For most trucking companies, driving 1 million miles crash free is cause for celebration. At YRC Freight that’s just the beginning.
“One million miles is the benchmark for a safe, professional driver, and we know how hard it is for them to achieve that,” says Sean Saunders, senior vice president of human resources for YRC Freight. “But we have more than 2,100 drivers who have 1 million accident-free miles or more with the company and another 500 drivers who have 3, 4, 5 and 6 million. We think it’s important to celebrate that.”
YRC Freight’s Driver Hall of Fame is designed to recognize and celebrate the drivers who maintain those impressive crash-free records. Drivers who hit those milestones are recognized in a ceremony in their honor.
Saunders says it takes drivers nine or 10 years, on average, to achieve their first million miles, so YRC Freight recognizes it is a “huge accomplishment” when drivers reach 5 and 6 million miles crash-free. To put it in perspective, logging 5 million miles is the equivalent of driving to the moon and back without an accident — 10 times.
“Those people are really unique,” he says. “They’ve done this for the vast part of their careers, and they’ve got over 40 years on the road. They’re on a perfect run. You want to celebrate that!”
To help celebrate, YRC Freight sometimes donates car seats to the highway patrol in the state the driver resides in. Saunders says that donation gives YRC Freight a great way to give something back to the community while at the same time driving home the message of safety on the road.
Taking Smith System Along for the Ride
One of the ways the company ensures their ongoing success and safety is by using Smith System training. Although Saunders says YRC Freight has followed The Smith5Keys principles for years, the company has become even more disciplined about it in the past three to four years.
“Every driver goes through the program, no matter if it’s someone who is brand-new in their career or they came to us as an experienced driver from another company,” Saunders says. “It’s foundational to what we do. We see a marked improvement in our drivers, and I think our safety record speaks for itself.”
In addition to taking the course when they join the company, YRC Freight drivers are given a refresher course every two years to help remind them of best safety practices on the road and to better hone their skills.
“Like any training, you need to do it more than once,” Saunders says. “You have to keep refreshing it, make a regimen out of it. If we never come back and reinforce that training, we’re not going to be successful.”
Smith System’s addition of training content in a video format has been helpful in being able to provide targeted refresher courses for drivers.
“The video training allows us to get really strategic with our training,” Saunders explains. “Let’s say we have a driver who has a specific behavior we want to address. The videos allow us to do that.”
And, since every driver learns and retains information differently, the videos provide access to certain aspects of safety practices that can be refreshed and reinforced at any time.
Maintaining Safety in a Careless World
Today, professional drivers face an increasing number of obstacles to safety on the road. Saunders says that has made the Smith System training even more critical for its drivers.
“We have forward-facing cameras in all of our trucks, so that gives us a better idea of what drivers are faced with out there on the road,” Saunders says, adding that the challenges today are greater than in the past. “The road system has not kept up with the population’s demand, and we also see a lot more distracted drivers out there. We see that every day, where cars cut off our drivers or drift into their lane because they just aren’t paying attention. Then you throw in weather, and you’ve got a combination of things that seem to be getting worse.”
Because of that, YRC Freight is more committed than ever before to making sure it equips every one of its drivers with The Smith5Keys and provides ongoing training.
“You have to be in a defensive situation on the road,” Saunders says. “You have to go out every day knowing that there are things that will not go as planned. Drivers will cut you off, road conditions will change; you have to put yourself in a position to be able to manage all that.
“Things happen out there that they need to be prepared for.”
With the Smith System training, Saunders says his drivers receive the preparation required to make them the best drivers possible, and then each driver is responsible for how well they apply that information.
“It takes a lot of skill and discipline and having a regimen that they stick to every day,” he says. “The best drivers put themselves in a position to be successful.”
To learn more about Smith System driver safety training or to register yourself or your drivers in one of our many courses, contact our team of experts today.