Executives at U.S. trucking companies likely ask this question to themselves and their teams on a very regular basis. While there is no cookie-cutter answer and no proverbial silver bullet, there are clear strategies that have worked for many companies. As recently as 2019, safety researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) performed case studies on nine different motor carriers to determine the strategies they used to significantly improve safety within their fleets. The safety improvements included:

  • Fewer DOT recordable crashes
  • Less severe crashes
  • Reduced insurance claims
  • Improved CSA BASIC scores.

The three carriers with the most significant improvements in safety outcomes all communicated that a “strong safety culturein their organization was the primary reason.

Here are a few of the most common strategies VTTI identified:

Vehicle People Environment Management Culture
Automatic emergency braking Pre-employment screening program Post visible safety pledge signs Use non-monetary safety awards & monetary safety bonuses
Lane departure warning Require previous driving experience Plan routes for 45 mph average Frequent safety communications
Blind spot detection On-the-job training for all drivers Mandate stops in bad weather Positive, non-confrontational coaching sessions

STC believes that a great deal more than “safety culture” can be gleaned from these carrier case studies. We encourage trucking executives and safety directors to read the Effective Strategies to Improve Safety – Case Studies of Commercial Motor Carrier Safety Advancement report.

Since its publication in 2019, the report has been downloaded only 1,000 times, which is a shame. The more trucking companies that read and learn from it, the safer the industry will be.