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TransPro driver inspecting wheel

Safety program and online safety training from CarriersEdge a winning combination

Failed inspections, whether at a weigh station or roadside, cost time and money. Delays can hurt a carrier’s performance record, which customers notice.

So Transpro Freight Systems, a cross-border carrier of truckload and LTL freight based in Milton, Ontario, launched a concerted effort that combined increased maintenance staff, emphasizing the importance of pre-trip inspections in safety meetings and a lot of training for drivers, using courses developed by CarriersEdge, a leading provider of online driver training in the trucking industry.

Those courses, for new hires and veterans alike, cover everything from how to check the rig before hitting the highway to refreshers on the rules of the road to minimize the sort of infractions (such as failing to signal for a lane change) that can lead to a roadside inspection and violations.

The result: A 50-percent reduction in failed inspections, according to Michael Frolick, safety and compliance director for Transpro. “Our drivers are stepping up their game, and it shows” he said. “We’re proud of their efforts and success.”

CarriersEdge training courses on subjects such as pre-trip inspections were an effective tool in helping reduce failed inspections, Frolick said, but they’ve long been an important part of Transpro’s program of fostering a culture of safe operation.

“Safety has always been at the forefront,” Frolick said. “It’s not just because rules and regulations dictate it. It’s the way we want to operate. Safety is not an option.”

Transpro, founded in 1990 and acquired by Kriska Transportation Group Ltd. in 2015, has 107 drivers (including owner-operators) and more than 37 office and support employees. It operates 91 highway and 16 local tractors, 265 dry vans and 85 reefers.

Transpro’s safety program, Frolick said, includes everyone. “Every employee, from our general manager to our mechanics has the right to know and participate in health and safety training,” he said. By sharing that training, safety “becomes embedded in them.”

That training starts before an employee has that first day at work or on the road with Transpro. The company’s comprehensive orientation program includes 10 online training modules from CarriersEdge, to be completed before an employee joins the company. “In most cases, drivers often use the transition period from former employer to Transpro to complete the assignment, with some doing the work in one day and others spreading it over a few weeks.”

CarriersEdge combines extensive research into the industry’s best safety practices with effective techniques to engage and educate to build a library of more than 70 full-length and refresher/remedial courses specifically designed for the trucking industry. Covering such topics as safe securing of cargo, hours-of-service rules and logbooks and defensive and winter driving, the courses are accessible any time and any place a driver has an Internet connection and a computer, smart phone or tablet. CarriersEdge also produces tools for efficiently managing and tracking employee participation in online training.

Transpro makes further use of CarriersEdge training by assigning one module per quarter, or four a year, to drivers.

The course on pre-trip inspections is a great illustration of how material learned in those modules translates into tangible, useful information that benefits drivers and the company.

By knowing what to look for in a pre-trip inspection, whether at the terminal or on the road, drivers and managers can identify, report and fix problems, before they become even bigger issues and before they’re uncovered by law enforcement.

Drivers and management are both fans of the program. “They can take these classes in the comfort of their own home or if they’re doing a reset somewhere,” Frolick said. “It’s at their convenience. They don’t have to sit in a classroom for two to three days listening to lectures. They like that option.”

Drivers also like the style of the modules, designed with a mix of text, illustrations, audio, video and short quizzes to help them retain the information.

“We’ve received some very positive feedback on online training,” Frolick said. “Drivers tell us ‘that was interesting’ or ‘I didn’t know that’ about something they learned in the course, or even ‘I took some notes on it.’” The training makes them safer, keeps them engaged with their jobs with up-to-date information and gives them pride in their work, he added. One driver took a module and passed, but wanted to improve his performance, so he asked to take it again. He did, and got a 100-percent score on the next attempt.

The training isn’t valuable only for drivers. Warehouse workers learn about cargo securement; employees throughout the company learn about rules for handling hazardous materials.

For Transpro, which has been using CarriersEdge online training for three years, the benefits start with safer drivers. “We want them to return home the same way they came to work,” Frolick said. “We want them back as much as their family does.” Ease of use makes participation a lot easier; the interactive programs don’t require a high degree of computer literacy, are interactive and provide immediate feedback to those taking the courses on how they did. By being able to reach more drivers with instructional materials at more convenient times, CarriersEdge also makes him more efficient and effective in his job as safety director, Frolick adds.

Frolick also appreciates that CarriersEdge modules take into account differences in Canadian and U.S. rules on subjects like hours of service, important information for drivers working on both sides of the border to have. “Coupling online training with our orientation and safety programs is a winning combination,” Frolick said.

It’s a combination that has helped Transpro win a lot of recognition from drivers, customers and the industry: Four-time winner in Best Fleets to Drive For. A six-time winner of The Shippers Choice Award. Markel Insurance Co. awarded Transpro Platinum Plus status for being in the top 5 percent of 1,000 carriers surveyed for safety performance.

Frolick has been in the trucking business for 35 years, 22 of those as a driver. “We didn’t have this kind of training when I started,” he said. “We might have had a 10-minute tailgate meeting when the shift started.”

But drivers, employers, customers and fellow motorists need something more up-to-date, comprehensive and sophisticated than that. “I’ve mentioned CarriersEdge training to other people in our industry,” he said. “When it’s a really good product, people need to know about it. More companies are looking at ways to train their drivers. CarriersEdge is the first place they should be looking.”