Managing delivery and driving risks for your greenhouse business

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

Are your drivers able to get your produce from the greenhouse to the customer without incident? Delivery drivers face challenges every day when they are on the road, such as: B. 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 a significant risk, including your reputation. It is your company’s external physical connection between product and customer. And if you haven’t taken the appropriate measures to emphasize driver safety, your business could face bigger problems, including lawsuits and nuclear judgments.

Control your risk

Organizations that prioritize safety procedures, rigorous hiring practices, and modern training programs can help mitigate financial risk and manage insurance costs.

Businesses are more often forced to contend with spikes in nuclear convictions — typically exceeding $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 have exceeded $100 million.

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The causes of accidents involved in judgment range from bad weather and inexperienced drivers to distracted driving and not following a formal safety program.

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

Strong hiring practices

The pandemic has transformed the hiring process and hiring pool, making it tempting to hire anyone willing to work — especially when you need someone right now. However, lax hiring standards come with their own risks – and choosing a delivery driver should not be taken lightly.

From interview to hiring requirements, create a clear and formal hiring policy. In the event of an accident or potential litigation, companies that can demonstrate a detailed history of thorough hiring practices, carefully followed corrective actions, and data retention schedules often fare much better than those that don’t.

Here are some best practices to get you started:

Dedicate a section of your application to driver safety. Emphasize your priority for a strong culture of safe driving to all applicants. Consult a legal expert to review your company’s recruiting and hiring processes to ensure they comply with state and federal laws. Keep a file for each driver with logbooks, test certificates, a medical certificate and an annual driving test. Follow Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations, even where they are not required. This helps ensure you meet or exceed all requirements if you are ever audited. Conduct a motor vehicle report (MVR) at every background check and require drivers to self-report accidents, traffic violations, or incidents with law enforcement. Conduct annual reviews and evaluate the performance of your drivers. Expectations and concerns should be clearly defined at this point. Have all drivers pass a company-designed road test and become familiar with the delivery vehicles before moving stock. Ask drivers to read and sign a policy prohibiting cell phone use. Offer an incentive or rewards program to encourage and promote safe driving. Frequent training programs

Training your drivers is one of the most valuable steps you can take. Your fleet manager or safety officer can implement a driver coaching program to help your drivers address risky behaviors like using the phone behind the wheel, distractions that can cause unsafe lane departures, and aggressive behaviors like tailgating and speeding.

Rigorous training in safety practices and technology is something insurers look for when evaluating a fleet. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association (FMSCA) regulations require novice drivers to be trained on hours and fatigue, driver qualifications, health and well-being, and whistleblower protection.

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

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

Drivers are practically on their own when out in the field. To keep track of good driving practices after a training program, develop a safe driving policy that requires your drivers to review and sign off on an annual basis.

Modern security tools

As vehicle technology evolves, so do the tools that help your drivers reduce risk and stay safe behind the wheel. For example, dash cams can help protect against liability and even help you coach and educate your drivers. Single or dual sided cameras can continuously analyze road conditions ahead of you, and dual sided dashcams can also monitor facial movement and help minimize distracted driving with an alarm or warning.

Technology offers a unique opportunity to keep your efforts proactive. Advanced technologies can enable you to review data and gain actionable insights to help drivers improve their efficiency, safety and manage liability risks when on the road.

In addition to electronic logging devices (ELDs), the following vehicle safety tools can help you increase your safety efforts:

Telematics Collision avoidance technology Lane change sensors Automated steering assistance Adaptive cruise control Onboard cameras

An anti-distraction app can also be helpful. It can disable a driver’s smartphone if the vehicle’s speed exceeds preset limits. It can also track mileage and monitor driver activity behind the wheel.

Stay safe

The street can be an unpredictable place. Training, documentation and a safety-centric approach are important daily defenses to prevent your greenhouse business – and your bottom line – from suffering serious losses. It’s also a good idea to review your commercial auto insurance coverage at least once a year and speak to a local expert to create a plan that’s specific to your business.

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

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Traci Dooley is National Agency Sales Director for Hortica, a Sentry Insurance Group brand. All author stories can be found here.


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