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97% of Accidents are Preventable
Mariah Barr
7 mins read

… Yes, you read that right. 

Then why do so many of them happen every day? The accidents we’re referring to are associated with nuclear verdicts – which can be avoided with the right safety precautions in place.  

We’ve talked about these explosive lawsuits before, but just to recap, here are some astounding statistics on them: 

  • Nuclear verdicts increased by 967% between 2010 and 2018. 
  • The average verdict in high-dollar lawsuits involving a truck crash is $22.3 million.  
  • They’ve caused a 75% increase in the cost of umbrella and excess liability insurance.  

Needless to say, the cost of keeping your fleet safe on the roads and in the courtroom is becoming unbearable. How can you juggle the pressures of running a business, managing your drivers, and ensuring you’re avoiding these expensive litigations? 

Since you employ professional CDL drivers, the best way to protect yourself is to be able to prove that you’ve taken every step necessary to promote a culture of safety and compliance in your company. When you have the programs (and documentation) in place to prove it, you’ll be better able to fight back when faced with a lawsuit – and prevent a $10+ million nuclear verdict. 

Why You Should Create a Better Safety Culture  

To break down the preventable accident statistic even further, data from the FMCSA found that only 3% of all truck crashes resulted from outside environmental factors. A shocking 87% of crashes occurred because of driver error and 10% happened due to mechanical issues with the truck itself.  

With this information in mind, it’s easy to see how shifting your company’s view on safety can make it much less likely that your drivers will be involved in an accident, and in turn, avoid legal claims of negligence.  

A Rock-Solid Safety Culture Starts Here 

The DOT defines safety culture as “shared values, actions, and behaviors that show a commitment to safety over competing goals and demands.” You can easily instill these factors into your company’s everyday tasks, procedures, and training materials.  

Some perks of having a culture of safety in place include: 

  • Better workplace for all employees – not just drivers 
  • Reduced risk of accidents 
  • Lower chance of lawsuits 

If your employees see how much you prioritize their safety, they’re much more likely to take the safety measures you have in place on the road with them too.  

Use MVR Monitoring to Keep a Keen Eye on Your Drivers 

One of the most effortless and effective ways to build a culture of safety is enrolling in an MVR monitoring program. In fact, it can prevent 34% of common FMCSA violations.  

Think of it like this: FMCSA regulations require you to run an annual motor vehicle report on each driver to check for violations and ensure they’re still qualified to operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV). But once that report is pulled, you could be in the dark for the next 364 days.  

Even if you don’t know about additional driver violations and disqualifications than what this single report shows, you will be held accountable for them. You should never rely solely on employees to inform you of their citations or accidents. Not only will ignorance not be an acceptable excuse for avoiding an FMCSA violation, but it won’t be accepted as a valid defense in court.  

An MVR monitoring program is not a federal requirement, but it is a smart program to put in place. Each driver’s motor vehicle report is monitored on an ongoing basis. When new information appears – whether it’s a moving violation, CDL suspension, or DUI – you’ll be the first to know. Then, you can take corrective action. 

Create & Maintain Compliant Driver Files 

Non-compliant driver files are a well-known industry problem. They actually account for several of the top acute and critical FMCSA violations annually.  

The top five driver qualification file violations are…   

  1. Driving a commercial motor vehicle while disqualified  
  2. Using a physically unqualified driver  
  3. Not keeping inquiries into driving records in a driver qualification file  
  4. Failing to maintain a driver file on each driver  
  5. Not keeping a medical certificate in a driver file 

The problem isn’t that these files are difficult to create when hiring a new driver (but important steps are often missed in the process); however, it can be hard for companies like yours to keep these files updated on an ongoing basis – and the more drivers they hire, the trickier it gets.  

You don’t have to feel overwhelmed when it comes to managing your driver files, even if you have 100+ employees to keep up with. A digital driver file management software can be the solution you’re looking for. 

Foley’s automated DQF management program puts your mind at ease. We’ll convert your paper files (which are not DOT-compliant, by the way) to an electronic format and build files for each driver you employ. The comprehensive alert system will then notify you when something needs attention, such as an upcoming CDL expiration or an MVR is ready for review. 

Improve Your Company’s Approach to Safety – Before it’s Too Late  

Even though these nuclear verdicts aren’t pleasant to think about, it’s time to get serious with your safety efforts so you aren’t living out the real-life nightmare of one. When it comes to DOT compliance and preventing accidents, doing the bare minimum just isn’t enough anymore. You need to be proactive, not reactive!  

The compliance programs we covered here aren’t all the ways you can build a better safety culture, either. Download our FREE nuclear verdict white paper and get your six-step plan to avoid these devastating lawsuits like a pro.  

Have questions about what Foley has to offer? Feel free to give us a call or request a free software demo. We’ll make sure you’re armed with everything you need to defeat any chances of damaging litigation. 

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