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Team Safe Trucking Program for Log Truck Drivers

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September 21, 2018

Guest: John Auel, Asst. Professor


Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Amy: Today we are talking about team safe trucking program for log truck drivers. Hello, I am Amy Myers, and welcome to Farm and Family. Today we are speaking with Dr. John Auel, Mississippi State Extension assistant professor. Dr. Auel, who is the team safe trucking program? Who are these people made up of?

John: Team safe trucking is actually a combination of folks in the forest industry. Including loggers, mills, and insurance people who are gathering together to try to address the issues that we’re having with log truck drivers and their insurance rates, which have been going up. And a number of insurance companies have actually stopped writing log truck drivers, and so, where we used to have fifteen companies that we could get insurance through, we are now down to two or three in the state of Mississippi that will actually write a log truck driver.

Amy: oh gosh, and this is a hugely important profession

John: absolutely

Amy: As forestry is Mississippi’s—one of the top two commodities in the state, so we’ve got to make sure that this is taken care of. So why is this program necessary?

John: The insurance companies have found over the years that most of their claims are coming from the truck driving portion of the logging industry. That’s now more expensive to insure a log truck driver than it is the actual employees on the logging job in the woods. And so we’re seeing rates skyrocket basically. And, like I said before, we’re losing insurance companies, and so we’re hoping that this program will help in the long term to enable log truck drivers to get insurance and maintain the industry.

Amy: right, so I guess maybe if they had less accidents they would be able to be insured?

John: Right.

Amy: So what topics does this program cover?

John: The program covers a bunch of different topics. But right now, we’re dealing with the first set of instructions we got from the overall program at Team Safe Trucking. And it deals with documented inspections. We want to make sure they are following documentation procedures for all of this. The inspections for drug and alcohol policies for your fleet. Those are critically important. General safety for drivers. Like I said, most of the insurance claims are coming from the log trucking side of the industry now. And that includes repetitive stress injuries, jumping in and out of the trucks, and stuff like that. And accidents, obviously, and then also, we’re talking about the insurance issues themselves as well as just basic defensive driving. So it’s basically driver’s ed. 101 for log truck drivers. Again, the critical part of this is that we’re tracking this. We’re setting up a new data base through the extension service, and we’ll track all the people that come to these classes—all the truck drivers—and that will give the insurance companies some information that says, “hey, the log truck drivers in Mississippi are really going the extra mile to maintain their education and getting reintroduced to these topics who have been driving for thirty, forty years may have forgotten.”

Amy: So, tell me more about the goals of the program.

John: The goals of the program—again, this is a long term part of a solution to these insurance issues we are having, and through this if the insurance companies don’t have good records for the actuarial tables on log truck driving. They’ve got plenty of over the road trucking, but log truck driving is completely different than over the road driving. And so they need better statistics for them to base their rates. And they’re just assuming on a very small pool of drivers that are seeing a lot of accidents so the rates are higher. If we can get more information in there, and, long-term, we want to reduce the number of accidents they’re having and the number of claims through general safety instruction. And the rates are going up across the board. This is not just Mississippi. It's all the states across the south. In fact, team safety was started in South Carolina. It’s an industry wide effort, and, interestingly, there are more claims in the south than there are in the north even though the forest industry is just as competitive as it is down here. So we’re not understanding. They need to figure that out. And part of this is capturing that data.

Amy: That sounds really important, yes. Now contact information: how would someone interested learn about this program?

John: We are going to be putting on more programs. This is in addition to the professional logging manual program, which I also run. This is going to be separate, but we are going to be advertising on our Logger Ed website,, when we get more programs together. We hope to have two or three more this year, in the fall, after our logging show. And then, from there, we are just going to keep continuing to offer these classes, but the Team Safe Trucking (Team Safe is also their website and there is some online resources that truck drivers and fleet owners can use.

Amy: Ok, and this is for existing log truck drivers not potential log truck drivers?

John: Correct. The goal is to get the existing fleet out there, reeducated, and prove the insurance companies that they are safe drivers.

Amy: That sounds great. And that is

John: Correct.

Amy: Thank you so much! Today we have been speaking with Dr. John Auel at Mississippi State University Extension assistant professor. I’m Amy Meyers, and this has been Farm and Family. Have a great day!

Farm and Family is a production of the Mississippi State University Extension Service.

Department: Forestry

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