WTI Transport liked winning a prestigious trucking industry safety award so much last year, it went back for a second helping.
Not only did WTI receive recognition for the second consecutive year in the American Trucking Association’s National Truck Safety Contest, it doubled its awards haul. WTI won first place in both the Flatbed/Line Haul Division, Over Ten Million Miles (the category in which it won first place last year) and the Flatbed/Local Division, Unlimited Miles category.
The awards were officially presented at ATA’s Safety, Security and Human Resources National Conference & Exhibition in early November.
“It’s all attributed to our drivers doing their job safely,” said Jem Blair, WTI’s vice president of safety.
WTI operates with about 400 drivers in the Southeast, Midwest, Southwest, and Northeast, and 95 percent of its fleet is on the road every day. Those drivers accumulated nearly 46 million miles last year, and did so with an accident rate of just 0.28 per million miles in 2014, beating not just the national average of 0.35 for the flatbed sector, but also WTI’s own award-winning performance in 2013 of 0.31.
“Our team’s consistent accomplishments bring us great pride to the entire Daseke organization,” said Rendy Taylor, President, WTI Transport. “The Daseke companies have been honored with multiple safety and insurance awards in the past year. Smokey Point, for example, was recognized for its fifth consecutive Platinum Safety Award by Great West Casualty Company. It shows what we’re doing, and the interaction between sister companies in best practices, is paying dividends.”
“Success in safety boils down to culture and the value placed on professional drivers,” said Jeff Davis, vice president of safety at Motor Transport Underwriters (MTU), a Division of Hudson Insurance Group. “Our experience and data shows that WTI and all the operating companies of Daseke focus on providing an environment where keeping its drivers and the motoring public safe is the top priority. Daseke companies as a whole are well below the national average when it comes to accident rates.”
Safety is a concern for all truckers, but it’s an even bigger one for WTI. The size, weight and shape of the loads it specializes in, such as steel coils, (which are heavy and have a high center of gravity), makes not just driving, but securing loads safely, an essential skill.
For employees, WTI’s emphasis on doing the job safely starts on the first day, with an orientation program that, for drivers, runs for five days to two weeks, combining classroom time and practical experience. “We won’t put anybody out there before they’re ready and equipped to do the job they’re asked to do,” Blair said.
Nor is the training, and the emphasis on a safety culture, confined to the drivers, he added. Whether a WTI employee works in maintenance, operations or payroll, everyone “has a mindset that no job will be done at the sacrifice or risk of safety.”
“Safety training and awareness doesn’t end with orientation. Drivers are mentored by the safety department and by fleet managers, who are themselves trained to anticipate the challenges drivers face,” he said. “Daily fleet messages update drivers on weather conditions and safety news and tips. The company regularly surveys drivers to understand what issues they’re facing on the road, and the company reviews its safety processes and procedures several times a year “to make sure we don’t have any disconnects. Any driver in our fleet knows he’s one phone call away from getting assistance seven days a week if needed. Communication is key.”
The payoff is safe and healthy employees.
“There’s a sense of pride that they are partnered with a safe carrier that has the record to prove its high regard for safety,” Blair said. “That carries over to those who might be interested in working for WTI. It helps us with recruiting of new drivers. They see and hear of these awards and they know that if they come to WTI, they’re choosing a company with a solid safety record.”
Satisfied customers derive pride from knowing they’re associated with a carrier handling their freight in a safe manner, he added. That’s why WTI is hard at work on compiling a record that will lead to a third straight year of recognition for its safety culture.
“We would like to keep the baton and pick up the award a third year,” Blair said. “I think we can do it.”