Safety programs save money and look good to insurers

By | 2019-01-23

South Africa is home to arguably the farthest-reaching and highest-quality road transport network on the African continent.

Road networks are our backbone; virtually everything we consume is transported by road haulage services.

Road haulage is a service-driven industry that responds to fluctuating customer demand. It faces a number of inescapable challenges that impact the bottom line.

“Like the rest of the world, South Africa is bound to global oil fluctuations and as such, the fuel price is constantly changing, leaving businesses with very little room to plan effectively,” says Anton Cornellissen, Head of Heavy Haulage at Santam.

Fuel remains the biggest contributor to road transport costs, exacerbated by deteriorating road infrastructure, a lack of a skilled workforce and the ever-escalating risk of hijacking.

“Being exposed to so many pressures, many of which are out of one’s control, it is imperative that fleet owners have safety-focused business to effectively manage risk on the ground,” he argues.

Good drivers are good for business

Heavy commercial trucks are expensive assets, retailing from R2.5 million. Then there is the value of the cargo they transport, the insurance this requires and numerous operational costs to also consider.

Your business depends on your drivers and the decisions they make on the road every day. Choosing the right employees to drive for your company is the most basic element in your company’s fleet safety programme.

A 2017 Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) report shows that human factors were the biggest contributors to road crashes and fatalities, accounting for 91% of all incidents.

Driver fatigue is listed as one of the leading causes of truck accidents.

But, good drivers can:

  • Reduce the cost of losses. Fleet vehicle accidents are among the costliest of injury claims for businesses. The average cost of a loss related to heavy vehicle accidents is approximately R1 million.
  • Lower liability in cases of loss. The injuries caused by trucks can be catastrophic and financially ruinous. Although your truck may be insured, the cover under that policy may not be sufficient to cover catastrophic injuries or multiple deaths. In addition to the cost of repairing or replacing the truck, the company loses revenue while the truck is unable to make deliveries. Effective screening, hiring, training and monitoring of drivers can help reduce this liability.
  • Boost your public image. Every driver has the potential to send a positive or negative message about your company when they drive. When your truck is headed down the highway, you want it to tell a positive story about your company, its ethics and how it operates.

Telematics can improve driver behaviour

“Telematics technology is becoming more and more important to the trucking industry. It improves maintenance regimes, fuel efficiency, security, road safety, communication and navigation,” Cornellissen explains.

Not only do telematics promote safer driving as the driver is aware that their actions are being recorded, GPS tracking and alerts let fleet managers keep track of their vehicles at all times, an especially important feature if a truck is stolen or damaged.

They help identify which drivers are practicing unsafe driving habits, and which drivers need additional training – thus increasing the fuel efficiency and safety of the entire fleet – for substantial cost savings.

“Well-trained, stress-free, high performing drivers tend to stay committed to their employer. This helps reduce staff turnover and limits the training costs involved when hiring new drivers,” concludes Cornellissen.

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