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Monday, July 30, 2012

Defining Safety In The Trucking World

Today’s feature is a guest post by Jeff Head. He makes some very good points and observations about the current “safety culture” training practiced by most trucking companies and what the “effectiveness” of this training is in the real world of a professional truck driver. Thanks for the piece, Jeff and a link to his Facebook page follows if you would like to friend him.
Today's Thoughts By Jeff Head 7/28/12 Defining Safety In The Trucking World

"You be safe now" I hear once again as I turn and walk out the door. A pleasant way to say good-bye to someone but I think that if I hear that just one more time, I'm going to scream. It's not that I do not believe in being safe out here in my big truck. No, that’s not it. It is the fact that no matter how many times I am told that particular phrase, some clown comes along and dang near kills me and them and everyone else around. Guessing no one told "them" to be safe as they turned and walked out the door today.
So, what is safe or maybe, the question should be how do you teach someone to be safe? Can you force safe thinking upon some one? Any trucker worth their salt can tell you that the FMCSA thinks they can sit up there behind a desk and regulate safety by makeing new regulation after new regulation. However, even after all their hard, well-intentioned work; people are still dying out here on the highways. We all know the crazy stuff we see from all kinds of drivers as they interact with each other out here in the real world.
Well, as you may have guessed by now, I have my opinion as to what makes a safe driver. It is something that I picked up from a business article I read somewhere years ago. You can teach and you can preach a job or in this case, safe driving to drivers until their eyes roll back in their heads and all you will accomplish is making them fall asleep in class. It will do absolutely no good at all unless they as an individual want to do the job or be a safe driver. You can force people into many things, but if their heart is not into it, they will simply go through the motions and the outcome will never be the same as a person that has dedicated him or herself to the job at hand.
This is why many believe that there should be a certain criteria as to who can become a truck driver. And why many believe that the FMCSA themselves are actually doing more harm than good with their relentless never-ending regulation after regulation trying to solve the problem. Even companies that give repeated safety class after repeated safety class if you watch as you sit through them, will have drivers that have seen this same out dated material for years, just sitting there rolling their eyes and wishing they were back out there on the road making some miles.
Nope, the way I see it you can educate and regulate until the sun goes down every day. But unless you can figure out how to make people want to be a safer driver, I mean really straight from their heart make it their passion in life to be safe, all we will end up with is a bunch of drivers going through the motions of being safe. They will simply say or do whatever it takes at the moment to get them through and then walk out the door and do what it takes to get the job done.
The answer to all this is realize that with so many different drivers out here, there has to be many different avenues to reach them. To make them actually want to be safe. Some will respond to the heavy handed repeated reminders from safety classes and over regulation. Other will just roll their eyes to these tactics and go about life in their own way. Continued lectures will only serve to make them reject the classes and come to the understanding that they are being treated in a disrespectful way. That their time and effort out on the highway for so many years means nothing to anyone.
I think recognition from the powers that be would work better. These drivers need to know, that after showing years of safe driving; that their efforts have been noticed and appreciated. This I think would work better than sitting them in a class with a person that just entered the industry learning their ABC's like a big dummy once again. I see this as disrespectful and humiliating. Let their time and efforts over the years be put up in a place of honor and you will find that in their hearts, they will want to be a safer driver. That drivers from all categories will have a goal to work for as they gain years in the industry, a standard that they can be proud to meet and a want within themselves to be a safer driver.
Only the want to do the job, to be safe will create a safer environment out on the highway. Keep beating these drivers down and that want will never come.

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