Safety & Compliance

TCA Names Winners of National Fleet Safety Award

March 17, 2011

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Brian Kurtz Trucking Ltd., of Breslau, Ontario, and Bison Transport of Winnipeg, Manitoba are the grand prize winners of the Truckload Carriers Association National Fleet Safety Awards.

Brian Kurtz Trucking won the award for truckload companies in the small carrier division (25 million miles or less), and Bison Transport won in the large carrier division (more than 25 million miles).

TCA presented the awards to Brian Kurtz, president of Brian Kurtz Trucking Ltd., and Rob Penner, vice president of operations for Bison Transport, at the association's Annual Awards Banquet held March 15, 2011, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California.

The two grand prize winners were selected from among 18 division winners in the National Fleet Safety Division Awards announced in January. In order to be granted the prestigious grand prize, both companies had to demonstrate that they strive to meet stringent standards in their overall safety programs, on and off the highway, and were judged to be the best in their commitment to improving safety on our nation's highways.

Brian Kurtz Trucking Ltd.

At Brian Kurtz Trucking, safety is paramount. The company employs the latest technology to conduct business safely and efficiently. For example, it uses satellites to track and monitor driver performance data. The numbers are benchmarked against standards it has set along with industry best practices and used as a baseline for acceptable performance. It offers reward programs for drivers who have the best mileage and idle times. Scores are posted in the drivers' room for all to see how each driver ranks against peers. The resulting "safety competition" instills best driving behaviors through rewards for good performance. The company also employs a computer-based log recording system to audit driver logs and an internal reporting system to monitor driver actions (inspections, violations, etc.) over time. The latter builds a profile of individual driver behavior so that corrective action can be taken as necessary prior to an incident.

Brian Kurtz Trucking prides itself on knowing every driver on a first name basis. It is very protective of its employees, providing them with well-maintained equipment and a safe, healthy work environment. Managers and supervisors are held accountable for the health and safety of the workers under their supervision. An open door policy allows drivers to access management virtually any time to discuss concerns. The program thoroughly addresses driver needs, and effective solutions are in place to assist drivers when they experience roadside breakdowns, need a conflict resolved, or require extra training in a specific area.

Drivers must attend semi-annual, mandatory safety meetings designed to continually update them on the latest changes to regulations and policies that affect them. Meeting topics can range from hours of service, to winter driving techniques, to defensive driving, and sometimes feature expert guest speakers who address the assembly on the latest in health and safety issues. Drivers who are unable to attend a meeting are required to attend a one-on-one training session that reviews the content of the general meeting.

Another aspect of the company's successful safety program is comprehensive, preventative maintenance. Each time a driver replies to a message via satellite, a mileage reading is automatically taken and included in the return message by default. This allows for continual tracking of each truck's mileage. Drivers are then advised via satellite when their trucks are due for maintenance. The company offers many preventative maintenance checks for both owner operators and company drivers, and even utilizes a self-contained, mobile "reefer repair unit" that allows technicians to move from trailer to trailer in the yard to perform routine and preventative maintenance on various units.

In 2009, the company's insurance carrier audited its safety program and ranked Brian Kurtz Trucking against other insured carriers as well as industry best practices. It awarded Brian Kurtz Trucking with the highest score ever recorded for a first-time participant. In 2010, the company tied with another carrier for the highest score of any of the insurance company's customer carriers. For the past two years, Brian Kurtz Trucking also was named a TCA Best Fleet to Drive For.

Bison Transport

At Bison Transport, safety and compliance are core values that support the company's mantra, "We Do What Is Right." No matter how difficult the business environment may become, the company refuses to lower its standards. Drivers are well-trained and have full authority to temporarily discontinue a trip if they perceive that weather or health conditions could impair safety. The company states that "everyone understands up front that no load is worth risking the safety of our drivers or those we share the roads with."

Bison drivers enjoy substantial financial rewards based on the sole criteria of safe driving. The amount paid in rewards significantly exceeds the physical cost of accidents in the fleet and increases by the mile as drivers reach each of several milestone levels. A top-level driver with a perfect driving record may earn up to 10% more as a result of the safety program. Besides monetary rewards, incentives such as certificates, pins, plaques, and tractor decals are given to drivers at annual driver achievement celebrations with family and peers. Drivers reaching one million or more safe miles earn special recognition; to date, 12% of the fleet's full-time drivers have reached this category.

The company is very selective about the drivers it hires, choosing only 10% of the applications it receives, with 25% of hires coming through its driver referral program. After meeting stringent pre-hire criteria that include reference checks and a road test, applicants are personally interviewed and given a Driver Development Plan that clearly outlines what will be expected of them. Once hired, the average driver will take seven courses and meet with a safety counselor three times; this provides Bison Transport with an average of ten opportunities to "touch" each driver. Over a period of three years, the company will utilize a risk assessment tool to scientifically identify current and projected risk levels, and will send drivers to additional training as required and work with them to make adjustments in the hopes of preventing possible future accidents.

According to Bison Transport's grand prize application, "Not all of our business decisions are proven out in a standard cost/benefit analysis, as it is very difficult to assign a cost to an accident that you never had. Matters of safety are not treated as simply accounting principles; rather, this is about lives, livelihoods and risk management. We are profitable in conjunction with our employees, contractors and suppliers, not at the expense of them. … We are vigilant in the protection of our people, assets, cargo and those we share the roads with."

This year marks the fourth time that Bison Transport has won a grand prize in TCA's National Fleet Safety Awards - a remarkable achievement. The company has also been listed twice in TCA's Best Fleets to Drive For contest and survey.

2010 Top Divisional Winners

Division I (Less than 5 Million Miles)
Art Pape Transfer, Inc., Dubuque, Iowa
Excargo Services Inc., Houston, Texas
Five Star Trucking Inc., Willoughby, Ohio

Division II (5-14.99 Million Miles)
Brian Kurtz Trucking Ltd., Breslau, Ontario
Stagecoach Cartage & Dist. LP, El Paso, Texas
Diamond Transportation System, Inc., Racine, Wisconsin

Division III (15-24.99 Million Miles)
MacKinnon Transport Inc., Guelph, Ontario
D&D Sexton Inc., Carthage, Missouri
Convoy Systems, L.L.C., Kansas City, Kansas

Division IV (25-49.99 Million Miles)
Kennesaw Transportation, White, Georgia
Sunrise Express Inc., Gra

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