Posted by: Jim McGuffey, CPP | December 12, 2011

Root Causes of Truck Crashes


TRUCK CRASHES AND ROOT CAUSES

Most attorneys representing clients in a truck crash and injury case hire an expert in accident reconstruction. While this is appropriate, the vast majority of these experts have not had full Profit and Loss (P&L) responsibility for managing trucking companies which is crucial in understanding what led to the crash.

Understanding the root cause of a truck crash requires more than understanding speed of travel, weather conditions, traffic conditions and driver or roadway conditions. While understanding these elements are essential to determine fault, there are several internal documents that must be examined to determine whether the organization consciously placed the lives of their employees and the public at risk.  Examination of documents such as training programs, fleet maintenance records and financial records also help to determine whether a company puts profits ahead of safety.

It is the author’s opinion that the majority of crashes result when companies fail to balance risk with profit. Many companies are placing profit ahead of adequate risk management processes which include: an effective hiring process, adequate training programs and proper fleet maintenance.

Most companies have some sort of training and other safety programs in place that when utilized, serve them well. However, senior managers can become short-sighted when achieving financial objectives which leads to reduction in training, fleet maintenance and shortcuts in the hiring process, all of which create huge risk exposure for the organization and general public.

Training programs which are essential in the prevention of crashes are often circumvented when hiring becomes difficult due to low unemployment or when absorbing large pieces of new business create new driving positions that must be filled immediately.  Regardless of the reason, a driver should not be placed behind the wheel of a truck prior to successfully completing a training program conducted by a certified instructor. Meeting customer or organizational demands are not acceptable reasons to place the public and the driver at substantial risk.

Fleet maintenance is often neglected or extended in order to reduce expense. New trucks destined to replace worn out trucks are placed on hold while worn out truck are held together with a “bandage approach” to repairs. Profits from these actions do not produce long-term success but some executives are willing to gamble, hoping for the best.

Truck accidents can be reduced by hiring qualified drivers. The hiring process requires drivers meet basic requirements, such as, verifying employment, having no more than X number of traffic violations, passing a DOT physical, passing a driver and drug test, and other sorts of requirements. Enhancing the hiring process can be accomplished by training interviewers in the art of interviewing and by not shorting cutting the hiring process to meet financial plan objectives. It may be difficult for some readers to believe that a manager working at a large well established company would place an unknown and untrained person behind the wheel of what could easily become a huge weapon or killing machine, but it happens all too often, with a manager thinking that if short cuts are taken, expenses can be reduced and profits will increase! There are too many companies that continue to place profits far ahead of safety and security.

These aforementioned basic actions will greatly reduce exposure and serve to protect the employee, the employer and the public.  Balancing risk and profit are essential for long-term success at any organization.

Disclaimer: This article is written for general information purposes only and is not intended to be and should not be used as a primary source for making security or safety decisions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

James McGuffey, CPP, served as Area General Manager, District Manager and Regional Vice President with responsibility for trucking and security operations for 20 years. Jim was responsible for a large fleet of trucks, numerous facilities and several thousand employees during his career. He was awarded numerous national awards for improving profit, safety and security metrics.

Jim is a now a security consultant, retained by defense and plaintiff firms for forensics involving cash-in-transit and premise security incidents. He has been retained in cases involving truck crashes, embezzlement cases, workplace violence and death while in custody cases.  Jim also conducts security risk assessments for businesses. Please contact Jim at jimmcguffey@verizon.net or 215-460-7370 with any questions and visit our site at http://www.armoredcarexpert.com  to learn more about our services.

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