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MANAGING RISK: Down The Road

The bottom line is the particulars of routes and individual deliveries can vary greatly and drivers should be prepared for every type of assignment they receive. “People don’t think about everything they might encounter,” Pianko says. “Driving conditions can vary greatly from day to day.”

One of the top claims PLM receives is accidents caused by delivery vehicles backing up at job sites. Pianko recommends the occasional ride-along as an alternative—whether with an owner, manager, dispatcher or more experienced driver—receiving a refresher course on what to expect and what to look out for is always helpful. Another set of trained eyes might help point out factors a trained driver might be oblivious to.

Some dealers are using GPS as a safety tool. It allows managers to track how quickly a driver might have made a delivery and if they were exceeding speed limits based on how quickly the driver made it from point A to point B. If the delivery was made more quickly than posted speed limits, chances are they were breaking the speed limit.

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Distractions

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, to date 12 states prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving and 44 states ban text messaging for all drivers. But that doesn’t mean the laws are stopping people from talking on their phone or texting while behind the wheel—both are still rampant dangers on the road.

In the latest figures from Distraction. gov, the official U.S. Government website for distracted driving, the number of people injured in motor vehicle accidents involving a distracted driver increased 9% to 421,000 in 2012 from 387,000 in 2011. The number of people killed decreased slightly from 3,360 in 2011 to 3,328 in 2012, according to the government site.

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“No matter how safe of a driver you are, if you are answering texts or phone calls, that’s when accidents happen,” West says, noting that roughly 50% of the auto claims that come through Federated’s doors stem from distracted drivers. And distracted driving doesn’t always mean a cell phone was in use— it occurs when changing the radio, eating fast food or both simultaneously while driving.

“We’ve seen people who were shaving or reading books,” West says.

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