March 18, 2016 | Industry Insights, Insights

Arming the Transportation Industry with Flexible and New Driver Safety Programs

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According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), trucking represents 68.8% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled just less than 10 billion tons of freight in 2014, with motor carriers collecting $700.4 billion, or 80.3% of total revenue earned by all transport modes. This illustrates the high volume of activity taking place on our roads and the significant risk of potential accidents involving trucks across the country. In fact, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), about 4,000 individuals were killed in crashes involving a large truck in 2013. The number of large trucks involved in injury crashes was 73,000; the number of large trucks involved in property damage only crashes was 265,000. These numbers happen to indicate an overall decrease over prior years, with efforts continuously being made to pump up driver safety to lower accident and fatality rates involving motor carriers.

One such program involves the National Safety Council’s (NSC) Professional Truck Driver Program, with a new edition recently released. The program began in 1986 and has been involved in training more than 1 million drivers since then. According to the NSC, the program equips professional drivers with the knowledge and defensive driving strategies they need to stay collision, crash, incident and citation-free. It includes everything an organization needs to meet OSHA guidelines, reduce motor vehicle crashes and protect human and financial resources. The new modularized, flexible format allows instructors to teach the course in a time frame that meets their unique needs and to choose topics relevant to corporate training goals.

“We need to do everything we can to equip professional truck drivers with the knowledge and defensive driving strategies they need to stay safe on our roadways,” said Shay Gallagher, vice president and general manager of the National Safety Council, in a recent press release.

In related news regarding safety on the road and by rail, the government just announced a federal proposal to test bus drivers, truckers, and railroad workers for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). More than 25 million Americans are estimated to suffer from undiagnosed sleep apnea, which can cause a driver to doze off behind the wheel. “The collection and analysis of sound data on the impact of OSA must be our immediate first step,” said Scott Darling, acting administrator for FMCSA.

The government’s announcement could lead to a requirement that railroad workers and commercial drivers be evaluated and treated for sleep apnea. It opened a 90-day comment period that will include public fact-gathering sessions in Washington, Chicago, and Los Angeles. (Pilots are already tested for the disorder.)

According to Nate Watson, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a study of commercial drivers found a 73% reduction in preventable accidents among those being treated for sleep apnea. Treatment involves sleeping with a device that covers either the nose or the nose and mouth, and pushes in humified room air.

Safety on our roads is paramount as we move cargo from one end of the country to the other. Implementing robust driver safety programs at your transportation company is critical in protecting your drivers and others on the road, reducing accidents and injuries, remaining OSHA-compliant, minimizing property damage, and containing the cost of your Commercial Auto and Workers’ Compensation insurance premiums.

Roanoke Trade specializes in insuring the transportation industry, providing a portfolio of extensive insurance coverages and risk management solutions. Please contact us at 1-800-ROANOKE (800-762-6653) for more information about our products.

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