Safety programs save money and look good to insurers

24 January 2019 Santam

South Africa is home to the farthest-reaching and highest-quality transport network on the African continent. For the average South African or aspiring entrepreneur, this means the transport sector is a vehicle for growth in South Africa’s economy. Road networks, especially, are our backbone, virtually everything we consume is transported by road haulage services.

The road haulage industry is a service-driven industry, responding to fluctuating customer demand and it faces a number of inescapable challenges that have a huge impact on their bottom line.
Anton Cornellissen, Head of Heavy Haulage at Santam says “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. 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.”
Good drivers are good for business

Heavy commercial trucks are one of the most expensive assets retailing from R2.5 million, not to mention the cargo they transport, insurance and the operational costs.
Choosing the right employees to drive for your company is the most basic element in your company's fleet safety program. The 2017 RTMC report shows that human factors were the biggest contributor to road crashes and fatalities, accounting for 91% with driver fatigue listed as one of the leading causes of truck accidents. Your business depends on your drivers and the decisions they make on the road every day. Cornellissen advises that good drivers can help you:

• Reduce the cost of loss. Fleet vehicle accidents are among the costliest of injury claims for business. The average cost of a loss related to vehicle accidents is approximately R1 million. Safe drivers can help lower the possibility of loss due to accidents and improve loss ratios.
• Lower liability in case of loss. The injuries caused by trucks can be catastrophic and financially ruinous for trucking companies. Although your truck is likely to be insured, the cover under that policy may not be sufficient for catastrophic injuries or death, especially when there are multiple people injured or killed. In addition to the cost of repairing or replacing a truck, the company could lose revenue while the truck is unable to make deliveries. Effective screening, hiring, training and monitoring can help reduce liability.
• Boost your public image. Every driver has the potential to send a message. When your truck is headed down the highway, you want it to tell a positive story about your company. A good driver tells the kind of story you want to tell.

The importance of telematics in improving driver behaviour

“Telematics technology is becoming more and more important to the trucking industry. It improves maintenance, fuel efficiency, security, road safety, communication, and navigation;” adds Cornellissen. Not only do telematics promote safer driving as the driver is aware that their actions are being filmed, more importantly, GPS tracking and alerts let fleet managers keep track of all vehicles at all times, an especially important feature if a truck is stolen or damaged. Safety Analytics help managers identify which drivers are practicing safe driving habits, and which drivers need additional training—thus increasing the fuel efficiency and safety of the entire fleet for substantial cost savings. And of course, what is good for the driver is good for the fleet owner.

Cornellisen concluded that well-trained, stress-free, high performing drivers tend to stay committed to their employer, helping reduce turnover and training costs of new drivers make business sense.

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