Opinion: Driving Accident-Free

 Updated:
8/12/2011 11:30:00 AM

By Susan Chandler
Executive Director
Safety Loss Prevention Management Council
American Trucking Associations

This Opinion piece appears in the Aug. 8 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

On Aug. 9, contestants of the National Truck Driving Championships and National Step Van Driving Championships will be convening in Orlando to begin four intense days of competition. They will be put to task. Nerves will be tested; beads of sweat will form — and not just because of the southern heat.

We say it all the time, but these competitors — 428 of them this year — are exceptional and are worthy of our respect long before they register for the state competitions that begin the journey to national recognition. They and their almost 5,000 driving colleagues who participated in the state and regional competitions have managed — despite congestion, increased freight, tighter deadlines and distracted motorists — to drive accident-free for at least 12 months.

In this case, “accident-free� means just that. It doesn’t matter if it was the truck driver’s fault or not — if he or she was moving and involved in an accident where there was damage or injury, he or she is deemed ineligible. That may seem harsh, but the championship competitors and the motor carriers that support them will tell you that when drivers feel responsible for everyone else on the road it makes them extraordinary defensive drivers. That’s why many of the competing drivers have millions of accident-free miles under their safety belts. They truly are the best of the best.

Everyone is trying to find the silver bullet, that system or technology that will reduce collisions and injuries. With the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, this quest for safety salvation has accelerated. What the best carriers in the industry will tell you is that no system or technology is a substitute for alert, knowledgeable, well-trained professionals who understand and appreciate defensive driving. This is no easy core value, nor is it easily achieved.

Understanding what influences the attitude companies and drivers have toward safety is critical in achieving one’s own safety goals. The best of the best safety professionals will tell you that. For some, competition may be the motivator. For others, it might be incentives. And for still others, it is often recognition and respect.




© 2011, Transport Topics Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

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