Protecting the Truck Driver's Safety and Insurability

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There has been plenty of talk in our industry about the need to improve the safety performance and insurability of the drivers and the companies who haul forest products from the woods and woodyards. But what about improving the safety behavior of “the other driver”? Most studies show the other driver is at fault in two-thirds of crashes involving large trucks.

For relatively young/new drivers of passenger vehicles, FRA offers a 10-minute video that introduces defensive driving techniques for passenger-car drivers sharing the highway with heavy trucks. In the Company of Trucks – Be Seen, Be Alive (12-A-5) is a great resource for presenting a safe driving orientation for students in driver education programs or other groups of non-professional drivers.

The video opens with an advisory about the dangers of distracted driving and then, using excellent video footage, demonstrates to the driving public the importance of behaviors such as maintaining a safe following distance and being aware of a truck driver’s blind spots when passing or approaching a heavy truck.

This video was developed by the Carolina Loggers Association, North Carolina Forestry Association, and the National Timber Harvesting and Transportation Safety (THATS) Foundation in 2012 and is still relevant today. (Buy several copies and donate them to your local driver’s ed programs!)

In the Company of Trucks comes in DVD format and includes a one-page Discussion Leader’s Guide. It is available to the public at $10 apiece or $5 each for orders of 10 copies or more. FRA membership is not required to obtain this price. Visit the following link to order:

https://forestresources.org/resources/member-videos-cds/item/976-in-the-company-of-trucks-12-a-5. (Contact FRA’s National Office for very large orders.)

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What about protecting the record of truck drivers who are being safe, but nevertheless find themselves caught up in a wreck that was the fault of the other driver?

Increasingly, log trucking businesses are installing dash cameras in commercial trucks. This involves attaching a small windshield camera (with a screen and SD card) to record the driver’s view of the road during the truck’s operation. Because the camera is an unbiased witness to what happens on the road, it can be presented as evidence to prove to an insurance carrier that a driver was obeying the law and may not be at fault when the other party makes an insurance claim. This can also be helpful when addressing the issue of the driver who was not at fault being unfairly ticketed. Additionally, the dash camera can motivate the driver to improve his attention to safety while on the road.

Although some drivers initially feel that the owner is spying on them, just one incident where the video overturns a driver’s ticket and an expensive insurance claim usually brings them around. Dash cameras can save the insurance company from paying a false claim, keep trucking insurance costs down, and protect the driver’s record—not to mention making the driver more safety-conscious. (See FRA Technical Release 15-R-1, Dash Cameras Can Improve Safety and Reduce Liability, for additional details on dash cameras.)

The In the Company of Trucks video and dash cameras are just two ideas to help improve the safety and insurance record in forest products industry trucking. What other ideas are out there?
Rick Meyer | FRA Appalachian & Southwide Regions Manager

Rick serves as the region manager for the Appalachian & Southwide Regions