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C.R. England: A long family legacy of trucking safety

Sept. 29, 2023
With modern technology, the FleetOwner 500 carrier still stands by its mantra, 'We commit to be safe and on time, every time.' Over a century after its founding, 104-year-old Gene England is still sharing his safety legacy with the family-run carrier.

It happens twice a week at C.R. England’s headquarters in Salt Lake City. G.E. “Gene” England makes his way through the lobby of the company to pay a visit to those working at the family-owned business, now in its fourth generation. What’s especially noteworthy: Gene is 104 years old—one year older than when the company itself was founded by his father, C.R.

“We all light up when we see him,” said Colin England, C.R. England’s director of accident prevention and Gene’s grandson. “He means so much to this company. And, when it comes to safety, his legacy stands tall. He drove more than 5 million safe miles. All our drivers know his name and legacy as they aspire to join the Gene England Million Miler Club.”

With more than 4,000 power units, C.R. England (No. 34 on the FleetOwner 500: For-Hire) has stood the test of time. It runs refrigerated and general freight in a national operation. “And we do it as safely as we can,” Colin England said. “We truly live by our mantra of ‘safe and on-time, every time.’ And we’re dedicated to continual improvement, building off of what we’ve already accomplished. We’ve come close to cutting in half our chargeable accidents per million miles since 2019 and that’s been a game changer for our company while improving highway safety for all.”

See also: How systematic maintenance leads to safer trucks

England said the company has always been a believer in using technology to help its company, and it’s no different when it comes to safety. “Understanding and deploying the right technology is not only a necessity in making our company competitive with our peers, but we also gain the benefit of becoming a safer fleet,” he said. “Drivewyze Safety+ and dash camera technology have been significant contributors towards helping our drivers be safe and effective while on the highways.”

According to England, C.R. England began its relationship with Drivewyze several years ago, using its PreClear weigh station bypass service. “That’s been a great success in saving us time and money, and our drivers love it,” he said. “Then Drivewyze came out with Safety+ and we were quick to adopt that as well. The ability to have configurable, proactive driver notifications for drivers entering risky areas is something I hadn’t seen before, and it’s been a big value add to us. Drivers feel more supported with the notifications—especially new drivers to our company.”

While alerts, such as those for dangerous curves, low bridges, and steep mountain grades have been useful in helping drivers avoid an incident, England said the ability to develop its own custom driver alerts is what sold it. “We use custom alerts in a variety of ways,” he said. “At a customer location in a small town as an example, we were continually nicking our trucks on a building in a tight corridor. We put in a custom alert, so when any driver neared that area, they paid more attention. We haven’t had an incident since.”

Speed is another risk factor when it comes to accidents for fleets, and it’s no different at C.R. England. Data from the Drivewyze hub has shown that a driver who receives a speed violation alert is twice as likely to slow down than one who doesn’t.

“We’re being very proactive in this area as we know speed is a major influencer in accidents,” said England. “Through Drivewyze and our camera system, we have two ways to coach drivers. With Drivewyze we can geo-fence areas of concern and see how individual drivers react. We can grab a screenshot from the Drivewyze hub and show their performance to a driver—it’s a coachable moment. Likewise, with our camera system, we can use video footage and data from our camera system to coach our drivers and help them improve.”

See also: When it comes to safety, follow the BASICs

With its major hub in Salt Lake City, where winter weather can be dicey, C.R. England was also an innovator in creating custom weather alerts.

According to Gerardo Granados, who is part of C.R. England’s safety department management team, bad weather is every fleet’s enemy. “When we started using Safety+, we took advantage of geo-fencing for weather,” he explained. “We began to identify our busiest lanes—providing our own weather alerts for our drivers, taking info from the National Weather Service, and other sources. For example, in Texas, we provided heavy rain alerts to prepare our drivers for incoming weather. The alerts were well received, and the proactive alerts provided ‘foresight’—minimizing risk for our drivers is something we’re always trying to do. Drivers have a tough job with traffic, weather, and delivery windows. Anything we can do to help them, we want to do.”

When C.R. England told Drivewyze what they were doing with weather alerts, Drivewyze put its development team to work on developing a new function of Safety+—adding Severe Weather Alerts to its package. Drivewyze monitors incoming severe weather alerts from a national weather service agency, then geo-fences hazardous areas. “That’s been a great complimentary tool that we use, along with our own custom weather alerts,” Granados added. “Weather can turn on a dime, so the more information we can feed to drivers to prepare them, the better.”

England and his team continue to probe new ways to improve safety and the custom alerts through Safety+ help them do that. For example, they’re looking at adding lane-restriction alerts to help make sure drivers never get caught in the wrong lane which could lead to a citation.

“We’ve done a great job of reducing our accident rate over the past several years,” concluded England. “That’s a credit to the technology we’re using, the drivers and staff we’ve employed, and our company’s culture. We plan to continue that success.”

About the Author

FleetOwner Staff

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