The meeting with Exchange truckers at the Japan Distribution Center wasn’t a typical gathering to pore over ways to keep accidents from happening.
To Jonah Thomas, the Exchange’s Pacific Region fleet manager, the meeting Jan. 10 provided a chance to bolster the Exchange’s relevancy to the Yokota AB military community.
With help from Pacific Region Commander Col. Scott Maskery, Thomas invited four Airmen who drive for the installation’s 374th Logistics Readiness Squadron to the safety meeting to share tips and dispense knowledge on driving big rigs safely. They joined three drivers from the Japan DC.
“A joint driver meeting is a great opportunity to strengthen our relationship with local military command units,” Thomas said. “Not only does it reinforce our commitment to the military community, but it also promotes open collaboration and information sharing with fellow logisticians outside of the Exchange fleet.
“Simply put, sharing experiences allows each member of the team to learn and grow from others to be better drivers.”
The joint training exercise enabled the Exchange to connect its value to the community, and Airmen learned about employment opportunities with the Exchange after they get out of the military, Thomas said.
Thomas even used himself as an example: after he left the military, he told the drivers, Thomas started with the Exchange in 2004 as a trucker with the Atlanta Distribution Center and moved through the ranks to his present position.
The training at the Japan DC included pre- and post-trip vehicle inspections, as well as Get Out and Look (GOAL).
“Inspecting your truck before you leave and after you return are essential parts of every driver’s duty,” Thomas said. “Not only does it help the driver and Exchange avoid unnecessary breakdowns, but inspections also save us time and money—and could even save somebody’s life by catching a mechanical deficiency before it fails.”
Drivers are taught to get out and look before backing up or moving forward when vehicle clearance is questionable. More than half of accidents in the Pacific Region are caused when drivers misjudge clearance while backing up or entering a low or narrow area, Thomas said.
Thomas is eager to connect with other Exchange drivers and military transportation units for training, especially at Camp Humphreys in South Korea and on Okinawa.
“For me, sharing ideas, experiences and safety techniques is one of the most fulfilling events of my career,” he said. “I believe in the old adage of paying it forward just like somebody done for me many years ago.”
The Pacific Region Fleet By the Numbers
152 – Number of trailers, bakery trucks, and other types of trucks.
51 – Number of drivers; 28 at the Korea DC; 18 at the Okinawa DC and 5 at the Japan DC