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Roehl Transport, Inc., Wins One of Two Grand Prizes in TCA’s 34th Annual National Fleet Safety Awards

Prestigious competition recognizes Wisconsin carrier for its stellar safety program

Las Vegas, Nevada:

Photo:  Patrick Kuehl, Kevin Burch, and Tom WittThe Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and Great West Casualty Company are pleased to announce that Roehl Transport, Inc., of Marshfield, Wisconsin, has been named the grand prize winner of TCA's 34th National Fleet Safety Awards for the category of truckload companies with total annual mileage of 25 million or more miles.

The highly coveted award was presented to Rick Roehl, president and chief operating officer of Roehl Transport, Inc., at the Annual Banquet and Awards Dinner held March 2, 2010, at the Wynn Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada. The company will be recognized a second time during TCA’s upcoming Safety & Security Division Annual Meeting, to be held May 16-18, 2010, in Kansas City, Missouri.

The other grand prize winner, Erb International Inc., of New Hamburg, Ontario, won in the category of truckload companies with total annual mileage of less than 25 million miles.

The two grand prize winners were selected from among 18 division winners in the National Fleet Safety 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.

This is the second consecutive year that Roehl Transport has been honored with the grand prize in the National Fleet Safety Awards’ large carrier division. That’s because nothing—not a hot load, customer request, an approaching deadline, or even on-time service—trumps safety at Roehl.

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. This training focuses on everything from the basics, to learning how to handle freight and trip-planning, to specialized training from a fleet manager coach. Non-drivers learn about interpersonal relations, leadership, problem-solving, and conflict resolution.

In particular, 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. If a complaint is received, management reviews the recorded telephone conversations that occurred between the driver and his manager regarding the incident. The goal is to help fleet managers work the concepts and language of The Roehl Way into real life situations that happened in the driver’s life. Managers are coached to discuss values and appropriate protective driving techniques with the driver. They are encouraged to have the driver reflect on what happened and what the consequences could have been. The objective is to teach the manager how to help the driver find solutions to the issue that caused the complaint.

Managers are then asked to assess whether a driver has "bought in" to the importance of the situation. If, after reviewing the call, managers are not convinced of this, a follow-up conversation occurs with the driver. It is common and acceptable for a coach manager to spend two or more hours in response to a single driving complaint. Call coaching is also employed when a compliment is received: in addition to saying "good job," managers are coached to talk about values, protecting lives, and driving with integrity when they discuss positive reports with drivers.

Roehl’s core safety values seem to be paying off for the company. The Department of Transportation’s SafeStat reporting system consistently ranks Roehl as the safest large carrier in the United States, and its safety record in Canada (not tracked by the SafeStat system) is also exemplary.

The judging process for the National Fleet Safety Awards began with the determination of the top companies in each of six mileage-based 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. In an effort to ensure the highest level of integrity in the contest, all grand prize finalists were audited by independent auditors not affiliated with TCA or any of the carriers.

"The reputation of the trucking industry is built upon safety, and this year’s Grand Prize winners have spared no expense building safety programs that are second to none," said Chris Burruss, TCA’s president. "We are proud and pleased to recognize them for their tremendous accomplishments."