Sarah Cates has been director of safety at Defiance, Ohio-based Keller Trucking for only three years, but her success in totally transforming the company’s safety culture was a key factor in Heavy Duty Trucking's editors honoring her with the 2023 Safety & Compliance Award.
Sponsored by safety solutions provider J.J. Keller & Associates, the HDT Safety & Compliance Award recognizes safety and compliance executives at trucking fleets for their leadership and innovation. It is open to individuals in leadership positions in areas such as safety, risk management, and human resources.
By focusing on engaging drivers with a behavior-based safety approach, combined with updating and adopting new safety technologies, Cates slashed the company’s crash indicator score to a fraction of what it was.
She spearheaded a move to a new electronic logging device system, implemented driver-facing camera safety systems without losing any drivers, and has accomplished all this during a time of company growth.
Cates is certified in safety by the North American Transportation Management Institute and was named the 2022 Safety Professional of the Year for the Ohio Trucking Association.
In addition, Keller Trucking last year was named the Fleet Safety Award Winner by the the Ohio Trucking Association in the 5 Million to 10 Million Miles Class.
HDT Equipment Editor Jim Park presented Cates with the HDT Safety & Compliance award Friday, Nov. 10, at the Fleet Safety Conference, part of Bobit’s Fleet Forward Conference in Santa Clara, California. The ceremony was followed by a panel discussion featuring Cates and other trucking safety professionals.
Cates will be featured in the November/December 2023 print edition of Heavy Duty Trucking.
The 2023 HDT Safety & Compliance Award Finalists
Other finalists for the award were:
- Frank Chauvette, Transportation Safety Manager, Ocean State Job Lot, North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Chauvette was brought in as a dedicated transportation safety manager and has implemented processes, goals, and technologies that cut its crash rate nearly in half.
- Jaime Hamm, VP of Safety and Compliance, Werner Enterprises, Omaha, Nebraska. Hamm has led the roll-out of in-cab cameras, helped implement driver simulators and a switchover to a new ELD system, and introduced hair testing for drugs.
- John Spiros, VP of Safety & Claims Management, Roehl Transport, Marshfield, Wisconsin. Spiros, who's also serving as a state representative, has for more than 20 years led Roehl's growing safety culture, focused on the root cause of crashes, and "operationalized" safety.
What Makes an HDT Safety & Compliance Award Winner?
Factors considered in determining the winner of the HDT Safety & Compliance Award include:
- Making a difference in a fleet’s safety performance
- Role in company safety culture
- Recent safety initiatives
- FMCSA Safety Measurement System data
- Innovative thinking
- Technology adoption
- Safety processes
- Safety measurement and improvement
- Industry involvement and leadership