Smithway Motor Xpress, Inc.
Primarily flatbed freight, plus general dry van
Dave Zerbe, director of safety
Iowa-based Smithway Motor Xpress runs approximately 1,200 trucks out of multiple terminals. About 75% of the operation is flatbed. Safety is a top priority here, according to Dave Zerbe, director of safety. “One of the things we're very proud of is the national recognition we've enjoyed over the years for our outstanding safety performance,” he says.
However, accidents happen even in the safest fleets, and when they do, the cost comes right off the bottom line. We are constantly working to reduce those costs and, of course, we hate to see people hurt or equipment or cargo damaged. That is why safety training is so important to us.
“We have some drivers, however, who are on dedicated runs and don't make it to one of our locations very often,” he continues. “Since I can't be everywhere at once, my challenge was to find a way to make training available to all our drivers yet still document the courses that each driver completed. We also wanted a trucking-specific program that was very user and driver friendly.”
Zerbe selected the computer-based program, TREAD-1, from ITI (Instructional Technologies, Inc.), www.tread1.com, this spring. “ITI had the courses we wanted in the interactive format we wanted,” he says. “They also gave us two course delivery options.
“For drivers who can come to a terminal, ITI provided new Apple computers (eMacs), which are perfect for terminal locations because they're so compact and simple to use. The computer and monitor are combined into a single unit; all you need is a mouse and you're ready to go,” he says. “About 40 lessons are available on these computers from Defensive Driving to Backing and Docking and Hours of Service.
“ITI training can also be accessed via the Internet. Ten of the 40 TREAD-1 courses are available through the Pro-TREAD online option now, and more are being added all the time,” Zerbe continues. “This enables us to provide the same safety training for every Smithway driver, even those that are far from one of our locations.
“We ask that all drivers plus safety and operations staff complete at least one class per quarter,” he says, “although they can do as many additional lessons as they like. Some of our people are completing four or five every quarter. We believe safety training is important for everyone, not just our drivers. We use the system for remediation as well, to help individual drivers with specific problems, such as maintaining their logbooks correctly.
“The ITI system also keeps a record of who has completed which courses,” Zerbe adds. “This tracking capability was a must for us. In the short time we have been using TREAD-1 and Pro-TREAD, our accidents and workers comp claims have both decreased. I can't say it is all because of our new training system, but I am sure it has helped. Now I really can be training everywhere at once, 24/7.”