February 21, 2018

How to Improve Safety from the Outside In

By: Steve Vaughn, National Director of Field Operations, HELP Inc.

We’ve all seen it: the highway trooper and the trucker at the side of the road. Popular media depicts the encounter as one between adversaries. Passing passenger car drivers assume the truck driver was certainly at fault for something. The truck driver wants to meet his delivery deadline. The trooper may not recognize this carrier or know its drivers. Everyone is alone with their thoughts.

Alone, however, is not how safety is achieved. Safety requires a group effort. It means motor carriers and law enforcement working together. It means four-wheelers understanding how to drive around trucks. It means truck drivers knowing the rules. Safety is a shared goal, and sharing means communication, education and outreach – long before the trooper and trucker meet at the side of the road. After all, you are safe on the road only if I am, too.

Fortunately, all around the country state trucking associations and their member carriers invest heavily in sharing safety best practices and regulatory knowledge between trucks, enforcement and the public. Efforts like Share the Road and Click It or Ticket shine a light on the importance of safety to everyone using the roads. Every driver has a responsibility to be aware of others on the road and to operate their vehicle, whether a car or a truck, as safely as possible. To that end, many trucking associations employ safety program managers or safety directors, or have members who are dedicated to assisting others to operate safely. These individuals serve as liaisons between the state trucking association and state regulatory and enforcement agencies, while at the same time promoting safety education to truck drivers, fleet maintenance personnel and the general public.

These trucking association efforts are often reciprocated by law enforcement and many motorist groups. State troopers conduct training sessions for carriers and drivers. And you may see troopers judging at truck driving competitions… where they also meet the “best of the best” truck drivers. Local motorist groups and drivers education classes welcome “No Zone” trailers to teach about a truck’s blind spots to new drivers. When groups share a goal – like safety –their individual members benefit.

Which begs the question: are you part of the group effort? Are you a state trucking association member? You may think your operation is too small, or membership dues won’t fit in your current budget, but it only takes one crash or serious incident to realize that thorough understanding on the topic of safety is critical to even the smallest of carriers.

Plus, state trucking associations are actively involved in advocating for the industry on a myriad of subjects including taxation, insurance and regulatory oversight. These groups work hard to benefit trucking companies of all sizes, and member companies provide key voices to the conversations.

There’s a lot of value in being part of an association that establishes relationships with federal, state and local officials. It means you don’t need to drive solo on the road toward improving safety. Tap into the group resources available, and you’re likely to find a positive difference both out on the road and within your organization.

This article was original published by Fleet Owner on February 13,2018. You can read it here.