J.B. Hunt Fosters a Safety Culture
By Margery Weinstein
J.B. Hunt has a safety initiative called 15 + 7 Saves Lives firmly ingrained in what the company calls its “safety culture.” While several factors affect the reputation of a trucking company, J.B. Hunt believes that nothing compares to the perception of how safe a carrier is on the road. The motoring public expects trucking companies to employ safe drivers whose actions will place neither them nor their family in danger. The 15 + 7 Saves Lives program was designed to encourage drivers to focus on the space around their vehicle and possess an awareness of their surroundings at all times.
The company strongly believes when drivers have the visibility to see and identify a problem and the space to respond, they provide themselves with the time to react to a potentially dangerous situation. Too many times, accidents occur when drivers are surprised because they did not see changes in their environment or they were so close to other motorists their only reaction was to panic. Drivers of commercial motor vehicles, which sometimes carry fully loaded trailers weighing 80,000 pounds or more, can have disastrous results when they panic in reaction to emergencies. Here is how the 15 + 7 Saves Lives program works to avoid such catastrophes:
- Training on the 15 + 7 Saves Lives program is not accomplished just in an annual driver’s class nor is it considered only the driver’s responsibility to learn and understand. 15 + 7 is an attitude J.B. Hunt wants to be seen by all employees, to include all professional drivers, everyday within the entire company. It is a detailed program that both drivers and office staff are trained on and encouraged to use.
- Individuals learn a 15-second eye lead-time means of scanning ahead at least one-quarter of a mile or more on the highway and one to two blocks in town. The purpose is to look for and identify any situation that requires the driver to react in order to avoid collision involvement.
- The number 7 represents the amount of space, measured in seconds, needed between the semi (tractor and trailer) and the vehicle in front of them. This space is important, because due to the weight of the tractor and trailer at speeds of more than 60 mph, it would take between nine and 10 tractor-trailer lengths to come to a complete stop; that equals about seven seconds at highway speed.
- By focusing on 15 + 7, drivers are able to constantly address the challenges to maintain space around the vehicle and to be aware of the unexpected actions of others.
- The company considers 15 + 7 a measure of its commitment to save lives. For the last several years, the Department of Transportation has identified J.B. Hunt as one of the safest large carriers.
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