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The Last Word

Delivering the Good News of Safety

By David O’Neal

You’ve read a lot about safety in the preceding pages. You’ve seen coverage of the trucking championships, both in Arkansas and at the national level – possibly the best and most tangible illustration of highway safety, given the 156 drivers who competed in Arkansas, all at least one year accident free and many with decades of blemish-free driving. Add to that the 430+ drivers from all 50 states who competed at the NTDC in Indianapolis. You read a feature on Arkansas Highway Police Major Jay Thompson – a man who has devoted his career to keeping our highways safe.

Those things are all about the good news of safety! A celebration of safety! Recognition of a safety-focused career!

Yet when I started writing this, I was headed down a path well-trod directives by safety professionals everywhere: Don’t drive distracted. Never drive impaired. How can you make safety more important to your organization? Etc. Ad nauseum.

There’s so much more to safety.

You may have heard (especially if you spend more than five minutes around me) about the Arkansas Road Team – professional drivers with contagious enthusiasm and a passion to make our industry better (and safer!) every day. They don’t speak in slogans, and they don’t speak AT their audiences – they speak TO their audiences. They educate through engagement, not bland talking points. We should all catch that bug!

Or you may have heard about our Share the Road program – less than one year old but already connecting a positive message of safe driving with driving-age students and other groups around the state. You’ve seen the video, right? If not, go now (don’t wait!) to arkansastrucking.com/sharetheroad and watch.

And the state of safety is strong in Arkansas! In less than one year’s time, the Natural State will have played host to two major safety related events. Last November, the American Trucking Associations held their Safety & HR National Conference and Exhibition in Little Rock, bringing together hundreds of the trucking industry’s top safety professionals – many of them from within the state – to share best practices and review the impact of new and expected regulatory changes. And at press time, we’re only weeks away from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s Annual Conference, also to be held in Little Rock, where government officials, commercial vehicle enforcement and industry representatives will gather to affect meaningful changes to highway safety throughout North America.

This is all proof positive that Arkansas is on the map when it comes to a culture of safety in the trucking industry. We’ve been known for decades as the home to some of the most recognized names in the trucking industry, and now adding state-wide recognition for our collective safety efforts sends a strong and positive message.

Want more good news? Try this number on for size: 216,944,810. That’s the number of safe driving miles those 156 drivers that competed in our state’s truck driving championship have accumulated over the course of their careers.   For perspective, remember that the earth’s sun is “only” around 93 million miles away.

Our nine state TDC champions – #TeamArkansas – certainly contributed to a good news message in Indianapolis, demonstrating professionalism and pride through the four-day event, cheering on their fellow competitors no matter what state they were from or what uniform they were wearing.

Certainly, we face challenges. A regulatory environment that will remain uncertain no matter who wins in November. An anti-trucking lobby that masquerades as “safety advocates”. Social and traditional media that enables an “always on” culture – meaning we have to do everything right 100% of the time, and everyone else just has to have a camera at the ready one time.

But we’ve come so far. Safety is a cornerstone of many if not most companies’ cultures – a far cry from the days of Smokey and the Bandit and the like. It’s at the top of the list when our industry speaks as one voice. And events like the state and national competitions, along with constructive relationships with our enforcement and regulatory colleagues, are demonstrations of our progress.

So that’s the good news of safety. Positive and professional. Engaging and educational. And always committed to safely delivering Arkansas and America.

Also: Don’t drive distracted. Never drive impaired. It can wait.

Sorry; I couldn’t let the opportunity pass me by.

David O’Neal is the director of safety services at the Arkansas Trucking Association.

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Arkansas Trucking Association
PO Box 3476 (72203)
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Little Rock, AR 72201

(501) 372-3462 | Phone
(501) 376-1810 | Fax

Our Mission

  • PROTECT the collective interests of trucking companies in the political and regulatory arenas.
  • PROMOTE the dynamics of trucking so that people have a better understanding of the link between America's primary freight delivery system and the standard of living they enjoy.
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