The chief executive of a Toledo-based tanker truck firm has been elected chairman of a national trucking association, a position he said should allow him to help the industry as well as his hometown.
Dean Kaplan, CEO of K-Limited Carriers Ltd., was elected last month to lead the National Tank Truck Carriers Inc.
Mr. Kaplan, 61, is to serve a one-year term atop the 700-member organization.
He said Monday that he wants to get drivers better recognition, push safety, and help address regulatory concerns, such as hours of service issues.
Mr. Kaplan has spent nearly his entire life in the business, following his father, who started a trucking outfit in 1940.
K-Limited was founded in 1997 by Mr. Kaplan and his wife, Kim. Mrs. Kaplan is the majority owner of the firm.
The company has grown to more than more than 100 trucks with terminals in Toledo, Detroit, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Cleveland.
As chairman of the National Tank Truck Carriers, Mr. Kaplan said he wants to further recognition of the industry’s drivers.
“The safety culture that is with them every day of their working lives. It’s not something that just happens, it’s something that really starts from the top,” he said.
Safety is something Mr. Kaplan keeps going back to, especially now as early indications are that a truck driver was at fault in the fatal crash involving comedian Tracy Morgan.
Mr. Morgan was injured and his friend James McNair was killed on June 7 when their limousine van was struck from behind by a Wal-Mart truck on the New Jersey Turnpike. The truck driver, Kevin Roper, has pleaded not guilty to one count of death by auto and four counts of assault by auto.
Investigators said Mr. Roper had been on the job about 13½ hours at the time of the crash. Federal rules permit truck drivers to work up to 14 hours a day, with a maximum of 11 hours behind the wheel.
Mr. Kaplan said he doesn’t want to downplay the severity of any crash, especially one involving a tractor-trailer. But he also points out that the industry is safe and has done a very good job of improving that record.
Data from the American Trucking Association shows the number of injuries from crashes involving trucks fell 20 percent from 2002 to 2012, while the number of deaths fell 21 percent over the same period.
The truck-involved fatality rate per 100 million miles driven fell 37 percent.
Mr. Kaplan hopes those numbers can fall even further.
He and the organization think one helpful regulation would be requiring electronic logbooks.
The group also is pushing for a national clearinghouse against which leaders could check applicants for prior drug or alcohol violations.
One of the current issues at the forefront for the organization are hours of service overnight rest rules that Mr. Kaplan says puts more trucks on the road during the prime rush hour times in the morning and can make just-in-time shipping schedules more challenging.
He also thinks the platform he has at the National Tank Truck Carriers will be good for talking up the area.
“We’re in such a good position, and I think the position of a chairmanship can certainly bring light to Toledo,” he said.
Mr. Kaplan said Toledo’s access to I-80, I-75, a deep water port, and an airport make the area a natural place for more transportation.
“We have such an opportunity in Toledo,” he said. “It’s one of the few metropolitan and commerce areas that’s not bottlenecked ... We do business in Chicago. You can’t move anything in Chicago.”