Friday, March 15, 2024

Celebrating Safety: Alabama Trucking shines at SMMC Fleet Safety Awards Banquet

The Alabama Trucking Association honored its members’ commitment to industry safety and professionalism during the Safety & Maintenance Management Council’s Fleet Safety Awards Banquet on March 14. About 200 attendees gathered at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham to celebrate the excellence of Alabama Trucking and highlight its leading role in fleet safety management and highway safety.

With dozens of awards handed out, the annual event shined a spotlight on Alabama-based trucking businesses with stellar safety records, honoring those that achieved the lowest accident rates per mile within state lines during the year gone by. It also showcased top fleet professionals and drivers for individual excellence in industry safety, management and leadership.

ATA’s Safety & Maintenance Management Council (SMMC) comprises business owners, fleet managers, drivers and other vital transportation employees to form the core of the Association’s industry safety activities, acting as the key gauge for fleet safety standards, strategies, and advisory services for more than three decades. According to Tim Frazier, ATA’s Vice President of Safety & Compliance, the SMMC is the heartbeat of the Association, and this awards program is a valuable tool for promoting safety and best practices within the industry.

ATA Chairman Tommy Neely speaks during the SMMC Fleet Safety Awards Banquet.

“These recognitions not only honor those who excel in their fields but also inspire others to pursue the same level of excellence, fostering a culture of achievement and continuous improvement within the industry,” he said.

ATA Chairman of the Board Tommy Neely of Ross Neely Systems congratulated all participating companies for their steadfast commitment to highway safety and support of ATA’s mission.

“Your dedication and hard work significantly reduce accidents on our highways, keeping our families, drivers, and motorists safe,” he said. “Standing here tonight, the turnout is inspiring, and I’m proud to congratulate all our winners. I also want to applaud our safety council for its outstanding contributions to our Association and our state. Your efforts ensure we work with the industry’s best. For those not yet involved with our SMMC, I encourage you to join this group of esteemed professionals. Together, we’re making a difference.” 

The ATA Fleet Safety Awards are evaluated based on the safety performance and data from the previous year. An independent panel, consisting of officers from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s Motor Carrier Safety Unit, reviews all submissions to ensure a fair and comprehensive assessment. According to the panel, the competition was tight, with some categories decided by a point.

The event featured several categories of awards, each recognizing the achievements of different trucking companies. The winners of each category were announced, and they received plaques and certificates of recognition for their efforts to ensure their fleets’ safety.

The highlight of the evening was the announcement of several top fleet managers and workers for ATA members. Those awards recognize excellence in different facets of the trucking industry. Criteria include factors like safety records, years of service, community involvement, leadership in industry associations, and success in achieving specific goals related to driving, safety, maintenance, or fleet management.

Driver of the Year

Lloyd Howell overwhelmed with emotion upon being named Alabama Driver of the Year.

This year’s Driver of the Year Award was given to Lloyd Howell of TCW, Inc., a seasoned professional with more than 25 years behind the wheel and 2 million safe miles.

He currently serves on the Alabama Road Team, a public outreach program that has allowed him to educate hundreds of students about the “Share the Road” initiative that teaches young drivers how to safely drive near commercial vehicles. Recently, he was named a captain for the American Trucking Association’s America’s Road Team, further amplifying his highway safety efforts.

His supervisors at TCW praise his work ethic, self-discipline and reliability. Always leading in productivity, he prioritizes safety, compliance, and customer service. He is a mentor to many new drivers at TCW, which is a testament to his dedication and respect for his peers.

“This is all so overwhelming,” Howell said. “I have been driving for nearly 30 years, and along the way, I have met some of the best people, the most courteous safest drivers – many of them are here with us tonight. Just to be picked among them to share this award is very exciting for me.”

The Driver of the Year Runner-Up was Chuck Floyd, a third generation truck driver for LB3, Inc. of Wedowee, Ala. The Driver of the Year award is sponsored by Southland Transportation Group.

Safety Professional of the Year

Rebecca Wise, honored as Safety Pro of the Year, alongside Tim Frazier, ATA’s Vice President of Safety

Rebecca Wise of DMT Trucking, LLC was honored as the Fleet Professional of the Year, sponsored by Nextran Truck Centers, and has been a standout in transportation management at her company for a decade.

Beginning with a one-person safety operation and 50 trucks, she has expanded her leadership to a nine-person team managing 325 drivers and the recruiting department. She actively reviews all applications, leads orientations, monitors and coaches drivers and organizes training and recruiting events. Her extensive resume includes participation in several industry organizations, including ATA, Florida Trucking Association, and North American Transportation Management Institute. She has earned numerous awards from her company, the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration, and the ATA Comp Fund.

Praised by teammates and senior management for her reliability, passion, and safety expertise, she stands out as a dedicated team member committed to an uncompromised safety culture.

Safety Professional of the Year Runner-Up was Tracy Rushings of R.E. Garrison Trucking Co.

Maintenance Professional of the Year

Maintence Pro of the year Matt Kelly (left) stands with award sponsor Allan Hicks of Vertical Alliance Group.

Matthew Kelly, with over 15 years in the trucking business, was honored as the Maintenance Professional of the Year, sponsored by Vertical Alliance Group.

As the Director of Maintenance for Greenbush Logistics in Abbeville, Ala., Kelly manages an impressive fleet of more than 3,000 pieces of equipment. His vast training and experience across different equipment OEMs and models have made him a respected leader within the company. Likewise, his leadership skills have earned him numerous awards from current and former employers. In his nomination letter, senior management at Greenbush Logistics stated, “We are fortunate to have (Mr. Kelly) on our team. He embodies the qualities of a top maintenance professional and always exceeds expectations.”

His recent selection for the American Trucking Associations’ prestigious TMC Leaders of Tomorrow Class further showcases his confidence in his abilities and his industry standing.

Maintenance Professional of the Year Runner-Up was Jeff Arledge, Vice President of Maintenance for J & M Tank Lines.

Fleet Manager of the Year

John Butler (center) accepts his award for Fleet Manager of the Year sponsored by Birmingham Freightliner Western Star.

John Butler of R.E. Garrison Trucking Co. was named Fleet Manager of the Year. With a decade at Garrison and over 23 years in trucking, Butler has risen from various management roles to now leading a team of 125 drivers, ensuring smooth deliveries across all 48 contiguous states. His profound knowledge of transportation allows him to build strong partnerships with drivers, optimizing freight movement efficiently. His commitment to driver support has earned him respect from both peers and drivers.

Colleagues commend Butler for his positive outlook, which uplifts and motivates his team. He’s recognized for his effective communication, guiding drivers toward success with clarity and empathy. Butler’s exemplary leadership and care for his team deeply resonate, making a significant impact. The award is sponsored by Birmingham Freightliner Western Star.

President’s Award

In addition to these outstanding individuals, S and M Transportation, Inc. received the President’s Award, sponsored by McGriff Tire Co., which is the Association’s top honor for the fleet with the lowest accident frequency rate based on miles operated within Alabama. According to ATA officials S and M Transportation operated nearly 1 million miles in Alabama without a recordable accident in 2023.

ATA Comp Fund Awards

ATA Comp Fund, an exclusive partner of the Alabama Trucking Association for 30 years, offering comprehensive industry workers’ comp insurance, presented awards for its outstanding clients.

  • Safety Blitz Award – Beverly Transport
  • Moving and Storage – Move & Store, LLC
  • Allied – Associated Grocers of the South
  • Small Fleet – PTP Transportation
  • Medium Fleet – J & K Materials and Trucking
  • Large Fleet – Johnston Trucking
  • Safety Excellence Award – Beverly Transport

Fleet Safety Award Winners

The ATA SMMC also recognized dozens of its member fleets that have displayed earned safety records or improved safety metrics for the previous calendar year.

Click HERE to see the full list of winners.

Special thanks to the Gold Sponsor of the event: Buddy Moore Trucking, PS Logistics, Truckworx Kenworth and Walmart Transportation.

For photos of the event, click here.