At Transport America, our drivers are the Captains of their Ships. And that means making the call to pull over when driving conditions are not safe.
Blizzards and closed freeways are usually associated with the Midwest, Northeast and the Rockies, but in February 2014, Transport America driver Dan Becker found himself pulling over in Atlanta, Georgia, of all places.
“It was a terrible ice storm! The worst ice storm that anyone could remember for a long time. Everywhere you looked — cars and trucks were stuck on the freeways. It shut down Atlanta and most of the state for at least two days,” says Becker. “There was no doubt in my mind that I had to get our truck off the road. Fortunately, I was able to pull into the Transport America service center in Atlanta.”
Driving for Transport America for more than 17 years, the past 14 years as one of the company’s trainers, Becker pulls over with confidence when the weather gets bad, knowing the entire company, supports his decision.
“A lot of other trucking companies give it lip service,” Becker says, “but at Transport America, we really believe it. Whether its bad weather, fatigue or sickness, our company respects us as professional drivers. They expect us to use common sense and make the call.”
Gary Falldin, Vice President of Safety for Transport America, says “The ‘Pull Over’ policy is a cornerstone value at the company. Nothing we do is worth endangering the life of our drivers or the motoring public. Ever. If it’s even a question, safety always wins out.”
The policy, which has been in place for some time, really differentiates the company from its competitors, according to Falldin, who joined Transport America six years ago.
“We came to realize that many trucking companies give a ‘wink’ to this policy and tell their drivers to go through with the delivery even in poor weather conditions,” Falldin says. “I was at one of the major small package delivery companies for 25 years and the drivers where pushed to drive in all weather conditions – it’s not like that at Transport America, the driver truly does have the final say on what is safe.”
It’s a policy that pays for itself, says Falldin. Drivers not only respect the company more, but Transport America customers come to respect the company for two things: placing a high value on life and safety and ensuring the integrity of their load.
“It goes without saying,” Falldin says. “Of course a customer would rather have their load delivered a little later and completely intact than having it involved in an accident.”
To aid Transport America drivers in making smarter decisions while on the road, the company sends regular updates about severe weather.
“We don’t want drivers who take chances at Transport America,” says Falldin. “We want drivers who value safety and don’t drive when they are tired, not feeling well, or in bad weather conditions. We want drivers who truly care about their own safety and the safety of others on the road.”
And that’s a message that resonates with Becker and the new drivers with whom he’s entrusted in preparing to driver Transport America’s distinct red, white and blue trucks.
“My wife is one of those people who is really thankful that Transport America is the kind of trucking company that not only has this policy in place, but really lives by it,” Becker says.