly MSDS) are posted?
  • What is the policy/procedure for Emergency Procedures? Co-Mingling of Hazmat Classes?
  • What is the procedure to report hazards or concerns, unsafe practices, or damaged equipment to supervisors?

Top Tip: Workers on foot should never be on the
opposite side of a flatbed truck from a forklift while it is loading or unloading material. CNA

Driver and Location Issues

  • Is there a need to back up?
  • Where do drivers take their Shipping Papers/Load Manifest?
  • How is the area control? Where do drivers go when loading/unloading?
  • What are any access obstructions?
  • What kind/nature of any slopes are present?
  • What foot traffic is allowed in the area?
  • Are there any storm drains?
  • What kind of worker exposure is there to open loading dock doors and other areas that employees could fall 4 feet or more?


Safety refers to the measures taken to protect the driver, vehicle and cargo during transport operations from hazards.

Security refers to the measures taken to protect driver, vehicle and cargo against sabotage, attacks, and theft while it is in transport.

Dock Incidents and Accidents are Rare . . . but Deadly

dock hazards

















Drivers — especially new drivers — need to know where to be at all times while in the Material Transfer Zone (MTZ). There are potential hazards from moving vehicles and lift trucks, many times moving in reverse with limited sight distance, slip and fall hazards from climbing up and down or from uneven or slippery surfaces, and unique location hazards.

That’s why it’s a good idea to periodically inspect your dock areas — before something happens . . .

Thank you for reading this.

Gary Flaherty: Making Motor Carrier Insurance Pay

controlling costs


Making Insurance Pay

On Thursday, March 17, Gary Flaherty, head of Canal Insurance Group’s Risk Management Services, partnered with the Vertical Alliance Group and presented a webinar on how to make motor carrier insurance pay.

Canal, a privately held company with assets in excess of $1 Billion, and an A.M. Best rating of A- (Excellent), specializes in trucking insurance, especially for smaller, independent long-haul owner-operators (about 80%) as well as intermediate-haul and local firms. They insure all kinds of cargo, including petroleum products, but don’t insure anything that’s designed to explode (Class 1 Explosives). Canal operates in most states.

Loss Control as Cost Control

One sure thing, the more losses (crashes, collisions, and claims) your company experiences, the more your insurance premiums will increase.

But it doesn’t end there . . . increased DOT violations can also drive up insurance premiums.

Why? Because in many cases DOT violations can be controlled by having solid policies and procedures (P&P) in place, strong hiring standards, and an actively involved management.

Insurance should be considered an investment. “You have to put in what you want to get out,” said Mr. Flaherty.

And the investment is not just in writing a premium check when it is due. No matter which insurance carrier you deal with, you need to communicate well with your insurance team.

Who is on your insurance team?

  • Agent
  • Outside Consultants
  • Insurance Carrier
  • Claims
  • Your company

Each team member has a role to play. The Agent, for example, knows stuff and may have resources he can provide. His job is to help you and to make you more appealing to your risk partner.

Compliance vendors can assist your company get its safety and regulatory house in better order.

Your insurance carrier may have Risk Management or Loss Control people, both in-house or outsourced who can point out areas of improvement (at no additional cost to you).

You, the Motor Carrier, however, have to hold up your end of the log by actively participating in the Risk Management/Loss Control process. Your involvement never really ends, “if you want to get anything out of it.”

The Loss Control Engagement

When will insurance Loss Control people contact you? Anytime:

  • Pre-bind
  • Post-bind
  • Prior to expiration
  • Throughout the Policy Life-cycle

Tip: This is your time to shine— not shell up.

Nothing happens without people: introduce key staff members. Show your policy and procedures, as well as safety practices. Have you invested in any new technology as on-board cameras or electronic logging recorders?

Ask questions: How can I improve? What are any weak spots?

Push back— if necessary.

Have a dialog with the risk consultant.

Things To Talk About

What new and creative solutions can Loss Control provide? What kinds of data and analysis can they provide? New ideas?

What best practices do they recommend.Keep in mind each insurance company does things a little differently.

The Value Proposition

How do you get the most value from a loss control visit?

React quickly.

• Treat any recommendations with due attentiveness (especially those classified as Critical, or Important).

Communicate often.

• It’s a two-way conversation. Sometimes information is not available at the time of the visit. Don’t be afraid to follow-up later.

Tip: Get the risk consultant’s contact information!

Be transparent.

• Okay, so you haven’t been keeping good records on drivers or vehicle maintenance. The worse you can do is side-step or evade providing an answer. Every five years or about 1 million miles or so, a safety event may occur. If so, the regulators or litigators may see anything missing as a blatant attempt to evade safety regulations. It costs nothing to be transparent.

Experience lower costs/premiums.

• Expect a return on investment (RIO) on your efforts resulting in lower overall costs. Many safety initiatives result in additional productivity and other intangible benefits that cannot be easily measured.

Q & A Session

Gary Flaherty finished his talk with a question and answer session.

Q. What are the top three mistakes Motors Carriers make?

Hiring: standards may be too loose, or high, but not enforced.

Collisions: lack of a preventable collision program in which all collisions are investigated on the question of preventability.

Lack of proper investments: for example, now is the time to get on-board with Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), not near the deadline.

Look upon your relationship with your insurance people as a partnership, communicate frequently, and see your premiums go down.

Thank you for reading this.

Disclaimer: One company that I work with in the area of Loss Control does business with Canal Insurance Group. Any expressed opinion’s are the author’s own and do represent any advice or suggestions of any particular group, person, or organization.

John Taratuta is a safety advocate and Risk Engineer. (989) 474-9599

Truck crash scams: One More Reason for an “Event Recording Device?”

preventing fraudCrunch Time!

Insurance fraud is any act committed with the intent to obtain a fraudulent outcome from an insurance process.

The incidences of cars pulling in front of trucks to intentionally collide are increasing. Many motor carriers are not aware of this growing problem. These scams are not only dangerous, but raise everyone’s insurance premiums.

Fact:  Since 2008 car-semitrailer insurance fraud has grown 24 percent nationwide.

Called a “staged wreck,” it involves a car slowing down or suddenly stopping in front of a truck or tractor-trailer so it is rear-ended. Shortly after an insurance claim is filed against the motor carrier.

Staged accidents are schemes in which an accident is predetermined to occur on a vehicle. The schemes are organized by rings and the culprits move from one area to another. They often use the same vehicle over and over, which is sometimes what causes their scheme to be uncovered. Insurance Fraud Handbook


Insurance Fraud Countermeasures

How can a driver or motor carrier protect themselves against insurance fraud?

The number one tool to fight insurance fraud is awareness of the problem, to avoid being victimized by the scammers.

• Report suspected fraud to your insurance company. More than 4 of 5 insurers have trained insurance fraud investigators.

• Drivers should never tailgate and learn to watch out for a setup.

Swoop and squat: A suspect vehicle suddenly swoops in front of you and jams on the brakes, causing a rear-end collision.

Drive down: You’re trying to merge into traffic, and a dishonest driver slows down and waves you forward. He then crashes into your vehicle, but denies waving you into traffic and blames the accident on you. Crooked drivers may also wave you out of a parking space with the same come-on.

Sideswipe: Be careful if you’re driving in the inner lane of a dual left-turn lane at a busy intersection. Crooks will deliberately ram you if you drift into the outer lane while turning. Coalition Against Insurance Fraud

All drivers need to be well versed on defensive driving practices and techniques. If a crash does happen, be observant.

• Never tailgate : allow plenty of space between your car and the car ahead of you. This will give you ample time to stop if the lead car suddenly jams on its brakes.

• Look beyond the car in front of you while driving. Apply your brakes if you see traffic slowing.

• Count how many passengers were in the other vehicle if you’re in a collision. Get their names, phone numbers and driver’s license : more people may file claims than were in the car. Also get the car’s license number. Note: Keep a pen and paper in your glove compartment so you’re always ready.

• How do the passengers behave? Did they stand around and joke, but suddenly act “injured” when the police arrived?

• Take cell-phone pictures of the other car, the damage it received — and the passengers.

• Call the police to the scene. Get a police report with the officer’s name, even for minor damage. If the police report notes just a small dent or scratch, it’ll be harder for crooks to later claim serious injuries or car damage.

• Get involved if you’re a witness. Watch for the warning signs of a scam, and help the honest victim with details. Coalition Against Insurance Fraud

Motor carriers are also installing Event Recording Devices to capture crash details on video. One large motor carrier will install over 6,000 devices in its fleet.

Will your company be the next victim?

Thank you for reading this.

Trucking—Insurance Companies’ Bad Bet . . .

betting bad

On Thursday, February 25, Dan Petrillo and Adam Harris of LaPorte & Associates’ Transportation Division, partnered with the Vertical Alliance Group and presented a webinar on how to save money on truck insurance.

The more you understand the process, the more you can exert control.

The talk started out with a review of the basics— Insurance 101. Insurance companies, like most businesses are competitive and make a 2% to 3% profit. But that’s in good times. Insurance company profits come from investment income and from business savvy underwriting. With the overall investment markets not doing so hot, that shifts most of the burden on underwriting — or vetting of risk — an arduous task in itself.

Another trend affecting insurance company profitability is the rising cost of personal injury claims . . . over $1 million on average in 2013.

Take low, “razor-thin” profit margins, rising costs and lower investment ROIs, and what do you get? Break-even or worse. When the insurance company sneezes, high-risk sectors like transportation will catch a cold.

The Transformation of Underwriting

The traditional criteria for underwriters comes from the insurance application, looking at such factors as: drivers’ age and experience, scope of operations (radius and commodities hauled), MVRs, and third-party snapshots as SAFER, CSA and CAB reports.

These criteria are historical and would be considered lagging indicators.

Underwriting, however, is changing. The emphasis is being placed on more forward-looking criteria— or leading indicators.

Leading indicators are measures of future safety performance.

Equally important as a good safety record are the measures a company takes to recruit, train, and monitor its drivers. How do these processes happen? How are drivers rewarded or incentivized?

The focus is on driver behavior.


Keep the conversation going with your insurance broker.

Invest in new technology.

Can you articulate your ‘philosophy of insurance?’ What role do you see your risk partner playing in your business? Should insurance be there for catastrophic protection or for maintenance or warranty protection? How much risk are you willing to assume?

How do you balance Revenue versus Safety? Are you willing to park your truck if you do not have the services of a qualified driver? Do you park your trucks from time to time?

Do you frequently interact with your insurance service team members — the broker, underwriters, risk management consultants and claims adjusters? Do you review claims?

Do you deploy new technology, telematics or GPS? Do you score your drivers?

What kind of training do you do?

The Out-of-Standard Insurance Market

An option for those for walk the safety talk, the “best-in-class” for safety, is to assume more risk (and rewards) by a Captive Insurance arrangement. Insurance premiums in Captives are solely based on your loss experiences and can result in savings.

It’s a Wrap

Dan Petrillo and Adam Harris warped up their talk with an informative Q&A session. Vertical Alliance Group invited attendees to learn more about their training resources.

I found the talk was highly informative on the direction in which truck insurance is heading. Nobody said the words “hard market” but it seems a transformation is taking place in the world of insurance and every carrier needs to establish a good rapport with their risk partners.

All safety metrics, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Key Risk Indicators (KRIs), leading and lagging safety indicators should be based on your safety goals. These in turn need to be directly linked to the organization’s high level objectives.

As one company owner said, Any mistake you make in trucking is a big mistake.

Then all bets are off . . .

Thank you for reading this.

J Taratuta


John Taratuta is a safety advocate and Risk Engineer. (989) 474-9599

Why Invest In Safety?

Bob Riley of Dixfield climbs out of the ice shack he made from a 1996 Freightliner tractor-trailer cab. Named Haulin' Bass, he hauled it onto Roxbury Pond in Roxbury on Jan. 1 and has been fishing out of it every weekend since.

On the ice: Bob Riley of Dixfield, ME climbs out of the ice shack he made from a 1996 Freightliner tractor-trailer cab.

The Cautious Approach

The cautious approach, proclaims the Wall Street Journal, has taken hold of executives of some of the largest U.S. companies.

Acknowledging a tough business environment based on recent trends, CEO’s are delaying capital investment and, in some cases, even laying off staff. And it is not only happening in the oil and gas sector where an oversupply and low prices have upset the oil boom. Even manufacturing and transportation have been affected.

The Safety Investment

One area we cannot afford to cut is workplace safety. (While the word safety is defined many ways, one definition is a work environment that is free of hazards).

Investment in Safety or SH&E (Safety, Health and Environment) is a core business strategy at top companies. Some would argue, sure, that’s because these companies have more resources.

But if a company has fewer worker’s comp claims, doesn’t that result in having more resources? Fewer or no lawsuits? Better insurance premiums?

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).released a white paper in 2002 on the Return on Investment (ROI) for Safety, Health, and Environment (SH&E) Management Programs. (A white paper is a type of report that is particular in terms of its intended purpose, audience, and organization.)

ASSE found that in the majority of cases — yes, there is a R.O.I. from safety as a core strategy.

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) knows from data and anecdotal information that investment in a SH&E program is a sound business strategy, for any organization regardless of size, and will lead to having a positive impact on the financial bottom line

As every business or business operation is different, like any investment, results may vary. While there is no rule of thumb saying a dollar invested in safety will get you three in six months, research shows top companies invest heavily in people, processes and technology, including risk management. And coincidentally, these same top companies have higher rates of profit. (Profit is the result of the efficient use of limited resources.)

I prefer the The $1-$10-$100 Rule:

A $1 not spent in Prevention will increase to $10 later spent in Correction or $100 in the cost of Failure.

Unnecessary Risk

From my interactions working with smaller fleets, I find they generally have a lot of experience, they know their  business inside-out, and are doing things the safe way— to a point.

The point where unnecessary risk begins is in a lack of formal safety systems.

Everyone has safety procedures and processes in place  — but they do not write them down.

Everyone tells me they have frequent safety meetings: quarterly, monthly, weekly and even daily — but the safety meetings are never documented.

Everyone has a policy on use of safety belts, electronic devices, passengers, personal use of the company vehicle, etc., — but the policies are never reduced to writing and/or a written acknowledgement is never made.

Ditto for maintenance records, driver files, drug and alcohol testing, handbooks, etc.

Your Risk Partner Has Dark Thoughts

One statement I frequently hear, and have heard for years is, Well, we’ve never had an accident.

That’s an interesting fact, in of itself. Your risk partner (a.k.a. “the insurance company”), however, makes a number of assumptions. If yours is an average company, then one assumption is that your company has an average chance of an insurance claim — based on totally random events. (It may not even be your fault . . .)

If your company lacks formalized safety systems and processes, any claim against it will be harder to defend. By your own actions or inaction, you have given up on your right to the most forceful legal defense.

What’s my point? The little things make a big difference. Remember the $1-$10-$100 Rule. A small investment in safety and safety systems can make a big difference later.

Do you want to invest $1 now or $100 tomorrow?

Thank you for reading this.

J Taratuta

John Taratuta is a Risk Engineer, and Safety Advocate. (989) 474-9599

Top Trucker Loss Control Recommendations


Somebody is Calling and Wants to Know My Business?

Running a business isn’t easy. Fewer people are doing it and the ones who are face new challenges everyday.

One challenge is all the weird business calls you get, especially if you own a company with trucks. People want to sell you stuff. People are looking for work. People want to do Loss Control Surveys . . . now that’s really weird (in the sense of unusual).

Loss Control is an insurance industry term. Loss Control is sometimes defined as a plan of action to reduce or even eliminate the things in your business that can go wrong (and ultimately result in a “loss” to the business and your risk partner — the insurance company).

Generally the Loss Control representative (called many things: Risk Control Representative, Loss Control Engineer, Risk Engineer, Risk Manager, etc.) will contact a business owner whenever an insurance policy starts or renews, or shortly thereafter (“shortly” in insurance time could be up to a year or so later).

The Loss Control representative may visit you in person or simply ask you questions on the phone.

If you have a truck in your business, the questions will center on how you operate and the scope of your operations. Sometime after the talk, visit, or consultation, you will be sent a letter with a list of recommendations or “rec’s.”

Top Trucker Loss Control Recommendations

  1. Policy
  2. Procedures
  3. Processes
  4. Practices

Let’s look at a few examples . . .

A safety policy may be mandatory (a rule) or voluntary (a guideline).

Do you have a seatbelt (safety-belt) policy? Most companies do, however, is the policy in writing, with a signed acknowledgement from the driver? How about a cellphone policy? Passenger policy? Personal use of vehicle policy?

A procedure is a series of steps to accomplish a specific task, job, or project.

Do you have a driver’s handbook or manual? How will the driver ever know your specific way of doing things?

A process is a number of procedures, each working together to achieve a result.

Do you have written hiring guidelines that you follow? Many owners tell me they default to their insurance carrier’s rules. Hiring can be complicated when you add in all of the regulatory requirements you must meet.

Safety practices may be thought of as the methods, techniques or precautions we take while performing a task to make sure we or other folks don’t get hurt.

Do you have specific load securement that you need to follow? Does the driver know how to secure a load with the restraining devices given? There are van drivers who have never used a cheetah bar in their lives, and flatbed drivers who have never used a load-lock. Will your new driver know the basics of proper load securement?

Key Loss Control Tips

  1. Document, document, document. Put things in writing. All policies should be written and critical policies should be acknowledged in writing by the driver. Many times they are not.
  2. Have your drivers write stuff down, too. Logbooks or timecards, DVIRs, and everything in between. If it’s not documented, it’s not done.
  3. Keep good records. The new ELD rule will require up to eight driver records per 24 hour shift. Fair or not, will you have a process in place to capture the required records?
  4. Do you know your specific industry or state’s requirements? Some sectors are heavily regulated, some are not.
  5. Do you take advantage of your insurance companies loss control department?  Every company is different, but your loss control representative can provide you with mock DOT audits, training advice and materials, safety consultations and many other services — for free!

Always keep in mind, better loss control always results in lower insurance premiums. Better safety will improve productivity and this directly affects the bottom line.

Thank you for reading this.

Stopping Cargo Theft


In Germany cargo thieves unloaded iPhones while the truck was under power at about 55 MPH (90 km/H). This happens dozens times a year in Germany according to Trailermatics. The biggest lure, however, like cargo theft in the U.S., is unattended freight.

Similar thefts once happened to trucks delivering meat to New York City. Drivers were afraid to stop at red lights for fear that someone would bust the lock on the trailer and start unloading the product.

Protecting cargo was the subject of a talk on Wednesday January 27, by Samuel Tucker, CPCU, CRM, CIC. Mr. Tucker is the CEO of Carrier Risk Solutions, Inc., a firm specializing in risk management and insurance solutions.

Carriers have a lot on their plates these days driving down regulation alley. Sometimes it’s difficult to imagine that there are people out there who don’t just want a piece of the action, but want a piece of your action.

In his webinar, Mr. Tucker stated that larger companies often have trained personnel and risk management plans in place to thwart cargo thieves. Smaller carriers often do not.

Remember the Red Zone

About 90% of thefts are untended vehicles. So cargo theft, like most crime, is a crime of opportunity. Criminals will wait for the right moment to strike. Sometimes it will be at a rest stop area. Sometimes it will be when the driver is fueling or even eating.

The Red Zone refers to about a 250 mile radius from the origin of the trip that the cargo is most likely to become stolen. If a high-dollar load is being followed, many times the gang following the truck will break off after 200 to 250 miles.

What this means is that high-dollar loads should minimize or eliminate any stops in the Red Zone. Make sure the truck is fueled up, drivers have enough hours of service, and drivers don’t have to make any unnecessary stops in the first 250 miles.

In a recent study analyzing cargo theft in the pharmaceutical market, it was uncovered that “other” costs actually contributed up to five times the value of the actual stolen shipment. FreightWatch International

Because smaller companies often lack safety resources and cargo theft is becoming more sophisticated with cargo thieves, for example, using GPS jammers and  3D printers to create fake trailer seals, Mr. Tucker has formed a service to fight cargo theft called My Safety Manager.

Included in the My Safety Manager service is Cargo Alert! that alerts drivers when to be on the lookout for “hot” loads or missing tractor trailers.

“The first 24 hours are most critical to get the word out,” Tucker said.

Other advice included:

  • Have a good cargo theft prevention plan for operational and physical exposures.
  • Do full 50 state background checks and pre-hire background screens. Spot-check employees who may have hidden events from their past.
  • Teach employees to be alert and aware. Stay up on what’s happening.
  •  Air cuffs locks and other new technology help prevent cargo thefts.
  • Fictitious pickups are a fact of life. Learn how to properly vet new or unknown drivers picking up trailer-loads at your facilities.

Overall I found the seminar to be highly informative. Mr Tucker can be reached directly at (770) 756-7205 if you have any questions on stopping cargo theft.

Did you know most cargo insurance polices are not the same? Every cargo policy is different — not uniform.

Thank you for reading this.

Winter Driving Woes . . .


Winter Woes

Trucking in winter can be challenging. Moisture can freeze in brake lines and valves. Batteries that were strong in summer become weak in the cold. Fuel can gel. Grease cups can freeze up. Drivers are susceptible to injuries from slips and falls.

The Case of the Missing Driver

A year ago Tim Rutledge went to check on his brakes in Indianapolis. But he didn’t think to chock his wheels before climbing under the truck.

Here’s the rest of the story . . .


Flooding is another problem that occurs almost every winter.

Detours due to flooding can run hundreds of miles off-route. But not for our next driver . . .

Please don’t try this at home, folks!

If this driver had given the matter some thought he might have reflected on the corrosion that will develop in his electrical wiring and lighting systems. We never want to expose the wiring system to any more moisture than necessary.

Secondly, the driver had no idea what was under water, as debris, a washed-out section of the road, glass or other tire hazards, etc. It’s never a good idea to drive in the ‘zone of avoidance.’

Strong Winds

Strong winds and wind gusts can be hazardous. Wind is totally unpredictable.

Drivers need to be cautious on windy days not only in driving, but in opening or closing the hood. In opening the hood, a strong wind can cause the hood to strike and injure the driver. Drivers have also become trapped under the hood and injured. Tarping a load can become impossible in a strong wind.

Action Summary

Review your winter operations policy for contingencies as frozen brakes and brake lines, gelling fuel, road flooding, and operations in windy conditions or inclement weather.

Make sure drivers know your expectations during the challenging winter months. Review all appropriate safety procedures.

Remind drivers that slips and fall are always among the top causes of injuries on the job. The risks increase in inclement weather.

Thank you for reading this.

Preventing Crashes at Intersections


On Thursday, a semi was headed westbound on Highway 24 when a pickup pulled in front of it at the intersection of Woodman in Falcon, Colorado. The truck driver was ejected from the truck as a result of the crash, resulting in fatal injuries.

40% of Crashes

About 40 percent of crashes are at intersections. Intersections range from complex expressway interchanges to simple, rural crossroads. In an uncontrolled intersection, there are no traffic control devices.

What is one of the main causes of intersection crashes?

In a study of intersection crashes by the NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, when comparing intersection crashes with non-intersection crashes, it was found that the “critical pre-crash event” — defined as an event that made the crash imminent (i.e. something occurred that made the collision inevitable) — was “turned with obstructed view.” NHTSA analysts  found  “turned with obstructed view”  occurs at intersection crashes  335 times more than at non-intersection crashes, usually in left-turns.

It is found that regardless of type of traffic control device, traffic signal, or stop sign, illegal maneuver and inattention were observed significantly more than expected in crossing-over crashes, while turned with obstructed view and misjudgment of gap or other’s speed in turning-left crashes.

False assumption of other’s action was found as the most significant critical reason in turning-left crashes at traffic signal and in turning-right crashes at stop sign.

The next most prevalent critical reason for an intersection crash was “inadequate surveillance,” appearing about 6 times more often in intersection-related crashes than in non-intersection-related crashes.

Other reasons for intersection crashes include: illegal maneuver (4.1 times), false assumption of other’s action (3.8 time), misjudgment of gap or other’s speed (3.1 times). Reasons may vary by type of maneuver, whether vehicles were turning right, left, or going straight through the intersection.

The results show that significantly more than expected drivers were assigned critical reasons such as external distraction, false assumption of other’s action, misjudgment of gap or other’s speed and turned with obstructed view when they were turning left at intersections controlled by traffic signals. Also, significantly more than expected drivers were assigned critical reasons such as internal distraction, inattention, illegal maneuver, too fast or aggressive driving behavior, and critical non-performance error when they were crossing over at intersections controlled by traffic signals.

In short, if a crash happens at an intersection, the crash only occurred because one or both drivers made some sort of error. One driver may have misjudged the other driver’s speed or closing gap, while the other driver may have misjudged the other driver’s intentions, or may not have been paying attention at all. The result is chaos.

The results also show that significantly more than expected drivers were assigned critical reasons such as inadequate surveillance, misjudgment of gap or other’s speed and turned with obstructed view when they were turning left at intersections controlled by stop signs. In addition, significantly more than expected drivers were assigned critical reasons such as inadequate surveillance, inattention, external distraction, and illegal maneuver when they were crossing over at intersections controlled by stop signs. The crashes characterized by turning-right at stop sign have false assumption of other’s action assigned as critical reason significantly more than expected

Some Intersection Safety Tips

Here are some defensive driving tips for intersections . . .

• If you are stopped and a vehicle approaches with the turn signal on, do not assume the signalling vehicle is going to turn: wait until the vehicle starts the turn so you know for sure, before pulling out.

• Approach intersections assuming that cross traffic may not obey traffic control devices and anticipate the need for collision avoidance.

See and be seen. Keep vehicle lights and reflective devices wiped clean at every stop, and assure that all lights are operational. Keep the headlights on 24 hours of the day.

Rock and roll. Be mindful of the “A pillar” blind spot where the cab meets the ends of the windshield. This can obscure vision. Rock and roll in the seat to look around the pillars.

obscured view

This truck had a number of objects dangling in the driver’s view, when it was hit by a train. 

• Keep the windshield and mirrors clean and be sure the driver’s view is not obstructed.

• Use a window-wash treatment as Rain-X in bad weather. Keep a spare jug of window wash in the truck in winter.

• When practical, avoid making left turns. UPS follows a no-left-turn policy in about 90% of their turns.

• Always be ready to yield right of way at an intersection, to avoid a collision.

Cover the brake at intersections. Physically move your right foot from the throttle to over the brake pedal.

• Never signal another driver to proceed. The driver may not look and end up in a collision.

Know any other great intersection-safety tips? Please share them.

obsecured view

Thank you for reading this and have a safe weekend.

Critical Reasons for Truck Crashes


The Facts

The 62-year-old truck driver drifted off the road into the grassy ditch alongside the highway, rolling his truck and trailer.

A family of four was stopped for a left turn when their pickup truck was struck in the rear by a bobtail semi truck, killing their two daughters in the back seat and critically injuring the parents.

Three adults and four children were in a jeep, stopped in a construction zone, when it was struck from behind at an “Interstate speed,” killing all seven . . .

These crashes had one thing in common: police concluded that the drivers were not paying attention to the road.

In a study of truck crashes (the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS), conducted from 2005 to 2007), the “immediate reason” leading up to the crash is referred to as the “critical reason.” (The critical reason is not presumed to be the same as driver’s fault.)

Although the critical reason is an important part of the description of events leading up to the crash, it is not intended to be interpreted as the cause of the crash nor as the assignment of the fault to the driver, vehicle, or environment.

In February 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHHTSA), National Center for Statistics and Analysis, released a statistical analysis of crash data from the NMVCCS study classifying the critical reasons in truck crashes.

Critical reasons concerning driver error in truck crashes are broadly classified as:

  • Recognition errors,
  • Decision errors,
  • Performance errors, and,
  • Non-performance errors

The analysis found that driver error occurs in 94 percent (±2.2%) of the crashes.

Here’s the Breakdown . . .

Recognition error (as driver’s inattention, internal and external distractions,
and inadequate surveillance),  at 41% (±2.2%) was the most frequently
assigned critical reason.

Decision error (driving too fast for conditions, driving too fast for the curve, false assumption of others’ actions, illegal maneuver and misjudgment of gap or others’ speed) accounted for about 33 percent (±3.7%) of the assigned critical reason.

Performance error (such as overcompensation, poor directional control, etc.) was the critical reason in about 11 percent (±2.7%) of the crashes.

Non-performance error (ex. driver fell sleep) was the critical reason accounted for 7 percent (±1.0%) of the crashes.

Other driver errors were recorded as critical reasons for about 8 percent (±1.9%) of the drivers.

Critical Reason Attributed to Vehicles (2% of Crashes)

Critical reason attributed to vehicles are about 2 percent of the NMVCCS
crashes, (although none of these reasons implied a vehicle causing
the crash).

  • Tire problems accounted for about 35 percent (±11.4%) of vehicle-related
  • Brake related problems as critical reasons accounted for
    about 22 percent (±15.4%) of such crashes.
  • Steering/suspension/transmission/engine-related problems were assigned as critical reasons in 3 percent (±3.3%) of such crashes.

Critical Reasons Related to the Environment (2% of Crashes)

Critical reasons attributed to the driving environment (road and/or weather conditions) were assigned to about 2 percent of truck crashes.

  • In about 50 percent (±14.5%) of the 52,000 crashes the critical reason was attributed to slick roads.
  • Glare as a critical reason accounted for about 17 percent (±16.7%) of the environment-related crashes
  • View obstruction was assigned in 11 percent (±7.2%) of the crashes.
  • Signs and signals accounted for 3 percent (±2.5%) of such crashes.
  • The weather conditions (fog/rain/snow) were cited in 4 percent (±2.9%) of the crashes.

Using the Data

Please help spread the word about these critical crash reasons to your safety personnel, driver managers, fleet supervisors, and drivers. Drivers can do two things, and only two things while driving, to avoid a collision: manage their speed and manage their space.

As many truck-car collisions are due to errors on part of the car driver, the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver needs to drive defensively. And as all collisions are considered to have an element of “randomness” associated with them, CMV drivers need to be on high alert at all times.

Thank you for reading this.



A Holiday Warning Reminder . . . Again


A Woeful Tale . . .

The home, friends said, looked like a castle. It burned for four days.

The six members of the family inside, including four grandchildren, were not able to escape the fire in January of this year.

What happened?

Most likely an electrical spark set a Christmas tree on fire. The tree had been cut at least two months prior.

As we move into and through the holiday season, a house fire is the last thing on our minds. While only several hundred home fires involving Christmas trees occur each year, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says fires involving Christmas trees can be very deadly and cost millions of dollars each year.

The problem?

If a Christmas tree is not watered daily or is allowed to dry out, it can literally explode in flames if exposed to a spark or heat source.

Leading causes of Christmas tree fires (per NFPA)

Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 38% of home Christmas tree fires.
· Eighteen percent of home Christmas tree fires involved decorative lights.
· Wiring or related equipment was involved in 12%.
· Cords or plugs were involved in 5%.

Twenty-two percent of Christmas tree fires were intentional.
· Only 9% of the intentional fires occurred in December.

Nine percent of Christmas tree fires were started by someone, usually a child, playing with fire.
Candles started 8% of home Christmas tree structure fires.
Leading areas of origin
Two of every five (39%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.
Seven percent were chimney fires.


What You Can Do

The good news is that these type of fires continue to trend downward. They are almost becoming rare, but still can be a hazard, if precautions are not taken. Here’s what to do to protect your castle:

  • Keep fresh cut trees well watered (not necessary for artificial trees).
  • Check your Christmas electrical cords and lighting. Look for frays and cuts in the insulation and exposed wires. Replace bad wiring and bad extension cords.
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets.
  • Do not connect more than three light strings together.
  • Do not overload extension cords.  If the cord becomes warm when in use, it is overloaded.  Don’t run the extension cords under rugs (especially a Christmas tree skirt) or furniture as they might become a fire hazard.  Secure cords so they don’t become trip hazards.
  • Only use lights with the Underwriters Laboratories Approved or UL Approved designations.  These lights go through thorough testing procedures to ensure they are safe to use in or outside your home.  In that vein, only use outdoor lights out of doors as they need to meet higher levels of certification.
  • Don’t place a tree near a working fire place or fire pit or other heat source as a space heater.
  • Don’t leave a lot of wrapping paper or empty packages near the tree when the presents are unwrapped. This contributed to 30 fires (and 2 deaths) last year.
  • When disposing of the Christmas tree, never attempt to burn it in the fire place.
  • Consider installing a sprinkler system in your home.

Another safety tip is to never attempt to fight a Christmas tree fire. This is considered a major mistake by firefighting experts. Safety of friends and family should be our number one concern. Get everyone out and then call 911.

With that, here’s hoping you have a happy and healthy holiday season.

Stay safe.

Thank you for reading this.





Don’t Get Blown Away . . . Trucking In High Wind Conditions

Rollover from wind

Danger: High Winds

On Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015, at least three tractor-trailers rolled over in Iowa. Wind gusts are suspected to have contributed to the crashes. This is a concern because truck rollovers are the number one cause of fatalities for commercial drivers, especially if the driver is not wearing a safety belt.

Facts on the Wind

Weather reports usually tell us two or three characteristics of wind: direction and speed and sometimes the speed of any gusts. A straight tailwind is great. Pushing air is one of the biggest reasons trucks do not get great fuel economy. A headwind always takes extra fuel to overcome air resistance (drag).

There are several ways wind is defined. Basic wind speed is a measurement of average wind over a period of ten minutes. (ISO 4354) As it is an average, that means actual wind speeds can be higher. Wind speed fastest mile measures the speed of the wind as it moves one mile and are typically higher than wind measured over a period of ten minutes.

Wind gust speed, a sudden increase or decrease in wind velocity, is determined by a gust factor (about 1.5) applied to the average wind speed. Surface winds are considered dynamic and are constantly changing.

Trucks pulling dry vans or reefers are most at risk for high-wind hazards. A trailer does not have to be moving to be damaged. A strong enough wind gust can break a trailer sitting in a parking lot.

Side wind gust

The most critical wind direction is wind blowing perpendicular to the direction of travel or a side-gust wind. Drivers may first notice a rocking sensation from the wind gust, as if riding in a boat.


Vehicle speed has an effect on whether or not a loss of control will occur at a given wind gust speed.

side wind gust

Loss (or gain) of vehicle control may be induced by driver inputs as steering, accelerating or braking.


Here the driver was able to make an unbelievable recovery by pulling off the road into a Kansas field.

Wind gusts can cause the trailer to swing out in low traction conditions as standing water, snow or ice.

trailer swing-out









Leave plenty of following distance between other commercial motor vehicles. A number of states enforce a 500 foot following distance rule for trucks. Drivers may be given tickets for following too closely on bridges also.

One company had three of their trucks traveling together, blown off the road in strong winds.


50 MPH winds

Gusts approached 50+ MPH, lifting this trailer’s wheels off of the road.

Tips for Driving in Windy Conditions

• Check the weather as part of the trip-planning routine.

• If the weather turns bad, keep a “weather radio” handy and tune in to the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) system. NWR is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous around-the-clock weather information.

• Keep in mind that actual wind speeds and gusts may be higher than broadcast weather reports. Wind can be unpredictable.

• Reduce speed in windy conditions.

• Reduce speed in inclement weather: rain, snow, or when driving on icy roads.

• Reduce speed in low traction conditions as rain, snow, or ice.

• Don’t bunch up several trucks in a road convoy.

• Don’t drive in risky, high wind conditions.

• Insure any freight is properly distributed for a low Center of Gravity.

Thank you for reading this.

Positioning the Commercial Motor Vehicle When Stopped


“Car Hits Parked Truck”

If one does a Google search on “car hits parked truck,” the search results in over 35 million results. Everyday, it seems, someone is running into the back of a truck somewhere.

Rear-end collisions are always destructive and messy. Running into a truck is almost like running into a brick wall. Metal twists and bends. There is always the chance of under-ride. There is the chance of fire. People can get seriously hurt. It’s a mess.

But it only gets worse.


If the collision does result in an injury or fatality, it is likely that the crash will result in a lawsuit. Both the truck driver and company will be sued. Pre-trial dispositions will be taken and every safety practice, policy, and procedure will be called into question.

Somebody has to pay for this collision. Somebody will pay . . .

Even if a settlement can be negotiated before the trial, insurance premiums will rise. There is the chance that the insurance coverage was not enough, so assets will have to be sold to make up the difference.

What’s the best alternative? Collision avoidance.

Here are some commercial motor vehicle positioning tips used by safety conscious fleets:


The breakdown lane is for Emergencies only. Answering a phone call from dispatch is not an emergency. Checking directions or a map is not an emergency. Even running out of fuel is not an emergency, and one driver was fined $1000 for this. Yes — non-emergency stops are illegal. Drivers need to do their pretrip planning and pretrip inspections to avoid any and all non-emergency stops on the shoulder of the expressway.

The expressway is not a rest area. Again, unless it’s an emergency situation, there should be no parking and napping on the side of the expressway or ramps, and definitely no sleeping. Drivers need to keep track of their hours and leave a safety margin for themselves to find a place to park. This is difficult, but not impossible.

Areas with guardrails, bridges, and tunnels are extra risky. Guardrails signal some sort of off-road hazard. Guardrails can act as “channels” and direct vehicles into a commercial vehicle that is parked next to the guardrail. The same with bridges or tunnels. There is no “out” for another vehicle to get around the parked vehicle. So, for example, a driver notices he has a flat tire and decides he will wait for road service. If the truck must remain on the expressway, then driver should stop well beyond the guardrail, bridge or tunnel, put on the emergency flashers and set up the warning triangles.

• Don’t stop in an exit ramp, if at all possible.

Street Parking

Don’t park in center turn lanes.

Don’t park in places marked no parking.

Don’t park in church parking lots. (The pavement is usually thin and not designed for a heavy truck.)

Don’t park in malls where truck parking is restricted.

Don’t park near schools. Some jurisdictions have strict anti-idle laws near schools and/or other civic buildings.

Never drop a trailer against the flow of traffic or in an oncoming lane, as vehicles may run under the kingpin.

If legally parked on the street, a couple of 24 inch traffic cones with reflective tape can be placed behind the vehicle.

Other Parking Situations

Don’t park in curves or under overpasses or other areas where the vehicle may be not be easily seen.

Don’t park in an area before bright lights that can hide the silhouette of the truck at night.

Drivers should never walk along the truck with their backs to traffic.

Make sure drivers know how to properly set up warning triangles in an emergency.

Thank you for reading this.


Other Related Blogs 

The Breakdown on Breakdowns




If Insurance is the Flower, Is Loss Control the Weed?

flower beds

Insurance is a Good Thing

Insurance is an important part of business, providing enterprises options to pursue greater opportunities they would not have had without it and affording continuity when things go wrong, as they sometimes do. The insurance industry is in the business of managing risk and the field of Risk Management has sprung forth from it, much like flowers after a spring rain.

Risk Sources and Complexity Have Increased Over Time

As part of the Risk Management process, insurers field consulting specialists in loss prevention, who are concerned with identifying hazards and risks, and cost-effective alternatives and solutions.  These consultants may be in-house or outsourced and operate under a myriad of titles and designations, including, to name a few:

  • Accident Prevention
  • Loss Control Engineer
  • Loss Control Specialist
  • Loss Prevention
  • Risk Control Field Representative
  • Risk Engineer
  • Risk Manager
  • Safety Engineer

Depending on the nature of the operations, the loss consultant will “survey” or gather information in person or by phone, usually after an insurance policy goes into effect or when it renews. If the survey is in person, the loss consultant will set up a time that is most convenient for the insured, avoiding periods of high activity so not to disrupt operations, or low activity as vacation times and holidays.

The Loss Control Survey Process

Setting up the appointment is the first step of the loss control survey process, which consists of three core phases:

  1. Presurvey
  2. Survey
  3. Postsurvey

In the presurvey phase, the loss consultant should provide the insured with a brief listing of the information to be examined, such as: company safety programs, inspection forms, incident and accident investigations, and other records and documents as company policies and specific records.

The survey starts with an opening conference, a walk-through of any facility or a look at any vehicles present, a records/documents examination, and a closing conference. The purpose of the survey is not to find a list of deficiencies, but a factual review of safety and discussion of any hazards or potential hazards, why the situation is hazardous, and what can be done to improve safety. The loss consultant may discuss several recommendations to improve safety and various options to meet those recommendations.

The postsurvey phase should result in a formal, follow-up letter of recommendations and how the insured can make safety improvements. On occasion the loss consultant may schedule a follow-up visit regarding the recommendations.

Meanwhile, In The Real World . . .

Change is difficult. In the real world, you find people don’t like or want change. “We’ve always done it that way.” Complacency sets in.

“We see over and over where organizations start out really strong and have executive support, but then they don’t continue to steadily grow the risk management process at their organizations.” Steve Zawoyski PwC

Anyone working in loss control or risk management soon discovers the prevailing attitude that our job is to make life difficult. And the status quo can be mean and resourceful. Rather than seeing any added value, loss control becomes a weed, and like any noxious weed, people are constantly trying to kill it.

Tips for Better Loss Control/Risk Management 

  1. Communicate well. One of the most effective communication strategies is to listen more than you speak. But just because it’s effective, doesn’t mean we always do it or do it well. Clear communications save everyone time and money. Failure to communicate well is the root cause of many a misunderstanding.
  2. Ask your loss consultant questions. Why is this recommendation critical? What are some other alternatives? Are there any time constraints in following up?
  3. Be forthright. Nobody is perfect. Not meeting certain safety standards can always be fixed. But not fixing a possible safety issue is never a good long-term policy. Cutting back on safety efforts will not result in long term savings.
  4. It’s the little things that make a big difference. The key word in loss control is control. Small improvements over time add up. Take control over the safety improvement process.

Thank you for reading this.