An exploratory survey of Australian organisations that operate fleets of heavy freight vehicles was undertaken to identify differences in management characteristics between those that have good safety records compared with those that have poorer safety records, using vehicle insurance claim rates as a proxy for safety. Fifty organisations that operate heavy vehicles and had either low or higher recent claim rates completed a questionnaire. These included various industry sectors, such as local government councils, utility companies, and freight transport companies. The questionnaire asked about the participants’ use of a wide range of safety management practices relevant to heavy vehicle drivers. The results showed that despite controlling for fleet size, companies with larger fleets had poorer claim rates. The results also suggested that higher claimers relied more on setting criteria and rules for vehicles and drivers, than low claimers. Low claimers seemed to focus more strongly on proactive risk assessment, and that drivers are paid for time worked and consulted on safety issues. A number of the findings were counterintuitive. For example, higher claimers more often than low claimers reported that they did more checking during recruitment, had more policies and some accreditation as well as doing more in-vehicle monitoring. The study showed that there are safety management characteristics that distinguish between good and poorer safety performers but that further research must assess both the use and quality of the safety management practices implemented. © 2014.