Safety, front and center

Nov. 10, 2014
Contest provides opportunity to learn from others

TCA has a spot as part of the Dave Nemo show on Sirius/XM radio called Load ’em up, and Move ’em out.  The spot airs bi-monthly and every so often I have the opportunity to provide my industry “expertise” as part of the show.  And at the risk of tooting my own horn, I think I have a face for radio! On that note, we recently did a show that announced and highlighted the opening of  TCA’s fleet safety contest and what fleets can learn from those that enter this contest.  I was thinking about this after the show and I came up with the common denominator—TCA membership.

Now, I don’t want to be that guy who uses this column to preach membership in an ever-growing organization that puts educational needs and member-driven policy first and foremost (insert shameless plug here).  I do, though, want to be that guy who speaks about TCA membership in the very sense that I preach about a fraternity of people with common interests that take every opportunity to share thoughts and information on how to improve their safety bottom line.  Our members, much like many trucking association members, believe that safe performance of their drivers on the roadways is a responsibility, not a requirement. While we highlight the winners of our contest at center stage, the winners themselves take any and every opportunity to work with those in the industry on how to improve themselves.

In a nutshell, our fleet safety program, much like the programs conducted by each state trucking association, begins with each carrier reporting its fleet vehicle accident ratios based upon 1 million mi. traveled annually.  We place them into categories to accurately rank them against fleets of like size so that exposure to risk can also be somewhat similar. What starts to make these contests interesting is the data and information gleaned from the very start. 

At the onset of the contest, I look to derive a truckload standard of accidents per million miles, which I continually track year after year. As an aside, TCA members have been trending downwards.  Even more interesting are the nominations for the grand prize that we receive from our carriers that place in the top three in each division. The data-rich nominations allow for carriers to report on how their safe operations work and what is involved in making them safer. The common theme that seems to be shared among all applicants is the people. It is their people who make them safer, their drivers who operate safer, and their employees who come up with ideas to maintain the company’s safe performance and culture. 

These award-winning carriers operate with the knowledge that their best assets are the people who work for them. They leave no stone unturned when it comes to soliciting ideas to create a better safety environment and believe that every idea, big or small, deserves equal consideration when it comes to making them a safer carrier.

In other words, they instill the belief that everyone can make the company safer on the highway regardless of whether they are driving or not—and that very idea is paying off center stage.

David Heller, CDS, is director of safety and policy for the Truckload Carriers Assn.  He is responsible for interpreting and communicating industry-related regulations and legislation to the membership of TCA. Send comments to [email protected].

About the Author

David Heller

David Heller is the senior vice president of safety and government affairs for the Truckload Carriers Association. Heller has worked for TCA since 2005, initially as director of safety, and most recently as the VP of government affairs. Before that, he spent seven years as manager of safety programs for American Trucking Associations.

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