To be selected as the “best of the best” among trucking company safety directors in the nation takes a breadth of knowledge, coupled with continuous improvement, all in a dynamic environment. Such qualities are why the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) Safety Management Council announced in November that Sam Faucette, from PrePass customer Old Dominion Freight Line (ODFL), was the recipient of the ATA 2018 National Safety Director Award.

Sam Faucet, safety director at ODFL.

Faucette is the North Carolina-based company’s vice president of safety and compliance. In that role, he has overseen year-after-year improvements in the ODFL safety record, all while the carrier’s drivers, annual mileage and terminal network has tripled. Today, ODFL has more than 10,000 drivers, who logged nearly 750 million miles in 2017.

Faucette said the award process required “a lot of work” and there was “stiff competition” from other deserving safety directors. The results — nominations are reviewed by past winners and ultimately selected by law enforcement officials and representatives of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance — are kept confidential until revealed at the council’s annual meeting.

Faucette said the first inkling that he would be the recipient came when his profile was read at the award ceremony. His reaction? “I was honored to be listed among people I consider to be the legends of safety.”

ODFL has internally recognized his award, but Faucette quickly noted that it takes a team effort to achieve safety: “I’m here through the support of my staff, the folks in operations and linehaul, and the drivers,” he said.

Faucette clearly understands the interplay of drivers, equipment and service demands because, with more than 38 years in trucking, he has personally worked in each capacity. Starting as a driver in the early 1980s, Faucette has been a mechanic and a field safety supervisor before rising in the safety management ranks.

Just as his drivers know the importance of sharing the road, along the way Faucette learned the value of sharing his time and expertise with others in the industry beyond ODFL. He is active in the North Carolina Trucking Association, at ATA, and in many transportation advisory boards and safety groups. This year Faucette also chaired the National Truck Driving Championships for the ATA Safety Management Council. Faucette underscored the value of industry involvement. “I learn something from everybody in the room,” he said.

Continuous learning is essential to safety, Faucette said. So are the right tools. ODFL is a long-time PrePass customer. He said PrePass is “deeply engrained” in the company’s operations and is appreciated by its drivers, who can “keep moving” when bypassing weigh stations. Faucette and his staff, in turn, focus their attention on keeping ODFL’s safety metrics, especially their ISS (Inspection Selection System) score, in line to qualify for PrePass. To do that, Faucette examines every inspection result, including roadside inspections, to identify trends by reason and location.

His advice to safety directors everywhere is simple. “Don’t be scared to try new programs and think outside the box.” ODFL, for example, was an early adopter of technology, such as on-board recorders and, certainly, PrePass. “We must continue to move forward – safely,” Faucette said.

Photos: ATA Safety Management Council and ODFL