The trucking industry may be missing opportunities to reduce the cost of accidents by millions of dollars. That’s the message Luann Dunkerley, CEI’s manager of business development for truck fleet services, told a gathering of private truck fleet executives in Jacksonville, Fla., last week.
Dunkerley made the remarks at a meeting of the National Private Truck Council Institute’s safety committee. A veteran of the trucking industry Dunkerley was named to the Institute’s board of governors last year.
Even among the most advanced truck fleets, a significant percentage of collision repair expenses aren’t traced to documented accidents. “A number of fleets don’t track incidents for small damages, but they can add up to a big number,” Dunkerley said, citing the example of one major fleet that doesn’t track damages below $325.
According to figures released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, in 2009 property damage-only collisions cost commercial vehicle operators $5 billion, or about $15,000 per accident. “You can’t manage what you don’t measure,” she said.
Dunkerley said that keeping cumulative records of minor damage, like broken mirrors or cracked bumpers, could alert fleet managers to change to equipment more resistant to damage.
Other challenges to accident cost control that truck fleets face include:
- Assigning repairs to distant collision repair shops with whom the carrier rarely does business. “Those shops don’t know you, and don’t always provide the best service,” she said. The result can be longer repair times, higher costs to rent replacement vehicles, low-quality repairs and “surprise supplements” for costly repairs not covered in initial estimates.
- Failure to pursue recovery for damages caused by at-fault third-party divers. While nearly 75 percent of all truck crashes are caused by other drivers, the daily urgency of running a truck fleet often keeps staff from vigorously pursuing collections from at-fault drivers. “Truck fleets need to begin the recovery demand process immediately after an accident, and continue pursuing it until they collect,” said Dunkerley. “Our experience shows that you can collect more than 90 per of what you’re due on well-documented claims in as little as three weeks to three months.”
Dunkerley suggested that outsourcing to third-party companies that specialize in accident management, with formalized reporting procedures, managed repair networks and dedicated loss recovery departments, is a potential solution to staff-strapped trucking fleets.
The National Private Truck Council is the trade organization of private motor carrier fleets, which account for more than 2 million, or 82 percent of the medium- and heavy-duty trucks registered in the United Sates.
Philadelphia-based CEI is a provider of technology-enhanced vehicle accident, driver safety and fleet risk management services. Its provider network consists of some 4,000 collision repair shops in North America, and includes nearly 900 truck collision repair centers. Customers include self-insured, commercial, institutional and government fleets, directly and through alliances with fleet leasing companies. CEI also provides vehicle direct repair program outsourcing to property and casualty insurance companies.