SMC History and Programs
The Federal Motor Carrier Act of 1935 created a focus on motor transportation safety that had not previously existed. Truckers experienced changing business trends and increased exposure to losses, public criticism and compliance demands. As a result, many trucking groups and associations began providing educational materials and seminars necessary to address heightened safety awareness within the industry. Truckers began to create safety groups in the late 1940s and early 1950s dealing with driver safety, training, compliance and loss control through cooperative efforts within the motor transportation industry.
In 1953, member companies of Texas Motor Transportation Association (TMTA), created the TMTA Texas Council of Safety Supervisors as a cooperative effort to develop industry standards in safety education, driver development, image enhancement, loss prevention and other topics to strengthen quality performance within the industry. Strong safety networking was established between carrier members and participants within the council. In addition to education sessions, action programs were created that fostered cooperative work efforts among council members who worked together with the compliance enforcement bodies on projects designed to promote compliance, reduce losses, improve quality and safety, as well as enhance the public image of the trucking industry.
Each year since 1962, the Safety Council Program has received the Summa Cum Laude Award, the highest safety award possible, from American Trucking Associations (ATA) in recognition of the continued involvements and accomplishments of the SMC.
Ongoing SMC Programs
Safety Meetings & Seminars
Full council meetings are held throughout the year. Additionally, the council hosts fall and spring seminars, as well as one in conjunction with the TXTA Annual Conference. Attendees are not required to be members of TXTA or SMC; however, TXTA members receive discounted registration rates. The only prerequisite is that attendees possess a willingness to participate in activities and promote transportation safety across the state.
Public Information Committee
This program keeps SMC members informed and updated on current issues critical to our organization and the industry. Coordinated with the state council executive committee and TXTA, these activities include working closely with city councils, traffic research groups, local law enforcement, Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) and U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). This committee seeks to develop membership awareness of important issues facing our industry, recommend methods of building a more positive image, as well as promote a greater public acceptance of our industry.
Vehicle Safety Inspections
This program is a joint effort between the safety and maintenance councils with assistance from members of TxDPS and USDOT. At various times throughout the year and at designated locations across the state, vehicle safety inspection stations are set up to provide a voluntary examination of trucks on the Texas highways. This effort is made in an attempt to reduce the number of defective vehicles on Texas thoroughfares, thereby promoting safer highways and enhancing the public image of the trucking industry. A copy of each written vehicle inspection report is sent to the trucking company’s principal place of business.
Media Ride Along
This TXTA image enhancing program involves SMC members and noted company drivers who work directly with members of the media in efforts to educate the media and public of highway safety and how automobiles and trucks can “Share the Road” safely. This program, which also involves members of TxDPS and FMCSA, occurs in all major Texas cities. Members of the media are invited to ride along with a professional trucker in order to observe the skills of a professional driver and gain a trucker’s perspective.
The Courtesy Road Patrol
Initially named the Holiday Road Patrol, this program was activated in 1959 to offer assistance to enforcement officers on patrol and disabled motorists along Texas highways during the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays. Members of the Safety Council would pair off in teams throughout the state and patrol heavily traveled portions of major Texas highways. Teams carried tools, first–aid supplies, cans of gasoline, water, reflective triangles, jumper cables, soft drinks and snacks to offer assistance to motorists in need. Because this activity continually took away family holiday time from Safety Council members, the activity was later renamed the Courtesy Road Patrol and is now activated at various times during the year. Planned activities throughout the state are coordinated with each of the local safety councils.
The Cooperative Safety Road Patrol
This program is part of American Trucking Associations' (ATA) national effort to observe and report the behavior of truck drivers on the highway. Patrol members are assigned a confidential member application number and provided observation forms to be completed when a performance evaluation is made on an observed trucker. The written report includes time and location and any performance failures, as well as improper driving. These reports are provided to the driver’s company for disciplinary action. Commendable driving is also recognized and reported to the company’s safety director.
Over the years, the SMC has created a Muster Patrol Program which combines the designs of the Courtesy Road Patrol and Cooperative Road Patrol Programs for concentrated patrol emphasis on highway coverage throughout the state. In a cooperative effort with the local safety councils, members pair off as two person teams and are assigned to particular sections of Texas highways. Each member determines the times of day/night that each will patrol. Each team is asked to commit to patrolling a minimum of 15 hours during the seven days of the Muster Patrol Program emphasis week.
SMC Programs Through the YEars
Let’s Keep CB Air Clean
To help reduce offensive language on the CB radio airways, this Texas trucking industry program provided brightly colored adhesive posters for placement on rear trailer doors as a reminder to all CB users that rough, foul language must be avoided. These posters were produced between 1975 and 1980.
State Adoption of Federal Regulations
From 1987 to 1989 members of the Safety Council worked closely with TXTA’s legislative committee, leadership at TxDPS and directly with members of the Texas Legislature in concentrated efforts to support the passage of legislation that would adopt Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations on the state level as compliance standards for motor transportation within Texas. The cooperative efforts of all concerned groups proved successful.
Ten Percent Program
Through this certification program, which ran from 1977 through 1996, TXTA issued certificates to approximately 5,000 commercial drivers whose companies were evaluated, approved and qualified under the Texas State Insurance Board certification program. The program provided qualifying drivers a 10 percent discount on personal automobile insurance, recognizing the fact that the continuous training and certification process for professional drivers make them among the safest drivers on Texas highways.
Promote the Professional
This campaign, which ran from 1964–1968, utilized a series of billboards and posters to communicate with both drivers and the public in an effort to enhance the image of the professional trucker. The first part of the campaign featured billboards displayed at peak traffic locations around the state. The messages on the billboards promoted Texas truckers as skilled, courteous and safety-conscious professionals.
The second part of the campaign featured a series of six posters that compared truck driving to other skilled professions. The posters included: (1) Drivers’ hands hold the steering wheel and responsibility for many lives, like medical surgeons; (2) Drivers must know the rules and regulations of the profession, like attorneys; (3) Drivers must strive to be champions in their profession, like professional athletes; (4) Drivers are willing to serve in all conditions and wear safety ribbons and pins with great pride, like career soldiers; (5) Drivers provide a service to the economy by using the roadways designed by highway engineers, like civil engineers; (6) Drivers must perform in a manner that is pleasing to the public, like talented performers on stage and screen. More than 22,000 posters were distributed throughout the state of Texas to locations that truck drivers and the public frequented.
Thanks for Being a Pro
This program, which was active from 1981 until 1993, was created to recognize truckers who were observed driving like true professionals, rewarding these drivers with letters of commendation and a chance to win $1,000. The program, designed by Henry B. Lewis, began on June 1 of each year and continued through May of the following year. If a driver was observed driving professionally, controlling speed, maintaining good lane travel, applying safe practices and/or acts of courtesy, they became a candidate for nomination. When a professional act was observed, the authorized observer would complete a two-part observation card. One part of the card was presented to the truck driver and a follow-up letter was sent to the driver’s company. The other part of the card, which listed the trucker’s name, their company and the reason for the nomination, was sent to TXTA. Later, during the TXTA Annual Conference, a drawing was held to determine the winning name.