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Truckload Carriers Association Announces Grand Prize Winners of 36th Annual National Fleet Safety Awards: Rocha Transportation and Bison Transport
Trucking companies were selected from 18 finalists for their superior safety programs
At last night’s Annual Awards Banquet, part of the Truckload Carriers Association’s (TCA) convention at the Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, Florida, TCA announced the grand prize winners of its highly coveted National Fleet Safety Awards, sponsored by Great West Casualty Company. Rocha Transportation of Ceres, California, won the award for truckload companies in the small carrier division (total annual mileage of less than 25 million miles), while Bison Transport of Winnipeg, Manitoba, won in the category for truckload companies in the large carrier division (total annual mileage of 25 million or more miles).
The 36th annual awards were accepted by Corrie Toste, corporate secretary for Rocha Transportation, and Rob Penner, vice president for Bison Transport. Another recognition ceremony will take place during TCA’s upcoming Safety & Security Division Annual Meeting, to be held May 20-22, 2012, at the Embassy Suites Norman - Hotel & Conference Center in Norman, Oklahoma.
“Each year, the trucking industry makes great strides toward improving its safety record. It takes companies who are dedicated to trying new technologies and implementing the latest safety strategies—like these grand prize winners—to make that happen,” said Chris Burruss, TCA’s president.
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.
Rocha Transportation has put much time and effort into devising its current safety program. The annual plan is updated quarterly and details all safety-related goals and objectives, names of responsible parties, and task completion dates. To evaluate the effectiveness of the program, management studies the company’s accident frequency ratios, average claim amounts, insurance premiums, and other safety statistics. Everyone, including each driver, is made aware of the costs of accidents and how each accident affects the entire operation.
Rocha’s management does not hesitate to spend money if it will improve and enhance the program. Funds have been budgeted for a $100,000+ driver training simulator, which manufacturers have said is unprecedented for a company of Rocha’s size. Last year, the company trained or retrained all of its drivers in defensive driving techniques. Another major expenditure is a Safety Celebration event held annually at a local amusement park, which provides an opportunity to congratulate each safe employee and remind everyone that such activities are only possible because of each driver’s commitment to safe operating practices.
When searching for new drivers, Rocha looks for “team players.” Prospective drivers must demonstrate that they are willing to be accountable for their actions and can learn from their mistakes. “Teflon people, or those who have a ready excuse for everything and [for whom] nothing sticks, need not apply here,” says the company. Once hired, drivers are thoroughly trained and equipped with the tools that can help them meet company expectations. A newly implemented “dash-boarding” process allows Rocha to identify driver productivity, efficiency, and profitability. Management will soon begin meeting with each driver twice per year to review dash-board results; additional training will be provided as necessary.
Another notable aspect of the company’s safety program is its management philosophy which treats all employees as equals. The company does not believe in hierarchies. “We check our egos at the door. We understand that success comes in ‘cans’– we know it can be done and also know it can be done better. We are a work in progress,” was written in its award application.
For several years, the essence of Bison Transport’s safety program has been captured in its mantra, “You’re Safe With Me.” This year, the theme was expanded for an internal campaign, “You’re Safe With Me Because…,” which constantly reminds employees of the company’s safety values and raises awareness about the importance of their actions. At Bison Transport, everyone is held accountable, from management to drivers, and each member of the team is expected to share the company’s safety priorities.
In exchange, Bison Transport provides its people with the best possible compensation and tools to foster a safe working environment. For example, drivers receive interactive, customized training that is tailored to their specific equipment and experience level. New drivers in training receive a salary rather than payment by the mile so they can focus on learning safe practices rather than worrying about meeting a specific mileage goal. Drivers who are safe on the roads are given numerous incentives to stay that way; in fact, Bison spends more than 30% of its actual accident costs to reward and encourage its drivers.
When it comes to maintenance, Bison’s detailed computer program tracks every piece of equipment, whether owned, leased, rented, or exchanged with another carrier. It alerts technicians when repairs, service, or inspections are due, so company equipment is always in excellent working condition and drivers experience few on-road breakdowns. Owner operators must provide monthly maintenance reports showing what work was performed on their vehicle, and Bison technicians can request their own inspection if they feel it is warranted.
Bison Transport’s safety strategy appears to be paying off. It holds the highest safety rating available from the U.S. Department of Transportation. As safety increased, accident costs decreased 32% in 2010 and an additional 17% in 2011. The company enjoys a high driver retention rate of 73% and for a third time has been named a TCA Best Fleet to Drive For, an honor that stems from driver nominations and general overall satisfaction with a carrier.
According to Bison Transport’s grand prize application, “Being the safest fleet in North America is not the goal… it is an outcome. The goal is that each of our people makes it home safely to their families every single time. Our culture is evident throughout our business. We don’t just talk about [safety], we live it!”
The judging process for TCA’s National Fleet Safety Awards began with the determination of the top companies in each of six mileage-based 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 in the contest, all grand prize finalists were audited by independent auditors not affiliated with TCA or the carrier.
Below are the names of the 2011 top divisional winners based on low accident frequency ratios per million miles. Companies are listed according to the order that they placed within each category.
Division I Winners (Less than 5 million miles)
Division II Winners (5-14.99 million miles)
Division III Winners (15-24.99 million miles)
Division IV Winners (25-49.99 million miles)
Division V Winners (50-99.99 million miles)
Division VI Winners (100 million or more miles)