Building the Ideal Fleet Assessment Report

NHTSA 2012 OverviewOne of the vital tools used in the insurance world is the initial risk assessment report.  This report helps underwriters get a very clear understanding of the activities of a given company, and how that management team handles safety processes to avoid injuries or physical damage.

An assessment report will typically cover all areas of concern depending on the nature of the business being insured:

  • A report for a warehouse operation may focus mainly on the potential for fires, the combustible nature of goods being stored, the controls to prevent fires and the processes in place to provide early/prompt alarm if a fire were to happen.
  • A report for a manufacturing operation may focus on how equipment is safeguarded to prevent injuries, how vapors or fumes are ventilated to prevent explosions or work-related illness by chemical exposure.

When dealing with companies which operate fleets of cars, vans, trucks and/or heavy duty vehicles there are a lot of issues to consider – especially since the drivers and vehicles will be operated out of sight of supervisors who could offer coaching and helpful correction when safety complacency develops or bad habits might be formed.

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I asked peers to give me their perspective on creating the ideal fleet survey report, and I received very gracious and thoughtful responses.  Here are several that characterize the general consensus:

The two most important attributes covered in a fleet Loss Control report would be 1) evaluating the proactiveness of Management 2) evaluating the implementation of an effective fleet safety program.  I feel there are many sub elements that fall under these two categories, but these are the two most important attributes to evaluate.

A solid loss control report must cover several key data points like:  qualifications of the safety director (his/her support, experience, authority); a robust driver qualification process with uniform standards; driver education processes; a program to address the readiness of the vehicles; a review of past losses to identify patterns or trends.

A thorough evaluation of a fleet operation could cover many areas depending on the nature of the business. For instance, a trucking company should be in compliance with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations at a minimum; however, a company with mostly salesperson’s cars or executives may need to focus more closely on distracted driving prevention, weekend use, and other factors like passenger policies or permissive personal use.

Considering fleets can have a wide range of exposures to loss, it can be helpful to begin by identifying the nature of the cargo most commonly carried – the attributes of these loads (hazardous chemicals versus boxes of oatmeal) will determine the relative risks in the event of a collision and the need to ramp up management’s vigilance over driver qualification, training and monitoring.

We’ve learned that most crashes happen as a direct result of driver choices, attitudes and habits.  Whether the driver is impaired, drowsy, or just has the flu, can directly lead to a crash from inattention.  In long haul fleets, drivers may be away from their families for two weeks or more – this can lead to additional stress when they call home to find out the roof is leaking again or the oven is broken, etc.  Having an assistance plan in place can help these drivers cope and stay focused on their driving instead of what is simply out of their control at the moment.  Distraction comes in many forms – not just cell phones – and daydreaming can become deadly in the wrong place at the wrong time.

It’s all about management attitude, leadership, setting and enforcing policies.

Does the account have the following policies (long checklist including cell phone, seatbelt, incentives for crash free driving, permissive use drivers, passengers, DUI forbidden, etc)

How does the account on-board new hires?  Do they have a formal training program, and if so, how many hours in classroom and how many hours behind the wheel?  If they’re not committed to training, they’re likely to have more crashes than the average fleet.

In the past, SafetyFirst has put together example checklists for fleet surveys, and we’ve spoken extensively about the ability to use the ANSI Z15 standard as a self-audit tool for enhancing existing fleet safety programs.  There’s no short answer to evaluating a fleet operation whether it’s five cars or five hundred tractor trailers.  Still, there are many areas that professionals can agree are important to painting a detailed picture for underwriters (and to help offer meaningful guidance to policyholders based on the evaluation process).

MirrorPoster_72dpiI’d suggest the following outline for an example loss control evaluation of a regulated fleet.  It’s NOT intended to be completely comprehensive since every fleet is unique, and we could easily double the length of the outline and still miss some details like asking whether drivers stop periodically to check for cargo shifting, if the policyholder has a formal inspection program to assure that all first aid kits and fire extinguishers are fully stocked/charged, etc. It’s not that these details are “unimportant”, but there’s an upper limit on the patience of a policyholder to remain calm under a relentless assault of questions.

Take a look and offer some thoughts – is this getting a good “big picture” view of most fleet operations?  Is there something in your experience that we’ve missed that should be considered “elemental” and included?  Have we suggested items that you think are trivial?

 

Loss Control Report
Company name: DOT number:
Location:
Contacts: Phone/email:

Overview of Operation

  • Description of company focus, operations, scope of service territory, multiple locations/terminals?
  • Workforce stats
    • Number of drivers (Full time vs. Part time (if any))
    • Balance/percentage of OO vs Company drivers
  • Equipment types operated (reefers, tanks, dry van, tautliners, etc.)
  • Describe commodities hauled – typical versus occasional (define occasional)
    • Are there forbidden cargo types (describe) how monitored?
    • Hazardous Materials and Oversized loads being hauled? If so, how much/how often
    • (include report supplement)

General Management Controls, Policies/Procedures

  • Safety Director
    • Chain of command (where does safety fit in)
    • Authority of safety to make and implement recommendations
    • Qualifications (ongoing professional development)?
    • Networking?
  • smc 1Any examples of recent changes made to improve safety processes?
  • Who authors and revises policy/handbooks, etc.
    • Revision schedule
    • Benchmarking of best practices by peer group?
  • General controls
    • How are control policies memorialized?
    • How are control policies communicated?
    • How are control policies acknowledged by drivers/operators?
    • How are control policies enforced?
    • Provide an overview description of each of following:
      • Cell Phone/Texting/Distraction
      • Fatigue/HOSMotor Carriers Guide to Improving
      • Wellness/EAP
      • Substance abuse
      • Family support
      • Communications program
        • Methods (newsletter, emails, surveys)
      • Education Program (describe each, vendor used, frequency, etc.)
        • New hire
        • Ongoing
        • Post Crash
        • Other?
      • Incentives/Bonus?
    • Standing Safety Team/Committee?
    • Post Crash Review Processes
      • (team, individual?)
      • Preventability (standard used?) versus at-fault

Regulatory Concerns (CSA)

  • Some parallels worth examiningWho monitors SMS/BASICs (satisfied with current score?)
  • Last login within past 30, 60, 90 days?
  • Describe audit history
  • Any notice letters within past 24 months?
  • Familiar with and using Safety Cycles for BASICs?

Asset Controls

  • Describe approach to maintenance – in house, OO, contracted, etc
    • Describe controls over maintenance operation – how does management know it’s getting done
    • Annual FHWA inspection process (If in-house Annual Inspections are being completed are the mechanics properly trained?)
    • Provide garage/mechanical/fuel/body shop/warranty services to others? (if so, attach supplemental report)
  • DVIR processes used – who maintains and purges records?
  • Participate in CVSA programs?
  • Equipment replacement program (owned assets)
  • Any example of corporate changes that affect assets, specifications, retention, etc.?

Featured Image -- 1451Drivers

  • Recruiting
    • Internal/external team
    • Sourcing types
    • Job descriptions
    • Stated Minimum-qualifications (what are they, how enforced?)
    • Are exceptions granted (if so, under what circumstances and sign-offs?)
    • Recycle rejected candidates? Black box candidates?
  • Qualification/Onboarding
    • CoachingIn-person interview?
    • Application form used is detailed?
      • Online capabilities?
    • Pre-hire MVR review? FMCSA PSP Program Review?
    • Describe orientation process; follow up interviews/surveys, etc.
    • Mandatory initial training? (topics, duration, etc.)
  • Renewables program (DQF Maintenance)
    • Who handled DQF processes – methods, practices, self audit?
    • Describe annual performance review process
    • COVR reconciliation
      • MVR Criteria used for acceptable vs probation vs suspension
      • Any legal assistance program to help drivers fight tickets?
    • Disciplinary Process for Company Drivers? (what triggers? How enforced?)
    • What could cause company to break a contract with OO?
  • Communication Program?
  • Controlled substance program overview
    • Process for positive tests
    • EAP offered or termination on positives?

Pre-Loss Safety Practices

  • Asset-based tech
    • Camera-in-cabin? (who sees videos, retention period, coaching process, documentation?)
    • GPS for safety issues (type of alerts, thresholds for alerts, who monitors alerts, when do they intervene with driver, how do they coach, retraining, documentation of corrective actions? Retention of records period?)
  • HOS Enforcement and Monitoring Processes
    • Electronic Logging Devices or EOBR used?
    • Toll Pass program?
    • Log book reconciliation with tolls, etc.
  • Driver (Admin) based programs
    • Pyramid 2011 for blogHow’s My Driving?
    • MVR Monitoring (pull program, etc.)
    • Incentive program?

Post-Loss Processes

  • Define “crash event” (anything that changes the material appearance of the vehicle, or something else?)
  • Define “Major Event” as opposed to “DOT Recordable” (if different)
  • Familiar with Claim Unit processes and expectations?
  • Education of all drivers on what to do at the scene of an accident? (frequency, content, vendor-based?)
  • Post-crash documentation kits (pouch? Camera?)
  • Crisis Response Team?
    • Who investigates accident scenes? Qualifications?
    • Lawyer hotline (for driver? For management team?)
    • PR-crisis management training or firm on retainer?
  • DOT Crash Register for past three years
  • Incident rate per million miles
  • Trending and pattern analysis?
  • Recap of recent “Major” crashes, lessons learned, communication to drivers about incident?

Additional Reading:

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Updates on Autonomous Vehicles

While we’ve covered AV’s in the past at the blog site:

We felt that it might be time for a quick update by posting some links to recent articles of interest (and some that are older, but still hold a relevant place in our discussion about safety, risk and insurance).

  1. Connected CarsOne of the most recent articles asks “WIll you ever be able to afford a self-driving car?” (Click HERE) and offers some interesting stats on the real cost to up-fit a vehicle with the needed gear to make it driver-less.  Of course, with mass production, these costs will come down (just like any tech related gear from phones to computers and flat screen televisions), but it’s interesting to consider the economic factors that may push widespread adoption further into the future simply because of cost.
  2. The Military sees the benefit of AV’s to reduce the liklihood of casualties on the battlefield from Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s) — http://rt.com/usa/driverless-autonomous-vehicles-pentagon-498/
  3. One of the biggest questions on people’s minds seems to be “would widespread use of AV really improve road safety?”  An article from the New York Daily News offers thoughts on this issue – http://www.nydailynews.com/autos/cars-safer-drivers-self-driving-vehicles-eliminate-traffic-accidents-article-1.1595616
  4. Daimler’s CEO feels that AVs could be rolling off the production line by 2025, at least as outlined in this article – http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140113/AUTO04/301130112
  5. Naturally, we’d all like to know how much we’re going to save on car insurance if we “leave the driving to the vehicle” – http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-13746_7-57422681-48/how-much-will-it-cost-to-insure-an-autonomous-car/  AND  http://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/2012/05/30/will-driverless-cars-cut-your-insurance80-percent

AV trucksLast, but not least, we recognize that AV technology isn’t limited to personal cars and light duty delivery vehicles — some of the most demanding and immediate applications for AV tech falls among the largest vehicles in quarries, mines and off-road trucking.  So what happens when USA’s “truckers” are replaced by radar and laser sighting equipment?  Will there be 80,000 pound, articulated, tractor-trailer rigs running cars off of the highway, or will truck safety results also improve (regardless of who might cause or contribute to crash occurrence)?  Check out this article for a preliminary discussion of these issues —http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/features/autonomous-vehicles-how-safe-are-trucks-without-human-drivers-9047546.html

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AV tech is on it’s way — it’s no longer reserved for Saturday morning cartoons like the Jetson’s flying car, etc.

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