Charlie Halfen is a Corporate Fleet Safety Manager for United Parcel Service (UPS). Halfen began his 28+-career with the company as a part-time loader. After working as a driver in the early 1980s, he held management positions in such areas as Driver Operations, Human Resources, Workforce Planning and Employee Relations. He has also held safety positions at various levels throughout UPS and was promoted to his current position as UPS Corporate Fleet Safety Manager in 2004.
Halfen is a Board Member of the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), an organization dedicated to traffic safety in the workplace. UPS worked with NETS to create a Novice Driver Kit to provide parents with a training guide for teens. He is also a Board Member of SafeAmerica, where he concentrates on teen driving.
In 2004, Halfen partnered with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to address local driving issues, and in 2005, the Georgia Governor appointed him to the Georgia Driver’s Education Commission, which was formed to address teen driving in the state. He is also past Chair of the UPS Motor Carrier Compliance Committee.
Below Halfen gives further background on UPS’s driver training program and explains how safety training impacts the company’s return on investment.
UPS plans to reduce its automotive accident frequency rate by more than 12% by 2007. How close is UPS to reaching that goal?
We will reach and likely exceed our goal of a 12% reduction by the end of 2006.
How does UPS ensure that its driver training program meets federal standards and regulations?
We follow the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration guidelines from pre-employment through post-employment.
UPS’s driver training program is based on the Smith System, a methodology established in 1952 to train professional drivers. Does UPS’s driver training program draw from other recognized programs as well?
We share information with groups such as the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS), the Georgia Governor’s Office on Highway Safety, Safe America and others. At this point, we have been sharing our training techniques with those and other outside organizations. The Smith System gives us the Five Seeing Habits, but we have developed substantially more driver training techniques. We use our ten-point commentary checklist, drill drive and the technique of observation, explanation, commentary and drill. These training techniques are based on behind-the-wheel training as opposed to simulators or classroom instruction. Behind-the-wheel hazard recognition is the foundation of our training. We expect drivers and trainers to be able to give 45 hazard observations in a two-minute period.
The UPS Driver Training School in South Holland, Illinois is known for its rigorous driver training program, which combines classroom and over-the-road instruction. Does UPS plan to incorporate other training methods, such as online learning, into its driver training program? Why or why not?
We are currently developing a new training model that incorporates different technologies for learning, including computer-based training, gaming techniques, virtual driving scenes and more. However, the foundation of our safety training is still behind-the-wheel. That is where you get the most results. Programs without behind-the-wheel training lack an essential element.
UPS invests $38 million in safety training each year. How has this impacted UPS’s return on investment?
Of course, the biggest impact is that we have healthy, satisfied employees who go home each day in the same shape as they came to work. We also have a reputation for serving the public safely. This is a great advantage in today’s marketplace as consumers are increasingly aware of a company’s socially responsible actions. In addition to those essential elements of return, we save money by not having accidents and injuries. For the third quarter of 2006, we saved $87 million in workers’ compensation costs because of our attention to safety training.