Building Up the Next Generation of Truck Drivers at Meijer - Safety & Compliance

Constructing Up the Subsequent Era of Truck Drivers at Meijer – Security & Compliance

Meijer invests time and coaching into new drivers, supporting them by way of an in-house coaching program and thru driver colleges.

Picture: Meijer

Working as a security investigator for the Federal Motor Provider Security Administration for about 20 years actually provides an inside take a look at the nice, the dangerous, and the ugly of how protected trucking fleets are. 

By the point she left the company in 2008, Carol Heinowski had seen the ins and outs of numerous security packages and was a first-hand witness to the pattern of trucking fleets throughout the nation embracing security as a company-wide effort slightly than one thing strictly for the security division.


One of many first issues she did after she was employed by non-public provider Meijer was conduct a mock DOT audit. She was happy to seek out there wasn’t a lot to repair however noticed alternative to construct on the provider’s basis of driver coaching.

Initially, she was introduced on to move each dispatch operations and security of the Michigan-based fleet. On the time, it was in regards to the half the scale it’s immediately, now with round 250 tractors and 400 drivers hauling freight for the retail grocery retailer chain. Inside about 5 years, the non-public fleet grew and another person took over the dispatching operations position, permitting her to refocus her vitality on hiring and orientation. Now she is the logistics supervisor, security and compliance, of Meijer Logistics, and has been acknowledged with HDT’s 2022 Security & Compliance Award.

A Give attention to Security Coaching

All new Meijer drivers are put by way of a three-day classroom orientation program the place they’re paired with a coach for anyplace from two to 6 weeks relying on expertise degree.

Carol Heinowski accepted HDT's 2022 Safety & Compliance Award from J.J. Keller's Glen Hayes at the Fleet Safety Conference.  -  Photo: Ross Stewart, RMS3Digital

Carol Heinowski accepted HDT’s 2022 Security & Compliance Award from J.J. Keller’s Glen Hayes on the Fleet Security Convention.

Picture: Ross Stewart, RMS3Digital

Along with orientation, all drivers obtain month-to-month on-line coaching, protecting matters reminiscent of driving close to college buses, distracted driving, and methods to safely pull a trailer from a dock.

Drivers concerned in an accident, roadside violation, or different security incident, are additionally assigned particular person coaching.

Hiring Proper Out of Driver College

With a trusted coaching program in place, Heinowski doesn’t shrink back from hiring drivers with little expertise. Meijer hires drivers from permitted driving colleges who move Meijer’s highway take a look at and pairs them with an skilled driver for one or two months.

“A few our driver trainers specialize with these new drivers. They’ve the endurance and ability ranges to additional the coaching these new folks want,” Heinowski says. “They don’t go solo till their coach feels they’re prepared. A brand new driver with expertise could solely be with coach for every week or two, however one popping out of college will be 4, six, eight…no matter it takes.”

From Warehouse to Driver

This 12 months, Meijer started a program to encourage its warehouse workforce members who’re fascinated with turning into drivers to start out coaching. Dubbed Drive for Success, the four-week program permits permitted warehouse employees to work with a devoted supervisor in a yard.

All candidates of this system should meet Meijer’s minimal standards of no tickets within the final 12 months, and not more than two within the final three years, and no DUI’s within the final 5 years.

Throughout that program, the supervisor focuses on coaching the motive force vital maneuvers, reminiscent of backing.

“We’re not doing the total coaching; we determined we didn’t wish to turn into a truck driving college. So, we do these 4 weeks and in the event that they’re displaying promise then we’ll ship them off to one of many space colleges, and Meijer pays for that coaching,” Heinowski says. “Then they arrive again, and we put them by way of the total orientation program, and usually they don’t want as a lot time.”

To this point, all graduates of this system have acquired high honors on the truck driving college as a result of head begin offered to them. 

A Tradition of Security

At Meijer, security is ingrained within the tradition.

The provider has at all times been an early adopter of security applied sciences, together with ELDs and sprint cameras.

Meijer has been utilizing digital logging units since they first got here to market, lengthy earlier than they had been mandated. The information from the ELDs is integrated into the fleet’s home-grown dispatch software program program.

All of its tractors are geared up with sprint cameras, and all new autos are geared up with ahead collision avoidance know-how, in addition to lane change radar.

Have fun Security Achievements

The groups maintain numerous celebrations and incentives when reaching security milestones, together with cookouts and a household ride-along program.  “So long as our security scores stay good (accidents, CSA scores, and clinic go to ratio) we enable two weeks a 12 months for workforce members to usher in their members of the family to trip together with them,” she explains. “That has been an enormous incentive. We’ve needed to cancel it because of our numbers not being within the acceptable vary, and the drivers actually rallied to verify they may convey that program again.”

All of Meijer’s tractors are equipped with dash cams, and all new vehicles are spec’d with forward collision avoidance technology.  -  Photo: Meijer

All of Meijer’s tractors are geared up with sprint cams, and all new autos are spec’d with ahead collision avoidance know-how.

Picture: Meijer

 Meijer additionally celebrates particular person workforce members by way of a companywide on-line recognition program.  Workforce members have the flexibility to earn factors by way of that can be utilized to buy merchandise and present playing cards.

Security by the Numbers

To trace the provider’s security, Heinowski retains and monitor information concerning each accidents (DOT and minor) and accidents/misplaced time. 

“One merchandise we’re pleased with is the discount of our clinic go to damage charge,” she says. “Traditionally our charge is often 6.00 to six.80, one 12 months even reaching a excessive of 8.44. However our charge in 2021 was a report low of 4.19.  And this 12 months we stay beneath our aim.”

She says Meijer additionally prides itself on low DOT CSA scores, that are monitored month-to-month.

“Our DOT recordable accident charge in 2021 was 0.49,” she says. “Our charge in 2020 was 0.30. Nevertheless, 2020 was an odd 12 months, each for us and even for accident statistics statewide as a result of pandemic and thus much less autos touring on the roads as a result of large shutdowns. Subsequently, we like to match towards pre-pandemic ranges.  In 2019, our DOT recordable charge was 0.56. So, we noticed a discount in 2021.”

 With reporting from Deborah Lockridge. This text appeared within the November/December 2022 concern of Heavy Responsibility Trucking.

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