Brian Kurtz Trucking Ltd., and Bison Transport Claim Grand Prizes in TCA’s 35th Annual National Fleet Safety Awards


Prestigious competition recognizes carriers for outstanding safety programs

San Diego, California:

For the 35th year, the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) is pleased to announce the grand prize winners of its highly coveted National Fleet Safety Awards, sponsored by Great West Casualty Company. Brian Kurtz Trucking Ltd., of Breslau, Ontario, won the award for truckload companies in the small carrier division (total annual mileage of less than 25 million miles), while Bison Transport of Winnipeg, Manitoba, won in the category for truckload companies in the large carrier division (total annual mileage of 25 million or more miles).

TCA presented the awards to Brian Kurtz, president of Brian Kurtz Trucking Ltd., and Rob Penner, vice president of operations for Bison Transport, at the association’s Annual Awards Banquet held March 15, 2011, at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California. Both companies will be recognized a second time during TCA’s upcoming Safety & Security Division Annual Meeting, to be held May 15-17, 2011, at the Embassy Suites Murfreesboro Hotel and Conference Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

The two grand prize winners were selected from among 18 division winners in the National Fleet Safety Division Awards announced in January. In order to be granted the prestigious grand prize, both companies had to demonstrate that they strive to meet stringent standards in their overall safety programs, on and off the highway, and were judged to be the best in their commitment to improving safety on our nation’s highways.

Brian Kurtz Trucking Ltd.

Photo:  Patrick Kuehl and Brian KurtzAt Brian Kurtz Trucking, safety is paramount. The company employs the latest technology to conduct business safely and efficiently. For example, it uses satellites to track and monitor driver performance data. The numbers are benchmarked against standards it has set along with industry best practices and used as a baseline for acceptable performance. It offers reward programs for drivers who have the best mileage and idle times. Scores are posted in the drivers’ room for all to see how each driver ranks against peers. The resulting “safety competition” instills best driving behaviors through rewards for good performance. The company also employs a computer-based log recording system to audit driver logs and an internal reporting system to monitor driver actions (inspections, violations, etc.) over time. The latter builds a profile of individual driver behavior so that corrective action can be taken as necessary prior to an incident.

Brian Kurtz Trucking prides itself on knowing every driver on a first name basis. It is very protective of its employees, providing them with well-maintained equipment and a safe, healthy work environment. Managers and supervisors are held accountable for the health and safety of the workers under their supervision. An open door policy allows drivers to access management virtually any time to discuss concerns. The program thoroughly addresses driver needs, and effective solutions are in place to assist drivers when they experience roadside breakdowns, need a conflict resolved, or require extra training in a specific area.

Drivers must attend semi-annual, mandatory safety meetings designed to continually update them on the latest changes to regulations and policies that affect them. Meeting topics can range from hours of service, to winter driving techniques, to defensive driving, and sometimes feature expert guest speakers who address the assembly on the latest in health and safety issues. Drivers who are unable to attend a meeting are required to attend a one-on-one training session that reviews the content of the general meeting.

Another aspect of the company’s successful safety program is comprehensive, preventative maintenance. Each time a driver replies to a message via satellite, a mileage reading is automatically taken and included in the return message by default. This allows for continual tracking of each truck’s mileage. Drivers are then advised via satellite when their trucks are due for maintenance. The company offers many preventative maintenance checks for both owner operators and company drivers, and even utilizes a self-contained, mobile “reefer repair unit” that allows technicians to move from trailer to trailer in the yard to perform routine and preventative maintenance on various units.

In 2009, the company’s insurance carrier audited its safety program and ranked Brian Kurtz Trucking against other insured carriers as well as industry best practices. It awarded Brian Kurtz Trucking with the highest score ever recorded for a first-time participant. In 2010, the company tied with another carrier for the highest score of any of the insurance company’s customer carriers. For the past two years, Brian Kurtz Trucking also was named a TCA Best Fleet to Drive For.

Bison Transport

Photo:  Patrick Kuehl and Rob PennerAt Bison Transport, safety and compliance are core values that support the company’s mantra, “We Do What Is Right.” No matter how difficult the business environment may become, the company refuses to lower its standards. Drivers are well-trained and have full authority to temporarily discontinue a trip if they perceive that weather or health conditions could impair safety. The company states that “everyone understands up front that no load is worth risking the safety of our drivers or those we share the roads with.”

Bison drivers enjoy substantial financial rewards based on the sole criteria of safe driving. The amount paid in rewards significantly exceeds the physical cost of accidents in the fleet and increases by the mile as drivers reach each of several milestone levels. A top-level driver with a perfect driving record may earn up to 10% more as a result of the safety program. Besides monetary rewards, incentives such as certificates, pins, plaques, and tractor decals are given to drivers at annual driver achievement celebrations with family and peers. Drivers reaching one million or more safe miles earn special recognition; to date, 12% of the fleet’s full-time drivers have reached this category.

The company is very selective about the drivers it hires, choosing only 10% of the applications it receives, with 25% of hires coming through its driver referral program. After meeting stringent pre-hire criteria that include reference checks and a road test, applicants are personally interviewed and given a Driver Development Plan that clearly outlines what will be expected of them. Once hired, the average driver will take seven courses and meet with a safety counselor three times; this provides Bison Transport with an average of ten opportunities to “touch” each driver. Over a period of three years, the company will utilize a risk assessment tool to scientifically identify current and projected risk levels, and will send drivers to additional training as required and work with them to make adjustments in the hopes of preventing possible future accidents.

According to Bison Transport’s grand prize application, “Not all of our business decisions are proven out in a standard cost/benefit analysis, as it is very difficult to assign a cost to an accident that you never had. Matters of safety are not treated as simply accounting principles; rather, this is about lives, livelihoods and risk management. We are profitable in conjunction with our employees, contractors and suppliers, not at the expense of them. … We are vigilant in the protection of our people, assets, cargo and those we share the roads with.”

This year marks the fourth time that Bison Transport has won a grand prize in TCA’s National Fleet Safety Awards – a remarkable achievement. The company has also been listed twice in TCA’s Best Fleets to Drive For contest and survey.

The judging process for TCA’s National Fleet Safety Awards began with the determination of the top companies in each of six mileage divisions. The division winners (listed below) were selected based on accident frequency only. The top three winners in each division were then able to compete for the two grand prizes. The grand prize-winning companies were judged on their excellent overall safety programs, both on- and off-highway. During the judging, some of the factors considered included safety program organization, employee driver/independent contractor selection procedures, training, supervision, accident investigation, inspection and maintenance of equipment, and outside activities, including general highway safety. In an effort to ensure the highest level of integrity to the contest, all grand prize finalists were audited by independent auditors not affiliated with TCA or the carrier.

Below are the names of the 2010 top divisional winners based on low accident frequency ratios per million miles. Companies are listed according to the order that they placed within each category.

Division I (Less than 5 Million Miles)

Art Pape Transfer, Inc., Dubuque, Iowa
Excargo Services Inc., Houston, Texas
Five Star Trucking Inc., Willoughby, Ohio

Division II (5-14.99 Million Miles)

Brian Kurtz Trucking Ltd., Breslau, Ontario
Stagecoach Cartage & Dist. LP, El Paso, Texas
Diamond Transportation System, Inc., Racine, Wisconsin

Division III (15-24.99 Million Miles)

MacKinnon Transport Inc., Guelph, Ontario
D&D Sexton Inc., Carthage, Missouri
Convoy Systems, L.L.C., Kansas City, Kansas

Division IV (25-49.99 Million Miles)

Kennesaw Transportation, White, Georgia
Sunrise Express Inc., Grand Island, Nebraska
Transport Designs, Inc., Burnsville, Minnesota

Division V (50-99.99 Million Miles)

Carter Express, Inc., Anderson, Indiana
Groupe Robert Inc., Boucherville, Québec
Hogan Transports, Inc., St. Louis, Missouri

Division VI (100 Million or More Miles)

Bison Transport Inc., Winnipeg, Manitoba
Gordon Trucking Inc., Pacific, Washington
Roehl Transport, Inc., Marshfield, Wisconsin