I’m on hand today for the National Association of Small Trucking Companies’ monthly new-entrants training seminar — the audience includes small fleets’ compliance reps, folks not yet involved in trucking and no shortage of owner-operators either currently leased and looking to go independent or those with their own authority looking to expand. NASTC President David Owen leads the seminar, going over the tools available to new entrants relative to insurance, drug and alcohol screening, accounting and dispatch software and more, most important among Owen and guests’ talk the message that, in today’s age, it’s never been more important for small companies to “become a ‘buttoned-up’ company.”
By that Owen means paying more than lip service to safety. In order for small carriers to retain their best competitive advantage over large carriers — their ability to attract and retain the “million mile drivers,” as Owen puts it — developing a “safety culture” above and beyond the regulations will be ever more necessary. Though while stressing such, and touting NASTC’s relatively young Management and Safety Program (think of it as an outsourcing of safety-culture management and assistance), Owen’s talk took a darker turn.
“What’s the worst thing that can happen to a trucking company?” he asked.
“Going under,” one of the attendees laughed.
Those are plenty bad, Owen noted, but as a small trucking company owner the worst thing that could possibly happen is “having one of your drivers killed in one of your trucks. If and when that happens — and it happens a lot — you had better be able to look yourself in the mirror and tell the man or woman in the mirror, ‘I did the best I could. I developed a safety culture. I dispatched him safely.'” If you can’t do that, it will drive you nuts,” which, he added, is a heck of a lot worse than losing a lawsuit.
The new entrants’ seminar occurs every final Friday of the month. Check in next week for more scenes from it. And for now, find more via the Association’s website.
Affected tractors are equipped with an automated Eaton UltraShift Plus or Eaton Advantage Transmission with right hand stalk shifter. In the affected trucks, the display on the instrument panel can indicate “N” when the shifter is set into “D” or “R,” causing the truck not to move.