At Dupré Logistics, visionary thinking is nothing new—it’s one of the first things you run across as part of the company’s mantra and branding, where Dupré presents itself as “always forward thinking.” And this fuel, crude oil and hazmat hauler’s vision is to be the safest transportation and logistics provider in North America.
That’s certainly a lofty goal, but it’s not fluff: Dupré has been taking real action and working to achieve the highest possible safety for quite some time. In 2006, for example, the company moved to an electronic driver log system because it ensured drivers were operating by the rules. “The dispatcher can only dispatch drivers when they can legally and safely operate when you have electronic logs,” noted Al Lacombe, who started working for Dupré in 1982 as a driver himself.
Today, he’s vice president of safety and risk management at the company, which employs about 1,000 drivers and operates close to 600 trucks. And while Dupré also provides dedicated logistics services, the hazardous nature of much of the company’s business demands attention to drivers’ well-being and constant vigilance against fatigue.
That’s also nothing new at the company. Lacombe told Fleet Owner it was around the turn of the millennium that Dupré decided to do more to address driver fatigue. The carrier brought in a company that had worked with the railroad and airline industries to perform an analysis and devise a fatigue management program that Dupré then implemented.
Dupré drivers also work schedules designed to help them recharge; that might be five days on, two days off, five days on, three days off.
Lacombe said Dupré stresses to drivers that as that time off ticks down, it’s important to get prepared properly for the job ahead. And it’s not just how long you’ve been working that matters when it comes to fatigue, he pointed out, it’s also how long you’ve been out of bed.
“You personally, as a professional truck driver, when you reach for the handle of that truck, you have to ask yourself, ‘Am I mentally and physically prepared to go out in this commercial vehicle?’” Lacombe explained the responsibility of commercial drivers. “We do expect you to do what we hired and trained you to do—every day, every shift, every mile,” he added.
At the same time, the company is also realistic about the demands and responsibilities of being a professional driver. Dupré fosters an open-door policy where drivers can let management know if they’re having problems with their shift or making their runs. “We encourage it—we try to drive that home that we’re there for them,” Lacombe said. “We encourage them to come in, and let’s talk about it.”
“We also tell them, ‘You’ve got to remember, this is your obligation and this is what the job description calls for. If you need help, we’ll help you get it right, but you’ve got to be able to get out there and perform,’” Lacombe said.
For its proactive focus on safety and combating fatigue and emphasis on what’s best for drivers, indeed, Dupré has come up several times over the years as a finalist for Fleet Owner’s Fleet of the Year Awards. This year changes that, and we’re recognizing the company’s longtime and consistent efforts by naming Dupré Logistics our Vocational Fleet of the Year.