Schneider’s Osterberg lauded with a first-ever safety award

Don Osterberg, senior vice president of safety, driver training & security for Schneider National is the recipient of the first-ever Distinguished Safety Leadership Award from the Truck Safety Coalition, a partnership between Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers

Don Osterberg, senior vice president of safety, driver training & security for Schneider National is the recipient of the first-ever Distinguished Safety Leadership Award from the Truck Safety Coalition, a partnership between Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT).

The award presentation was made last week at the opening ceremonies of the Sleep Apnea & Trucking Conference, in Baltimore, MD. The conference is organized by the American Sleep Apnea Association and is co-sponsored by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) with support from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

“Don has always pushed the industry envelope when it comes to safety on our nation’s highways,” said Jeff Burns, a board member of both PATT and CRASH and National Transportation Counsel for the Truck Safety Coalition. “Don doesn’t just talk about truck safety. He pursues it with a vengeance and follows up with persistent reassessment and improvement, with the ultimate goal of saving lives…. We've never recognized a trucking industry executive in this way before," he said. "I hope it's a watershed [in relations between the advocacy groups and trucking]."

"I believe there is a quiet majority in trucking who recognize that this could represent the dawning of a new era of collaboration and civility between organizations that have often been at odds with one another," Osterberg said. “I am optimistic we could be taking this in a new direction.”

FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro, also attending the event, said "There's a strong commitment to safety in the trucking industry. And there's a strong commitment to safety among the safety coalitions. It's a matter of listening for that common ground. But I also think it takes real leaders [like] Don Osterberg."

During his tenure at Schneider, Osterberg has led many initiatives designed to ensure the highest levels of safety for the motoring public and company drivers, including the installation of speed governors on all company truck engines, placement of electronic onboard recorders in all trucks and the screening of all drivers for sleep apnea. In a recent interview with FleetOwner, Osterberg talked about the company’s work to address driver fatigue.

“Back in 2003 when I took over accountability for safety at Schneider, the focus was on reducing crash severity by reducing crash frequency,” he said. “I decided then that we needed to understand the ‘anatomy’ of a high-severity crash in order to get at its root causes.

“It turned out that fatigue was involved in a high percentage of severe crashes, but it was not being directly studied and addressed,” he continued. “We stepped up, however, because the problem was too serious to avoid. There was no roadmap for us to follow, so we’ve made our own, which we are very willing to share.”

Osterberg’s insistence on taking action, his focus on results, and his willingness to share the benefits of the company’s hard work helped to earn him the unprecedented safety award from a citizens’ action group-- more noted in the past for its criticism of trucking than for its praise.

“I have long viewed myself as a public safety advocate, and I am honored to receive this recognition from the Truck Safety Coalition,” said Osterberg. “Through collaboration, we can work toward the goal of zero fatalities and serious injuries. I am privileged to work for a company with a core value of safety first and always. Our commitment supports a proactive approach to safety leadership.”

The award presentation was made last week at the opening ceremonies of the Sleep Apnea & Trucking Conference, in Baltimore, MD. The conference is organized by the American Sleep Apnea Association and is co-sponsored by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) with support from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

Headquartered in Green Bay, WI. Schneider National has provided transportation and logistics solutions for 75 years. The fleet was also recently honored by FleetOwner as its 2010 Green Fleet of the Year.

TAGS: News Safety
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