Viking Freight Wins Truck Safety Award

Nov. 9, 1999
Viking Freight's development of an internal hazardous materials guide has helped it win the highest safety award in the trucking industry. ... Consolidated Freightways driver logs 4 millionth mile without accident.

Of Viking Freight's 13,000-plus daily shipments, many contain hazardous materials. That's why the less-than-truckload carrier, which provides western U.S. regional transportation services, has developed and published an internal hazardous materials guide for the past 10 years.

For its efforts, Viking Freight was named the 1999 winner of the highest safety award in the trucking industry, the American Trucking Associations' (ATA) President's Trophy.

Because Viking handles many types of hazardous materials (hazmat), company officials decided that all of its more than 5,000 employees should be hazmat trained, said Scot Bishop, director of safety and training. That training includes the hazmat guide, which takes federal regulations and puts them into plain language. A hazardous materials table in the guide is designed to ensure that materials are correctly labeled for transportation.

"Our customers want this guide," Bishop said. "Customers tell us that nobody else is this concerned about hazardous materials."

Viking Freight upgraded its fleet of tractors with more mirrors and seats with lumbar support. Also helping Viking earn the national award was its increased training for supervisors, Bishop said. Managers receive training in how to report unsafe events, deal with those events and what to look for, such as recognizing safe lifting procedures.

Additional training for workers has included forklift operations. Previously, Viking had not done recurrent training. Now, forklift refresher training is every three years, Bishop said.

Viking also is big in incentives, which are highlighted by safety barbecues. "Our joke is that if you don't know how to barbecue, you're not going to be able to be a manager at Viking, because we do a lot of that type of recognition," Bishop said.

Viking Freight's efforts have resulted in lower lost workdays (from 256 in 1994 to 193 in 1998) and reduced workers' compensation costs (from $3 million for the previous lowest year to just under $1 million for 1998).

The ATA President's Trophy is presented to two motor carriers annually, based on driving over or under 20 million miles per year. Viking was the winner in the 20 million-or-more category.

Pitt-Ohio, based in Pittsburgh, won the smaller category. It implemented strict drug and alcohol policies for any employees who drive company vehicles or are seen driving unsafely. In addition, the carrier requires pre- and post-trip safety inspections of vehicles.

The ATA honor represents the second major safety award in less than a year for the San Jose, Calif.-headquartered company. In May, the California Trucking Association awarded Viking first place in its 1999 Fleet Safety Contest.

In addition to their safety records, ATA entrants were judged in safety-related areas such as compliance with regulations (federal motor carrier safety, hazardous materials, OSHA and environmental); safety training and supervision of drivers; inspection and maintenance of equipment; accident handling, reporting and investigation; and leadership in industry safety activities.

One of the safest truck drivers in the history of U.S. motor freight transportation has been honored by Consolidated Freightways (CF).

Bruce Crager, a transport operator who began working for CF in 1965, has driven his 4 millionth mile without an accident. According to the carrier trade group, Motor Freight Carriers Association, only five other drivers working for unionized, national trucking companies have ever reached this milestone.

Crager, 60, is based in Indianapolis and is the fourth CF employee in the company"s 70-year history to achieve a record 4 million miles of accident-free driving the equivalent of driving around the world 160 times. Crager has driven throughout the majority of his 35-year career between major metropolitan centers, including Indianapolis, Kansas City, Memphis and Atlanta.

"Bruce Crager is a phenomenal driver, and his record speaks for itself," CF President Pat Blake said. "We are privileged to have such a distinguished driver on our team. This remarkable achievement demonstrates Bruce's personal commitment to safety on the road and dedication to our customers."

In addition to having a tractor dedicated in his honor, Crager was inducted into the Consolidated Freightways Hall of Fame.

The company's 4,000 long-haul drivers average less than one preventable accident per million miles. More than 5,020 CF drivers have driven at least 1 million miles in their careers without a preventable accident. Over 1,170 of those drivers have surpassed the 2 million mile-mark, and 130 are 3 million milers.

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