Scott Arves is the president of the transportation sector for Schneider National, Inc., the largest truckload and intermodal carrier in North America. In this position, he has bottom-line responsibility for six divisions: Van, Dedicated, Expedited Services, Bulk Carriers and Specialized Carriers.
Like many other members of the industry, Arves and others at Schneider are actively working to help change the general public's image of trucks and trucking. For example, Schneider recently teamed with ATA to produce a public service announcement designed to help educate the public about sharing the road safely with heavy-duty trucks. According to Arves, the announcement was sent to more than 400 TV stations nationwide.
FLEET OWNER had the opportunity to learn more from Arves about Schneider National's own safety programs:
How would you describe the public's perception of the truck operator today?
Many in the motoring public perceive the average truck driver not as a hardworking professional with a family, but as an over-tired, stressed-out “maniac” with little regard for human life or property. The realities, however, are drastically different-75% of car-truck accidents are caused by the actions of the motorist, yet the negative stereotype of the truck driver has been hard for the industry to shake. It will take time, but work is being done every day to correct those unfavorable perceptions.
How is safety viewed at Schneider?
At Schneider, we start with a belief that everyone in the company owns safety, not just the drivers and frontline leaders, but every associate in the company. Nothing we do is worth injuring ourselves or anyone else. That means the sales force doesn't sell business that might compromise safety. The customer service, dispatch and operations groups put safety first in everything they do and the drivers use their professional discretion to assess the safety of their loads.
Does this safety focus extend to driver recruiting and hiring as well?
Safety initiatives at Schneider begin before a driver is even hired. We conduct multi-step interviews and thorough background checks of each candidate to help ensure that only the best attend our state-certified Schneider Driver Training Academies. Our pre-screening and background checks are more stringent than DOT requirements and we hire just a small fraction of those who apply as drivers.
FO: Does Schneider also provide in-house driver training for new and/or experienced drivers?
Schneider Driver Training Academies around the country provide an opportunity to train new and experienced drivers from the ground up. Candidates complete a proven, multi-step program of classroom instruction plus individual and on-highway training that we believe produces some of the best and safest drivers in industry. All students are tested upon completion of the training before they are allowed to drive on their own, and we provide remedial training to those who have acquired any undesirable driving habits within their first 30 days behind the wheel.
Is there driver training beyond the comprehensive program for new hires?
Continuous improvement is a commitment at Schneider. Our Spring Training focuses on reviewing key safety procedures and our Winter Training program focuses on driving safely throughout the winter season. We also pay special attention to preventing personal injuries while getting in or out of the truck or disconnecting the fifth wheel.
How do you deal with safety-related problems if they occur?
Dedicated managers at each Operating Center are accountable for managing accidents, injuries, cargo claims and theft prevention. These managers compile local trend analyses relating to safety in their markets, provide input to driver trainers and serve as mentors for the drivers stationed at their Centers. They are also responsible for intervening as necessary to help make sure that individual drivers receive the training they need to improve.
As an industry, are we making progress in the area of highway safety?
Safety programs like Schneider's and those at other fleets are having the desired impact. According to the ATA, fatalities involving large trucks fell 3.8% for the most recent reporting period. Changing public perception about the industry's commitment to safety will take time, but it can be done if we all do our part, every day with every driver, one mile at a time.