Trucking is already in the top 10 of most dangerous jobs in the U.S. on a normal day. However, when you add extreme weather to the task, the likelihood of disaster is increased exponentially. The Army taught me how to analyze risks and I'd like to see more of it in our industry. The job has to be done, but there are ways to reduce the risks to an acceptable level. In non-emergency situations, if the risks cannot be reduced to an acceptable level, the job cannot be done at that time under those conditions.
Consider the following risks before heading out in a blinding snow storm or freezing rain.
- Death or injury
- Towing and Recovery costs
- Legal matters
- Increased insurance rates
- Unfavorable safety measurement data (SMS within FMCSA)
No load is worth someone's life.
I spoke with my friend Kevin Yates, who is a Heavy Vehicle Recovery Specialist and I asked him to ballpark the rates for pulling an 18-wheeler out of the ditch. For a simple winch out, the rates would be $350 to $3,000 depending on the severity. The cost for a roll-over recovery would be between $8,000 and $40,000 depending on severity. This doesn't even include a haz-mat spill. The freight charge for your load won't begin to pay for these costs. The freight itself may not be worth the cost of the recovery.
There are attorneys out there who specialize in going after trucking companies exclusively. They would love nothing more than to represent a plaintiff against you or your carrier and attempt to gain every dollar that they can. I can't even begin to put a price tag on that.
Insurance is one of the top 5 expenses that I have to pay in my business. A costly crash would dramatically affect my rates in such a way that it would become unaffordable and thus, I could not stay in business.
A crash would negatively impact a carrier's FMCSA safety data. This is a blemish on a carrier's profile and will affect them for years to come. Even crashes where the carrier isn't at fault have a negative influence on a carrier's CSA score.
I understand that there are trucking operations in heavy snow regions and that there are companies transporting very critical freight, like food, fuel and medical supplies. However, for the majority of us, I think the world can wait for that load of INSERT YOUR CHOICE OF NON-CRITICAL FREIGHT HERE until the roads are clear enough for safe travel.