Like many other industries, shipping, trucking, and delivery are increasingly going small scale, with independent operations serving to support big names like Amazon. In fact, nearly half of Amazon’s packages are delivered by local fleets, despite the fact that Amazon controls nearly every detail, down to the uniforms – and they’re hardly the only company reliant on such services. It’s good news for small operators, but as a recent Buzzfeed expose revealed, one with significant hazards for both drivers and others on the road.
For small trucking companies seeking to grow their business, partnering with major distribution networks can be profitable and help build name recognition, but it also comes with immense responsibility. From training to insurance and accident management, trucking and delivery businesses need to make safety a top priority at every level.
When it comes to insurance liability, trucking and delivery companies face double-jeopardy; injured employees can bring personal injury suits for on-the-job accidents caused by corporate negligence, while outsiders injured by careless drivers can also make a case. That means trucking and delivery companies need top notch insurance that can cover any situation. This is especially important if your company operates tractor trailers, as accidents involving large trucks can be especially dangerous to other motorists.
Monitor Drive Time.
One of the most common causes of trucking accidents is driver fatigue, in which drivers either operate for too many consecutive hours or don’t get enough rest and off-road time between shifts – and it happens all the time. In fact, the trucking industry often mandates this kind of driving in order to meet deadlines, since there aren’t enough truckers, but the issue can also impact smaller services.
At peak times such as during the holiday season, delivery drivers operating out of local warehouses may be overloaded with packages day after day, meaning arriving early and staying on the job late to complete deliveries. This cumulative fatigue, along with rushing to complete orders, means drivers are more likely to behave recklessly. Small trucking and delivery services need to carefully monitor how long drivers are behind the wheel to prevent fatigue. It may also be worth investing in technology that can detect distracted or fatigued driving.
Package delivery services typically have no choice but to be on the road during peak times, since deliveries are expected to arrive during the day, but whenever possible, it’s a good idea to operate at off-peak times or use less heavily trafficked roads. Since trucks have larger blind spots than smaller vehicles, it’s much easier for them to be involved in accidents. Using cameras and sensor technology can help, but that’s an expensive strategy for a problem that can be solved by slightly adjusting when and where your drivers operate.
Pay Attention To Pedestrians.
While it may be dangerous for smaller vehicles to navigate around large trucks, when it comes to pedestrian safety, it’s delivery vehicles that represent the biggest risks. That’s because these vehicles are more likely to operate on city streets, to double-park, or to block crosswalks. They also tend to overemphasize efficiency, so while many delivery services avoid left-turns whenever possible, smaller operations will always take a left turn to shave minutes off of delivery time.
Knowing this, delivery services that really want to set themselves apart can do so by prioritizing safety – specifically pedestrian safety in promoting their services. Amazon found itself under a lot of pressure after news broke that its last mile delivery services had been involved in pedestrian deaths and now other companies are on high alert in an attempt to avoid similar bad publicity.
Now is the perfect moment for small operators looking to change the face of delivery by putting people above packages and safety above speed. Consumers may be anxious for quicker delivery, but with so many people providing that service via the gig economy, they know that speed comes at a human cost.