Speaking From Experience on Safety

Some recent data released by TCAinGauge has revealed, for a couple of reasons, some exciting information. First, by way of background, the Truckload Carriers Association’s industry benchmarking program has been measuring individual company operating data for the truckload sector for well over a decade. Just recently, their new online offering has released data that at one time was held ‘close to the vest’ by the companies that participated in the program. The new anonymous offering has the capability to release some of this valuable benchmark information to the industry.
It is no surprise to me that the numbers reveal a direct correlation between better than average CSA Scores with a better than industry average operating ratio. Simply stated, safer carriers are more profitable companies. Not a big surprise to many of you I’m sure, but for those of you who have been skeptical, the proof is in the numbers.
Just ask the insurance industry and they are going to tell anyone interested that trucking companies with lower turnover have better than average loss claims ratios. Lower claims ratios result in lower insurance premiums. The TCA inGauge numbers also reveal a strong correlation between lower insurance costs to better operating ratios. Also interesting from the data is that there is little effect on the numbers when it is looked at from a fleet size perspective. Once again if you’re a safer fleet, with low CSA scores and few claims, it is quite likely that your bottom line is better than those carriers that do not have a focus on safety. It is also likely that they have turnover that is at the higher end of the scale.
I have an old saying that is appropriate for this situation. “There is nothing as elusive as an obvious fact”. Does it not make sense that the likelihood that a carrier can offer ongoing training and coaching of its drivers when they are experiencing high turnover is almost impossible? Knowing this, does it also not make sense that safety must become a cornerstone value of your company, if it’s not already?
When I ran a carrier, we took a 120% annual turnover rate to 20% per annum and safety was intricate to that success. Our safety department could and did ground any Driver or Owner Operator at any time that they deemed necessary, no matter how important the freight or customer involved. No question, no argument.
This safety effort was supported with a proactive approach to driver training and ongoing education. I recall that we had to do some training on progressive shifting so along with this training, we included a course on advanced defensive driving techniques. We were concerned, to say the least, that our drivers might revolt. We thought they might feel slighted with us telling them how to shift. But in fact we experienced the exact opposite. We had many of them come to us afterwards and thank us for the training.

That experience taught us a valuable lesson that still makes me shake my head today. How dare we think that our drivers might not want to learn and improve themselves in their chosen trade? After we wrapped our heads around this “obvious fact” we all got to work and our safety department designed a program we called the Road Knights Training Program.
This program was completely voluntary and was designed to offer the more experienced driving professional an avenue to be recognized by their peers as the crème de la crème of drivers in North America. Again, this was a totally voluntary program in our company and we saw many of our driving force take advantage of the opportunity of this additional training. After passing through the many layers of the training, they were awarded with the designation of Certified Road Knight and their trucks were decaled appropriately. Participation in these courses and training was done by approximately 20% of our driving force. We had stand-alone terminals that they could use at their own time and pace when they could spare the time. It was great stuff.
We also participated in OTA’s Road Knights program where a couple of our drivers represented the industry at various public and industry related events.

We were supporters of the Truckload Carriers Associations Highway Angels program. This effort was designed to recognize drivers who had gone above and beyond the call of duty in assisting the public. It might be an accident scene or a stranded car in some peril. Members of the public nominate the driver for recognition; they are given a plaque along with local and national media exposure for their deeds. We had what we called the hall of fame at our terminal where these plaques were all displayed. This doesn’t begin to touch the numerous programs we had inside the walls of the building, things such as, Driver and Owner Operator of the month and of the year. We also had a longevity program, safe miles driven program, bursary program, tuition reimbursement, EAP etc.
These are just a couple examples of what can be done to promote and recognize your drivers for their performance and professionalism. Safety and safety training does not have to be a necessary evil if it can be made interesting and enjoyable and it must always be visible in your newsletters and on your bulletin boards. Celebrate loud and proud and remember that “Safety Pays”.

Road Knights



Safe Trucking

Ray J. Haight

About Ray J. Haight

Areas of Focus: Operations, Recruiting & Retention, Human Resources With a career spanning four decades, Ray has been involved in all facets of the North American Trucking Industry.