All eyes of the trucking industry are fixed on the CSA 2010 regulations scheduled for full implementation in November. New rules and higher standards of safety will come into play — a new regulatory enforcement playing field altogether.

With this dramatic change soon coming to pass, the NPTC 2010 National Safety Conference scheduled for Sept. 9-10 at the Hyatt Dulles Hotel near Washington Dulles International Airport is designed around the theme of voluntarily “raising the bar” of safety performance. The key message of this event is that to realize exceptional safety records, fleets must move far beyond mere compliance with new federal standards, and be even more intensely focused on building a team of performance-qualified, fit-for-duty, and safety-minded drivers.

This includes strengthening a “culture of safety” throughout the fleet's operation. It means upgrading the use of training technology to ensure higher driver safety knowledge and practices. It suggests driver behavior modification — sleep apnea treatment, for example — to improve safety margins. It also includes putting equipment and maintenance under greater scrutiny for added safety gains through technology upgrades and preventive maintenance protocols.

A safety-in-the-round series of breakout sessions will feature several leading private fleets and will include the topics of technology, driver wellness, equipment/maintenance, and technology. Two “case studies of excellence” showcase private fleets that have put together all the pieces of safety performance for a “zero-accident” performance record. Plus, the conference will examine the legal and regulatory aspects of sleep apnea in addition to accidents.

The conference's keynote speaker is the highly regarded Don Osterberg, senior vice president for safety, security & driver training at Schneider National. Mr. Osterberg has earned a reputation as perhaps the practitioner-exemplar of safety professionalism in trucking. His background provides a unique irony.

During Mr. Osterberg's military career, he served as an Airborne/Ranger-qualified Infantryman and at one point served as strategic adviser to the President of the United States and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He holds a Master's Degree from the U.S. Army Command & General Staff College, and retired at the rank of colonel.

But after retiring from the Army, his passion for excellence shifted from military combat to commercial truck safety, where he is virtually the “top gun.”

Under his leadership at one of the top trucking companies in America with some 13,500 drivers nationwide, Schneider has realized substantial gains in reducing accident frequency and severity through new training technologies and improved training cycle time. Although major accidents account for less than one-half of 1%, they represent half of all the risk costs at the company. Even though Schneider's preventable accident frequency is among the best, new training technologies such as simulators, better instructor-led training, and computer-based training are paying big dividends in lower accidents.

Mr. Osterberg's presentation will show how safety leadership can equip a company to compete on the “new playing field” that lies ahead.


Gary Petty is president and CEO of the National Private Truck Council. The council's website is www.nptc.org. His column appears monthly in Fleet Owner.