Andy Kidd

Interview by
Published on
October 6, 2022

In this episode...

Accidents happen — what must drivers do to avoid them? FreightWorks’ Director of Safety Andy Kidd is back to share his experiences and what made ensuring safety in the transportation and logistics industry his profession. In his 51 years of road safety experience, Kidd believes you could never be too comfortable, no matter how long you’ve been driving. Expressing how statistics and tests have given light to how drivers tend to be complacent, he is advocating that if you want to make it and grow as a professional in this industry, learning to drive safely and taking precautions must be your priority. Check out part two of our driver safety talk with Andy Kidd on Life By The Mile - delivered by FreightWorks.

Andy Kidd

Andy Kidd is FreightWorks' Safety Director.


this morning if you're getting on the delta flight to atlanta and they said folks uh you know captain smith didn't show up but you know officer russell he's a good guy he's ready and willing to take this plane down to atlanta on your own and i'm sure you'll all you know congratulate him when you get there safely i don't know that many of the passengers would hear the last part of that sentence they'd all be out the door because we've gotten used to checks and balances in regulated transport welcome to life for the mile delivered by brakeworks one of america's fastest growing podcasts actually produced by trucks indicted to tell stories compelling drivers i need to do something industry all here right now this is like by the mile delivered by freightworks you know it is a tremendous delight today to have andy kidd the director of safety for freightworks back with us as promised for episode number two in episode number one we learned about his background how he came into the trucking and logistics industry today we're going to take a deeper dive into discussion items about safety in the whole area of transportation and logistics and you know what i have to say this at the risk of it sounding like it's patronizing and i don't take for granted nor do we anytime people on the front lines of freightworks work take 30 minutes to come in and sit down and talk so we're grateful it's an opportunity to um pull our thoughts together reflect somewhat and uh it was very interesting i listened back to the first program that we did and i listened to i if you could if i could think of it like this almost as an outsider yeah that's me but it was me in it but i was kind of a little bit removed and so these these occasions sometimes we can have a you know a very inspiring reflection on that and go back and do things so much better simply because one little thing impressed us and that's a good thing it is good and you know what i was thinking to myself you don't want excitable air traffic controllers do you i mean you when you think about it you don't want an emotive kind of very histrionic air traffic controller and you're the director of safety and so you know what god made you the way he made you and being measured and being forceful in a way where you're having to deal sometimes with chaos i just want to affirm you as a friend well um safety exists in a in a lot of tension all the times and i i my office is right um beside operations dispatch and so on like that i could not survive in there the crisis or it's not a state of uh chaos but you know you've got they've got to be able to make really good decisions that impact a lot of people's lives on the fly so yeah in the moment right right and um safety we're we have the um the blessing of being maybe one or two steps removed back from that and yet there are times when we have to be very instant in season and say no this cannot happen because this is unsafe uh so we're almost we're always in the wings watching waiting and and observing the the things that are important that we feel are important that are going to help move the needle no one no one who you know goes out in their car ever thinks today i'll i'll probably have a bad accident no one and um certainly truck drivers the statistics came out just a few weeks ago last year the record number of deaths of people killed on the road really it's been increasing yes over 30 almost 37 000 people last year uh just truck drivers 432 truck drivers which interestingly and sadly 43 of those were not wearing their seat belt now that's those are some very real numbers that it you know you got to look at that and then say well what can we do and so we're always trying to do better to to do things that will move the needle on those numbers and yet at the same time uh will cultivate engagement from the drivers um you know i don't like i said no one ever thinks i'll go out and i'll have an accident today but someone who does think it's possible that i'll have an accident today and has that in their thinking all the time as they drive is a safer driver rather than complacency is the enemy of of everyone you know i i've done this you know i mean i think i've been driving uh 51 years and um you tend to think well you know i'm okay i'm okay it's not me it's the other guy no there are all times i'm sure and i could share some occasions when i know personally a moment's distraction and if it hadn't been for someone else making a a defensive maneuver i could have been that accident statistic so we're all it's no one escapes uh in the safety arena and no one gets it gets a get out of jail free card this is andy kid the director of safety at freight works this is life by the mile delivered by freightworks and we want to make sure that you subscribe to that youtube channel post a comment engage share we want to grow the audience and we'll continue to bring you these inspiring and insightful uh interviews and doing so i was thinking about you the other day i was going down the hill right there at thunder road right and uh you know that's a place where you can anticipate somebody may try to run a yellow light i mean it becomes really practical doesn't it develop a mindset of what could happen it's interesting you should say that because unfortunately our community lost one of its really most loved and and very honored members dr mcclooney at that very intersection i'm thinking about two to three years ago when a truck unfortunately failed to stop at that intersection and he went on the green light around the red light and he was killed instantly so it's very close i mean that's very close to home um and i unfortunately but fortunately a lot of the educational and informative things that i get to watch in my job are videos of course we have access today to dash cams a lot of people use dash cams companies use dash cams in their in their vehicles and so on and so you can see some really scary things that happen um on a daily basis um things which back in the day of you know print would have been you would have only have seen the final resting place of the truck but to actually live through that last five years it puts you in the middle of it right yeah one of the things that i of course we have a safety program for all new drivers and orientation and one of the things i love to do is one of our drivers unfortunately was involved in a not too serious certainly no one was hurt in that accident about three four months ago and our driver had a her own her own dash cam and um of course we i love to show that footage to the drivers and no comment and they they place themselves immediately in that truck and they watch and it involved a car coming on with an on-ramp and it's amazing to see how aware they are and it makes you realize the degree to which they they have to be alert you know just a simple thing like emerging an on-ramp on an interstate i mean think drivers driving 600 miles a day think how many on-ramps they pass and you know it's not there's nothing that they can ever afford to lay back and say well the next five miles are easy but just all the maneuvering and so on that that went into that once it that in that situation and how they react to it and the things that they pick up on shows you how well and how alert they are and what they have learned from experience you know it's so interesting because one i was going to ask you about this one of the comments i've picked up on in the driver's lounge i'll ask drivers of every age and tenure when it comes to driving i'll ask them is it ever possible to kind of learn it all and the ones consistently tell me that something along the lines they say in different ways if i ever think i've learned it all i'm in trouble how would you respond to that i've heard that many times new drivers coming in um you know back in the days when i was doing the road tests um i would spend 30 40 minutes perhaps an hour with the driver watching him do his pre-trip watching him get in the truck hook up to a trailer and so on and so forth and we as a company have certain policies ways that we want you to do it um and unfortunately for the drivers you know they've just moved from another company and this was the way they were told to do it here and they've got us so we inherit that right yes we inherit everybody else's you know the things that they've picked up on and so it behooves us to have uh certain um standard operating procedures if you want to call them that that uh so that the driver can know i was doing it the way you asked me to do it and and so in that context quite a few times that com that exact comment has come up you know um i've only had one driver who was a 40-year drive 35 40-year driver who said well you can show me that way to do it but i'm going to do it my way you know and i don't think he stayed with us too long you know and so that is uh i think it's a very genuine thing when they say that um that that they understand that if they ever think they've got it down they're very susceptible you know andy let me go back to this comment about the number of truck drivers professional drivers that died in the last year and the percentage what was the percentage that didn't have a car 43 now what to what would you attribute that i mean is that just i don't want to wear it or you know what i just don't like being told what to do or it's too hard i mean how in the world would that be again in orientation go over a lot of things we have you you on when you're driving out in the interstate you'll see trucks pulled in at the way station every time a truck is pulled in at the weight station it goes through an examination on behalf of the company whose logo is on the side of the truck and the driver is the one who gets to sit the exam and so um the the shocking statistic again there is going back one or two years in all of the uh waste station examinations 44 265 drivers were not wearing their seat belts so it's it's not an uncommon thing you know 43 just under half i don't think under half of the people out there um on driving trucks are not wearing their seat belt but obviously in a fatal accident it um plays into that a whole lot more and of course i'm sure that you you've mentioned before the the recording that we were going to be talking about new technologies i can tell whether a driver is wearing a seat belt or not the computer on the truck alerts me you know and pass it doesn't pass me that in live information but it records whether the seat belts won't work even if he puts it around the back and and plugs it in then various you know there are other things that let us know if he's doing that safely or not how do you how do you deal with drivers and their psychology and their experience where they may feel like a growing amount of technology is uh intruding on their privacy or their you know they they don't see they don't see that it's safety for them they don't see its protection for them how do you deal with that with them andy well you know there's a whole lot of talk and then there's there's the action behind that talk we as an industry we went through back in 2016 the introduction of the eld electronic logging device and prior to that happening of course had been discussed for many years um prior to it happening there were numerous numerous surveys that i saw where they said 70 of the driver said if they enforce this i'm going to retire in other words i don't want it well you know what they didn't retire and now i'm hearing increasingly especially from some of the older drivers they actually like it because it gives them structure to the day they no longer can be hounded by a an outlaw carrier that says well i need you to run that and you just run it no matter what which when paper logs were the order of the day they were they were under that pressure and so there's that side technology can protect the rights of the driver on the other the flip coin of that is um particularly with cameras a lot of companies are using cameras these days forward-facing but also rear-facing cameras right pretty much as a tool as an assist for the driver to let him kind of look in the mirror and see what what he's what he's doing that he could be doing better things that he's got a little bit slack on perhaps and so um there's still a little bit of pushback on that but increasingly in in orientation you know five out of six maybe all six out of six drivers will say we want cameras in the truck because something i think it's i think the statistic is 93 of the time or 83 of the time uh the video exonerates the driver okay and and that you know as a tool um for example in the incident that i just referred to of course i can't go into details um because the you know the accident would be subdued to say um the the two witness statements who were actually involved in the in in the accident were completely off the wall and the the initial claims which we received against us were immediately dismissed when we showed them the video yeah because it's this evidence i mean it's existential evidence it's right there right so videos are cameras are a great thing for professional drivers uh yes there's a certain amount of you could say intrusion i mean do you have a camera watching you while you're working all the time things like that they they feel that's that's an infraction on their things and yet you know we've all grown up for 50 years with the black box and on the flight deck of every aircraft that we get on you know uh every time there's a crash and every ti and even for training purposes all of that is reviewed and um you know none of us would you know this morning if you're getting on the delta flight to atlanta and they said you know this morning you know folks uh you know captain smith didn't show up but you know officer russell he's a good guy he's ready and willing to take this plane down to atlanta on your own and i'm sure you'll all you know congratulate him when you get there safely i don't know that many of the passengers would hear the last part of that sentence they'd all be out the door because we've gotten used to checks and balances in regulated transport and a lot of that has been slow in coming in the trucking industry um because perhaps it would seem that there's not so much at stake but when you think of the number of lies lost 40 you know almost 40 000 lives lost those are high stakes and it behooves us to do everything we can every one of those lives it's very precious there's a family behind every one of those lives a whole group of circle of people whose lives are forever affected by my things and then you start to look at the technology that we i mean we carry a cell phone you know and we think because we own that cell phone we paid apple a thousand dollars for it it's ours and we can use it whenever we want if you're a professional truck driver you can't and there are certain ways even that you can use it minimally and even as a person you can decide whether you want to use it or not while you're driving um and uh i think we're going to see more and more regulation as we go forward you know if if again on the delta flight if they said you know this morning you know captain smith he's been doing this for 30 years he's only got another two years to retirement and he's throwing the checklist out this morning he's done this so many times yeah he knows in his gut we're ready to go and he's got a cousin down he's going to see it the weekend and he'll be texting them during the flight and and you know just making the last minute arrangements in other words not really paying attention to what what he's there to do we wouldn't sit on that aircraft for one minute simply because we've got a heightened awareness of what the risks are right and and so we we all are very familiar with the concept of you know balancing risks and weighing the risks and doing that and that's what safety is all about and sometimes perhaps older drivers who are becoming more and more used to increased regulation increased technology um increased distractions in their you know we can tell where every driver is immediately we can see if he's taking the wrong turn we can see um whether or not he's going to make his delivery it's very important to the customers and so whereas previously you know he had got to go and find a one of those little blue do you remember and put a quarter in for you to find out where is he you know what's happening and uh of course it gave a lot of freedom and to to the drivers and you were talking about the driver's reaction you know a lot of people become drivers because they it's a second career and they've worked in a factory or they've worked somewhere where 7 30 in the morning to 4 30 or 3 30 in the afternoon whatever it was and head down you do your job click click click click and they see a picture of a truck out in wyoming right with those beautiful mountains and the sunset and i think it's time i've had enough of this and off they go and they step into perhaps after aviation the second most regulated industry in the united states or certainly up there in the top ones perhaps you know the medicine practice of medicine is equally regulated and and safety unfortunately has the job of gradually dispelling their living the dream right you know and and that wasn't what they signed up for for someone to be calling them saying why are you uh speeding you know things like that and and so so that's where we live in that tension so that's very interesting you know i grew up in a home where my father was an airline pilot and he flew in the military and i can remember his little boy andy looking out the window and seeing the pilot walk around look at the wings and look at the wheel well and do everything that they were doing i want to talk for a minute from your perspective as the director of safety can you talk a little bit about why comprehensive pre-trip and post-trip inspections are a vital tool in all of this i mean why is that important for drivers um in our first session i mentioned a very great impact that attending the wright brothers museum had on me and um whilst they chose you know the saw soft sand and whatnot down there on the outer banks to fly uh one of the comments that they made is you know the challenge in learning something new is you know a machine your interaction with the machine learning how to interact with it and it always something new is always going to happen and i can't remember the exact quote but that really impacted me too that there's so many things i mean they're the the computers on the truck on the engine are way more sophisticated than what put a man on the moon right and and so a lot of data is coming off that truck all the time but there's nothing that can beat that trained visual eye that walks around and sees something that's fixing to happen something's beginning to go wrong just an ear for that sound wasn't in my engine yesterday or that window wasn't vibrating like that yesterday and so they particularly those with the more mechanical bent are very good at catching something early on that could be disastrous that could be you know lead to complete failure of the brake system or something else which could you know have a great impact um so the pre-trip every day is unfortunately it's one of the areas that in when litigation happens after a bad accident that's the thing that the plaintiff's attorney quite often focus in on did your you know your guy who killed my client you know i go back three months and i'm regular seeing you know one minute two minute five minute eight minutes of a pre-trip and yet when i take a csva inspector in off the street and ask him to do a truck it takes him 40 minutes of course he's not seen the truck before whereas a driver you know he went to sleep last night and everything was working fine but one of the unfortunately one of the you know fairly common things that happens with truck stops is people will pull the hitch on the trailer pull the fifth wheel lock and watch and sit and watch the guy drive off from the trailer drop well that's great if it drops there but what if it stays on and it gets a half mile down the road and then that trailer comes off so you know there's there's just so much to contend with um continually checking things all the time is very important using checklists and realizing this is my life that's at stake i am sure again back to our analogy of the flight you know we're going to atlanta butch and i'm we're sitting there and the the captain says you know i really i've done this checklist so many times i know it by heart i'm not really doing it today i've had enough we would not stay on that right right that's what you know we rely on uh you know how many times do they find something wrong not very often but when they do it's important and they know this is a stop the job issues it's really good stop we've got to stop the job and you know one of the things that i want to mention is uh we we empower our drivers we give them a you know a very valuable piece of equipment the tractor and the trailer a very valuable load that doesn't you know that's not the the the most important factor lives are at stake and they've got to decide they've got to know that if anything doesn't feel right they're the captain of the ship i'm sitting here in my office i can look at the data and everything else or whatever they're the captain of the ship if they don't feel right about driving you know in the regulations it says that the the driver shall not drive if he is fatigued and a motor carrier shall not permit or require a driver to drive while he's ill or fatigued or for any other cause that caused him to to interfere with his ability to drive a truck that's a huge responsibility and that when we hand them the keys that's the responsibility they're taking every day um i have a gr enormous respect for our drivers uh that what they do every day that i just that it i just trust that it never becomes just another day right just another day um well and in listening to you talk to drivers uh andy i it's clear that you have a heart you don't walk around with a rule book you're clearly trying to figure out what can you do to serve and help and encourage you know in the spirit of that let's talk about something you know we we always move so quickly here let's talk about something that's so important what how can you help drivers understand the importance of getting sleep and rest breaks how do you because when i've talked in the driver's lounge to some people you know they'll say well i sleep when i you know when i can or but you almost get around to it right and uh unfortunately i i don't want to be hypocritical here i i function on too little sleep myself so i've got to er two in things that i like to refer to i've had the uh honor and privilege to talk to two 40-year drivers with very clean driving records and i asked them the question what would you tell someone who's only got two years or six months experience what would you pass on what's the number one thing both of them totally independently on six months apart from each other said one thing they said this if you haven't had eight hours of good sleep you have no business driving a truck that made a big impression on me listen that's something just a few months ago i was talking to one of our more senior drivers who's his second career for him he'd started driving five six years ago and he told i was trying to explain to him we had a huge change in the hours of service the rules that yeah that determine how long a driver is allowed to drive and september 29th uh almost two years this was coming out of cobid and and just the different guidelines that were lifted or didn't it wasn't affected by cove but it was on the the the books long before that but it came into effect on september 29th uh two years ago and i was it actually um addressed one of the issues where drivers have to you know they get up they start their day they drive two hours to the receiver and they sit there waiting for eight hours to get their truck unloaded that is that was time that they really wanted to be driving so they could get paid and they don't get paid for sitting there in to in a certain form thinking so they they change the rules so that if if you could arrange it as a split sleeper birth which i don't need to go into the details but it made their day much more productive and gave them much more flexibility so i was explaining this to one of the senior drivers and he was having a little bit of a hard time grasping it i thought and then he all of a sudden he said put his hands to the stop i've heard enough i've heard enough i said i'm sorry did i offend you or what somebody said no let me tell you he said five years ago when i started driving and it was it had a very good career in other areas before that so five years i started driving i would take any load they gave me and you know run it of course legally but you know i if it was involved changing my sleep pattern with it not a problem he said i was always fighting nodding head you know they they're pecking corn syndrome and he said and one day i realized my family depend on me and if i did not come home it would be as be a disaster for them a financial disaster an emotional disaster everything and he said i thought about it and i thought when i need to get my sleep he said and now he said ever since then there it you couldn't pay me 20 000 to take a load that's going to interfere with my sleep pattern he said i'm not going to do it he said but i can look you in the eye today and tell you categorically ever since i made that decision not one time have my eyes felt heavy isn't that something and that of course he in in my estimation he i i thought that is wonderful i wish everyone would realize that you know the impact that their life has on so many people and and act accordingly there's no load worth anyone's life there's no piece of equipment worth anyone's life and yet we you know we're under the pressure to to you know meet the demands of our customers etc and get home on time and do all of that but if we don't get home what good is that you know so that that's what i would say is as far as it's the importance of sleep i mean i don't know that you'll hear that very often but to me that is a big thing and it's got to be liberating i would think for so many drivers to realize at the end of the day i get to make the call if i feel safe enough to drive i tell our drivers often you know if you if you're if you're ever talking to your driver manager dispatcher and you say you know i'm not feeling too well i said the next thing you should hear from their mouth is let me know when to get back in touch with you when you feel you will be in a fit condition to drive because we are not allowed to permit them to drive right and they shouldn't want to drive you know we got to help them we are their safety right we are their safety we are the ones that will say you know you might like to get that load done and everything it might look good in the checkbook but you know if you're not even going to be here to cash that check there's not much point to that folks this is life by the mile delivered by freightworks uh andy kidd the director of safety and you know what that is a fitting benediction because you know a lot of companies out there say the same things your family we love you we care for you we care for your family you'll get good miles you'll be in a safe environment safe trucks and the like but you know what it comes down to decisions that are made moment by moment and andy it's just been a wonderful opportunity to hear again that there's a heart behind the guidelines i mean you have to manage encyclopedias of guidelines that are imposed at every level of government and certainly by the company but you do it in a way i've seen it consistently where people feel valued and cared for and they're more than just a number and we're learning more and more every day and we've certainly not arrived and uh you know we strive to do better and better every day and to um reach that part in people's hearts where they realize you know you're the first time that's the first time i've ever heard that that's good to feel like that that that puts a security net you know you know what it's like when you're under a deadline or pressure and someone comes comes rushing in the door and said it's okay we got it moved to next week right that relief that you feel that's important that's important that we we remove that pressure that people do not make unsafe decisions because of deadlines well this is going to be a first for a podcast i believe maybe only the second time it's happened we're not going to offer you a gift because you already have a yeti mug and it's well used it's well used even since we recorded it's it's doing this so so when you come back at some point for your third episode we'll uh give a little feature on the yeti mug and and we just know it's observed a lot of conversations that you've had this is life of the mile delivered by freight freightworks you find us two times a week make sure you subscribe to the youtube channel engage like share become part of our desire which is to show you the colorful inspiring life of america's truckers andy thank you so much for being here thank you thanks for watching this episode you know life by the mile delivered by freightworks is one of the newest largest and fastest growing podcasts actually produced by a trucking company now we want you to like and share this episode if you'd like to see more episodes click here and make sure that you subscribe to this channel by clicking here we'll see you there


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