5 top tips on ensuring cargo safety

According to recent statistics, truck hijacking has cost South Africa over R3 billion in the past year. This not only affects the trucking companies, but also the businesses that sent or were meant to receive the goods involved in the hijacking. This places cargo safety top of mind to most transporters and consumers who rely on their goods being transported.

However, when it comes to the safety precautions that are used in transport, older, more basic safety measures aren’t as effective anymore. Criminals are continuously getting better at doing what they do best, making the protection of different companies’ livelihood much more difficult.

While no cargo or package being transported is completely immune to the risk of theft, for transport companies, there are ways to reduce your exposure to dangerous scenarios with the following tips:

1. Develop a company culture of security

Firstly, ensure that the people you employ are trustworthy.

Where permitted, include background investigations and drug screenings when you hire employees to join your business. Conduct mandatory security and ethics training, so employees know what to look for and how to report suspicious events.

As long as your drivers are trustworthy, you already eliminate one of the possibilities of the occurrence of theft, and you have more peace of mind when sending a delivery out.

2. Pick-up and delivery protocols

If your protocols and procedures are efficient, the delivery process should be smooth sailing.

Make sure that drivers are always properly identified and that they know exactly where and when they need to deliver their loads. It’s also important for them to know exactly who the person is they should be dealing with when delivering the goods.

This tie backs to the previous point as well—employ people who can be trusted. If they know the exact details of where they should be going, there’s no possibility of miscommunication causing goods to go missing or damage to the cargo.

3. Keep moving

The longer a loaded trailer or container sits unattended, the higher the risk for theft.

Thieves prefer not to confront a driver, so they will look for times when a truck is unattended. Make sure drivers are clear on trip planning. This includes identifying fuel stops, locations to layover and safe, monitored rest stops.

Instruct drivers to wait until they’ve travelled at least 300 kilometres before they stop, unless there’s an emergency. Some thieves will follow trucks until the drivers stop, waiting for a moment when they might leave the truck unattended. However, the chances of someone following a truck for 300-plus kilometres is less likely.

4. Put together a security plan

In the case of an emergency, or if you know the cargo is travelling into a dangerous area, put together a security plan.

In high crime areas, for instance, you might identify alternate routes or transportation modes. It’s also important to have an emergency plan or security feature in the vehicle for the driver to activate if they realize that they’re in a dangerous situation.

5. Do the basics properly

Most importantly, do the basics. And do them right. Here are a few basic procedures that all transport businesses should ensure are in place:

  • Teach and equip drivers to be aware of their surroundings and to stay alert while driving or stopping to rest.
  • Educate them on hijacking hotspots and high-risk areas.
  • Use vehicle security cameras and/ or software. With new advancements in data storage and Wi-Fi, mobile video surveillance is now more accessible than ever to small and large fleet operators alike. These surveillance cameras can corroborate and help better ensure cargo safety.

By following these top 5 tips on ensuring the your cargo safety, you and your clients can rest assured that you have followed all possible safety measures for their shipments. There’s no way of ensuring that theft won’t ever happen, but these tips are at least the foundation of a business’s attempt to not become part of the country’s alarming hijacking statistics.