Many elements come into place in the world of trucking when it comes to safety. With proper training and awareness, bad situations can be lessened or even eliminated with proper manoeuvres.
There are many things that can happen in the day-to-day life of a truck driver. If faced with unsafe events on the roads and without proper training, things could get ugly fast. Such events could be improper spacing around a semi-truck, proper following distance between vehicles, distracted drivers [are everywhere], and aggressive motorists, are just a few examples than can be very dangerous if not handled correctly. Drivers who are properly trained stand a better chance of getting themselves safely out of these situations.
Companies who practice safety and engage their drivers in a good culture, often find themselves in working great as a team and building success together.
Trucking moves America forward. Without trucks, we wouldn’t have food on our tables or shelves stocked at the stores. Especially for Dana Achartz, who works in the safety sector of the trucking industry. If, for any reason, the trucking industry underwent a shutdown; there are consequences that would result in severely cutting the supply of important resources.
So, safety for Dana, being the Safety Director at Commercial Transport Incorporated, isn’t a job as much as a goal she must continuously and relentlessly pursue. There are more than 125 drivers whose lives depend on her, along with 138 tractors and 247 trailers she must manage.
Her role demands that she oversee critical safety functions such as accident prevention, investigation, root cause analysis, injury prevention, and audits. Teach orientation and safety training on food-grade pneumatic trailers that are “Kosher Certified” and dedicated to hauling food-grade dry bulk products. Assure strict compliance with all Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Effectively maintain outstanding CSA scores as dictated by FMCSA and customer requirements. Assess current operations for safety conscious and loss prevention practices. And create and execute new policies and procedures, as well as revise current ones.
Let us dive into Dana’s journey of persistent pursuit of safety.
Dana never considered working in the trucking industry. When she grew up, you just didn’t see women in the industry. She was with a limousine company when Tim Brakstad, the Safety Director of an OTR trucking company offered her a position in the safety sector of the trucking industry due to her attention to detail. Now, Dana has been in trucking safety for almost two decades and can’t imagine doing anything else. “I truly enjoy what I do. My personal motto is ‘my passion is my superpower,’” she says.
Once Dana got into trucking, it was like learning another language. It is one of the most regulated industries by the government, and the regulations are not easy to understand. Dana says, “I looked at this like it was a challenge. And for me, “challenge accepted.” I wanted to know and learn everything I possibly could to be a better resource for my team and our drivers, so I could help them follow the laws and rules of the road. Throughout my career, I have conquered many obstacles simply by learning, listening, and getting involved as much as I can to grow my knowledge to be better for my team.”
Culture of Collaboration
Commercial Transport Inc. is a food-grade dry bulk tank hauler. It hauls food-grade flour to bakeries. “Our mission is to get our customers’ products to them safely,” asserts Dana.
Dana tells us that the culture at Commercial Transport is one of diversity and collaboration. People come from different backgrounds and experiences, and their opinions and insights are heard and valued. When facing an issue, the collaboration of a variety of voices allows the teams at the company to come up with some truly amazing solutions that one would not be able to think of alone.
The Impact of Safety
Dana is a huge advocate for safety in the trucking industry. In her spare time, she reads leadership books and keeps up to date with the industry by attending as many conferences as she can and reads as many industry publications as possible. She is not only involved in the state’s trucking association, but she is also on every board, committee, and council; so as to dispense knowledge on the importance of safety in the trucking industry and also to learn as much as possible.
Dana currently develops and executes training programs that educate teams on how to practice safe driving and avoid dangerous hazards on roads so that drivers are safe and get to go home to their families at the end of the day.
Dana expresses, “I believe that at some point throughout my career, somewhere out there through my education and awareness training, at least one life has been saved by a driver who had the training and knew how to handle a “quick thinking” close call on the road. That one life is the reason I never stop training, teaching, and pushing safety as a core value. We all value life regardless of what we do for a living and how we provide for our families. If we do things safely, this allows us all to return to our families. Your values never change. Neither do ours in the safety side of trucking.”
Dana’s mission from day one has been “Safety, Safety, Safety.” Two decades later, and she is still going strong with it. She continues to push safety and awareness through her company, teachings, and trainings. She hopes that every minute of education or awareness would be one more sliver of knowledge that people can have that will help them to prevent a horrible event from happening.
In Grips of Technology
There is a lot of safety technology that helps drivers be safer on the road. For example, cameras and warning systems that alert the driver if there’s an “event” that could potentially lead to an accident. No system out there is perfect. However, they help to understand how the accident happened and help us understand what went wrong and how to prevent it from happening again. What could we have done differently?
The regulations for the trucking industry also continue to change, update, get created, and executed. Dana states, “You can never get complacent as there is so much change. You really need to be on top of your game so you can keep your team and drivers educated about the new changes. So, you can continue to do the right thing.”
Striving Towards ZERO
As a safety director, Dana hopes to have ZERO accidents. She acknowledges that it is not a perfect world and things happen that exist outside of one’s control. Still, she wishes to keep working towards the goal of ZERO accidents, incidents, and injuries.
Her advice for aspirants venturing into the industry, “Take your time and do things right the first time. You have one chance to get things right. We are professionals, and we need to take the time to make sure we are properly training our team and make sure we follow whatever rules we preach,” concludes Dana.