AAA Arizona works to make the roads safer with new equipment and training.

AAA Arizona works to make the roads safer with new equipment and training.

When most people think of driver safety, they picture driver training programs or cell phone/texting bans, but, true driver safety begins before even taking the wheel.

Jose Gallardo, AAA Arizona fleet general manager, and Max Nelson, environmental health & safety (ESH) program manager for AAA Arizona, recognized the need for a comprehensive employee safety program that includes everything from daily fitness sessions and customized defensive driver training to an employee safety idea contest and stepped-up club safety advocacy. For their bold initiative, the two were honored with a NAFA/Bell Canada Larry Goill Memorial Quality Fleet Management Idea Award April 24 in St. Louis.

“It’s an honor to be recognized by NAFA with the 2012 Larry Goill Award,” said Nelson, who has worked for AAA Arizona for about one and a half years. “I’ve enjoyed implementing this program and am grateful to everyone involved — from upper management and the training department to fleet managers, leads, and drivers.”

Launching the Program

The program was launched in response to workplace accidents and high workers’ compensation expenses. The initiative underscores AAA Arizona’s commitment to a comprehensive safety approach.

All fleet drivers begin their shifts with stretching exercises to help prevent injuries. They also receive more than 20 hours per year in classroom training, are subject to quarterly evaluations and safety spot checks, and wear personal protective equipment.

In 2011, the fleet department reported a nearly 75-percent reduction of incurred losses from 2010. In addition, lost or restricted work days were reduced by nearly 85 percent for the same period.

Company officials said the nominal program costs for providing ergonomic tools, personal protective equipment, vehicle inspection report books, and safety awards are a small price to pay for a healthy workforce.

“This award represents everyone working together to improve the safety of our employees and members while saving resources,” said Gallardo, who has worked for the company for just over two years. “This has been a winning program for everyone. I personally want to thank the EHS committee for their commitment to creating a safer work environment and the training department for ensuring our drivers have the necessary tools to perform at their highest level.”

Named in honor of Larry Goill, a former NAFA vice president for Canada who served as fleet supervisor for Bell Canada, the Larry Goill Memorial Quality Fleet Management Idea Award is presented each year to fleet managers whose great ideas improve productivity, result in bottom-line savings, or deliver other positive outcomes.

AAA Arizona, the Arizona affiliate of AAA, provides automotive, insurance, and auto travel serviecs to more than 825,000 Arizona members. Annually, AAA’s Roadside Assistance responds to more than 450,000 calls for help on Arizona roadways.