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Communication gets results

April 12, 2018
TCA’s upcoming safety and security meeting a must-attend

“How many people do you speak to in a given week, and what are those conversations typically about?” I was recently asked that question, and the short answer is there is no true number. I communicate a lot through emails, since I can typically pace myself in terms of answering, yet the problem with communicating electronically is that you can get a bit lost in the shuffle. This usually leads me to the inevitable voice conversations, and I can then address the issue and communicate my interpretations much more clearly. Getting involved in several different discussions on a weekly, daily, or even hourly basis will sum up what those conversations are about. 

The person-to-person contact has become the most valuable tool in any association’s tool box, which is why meetings such as TCA’s upcoming Safety and Security Division event in Norfolk, VA, in June should be on just about every reader’s must-attend list. Narcissistic­ally, I would tell you that there is no better place to have a conversation with me than at this event, but the harsh reality (actually, the slap-in-the-face fact) is that being part of this meeting allows you the opportunity to cavort with your trucking industry peers who, believe it or not, are experiencing the same problems.

Having problems with ELDs? Guess what? Most attendees are dealing with similar issues. So, rather than just  focusing on the problems, why not try and bring about opportunities as well? And what better way to help shape forthcoming regulations than to use data generated by an ELD design based on diligently crafted specifications from the Federal Motor Carrier Administration? In other words, safety meetings should not be viewed as gripe sessions but as opportunities to work within the framework of an existing rule and use a tool prescribed by the agency that would aid in helping to make future rules more sensible.

How do we know this? By talking and using our words to constantly communicate. Because of ELDs, the prospect of new, sensible and flexible hours of service (HOS) rules can no longer be viewed as a pipe dream; in fact, active users of these tools must now insist that we have rules that make sense. We should no longer be operating in a manner that can only be described as antiquated. We must step into the next generation of HOS regulations that make delivering freight sane, safe, and beneficial to the schedules that our drivers are complying with.

Conversations at TCA’s safety meeting won’t be limited to improved sleeper berth flexibility either. Think about the advancements in training practices that will be shared based on the recently generated big data. We as an industry have an opportunity to create better and safer drivers at a time when our industry truly needs them. Driver resources are limited, so the data generated by onboard recording devices can better prepare our narrow pool of drivers by providing them with the tools to aid them in their efforts.

Confining those conversations strictly to HOS regulations may actually prove our shortsightedness as well. ELDs and their corresponding millions of data points can translate into information that we may never have seen. Truck parking and weather-related driving are just the tip of the iceberg.  Sure, the speed limiter rule was pulled back from the regulatory docket, but one of the benefits of an ELD is that you can track speed—an advantage that surely the proactive members of TCA will expound on and retrain drivers to further capitalize on their safety investment.

When it comes to safety, there are no secrets—and that will also hold true at our upcoming event in Norfolk. While we extol the virtues of truly great technological advancements that will improve a driver’s safety performance, we will also be sharing information on gimmicks that are only equal to snake oil or products that never really deliver on the promises made to this industry. That knowledge makes the fraternity of safety personnel one that has been valued time and again.

While you may be reading this article in April, you will have plenty of time to become part of the conversation that helps make your fleet safer.

See you in June.

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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