Being a “stickler” for something may be perceived as a negative thing, but when it comes to Bennett DriveAway driver Donna Stumme, being a safety stickler could be the difference between life and death. Bennett DriveAway is a division of Bennett that supplies drivers to transport light or heavy duty rolling stock to any point in the U.S. and Canada, as well as a wide range of vehicles for manufacturers, municipalities, dealers and fleets. As one can imagine, anything can happen out on the road, but we have peace of mind knowing we have drivers like Donna taking precautionary safety measures no matter how challenging.
Donna has been driving for 17 years, and three of those have been with Bennett. Her experience also includes Hazmat driving in the last couple of months. She grew up a farm girl, and now lives in Iowa. Though she is small, at 5 foot and a half, she sure is mighty. Donna was previously in customer service before driving, and views pre-trip inspections as an important part of customer services. She has an outstanding safety record and a reputation for being a stickler with pre-trip inspections.
“What Bennett has taught me has helped me pass inspections.”
Donna has a unique approach to driving and safety: “How I approach safety is that everything can be a liability,” she says. “As a driver, you want to get there a day earlier and work harder, but something as simple as a pre-trip check could not only avoid accidents, but could also keep you out of jail. It makes me feel better when my head hits the pillow. I’ve had officers tell me ‘we need you out here teaching drivers when we conduct road side inspections’.”
Donna credits her success to Bennett. “I appreciate how Bennett continues to educate drivers on DOT expectations,” she says. “They keep us informed on what we need to be aware of out on the road. What Bennett has taught me has helped me pass inspections. Bennett is part of my success.”
Pre-trip Inspection Saved the Day
In one of many instances, Donna was picking up a used rental unit from a first-time shipper, and conducted a pre-trip inspection before departing, in which she found a serious issue that could have resulted in serious liability and costs.
She shares the story: “I was doing the pre-trip, checking the oil and lights, airing up the brake system and air tanks, then shut the unit off and walked around to listen, and I heard something. I walked over to the manager to tell him I heard an air leak under the driver’s side in the rear (this unit was a tanker and has a lot of equipment). He got the crawler out, went under the truck and came out grinning and shaking my hand. He said, ‘that little bitty air leak is about the length of my hand, and that thing would have blown, with you in the middle of New York City traffic.’ That small air leak could have cost tons of liabilities. It’s not just about safety or avoiding a fine, it’s about being liable. If someone gets hurt, the driver is going to jail. That specific manager told me he hardly ever sees drivers do a pre-trip check, and I hear that all the time. That’s why I always call the shipper ahead of time. I do a thorough pre-trip check, listen for air leaks, check the license plate lights, tires, windshield wipers, battery, etc.”
“When we’re out on the road, we represent Bennett”
In a time when people like to take detours and cut corners, Donna says diligence is the key to success. “When we are out on the road, we represent Bennett. When we shine with a pre-trip, we’re going to increase the amount of loads that Bennett gets, which means more loads and better work for us. A plant manager once told me, ‘When a driver doesn’t do a pre-trip check, it tells me he doesn’t care about my company, the equipment, or my customer.’ My point I’d like to make to drivers is that by taking the extra 15 minutes, we make Bennett shine. Word then gets out about our quality of work, and we get more loads, thus more choices!”
Donna acknowledges that being this thorough in pre-trip checks might take a few more minutes, it might require more work and effort, but it all pays off in the long run. She says she regularly receives good reviews from Bennett customers. When standards are raised, “the delivery will shine more.” She also knows success in safety isn’t one-sided. Donna says, “It’s a TEAM effort. Bennett backs us up, and you can’t put a price on that.”