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Rocha Transportation Wins One of Two Grand Prizes in Truckload Carriers Association’s 33rd Annual National Fleet Safety Awards
Orlando, Florida:

The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) is pleased to announce that Rocha Transportation of Modesto, California, has been named the grand prize winner of its highly coveted 33rd Annual National Fleet Safety Awards for the category of truckload companies with a total annual mileage under 25 million miles.

TCA presented the award to Corrie Toste, corporate secretary for Rocha Transportation, at the Annual Banquet and Awards Dinner held March 10, 2009, at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, Florida. Rocha will be recognized a second time during TCA’s 2009 Safety & Security Division Annual Meeting, May 17-19, 2009, in Louisville, Kentucky.

The other grand prize winner, Roehl Transport, Inc., of Marshfield, Wisconsin, won in the category for truckload companies with a total annual mileage over 25 million miles.

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.

For Rocha Transportation, the basis of an outstanding safety program begins with a total commitment to safety, starting at the highest levels of the company. According to Henry Dirksen, president of Rocha, “The day we stop operating safely is the day that I will shut the doors and we’ll go home.”

This philosophy is carried from senior management to the driver level, where drivers are “fanatical about safety,” according to Rocha’s award application. Drivers have monetary incentives to be safe; they are offered quarterly and annual safety bonuses that can exceed $1,000 annually. They are told from the very first day of employment that an unsafe company does not generate a profit and that their pay will be directly affected by Rocha’s safety record.

“Our drivers understand that the money used to pay claims could be better used to reward their hard work with pay raises and bonuses. … Our drivers have seen their compensation package increased every six months for the past four years and know it’s due to their outstanding safety record. We expect that trend to continue. … We are a safety driven company … because we know that safety pays,” the award application states.

Rocha doesn’t just talk about safety; it is willing to spend money to make sure its drivers have all the tools they need to be safe. In 2008, 2.5% of Rocha’s annual budget – or about $275,000 – was allocated to safety-related activities. The company trains new drivers and retrains existing drivers on a driving simulator and plans to purchase a second one at a cost of $100,000 – a significant safety and training investment for a small company. When a driver does have an accident, the unfortunate experience is turned into a learning tool for future accident prevention. The driver receives counseling and retraining as necessary, and is given a summary of exactly how much the accident cost the company (this eye-opening experience is often humbling to the driver and acts as a future deterrent). Above all, drivers must demonstrate that they have learned from the experience and are not likely to make the same mistake again, or else there’s a good possibility of losing their job.

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 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.

“This year’s winners truly embody the spirit of this award, which is to recognize the safest fleets on the road. Safety doesn’t just happen by chance — it takes a lot of advance planning and hard work. Rocha Transportation and Roehl Transport have worked very hard to achieve their grand prize winner status, and TCA happily recognizes and celebrates this,” said Chris Burruss, TCA’s president.