November 2019

ATRI President Brewster Shares Critical Trends and More with attendees at the AssuredPartners Transportation vertical Symposium.

Among all the operating costs facing motor carriers and drivers these days, insurance premiums rank fourth led by fuel, vehicle purchasing and leasing and repair & maintenance.

These statistics were presented recently by American Trucking Research Institute (ATRI) president Rebecca Brewster to insurance executives attending AssuredPartners Transportation vertical (APT) third-annual Transportation Symposium in Orlando.

Event puts trucking’s thought leaders together

Providing a forum for great dialogue and the exchange of ideas, APT’s Transportation Symposium held October 23 and 24 offered several insurance-premium-influencing discussion topics covering issues relevant to fleet owners, drivers and their insurers. Two break-out topics of great interest were Post-Accident Responses and Drivers, Training and Management – The Impact to All of Us. Both of these sessions were well attended; which is not surprising considering that following best practices in these areas can influence insurance premiums in a positive way.

Top trends and operational issues revealed

ATRI’s Brewster presented mid-afternoon and no one was dozing – or at least they shouldn’t have been considering the wealth of statistics and insights she shared with both vendor sponsors and APT’s nation-wide team of affiliates and group leaders.

Presenting ATRI’s annual trends report Brewster noted the following Top 10 Trucking Industry trends:

  1. Driver Shortage (1)

  2. Hours-of-Service (2)

  3. Driver Compensation (new)

  4. Detention / Delay at Customer Facilities (new)

  5. Truck Parking (5)

  6. Driver Retention (3)

  7. ELD Mandate (4)

  8. CSA (6)

  9. Transportation Infrastructure /Congestion / Funding (8)

  10. Economy (10)

The list reveals the trend’s current rankings and the relative position they held last year. It’s clear the 10 are familiar but ATRI study shows two new ones jumped on the list for the first time: Driver Compensation (now considered an outstanding issue of concern in its own right not under retention) and driver Detention.

Drivers concerns and carrier concerns don’t match necessarily

Although particular inclusions and rankings differ between carrier and drivers, many concerns span both or influence the priorities of one group as opposed to the other, and fall along professional, personal, safety and financial concerns that have the most relevance to each. Number one for drivers: Compensation. Number one for fleet owners: Driver retention … perhaps these two are related.

Interestingly “Autonomous trucks” is the number 10 issue/trend for drivers these days even though it’s likely many of those surveyed will be retired before the technology would have even the remotest chance of kicking them out of the cab.

Costs of doing business … safely

As noted, out of total vehicle (non-driver related) operating costs, insurance premiums ranked fourth preceded by fuel, vehicle purchasing and leasing and repair & maintenance. Thinking about it a bit more deeply, managing those first three aspects of trucking operations carefully and to industry best practice can help make commercial trucking insurance premium rates more manageable and affordable. Here’s a few snap-shots:

Managing fuel costs; choosing routes carefully and controlling truck speeds consistently to assist fuel economy – both affect insurance premium calculations.

Vehicle purchasing costs; purchasing a rig for the best balance of safety and economy and reliability – all of those influence insurance premium calculations for the better.

Repair & maintenance costs; every safety inspection passed, every breakdown on the road avoided, every mile passed safely and efficiently – all will serve to keep insurance premiums at # 4 on the hit list or below.

Driver behaviors: Key insights into the crash prone

Brewster’s briefing covered most of the trucking industry’s most pressing issues and challenges. ATRI’s annual study offers a wealth of information and insights and the 2019 report does not disappoint. Among the more compelling statistics offered were the Top 10 Crash Predictor Behaviors.

Top 10 Crash Predictor Behaviors

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Given that the symposium was intended to provide insurance executives with fresh insight into better ways to indemnify risk – not only to serve their own interests but explore how to keep commercial trucking insurance premiums sustainable and affordable for everyone across trucking’s great spectrum of business.

For both driver and fleet operator the above list represents behaviours that really seem to cut to the chase when it comes to controlling insurance premium costs, that is cutting the number of crashes. According to a recent and very informal poll, there is a direct correlation between the number of crashes one can have in one’s truck and the size and rate of growth of the number of one’s insurance premium quote.

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It’s on you and your drivers

Whether its your personal driving record or the driving records of the operators your planning to hire, this pedigree has everything to do with the affordability of insurance.

Certainly any realist understands that the very nature of trucking can pepper a good experienced driver with a few black marks on his or her record over time. That’s common sense; it’s also common sense to recognize that when these kinds of behaviors begin to mount these negative driving behaviors can increase both the possibility and probability of a crash and subsequently poor law-enforcement and operating cost outcomes.

That’s right, women are safer

The late British crooner Robert Palmer covered a reggae song that declared “That’s right, women are smarter …” Many agree he was on to something. Apparently, as it turns out, women are also smarter when it comes to driving their trucks safely: According to ATRI study female drivers are safer than males in every statistically significant behavior and that at the end of the day men were involved in 20% more crashes than women. Want more from ATRI’s study? Visit https://truckingresearch.org/

Bob Tales