Fleetowner 4626 Va Transportation2

Keys to success

Nov. 10, 2014
The latest in communications and vehicles are delivering safety

Established in 1994, Rhode Island-based Virginia Transportation Corp. has grown from a single-truck operation into a nationwide automobile carrier with 187 company-owned vehicles based at locations in Rhode Island, Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina, and Alabama. The company’s customers include automobile manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and car dealerships throughout the U.S. and Canada.

“Our drivers are very proud and independent,” says Deanna D. dela Cruz, safety & compliance manager at Virginia Transportation Corp.  “They work hard every day to deliver vehicles safely, with zero damage, and in a timely manner. At the same time, we’re continually working to improve safety by encouraging open communication and by recognizing areas that need improvement.”

Communication is but one area that Virginia Transportation uses to improve its safety culture.

“Communicating with drivers and expressing the importance of individual responsibility for safety fosters a better understanding of how it affects them directly, as well as the company as a whole, and it empowers them to continually improve,” dela Cruz states. “For example, everything we do has a relationship to CSA scores, so we make that information available to drivers and show them how they have an impact on performance.

“We stress hours-of-service rules as well,” dela Cruz continues. “This year, we enabled PeopleNet’s electronic driver logs solution. Beyond streamlining HOS reporting, eDriver logs help drivers focus on HOS by testing their knowledge of the latest rules. Whether a driver didn’t have to make changes in driving practices or had to adjust, the solution is a great all-around tool for compliance and education.”

It’s especially important for auto haulers to be able to rely on equipment, dela Cruz relates, which is why Virginia Transportation only has tractors that are less than three years old. Among the models in the fleet are Western Stars and Peterbilts. Also standard are Cottrell Trailers with soft tie-down systems that meet the requirements of new vehicle manufacturers and provide the fleet with options for quick loading and unloading of different load sizes and configurations.

“We are also making things easier for our drivers by providing mobile tablets so they have real-time communication with our dispatch and service teams,” dela Cruz says. “On the device, through the PeopleNet communications solution, they can access and exchange information with our soon-to-be-implemented enterprise management software from TMW Systems about routes and loads, as well as have signature-capture capabilities for proof of delivery. Once the TMW software is installed, it will ensure compliance with driver qualification requirements by maintaining updated CDL and medical card information, and by not allowing a driver to be dispatched unless all of the paperwork is in order.

“This range of technology, software, and related devices helps us continually improve service, quality, and performance,” dela Cruz adds. “[And with] the upcoming ELD mandate, we want to be able to review performance and improve operating efficiency prior to when electronic logging devices will be required.”

According to publicly available data on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration SAFER website, Virginia Transportation is experiencing vehicle and driver out-of-service rates that are well below the national average. Specifically, during the two years prior to mid-September of this year, the auto hauler was subjected to 125 vehicle inspections, which resulted in a 9.6% out-of-service rate compared to a U.S. national average for the same period of 20.72%. Driver inspections also resulted in fewer violations than the national average.

For Virginia Transportation, dela Cruz notes, the latest technologies and continual improvement efforts are paying off as well in a very low 10% driver turnover rate, adding up to a safer, more efficient operation.

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