The Truckload Carriers Association announced the grand prize winners of its 34th Annual National Fleet Safety Awards: Erb International Inc. of New Hamburg, Ontario, and Roehl Transport of Marshfield, Wis.

Erb International won the award for companies with a total annual mileage under 25 million miles, and Roehl Transport won in the category for over 25 million miles.

TCA presented the awards to Wendell Erb, general manager of Erb International Inc., and Rick Roehl, president and chief operating officer for Roehl Transport, during TCA's annual convention this week in Las Vegas. Both companies will be recognized a second time during TCA's upcoming Safety & Security Division Annual Meeting, to be held May 16-18 in Kansas City, Mo.

The two grand prize winners were selected from among 18 division winners in the National Fleet Safety Division Awards announced in January. To win the 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.

Erb International Inc.

For Erb, its commitment to safety begins with open and frequent communication. Besides traditional communications methods, such as newsletters, a magazine, and staff meetings, all levels of Erb's management team use a "walk-about" management style. Leaders, including the general manager and president, interact frequently with staff and drivers, demonstrating their accessibility to, and interest in, all employees. This style of leadership encourages communication on all issues, including safety concerns, and reflects a true open-door policy.

A comprehensive Safety Management Program (SMP) is in place, which defines the corporate safety culture and covers all aspects of the carrier's operations. The SMP includes standards manuals, an emergency response plan, providing immediate feedback on potential safety risks, defined expectations for all personnel, training programs, and support resources.

Erb's Pro-Drive Program is a driver performance monitoring and incentive program. Electronic onboard recorders are used to measure the driver's speed, hard-braking, idle time, routing, and mileage. These measures are then benchmarked according to company and best practice standards and shared with the drivers on a monthly basis. The goal is to instill best driving behaviors, which reduce a driver's accident risk, creates financial savings, and rewards a driver based on high performance. Those who do not meet the minimum company benchmarks (above average industry standards) receive further evaluation, training, and corrective action. Annual recognition is given to top performing drivers, owner-operators, and terminals. Incentives are also given for drivers who remain injury- and accident-free.

Roehl Transport

This is the second consecutive year that Roehl Transport has been honored with the grand prize award the National Fleet Safety Awards' large carrier division.

The company has worked hard to build a corporate culture that is based foremost on safety, as opposed to traditional corporate values. While many trucking companies provide "defensive driving" courses to their drivers, Roehl's driving system, called "The Roehl Way," is billed as "protective driving." Each driver accepts responsibility for others who share the highway. Drivers are asked to think of the motoring public not as "four-wheelers," a term which depersonalizes the people in the cars that surround Roehl's trucks, but as "14," which is the number of parents, children, relatives, friends, and loved ones who die each day in accidents with commercial motor vehicles.

The company provides its drivers with ongoing safety and job skills training, while non-drivers are educated through Roehl's Transportation Business Academy. Drivers receive extensive training that is divided into two segments lasting 10-13 days each and a third segment lasting six weeks, with time home with family in between.

Fleet managers play a vital role in maintaining and strengthening the company's safety culture. They are given traditional classroom training, but also participate in an innovative "call coaching" program that empowers them to have effective conversations with drivers about safety.
Roehl's core safety values seem to be paying off for the company, which has been consistently ranked as the safest large carrier (for U.S. miles only) through the Department of Transportation's SafeStat reporting system.

The judging process for TCA's National Fleet Safety Awards began with the determination of the top companies in each of six mileage divisions. The division winners (listed below) were selected based on accident frequency only. The top three winners in each division were then able to compete for the two grand prizes. The grand prize-winning companies were judged on their excellent overall safety programs, both on- and off-highway. During the judging, some of the factors considered included safety program organization, employee driver/independent contractor selection procedures, training, supervision, accident investigation, inspection and maintenance of equipment, and outside activities, including general highway safety. In an effort to ensure the highest level of integrity to the contest, all grand prize finalists were audited by independent auditors not affiliated with TCA or the carrier.

The following companies are the top divisional winners based on low accident frequency per million miles (listed first through third place):

Division I - Under 5 Million Miles
Specialty Transport, Inc., Knoxville, Tenn.
PAF Transportation Inc., Scarborough, Maine
Frerichs Freight Lines, Inc., Belleville, Ill.

Division II - 5-14.99 Million Miles
Davis Transport, Inc., Missoula, Mont.
Refrigerated Food Express Inc. / RFX Specialized Division, Avon, Mass.
AAT Carriers, Inc., Chattanooga, Tenn.

Division III - 15-24.99 Million Miles
Erb International Inc., New Hamburg, Ontario
Nationwide Express, Inc., Shelbyville, Tenn.
Ace Doran Hauling & Rigging, Cincinnati, Ohio

Division IV - 25-49.99 Million Miles
MacKinnon Transport Inc., Guelph, Ontario
Kennesaw Transportation, White, Ga.
Freymiller, Inc., Oklahoma City, Okla.

Division V - 50-99.99 Million Miles
Carter Express, Inc., Anderson, Ind.
Earl L. Henderson Trucking Co. Inc., Salem, Ill.
NFI, Cherry Hill, N.J.

Division VI - 100+ Million Miles
Bison Transport Inc., Winnipeg, Manitoba
Gordon Trucking, Inc., Pacific, Wash.
Roehl Transport, Inc., Marshfield, Wis.