Midtex Oil formalizes safety programs with CarriersEdge
There’s a lot that can go wrong when a fully loaded Class 8 truck is involved in a collision. The sheer weight of an 80,000 lb. tractor/trailer combination has the potential of causing serious damage. If a truck hauling hazardous or flammable cargo is involved in a safety event, the risks associated with the incident go up tenfold.
For Midtex Oil, a fuel and petroleum products distributor based in New Braunfels, Texas, utilizing safety technologies and services to reduce its chances of being involved in a catastrophic event is a priority.
“A few years ago, we didn’t have a formal safety program or use safety technologies to track driving behavior,” said Tamara Black, Midtex Oil Director of HR. “Given the nature of our business, we realized we needed to do more to ensure the safety of our drivers and equipment.”
Midtex Oil operates a fleet of more than 50 trucks - mostly a mix between heavy and medium duty tanker and box van trucks - that provide transportation services throughout much of Central and South Texas and in Western Louisiana. Its customer base is diverse and ranges from chain convenience stores and gas stations to small farms and construction companies. Fuel and petroleum-based lubricants such as engine, transmission, compressor, and hydraulic oils are the primary products the company transports.
According to Mike Simpson, Midtex Oil Fleet and Safety Manager, when the company decided to make fleet safety a top priority, it worked with its insurance provider, Holmes Murphy to identify solutions to become safer. Holmes Murphy recommended CarriersEdge, an online driver training provider, to help with its approach in creating an organized driver training program. Midtex Oil also began equipping its trucks with Motive ELDs and used driver scorecards and installed front-facing dashcams to proactively monitor driving behavior.
A more structured onboarding process
In the fuel hauling business, vetting for safe, quality driver candidates to hire is an important first step in the hiring process. It’s why Midtex Oil requires a minimum of one year of CDL driving experience, with experience hauling hazmat or tanker cargo preferred. The company uses a service provider that runs background and MVR checks, as well as FMCSA queries, to better screen drivers before they’re offered a position.
Once drivers are hired, Midtex Oil assigns drivers with CarriersEdge training courses and other company-related tasks to complete within two weeks of their hiring date. Drivers are assigned online courses on topics that cover defensive driving, pre-trip inspections, accident investigation, and hazmat. The company also assigns a customized training course on hazmat security plans for each of its terminal locations it created through the CarriersEdge platform. Once newly hired drivers finish online training, they complete driving tests to verify driving and cargo handling skills.
“We’ve found CarriersEdge to be a simple, yet effective solution to provide our drivers with training on topics that are necessary to help keep them safe on the job,” said Simpson. “Their courses are informative and interactive, which helps our drivers retain information that is taught. Plus, we’re able to upload our own courses we create on company-specific policies to the CarriersEdge platform, which is a nice feature we regularly use.”
The need for ongoing training
Even for the company’s most experienced drivers, Midtex Oil reinforces safe driving practices through ongoing training. The company assigns drivers with CarriersEdge courses to complete each month on topics that help educate drivers on skills behind the wheel as well as daily tasks associated with fuel hauling and regional deliveries. Tasks such as loading and unloading flammable products present their own safety concerns that need to be addressed.
Midtex Oil utilizes CarriersEdge courses designed to help prevent injuries and on topics such as fire safety, security threat awareness, distracted driving, and more.
“Since our trucks run 24/7 with drivers on 12-hour shifts, it would be hard for us to bring drivers in before or after their shifts for classroom training,” said Simpson. “CarriersEdge makes it easy for drivers to access courses on their phones or tablets wherever they may be. Since there is often downtime when waiting to enter the terminals, we encourage drivers to complete assigned training during that time.”
Addressing driving behavior through recorded safety events
When a poor driving incident, such as a hard braking event is captured through Midtex Oil’s ELD scorecard or through its dashcams, the company is proactive in analyzing the situation and taking the necessary steps to correct it. Depending on the severity of the incident, Midtex Oil will assign its drivers with remedial training to help the driver understand the seriousness of the recorded safety event or to help improve a driving skill.
“Our driver safety technologies have helped us become more aware of unsafe driving practices and proactively coach around issues that could lead to even greater problems if left unchecked,” said Black. “When we assign a driver remedial training, we’re able to track a driver’s progress to ensure they did in fact complete and pass the course. It helps us stay organized on where drivers are at with training.”
According to Simpson, Midtex Oil will soon implement a new dashcam integration system from CarriersEdge that will allow the company to automatically assign, and track required training based on dashcam captured events and behaviors.
“We look forward to using the CarriersEdge dashcam integration system,” said Simpson. “The new feature will help us streamline training that is assigned to our drivers based on what’s detected on our dashcams.”
Investment in safety pays off
Since Midtex Oil’s shift to enhance its safety programs and technologies, the company is seeing its efforts pay off. Maintenance-related costs have been reduced this year thanks to the company’s emphasis on pre-trip inspection training, which has translated to drivers reporting more potential issues that they notice with the condition of their trucks. And since the company has formalized its safety program, with documented driver training through CarriersEdge as well as recorded metrics through its safety technologies, it has ‘proof’ it's doing what it can to monitor safe practices.
“That will help in the event we ever find ourselves in litigation,” said Simpson. “Our efforts towards safety are paying off and we feel we have significantly reduced our risk level of experiencing a serious safety event.”