Defining Hazards and Risks for Motor Carriers

Risk refers to the uncertainty that a financial loss may occur. Each day, motor carriers deal with operational risks such as untimely traffic delays, rejected loads, and escalating fuel costs, to name a few. These uncertainties, or business risks, have the potential to cause a financial loss.

One goal motor carriers share is to generate more revenue than expenses, but many truckers operate at a small profit margin. This means any loss can be bad for the company’s sustainability, and there is nothing more frustrating than a preventable loss. For this reason, motor carriers should have a plan to try to eliminate or reduce the possibility of preventable losses. There are a number of ways this could be accomplished, such as avoiding a risk altogether, transferring the risk to another party (i.e., insurance), or eliminating hazards. A hazard is anything that could increase the likelihood of a loss, such as a slip hazard on the shop floor or speeding in a construction zone.

In the graphic below, you can see how one risk like a rear-end crash can have multiple hazards present at any given time. The more hazards you can eliminate, the less likely a rear-end crash may occur.


In the transportation industry, a great deal of focus is on safety and regulatory compliance. This is a good thing but does not address all of the risks motor carriers are facing. Being safety-minded has its limitations. Motor carriers should embrace the concept of Enterprise Risk Management (ERM). ERM approaches loss prevention holistically, by helping motor carriers evaluate their entire organization and identify the risks that affect their company as a whole. By expanding the scope of its vision, a motor carrier may be better positioned to identify risks, analyze the hazards that increase the risk of a loss, and then develop a strategy to avoid, eliminate, or minimize the risk.


  • Identify the risks affecting your company. 
  • Analyze each risk and any hazards that could increase the likelihood of a loss. 
  • Take corrective actions to avoid, eliminate, or minimize the identified risks. 
  • Communicate hazards immediately to affected employees.

The information in this article is provided as a courtesy of Great West Casualty Company and is part of the Value-Driven® Company program. Value-Driven Company was created to help educate and inform insureds so they can make better decisions, build a culture that values safety, and manage risk more effectively. To see what additional resources Great West Casualty Company can provide for its insureds, please contact your safety representative, or click below to find an agent. 

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This material is intended to be a broad overview of the subject matter and is provided for informational purposes only. Great West Casualty Company does not provide legal advice to its insureds, nor does it advise insureds on employment-related issues. Therefore, the subject matter is not intended to serve as legal or employment advice for any issue(s) that may arise in the operations of its insureds. Legal advice should always be sought from the insured’s legal counsel. Great West Casualty Company shall have neither liability nor responsibility to any person or entity with respect to any loss, action, or inaction alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the information contained herein.