Remembering TruckSafe’s John Kelly

With no other road transport accreditation scheme as comprehensive or robust, TruckSafe has a long history of leading industry safety and raising the bar for businesses. 

2021 is a significant year for TruckSafe, as it celebrates its 25th anniversary. One man who played a key role in TruckSafe’s establishment all those years ago was the late John Kelly.

Kelly’s career in the transport industry started when he began working as a truck driver for Scotts Transport, before becoming a subcontractor owner-driver for BP/Shell for many years. 

In the mid-1990s, Kelly wanted to move away from driving and into risk management, becoming a driver trainer at Roadmaster Haulage. Kelly had a passion for defensive driving after his many years of experience driving multi-combinations and road trains across Australia’s many varied terrains. 

John Kelly is fondly remembered during TruckSafe’s 25th year.

Kelly’s passion also lay in conveying the importance of safety for the trucking industry, which saw him become a full-time consultant working for the Road Transport Forum (now Australian Trucking Association).

In this role, Kelly was instrumental in the development of Team 200 (now known as TruckSafe) with other industry champions such as Craig Roseneder and Dean Croke. 

The success of TruckSafe today can be credited to Kelly’s passion and drive, working to develop fatigue management programs for the road freight industry and implement important driver training programs.

To honour Kelly ‘s contribution to not only TruckSafe but the wider trucking industry, in 2011 the John Kelly Memorial Award was established.

Honouring TruckSafe accredited operators who have implemented and promoted the program in an exceptional manner, the award celebrates those who have fostered a strong safety culture in every part of their business. 

These days, Kelly’s legacy lives on through his son Noel, Director of AEI Insurance Broking Group and a TruckSafe board member.

“As an owner in the business, it made sense to continue the legacy of my father and support the great work TruckSafe does as the peak accreditation in Australia,” Noel said. 

“I have been fortunate enough to now be involved in the TruckSafe board. AEI’s interest as insurance brokers trying to mitigate risk and prevent accidents is closely aligned with that of TruckSafe – to make the industry a safer place,” he said.

Reflecting on his father’s contributions, Noel says that part of Kelly’s involvement with the RTF (ATA) required lobbying to government on behalf of the industry.

“Dad would love to take politicians in the truck, often for days at a time, across the country to highlight the challenges faced by the industry,” Noel said,

“Commonly known as ‘JK’, Dad was also widely known for his big personality.

“He often referred to rogue transport operators as ‘crocodiles’ – he would always say ‘you’ve got to watch out for those crocodiles’,” he said. 

TruckSafe members take pride in their accreditation and are widely recognised for their safe work practices, safe and well-maintained trucks, healthy drivers and sound management systems. 

That’s why each year, the ATA and TruckSafe are proud to honour Kelly’s legacy and present the John Kelly Memorial Award, celebrating those who are committed to improving the safety and professionalism of their business and the wider industry.

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