Can safety management systems (SMS) reduce workplace hazards for truck drivers? What can workers and their employers do to reduce the risk of transportation-related accidents? SMS systems are in widespread use. It's a broad term that includes GPS, on-board safety systems, fleet tracking software, etc, and also addresses company culture and driver behavior. These systems can track patterns of driver behavior, send alerts when accidents occur, and record critical vehicle data that investigators can use to determine the cause of a large truck accident. However, they don't solve all problems, and drivers can further reduce their risk of an accident by reporting safety violations and filing complaints with regulatory agencies.
The Role of Safety Management Systems
SMS for road transportation is not new. Many have been designed and implemented over the past 100 years. The current guidelines for transportation safety systems address the roles of advanced technology, systems analysis, communications technology, and sociology. The objective of SMS is to reduce suffering and costs associated with accidents and to limit risk exposure through effective management of a company's fleet and personnel.
For instance, many SMS systems can track phone usage while driving. This is crucial, and the FMCSA concluded in 2011 that truck drivers who talked/texted on a mobile device were 23 times more likely to cause a crash. SMS can also address behaviors such as speeding, which in 2018 was a contributing cause in 26% of motor vehicle deaths in the U.S.
Reporting Safety Violations
SMS systems alone won't keep truck drivers safe behind the wheel. Truck drivers and other employees must take an active role in reporting workplace hazards. These individuals can report instances of safety, service, or unsafe vehicle maintenance to the U.S. Department of Transportation. All this requires is calling (888) 368-7238 and providing the required details of the event/situation to trigger an investigation.
It is also possible to file a complaint with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. For example, drivers can report truck companies that coerce them into violating hours-of-service regulations, for falsifying logbooks, violating drug/alcohol testing rules, etc. Individuals should file these reports in writing to the FMCSA's local field office, or online.
Finally, workers can file a whistleblower complaint with the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA). OSHA can investigate claims of retaliation for reporting safety violations, claims of unsafe working conditions, and negligent behaviors of employers.
Contact Brad Pistotnik Law at 1-800-241-BRAD or call us on our local line at 316-684-4400. We help truck drivers injured by negligent trucking companies. Our firm represents clients injured by workplace hazards in Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, or Texas. Day or night, holidays or weekends, we are available to give you the answers you need. You can call Brad Pistotnik on his cell at 316-706-5020. You can reach Tony Atterbury on his cell at 316-617-9237.