You’ve just invested a large sum of money on a new piece of equipment, and now you have to consider paying out more for optional safety equipment. That follow-on purchase can be a hard pill to swallow, but there are some very good reasons to take your medicine.
1. Protect People and Hire the Best
We can, and will, talk about the financial impact of protecting your investment. But let’s start with the reason you think about safety at all: The safety of your team and of the other drivers who may, be involved in a crash with one of your vehicles. As the economy continues to grow, qualified operators become harder to find. Pay is, of course, a huge enticement. For many prospective operators, though, it is equally important to know that their employer is doing all it can to make sure everyone gets home safely every night. They want to know that their employer is investing in operator training, performing preventive maintenance, and providing the tools and technology to make operating the equipment as safe as possible.
A few years ago, it might have made some sense to back off on safety measures. After all, over a five-year period in the first decade of the millennium, injury crashes involving large trucks or buses were on a downward trend, from 95,000 to 60,000 according to the FMCSA. That didn’t last, though, as injuries shot up again by 55 percent over the next five years, along with a 21 percent increase in the number of large trucks involved in injury crashes between 2009 and 2014. Passenger vehicle occupant fatalities as a result of truck crashes have also increased from 2014 to 2017.
2. Lower Insurance Premiums & Jury Awards
A good company safety program, driver training, and the addition of safety equipment such as side-view and rear-view radar can help your operators avoid collisions, thereby reducing your losses and your workers' compensation and general liability premiums. This is especially relevant given the spike in trucking insurance premiums since 2016. There have been fluctuations in insurance rates in the past few years, but the overall upward trend continues. Meanwhile, juries have been awarding larger and larger “nuclear” awards to the victims of these collisions. Add to that all the costs associated with the accident itself, along with the loss of utilization of at least the equipment and, if an injury occurs, of the operator as well.
3. Collect Valuable Crash Data
A final consideration not always given the full weight it deserves is the value of the data captured by modern safety technology. This “event data” can identify which vehicle is at fault in a collision. Some fleet owners may worry that the event data will point the finger at the larger vehicle. But, in fact, a study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that car drivers are at fault for triggering truck-car crashes about 75% of the time. Car drivers simply are not educated about how to share the road with large equipment.
As a fleet owner, you would not buy new equipment without also purchasing insurance to protect that large investment. Insurance, however, is only useful after the fact. An investment in safety technology pays off by helping your operators avoid traumatic, costly collisions in the first place.