Manage delivery and driving risks for your greenhouse business

Greenhouse delivery drivers face challenges every day when they hit the road. Photo: Hortica

Are your drivers able to get your products from the greenhouse to customers without incident? Delivery drivers face challenges every day when they hit the road, such as bad weather, traffic, distracted driving, and calculating the actions of other drivers.

Even if delivery is only a small percentage of your greenhouse business, it carries significant risks, including your reputation. It is your company’s external physical connection between the product and the customer. And unless you’ve taken the right steps to focus on driver safety, your business could be threatened by bigger issues, including nuclear lawsuits and verdicts.

Control your risk

Companies that prioritize safety procedures, strong hiring practices, and modern training programs can help minimize financial risk and manage insurance costs.

More often, companies are forced to deal with increased nuclear verdicts – which typically exceed $10 million – when their drivers are involved in an accident. Recently, a transport fleet was ordered to pay $40.5 million in damages and some cases exceeded $100 million.

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The causes of the crashes implicated in the verdicts range from bad weather and inexperienced drivers to distracted driving and failure to follow a formal safety program.

These same situations can apply to any business that depends on company drivers, including your greenhouse. But there are steps you can take to help protect your drivers and your bottom line that aren’t out of reach. From the hiring process to driver training and adapting vehicle technologies, these guidelines can help you manage delivery and driver safety.

Strong Hiring Practices

The pandemic has changed the hiring process and the hiring pool, making it tempting to hire anyone who is ready to work, especially when you need someone right now. But relaxed hiring standards come with their own set of risks — and selecting a delivery driver shouldn’t be taken lightly.

From the interview process to job requirements, establish a clear and formal hiring policy. In the event of a potential accident or litigation, companies that can point to a detailed history of rigorous hiring practices, carefully tracked corrective actions, and data retention schedules often fare much better than those that don’t. not.

Here are some best practices to help you get started:

Designate a section of your job application to driver safety. Emphasize to all applicants your priority for a strong safe driving culture. Consult a legal expert to review your company’s recruiting and hiring processes and ensure they comply with state and federal laws. Maintain a file for each driver including driving records, road test certificates, a medical examiner’s certificate and an annual driving test. Follow Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations even when they are not necessary. This helps ensure that you meet or exceed all requirements should you ever be audited. Run a Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) with every background check and have drivers self-report any accidents, travel violations, or law enforcement incidents. Organize annual reviews and evaluate the performance of your drivers. Expectations and concerns should be clearly defined at this stage. Have all drivers take a company-designed road test and familiarize themselves with delivery vehicles before moving inventory. Ask drivers to read and sign a no cell phone policy. Offer an incentive or reward program to encourage and promote safe driving. Frequent training programs

Equipping your drivers with training is one of the most valuable steps you can take. Your fleet manager or safety supervisor can set up a driver coaching program to help your drivers deal with risky behaviors like using the phone while driving, distractions that can cause a lane change dangerous and aggressive behaviors like following too closely and speeding.

Consistent training in safety practices and technologies is something insurers look for when evaluating a fleet. Under Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMSCA) regulations, novice drivers must be trained on hours of service and fatigue, driver qualifications, health and welfare, and whistleblower protection.

You can help minimize these main risks by creating a training program for new and experienced drivers:

Driver fatigue Distracted driving Driving under the influence Lack of maintenance of equipment Inexperienced driving

Drivers are effectively alone when they are in the field. To keep safe driving practices in mind after a training program, develop a safe driving policy that requires your drivers to review and sign it annually.

Modern security tools

As vehicle technology evolves, so do the tools that help your drivers mitigate risk and stay behind the wheel. Dash cameras, for example, can help provide liability protection and even help you coach and train your drivers. Single or dual-sided cameras can continuously analyze road conditions ahead, and dual-sided dash cams can also monitor facial movement and help minimize driving distraction with an alert or warning .

Technology offers a unique opportunity to keep your efforts proactive. Advanced technologies can allow you to examine data and generate actionable insights to help drivers improve efficiency, safety – and manage liability risks – while on the road.

In addition to electronic logging devices (ELDs), the following vehicle security tools could help bolster your security efforts:

Telematics Collision avoidance technology Lane change sensors Automated steering assistance Adaptive cruise control On-board cameras

An anti-distraction app can also be helpful. It can disable the driver’s smartphone when the vehicle speed exceeds preset limits. It can also track mileage and monitor driver’s driving activities.

Stay safe on the road

The road can be an unpredictable place. Training, documentation and a safety-focused approach are important day-to-day defenses to help keep your greenhouse business – and your bottom line – from being seriously impacted. It’s also a good idea to review your commercial auto insurance coverages at least once a year and speak with a local expert to tailor a plan specific to your business.

By recognizing the risks and applying simple safety strategies, you can help protect your business, your drivers and others on the road.

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Traci Dooley is National Agency Sales Manager for Hortica, a Sentry Insurance Group brand. See all author stories here.

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