Study Near Misses for Enhanced Insight Into Fleet Safety

The trucking industry is the backbone of commerce, yet it is fraught with risks. Safety is not just a regulatory requirement but a moral imperative. While statistics on collisions are readily available and easy to comprehend, the silent guardians of our roads—the near misses—often escape scrutiny. Though not resulting in harm, these incidents contain a treasure trove of valuable lessons. They are the whispers of potential danger that, if heeded, can transform fleet safety practices. The expanded discussion surrounding close calls on the road underscores the criticality of recognizing and learning from the near misses that professional drivers experience daily.

Measuring Near Misses:
Traditionally, collision rates have served as the gold standard for safety measurement. However, too much focus on tangible outcomes overlooks the latent potential for disaster inherent in near misses. These events, often dismissed as non-issues, are, in fact, goldmines of information. They expose cracks in fleet safety programs that, if left unaddressed, could lead to catastrophic outcomes. By carefully studying these events, we can develop robust controls combatting vulnerabilities in our safety systems.

Luck Recognized:
The acknowledgment of luck in high-risk professions like trucking is not a sign of weakness but an admission of the unpredictable nature of the open road. Recognizing luck’s role does not undermine the skill or preparedness of our professional drivers; instead, it highlights the myriad uncontrollable factors they face daily. Integrating luck into safety conversations encourages a mindset of continuous improvement and a commitment to excellence, acknowledging that even the most seasoned professionals can benefit from the review of seemingly fortuitous circumstances.

Sharper Risk Awareness:
Understanding the element of luck in our daily tasks sharpens our perception of risk. Instead of merely reacting to dangers, we anticipate and preempt them. Heightened awareness surrounding near-miss events drives a relentless quest for improvement, pushing us to dissect every narrow escape and extract lessons that augment our safety program’s already robust control systems.

Promoting a Safety-First Culture:
Having open and frank conversations about the role of luck in avoiding collisions cultivates an environment where experiences are shared, and vigilance is collected. It fosters a community where every member actively safeguards each other, where stories of ‘what could have been’ become the catalysts for ‘what can be done better.’

For the trucking industry to progress, its leaders must pivot from a reactive stance on collisions to a proactive stance on near misses. Embracing the role of luck in avoiding collisions paves the way for a culture that prioritizes continuous learning and risk mitigation. It is a call to steer the industry towards a future where luck is not a crutch but a companion in our journey towards uncompromised safety.

Jamie Beaudoin is a trucking health and safety specialist. He has been involved in the industry for 12 years in various capacities. He started as a driver and worked his way through the ranks. Currently works as a freelance consultant assisting companies in improving safety culture and regulatory compliance. He is currently pursuing his BCRSP designation. James Beaudoin Trucking Health and Safety Specialist