Eds TransportSponsored by Ryder | TEN TIPS

1. Screen new drivers before hiring. Hiring qualified drivers is the key to a safe, successful fleet. During the interview process, ask the right questions, check Motor Vehicle Records and accident histories, screen applicants using the CSA Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP), run criminal background checks and conduct pre-hire drug/alcohol testing.

2. Encourage safety from day one with driver orientation and training. Well-trained drivers can better handle the daily challenges of transporting cargo. While on-boarding new drivers, educate them on driving skills and your policies, processes and safety focus. Ongoing training improves the entire driver pool’s skills while improving retention.

3. Map out routes to avoid high-risk roads and intersections. Some intersections and turns are simply fundamentally unsafe. Researching and compiling information on the locations of crashes can highlight which routes should be avoided when designing routes.

4. Recognize and reward outstanding driver performance. Publicly recognizing and rewarding high performers is an effective way to improve performance — and save you money. The safest fleets are also the most economical because they have lower repair, maintenance and insurance costs.

5. Invest in a regular schedule of preventive maintenance. In addition to preventing costly FMCSA penalties, CSA interventions and downtime, a well-maintained fleet can help prevent defects that lead to crashes. Case in point: a vehicle with worn brakes is more likely to be involved in a crash than one whose brakes are checked regularly. An effective schedule of preventive maintenance includes checking and repairing pre- and post-trip and at every fuel stop.

6. Keep drivers from falling asleep at the wheel. Driver fatigue is a leading contributor to large-truck crashes, impairing response time to hazards. The FMCSA recommends that drivers get enough sleep every night, maintain a healthy diet, take naps when feeling drowsy, avoid medications that induce drowsiness, recognize the signs of drowsiness and avoid alertness tricks to stay awake.

7. Get drivers on the road to better health. National Institute of Health statistics show that more than half of all truck drivers are obese and 87% have hypertension. Poor driver health goes hand in hand with driver fatigue. Ways to improve driver health include annual physicals, company-sponsored health programs and incentives rewarding healthy behaviors and on-the-job exercise.

8. Use onboard technology to accelerate safety. By transforming ordinary trucks into connected trucks, you can identify good drivers, risky drivers and training opportunities. Telematics combines an onboard computer, wireless communications and GPS to provide a birds-eye view of vehicles and drivers when they’re on the road — actionable information that can be used to identify problems and drive safety.

9. Weatherize your fleet for the elements. Make sure drivers are prepared for the worst road conditions — winter snowstorms, heavy rain or fierce winds. Proactive weather-related actions include standard inspections, preventive maintenance, driver training and vehicle preparation.

10. Stay on top of CSA safety scores. The new Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) measurement system gathers and evaluates safety and compliance data from transportation providers to make interventions in how transportation companies, enforcement agencies and other parties behave. Get familiar with the top violations and take steps to avoid them — through written procedures, pre-trip