Tag Archives: Truck Driver Safety Tips

Worst Highways in America

Ask any trucker and they can immediately name their least favorite highway. Whether it’s crushing traffic, giant potholes, accidents, poorly lit roads, small lanes, or a minimum number of road signs, these highways can cause even the most seasoned truck driver’s blood pressure to rise. We asked around and came up with ten of the worst highways in America:

  • Interstate 4, Florida. This interstate is constantly under massive construction, making it one of the worst and most dangerous highways in America. A section between Daytona Beach and Orlando is rumored to be haunted because of the big number of fatalities that occur there every year.
  • New Jersey Turnpike. Lots and lots of tolls, but very few exits make this highway one of the most hated. If you miss your exit, you may need to go all the way to Pennsylvania to turn around. The only good part about the road – it’s well-maintained, mainly due to all the heavy tolls.
  • Interstate 55, Chicago. People claim this highway has so much debris that you’re practically guaranteed to blow a tire or get in an accident. The smells are pretty foul, too.
  • Kennedy Expressway, Chicago. Chicago has many memorable roads, but this is one of the worst. A twenty minute drive can take up to three hours as you sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic.
  • Interstate 35, Texas. This interstate cuts a sweeping arc through Texas, leaving a trail of immolated cars and debris in its wake. Torn up roads and cross winds make this trek especially dangerous and loathsome.
  • Interstate 55, Louisiana. Most highways in Louisiana are poorly maintained, but I-55 takes the cake. Your semi is liable to blow a tire or suffer severe damage as it rolls and rattles over giant potholes and debris.
  • Interstate 15, California. From Barstow to the Nevada state line, this road is just a string of brake lights. Its heavy traffic is mostly due to gamblers or foodies wanting to get a jump on the Vegas night. Don’t expect to go more than a snail’s pace here.
  • Pennsylvania Turnpike. Narrow lanes and sharp curves make this highway extremely dangerous. To boot, it’s been under construction for decades.
  • Interstate 44, Oklahoma. Usually, one or two lanes are always closed, forcing drivers to merge at high speeds.
  • Interstate 10, Arizona. The 150-mile stretch from Phoenix to the California border is the worst part of this lengthy highway. Up to 85 people a year lose their lives through this lightly populated section in the desert.

Which highway do you hate the most? Leave it in the comments!

Should E-Log Devices Be Mandatory?

A new proposal issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) states that electronic log devices should be mandatory. The proposal covers all drivers who prepare hours-of-service records of duty status.

The proposal was green-lighted by the White House Office of Management and Budget, which spent seven months reviewing the terms.

According to the FMCSA, within two years all drivers need to be using Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs). The only exception is for those drivers using devices that meet the current automatic onboard recording device standard. These drivers will be able to use those devices another two years.

The FMCSA’s reasoning behind the requirements includes a reduction of a massive amount of paperwork that is involved with traditional methods. The industry will save about $1.4 billion a year in paperwork alone.

Another $400 million will also be saved in annualized safety benefits from preventing fatalities and injuries each year.

“By implementing Electronic Logging Devices, we will advance our mission to increase safety and prevent fatigued drivers from getting behind the wheel,” said Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “With broad support from safety advocates, carriers and members of Congress, we are committed to achieving this important step in the commercial bus and truck industries.”

Impaired driving was a factor in more than 12 percent of the 129,120 total crashes that involved large trucks or buses in 2012.

The proposal also included a provision to protect drivers from harassment by motor carriers using information from an ELD. It establishes a procedure for filing a harassment complaint and creates a maximum civil penalty of up to $11,000 for a motor carrier that engages in harassment of a driver that leads to an hours-of-service violation or the driver operating a vehicle when they are so fatigued or ill it compromises safety. The proposal ensures that drivers continue to have access to their own records and require ELDs to include a mute function to protect against disruptions during sleeper berth periods.

For those concerned about privacy, the FMCSA said that ELD records will continue to reside with the motor carriers and drivers. Electronic logs will be made available to FMCSA personnel or law enforcement during roadside inspections, compliance reviews and post-crash investigations.

What do you think about the new proposal? Are you using an ELD, and if so, do you like it? Let us know your thoughts below!

 

Preventing Trucking Accidents and Ten Reasons Why Accidents Happen

It is estimated that 9% of all traffic fatalities involve commercial vehicles. And while 80% of accidents, both fatal and non-fatal, are the fault of the non-commercial driver, it is the trucker’s responsibility to help prevent the other 20%. In 2010, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported that 3,400 people died in accidents involving semi-trucks, and that fatalities rose 8% compared to 2009.

To prevent accidents, it’s important to understand what causes them. According to the Department of Transportation, the top ten causes of trucking accidents include:

  1. Driver fatigue.
  2. Debris on highway.
  3. Hitting a stopped vehicle from behind.
  4. Driving off the side of the road.
  5. Speeding.
  6. Poor road conditions due to bad weather or maintenance.
  7. Loss of control.
  8. Mechanical failure.
  9. Shifting cargo.
  10. 10.  Lane drifting.

Trucking is a high-risk job that involves constant attention to your vehicle, your driving, and other vehicles on the road at all times. Even one second of daydreaming or a moment of intense fatigue can lead to an accident. These accidents can cost both the driver and the trucking company dearly, leading to injured employees, loss of life, inventory loss, damage, production delays, liability and insurance costs, and lost business. It is estimated that one fatal crash can cost over $3 million, while non-fatal crashes cost about $62,000. Here are the top ways truckers can reduce accidents and save lives:

  • Drive the speed limit and gradually slow down before work zones. Be on the lookout for construction workers on the side of the road and watch carefully for signs that herald a sudden decrease in speed.
  • Don’t drive fatigued. It’s difficult to stay alert on the road when the hum of the engine and the warm sun can cause drowsiness. But knowing that even one second of drooping eyes can result in catastrophe should be serious enough to keep you alert. Pull over for quick naps when you can, get a full night’s sleep, and minimize caffeine to avoid crashing. Sticking to a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables will also alleviate fatigue, along with drinking plenty of water.
  • Watch for debris on the road. Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you in case they swerve to avoid debris, leaving you ample time to also avoid it.
  • Watch for problem drivers. Everyone is distracted these days by their phone, eating, putting on makeup, or by other passengers in the car. Keep an eye out for vehicles that are drifting into your lane or swerving intermittently.
  • Use your turn signals and allow plenty of time to change lanes. Always check every mirror before making a switch and watch your blind spots.
  • Keep abreast of weather conditions and slow down for ice, rain, and snow.
  • Inspect, inspect, inspect. Perform a thorough inspection of your truck before and after long hauls, paying special attention to brakes and tires.
  • Make gradual stops.
  • Keep distractions to a minimum. Don’t wear ear buds, talk on the phone, or eat while driving. Pull over if you need to make a phone call.

What recommendations do you have for accident prevention? Let us know in the comments

Preventing Trucking Injuries

Every worker who uses their body in some capacity at work is vulnerable to injury. Muscle sprains, falls, falling objects, improper lifting techniques, and other accidents are the most common causes of accidents at work. Due to the nature of their work, truckers must be especially vigilant when it comes to injury prevention, since they can be injured while unloading freight and while driving.

A recent report from Washington noted that the most common trucking injuries include:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders: the upper back and neck are especially prone to injury when a trucker is loading and unloading freight. The constant vibration and jerking of the truck while in motion also contributes to these injuries.
  • Falls: falling from the truck and falling down stairs were both cited as frequent causes of injury. Truckers also reported falling on ice while changing a tire or walking around the truck.
  • Vehicle-related injuries: more than half of truck driver fatalities are from accidents on the road. When it comes to accidents, there are four main causes, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
  • Driver error. This is the most common cause of accidents. Driver error can result from fatigue, mind-altering substances, distraction, and poor training.
  • Equipment malfunction. Sloppy inspections, defective parts, and improper maintenance of brakes and tires contribute to malfunctions.
  • Incorrectly loaded freight. This throws the trailer’s weight distribution off, affecting how the truck maneuvers and handles on the road. It can also cause the truck to tip.
  • Bad weather. Icy roads, debris, rain, and other hazardous conditions can affect steering and handling.

Since an injury could be career ending for truck drivers, it’s important to stay safe on the job at all times. Here are a few tips:

  • Take frequent rest breaks and stretch. Avoid drinking too much caffeine or taking OTC stimulants, as this can cause you to “crash” and become exhausted while on the road.
  • Wear back braces and always use mechanical aids to lift heavy loads.
  • Ensure loading docks are clean, dry and free from spills.
  • Never be on the opposite side of the truck while it is being loaded or unloaded.
  • Properly secure loads with straps or bands to ensure they loads don’t shift. Utilize load bars, vertical supports, and load straps to ensure the load arrives in the same way as when departed.
  • Never be downhill of a moving load.
  • Wear a high-visibility vest when exiting your truck at all times.
  • Use three points of contact when entering and exiting your truck. Don’t jump down, as this puts added pressure on joints.
  • Don’t stand on your wheel to service your truck.
  • Immediately report unsafe conditions of equipment.
  • Always wear proper footwear.
  • Inspect belts and straps for wear and tear before using them.
  • When tightening down binders or chains, watch for slips and breaks.
  • Slow down before a corner, and never allow the trailer to push the truck.
  • Do not run hills.
  • Maintain brakes, wipers, turn signals, and lights.
  • Perform a thorough inspection before and after long hauls.
  • Do not drive next to another truck.

What are some safety tips you have picked up along the way? Please let us know!

 

 

Incredible Facts About Trucking

Trucking is one of those professions that can lay claim to being the backbone of the American economy. Without truck drivers, commerce would grind to a halt. Americans wouldn’t have access to fresh milk and produce, electronics that keep our world humming, and medical devices that save lives. Each day, thousands of shipments are delivered by the competent hands of our nation’s drivers, who take to the roads in freezing rain, snow, high winds, and rocky terrain, with an endurance that matches those of the hardiest laborers. Here are sixteen incredible facts about this industry:

  • Many truckers have clocked over a million miles and counting. The average driver books about 105,000 miles a year. If you are one of them, please tell us your story below in the comments!
  • There are over 3 million truck drivers in the U.S.
  • Trucking makes up the largest portion of the American transportation industry – about 27 percent. Top goods that are hauled include clothes, food, furniture, and machinery.
  • Truckers use up to 50 billion gallons of gas each year, which accounts for about 12-13% of the nation’s fuel consumption.
  • About 84% of trucking-related accidents are the other guy’s fault (the car).
  • A truck’s engine is six times bigger than a car engine, and can go up to one million miles.
  • One out of nine truckers is an independent driver.
  • The income for a driver has increased continuously each year, with $55,000 being the average for 2013.
  • Businesses choose trucks for 82 cents out of every dollar they spend on shipping.
  • A fully loaded truck weighs about 80,000 pounds.
  • Almost 62% of trucking hauls are 100 miles or less.
  • 78% of freight in America is driven by trucks.
  • The average daily run for a long-haul driver is 500 miles.
  • In 2015, the freight transportation industry is predicted to carry 18 billion tons of freight, generating $1.3 trillion in revenue.
  • Total tonnage volumes will grow by 32%.
  • Trucking exclusively serves over 80% of all communities in the U.S.

Do you know an interesting fact about trucking? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Maintaining Your Truck and Getting Ready for Spring

Maintenance is an essential part of owning a truck.  If you are proactive and take care of leaks and fluid replacement before they become big problems, you will avoid major breakdowns on the road and help keep your truck in tip-top shape.  Here are several tips to remember when performing truck maintenance, including how to get your truck ready in time for spring weather.

  • Perform a thorough inspection, from top to bottom.
  • Check all electrical connections for fraying or poor connections.
  • Spray battery and starter with a spray grease to maintain peak performance of the charging system.
  • Check axle seals, wheel seals, and lubricant for leaks.
  • Look for corrosion and stress cracks in the steel suspension metal.
  • Keep air tanks drained and air dryer maintained.
  • Balance tires and get your oil changed.
  • Grease your slack adjusters and kingpins.
  • Replace u-joints and drag links.
  • Look for loose, exposed, or hanging wires.
  • Inspect hoses for bulges and weak spots.
  • Check radiator for leaks.
  • Clean your hard surfaces. Mix vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and water to make a solution. Using a soft cloth, spray the mixture on hard surfaces and gently scrub away the dirt.
  • Clean your upholstery. Mix vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Shake well and apply mixture to stains on upholstery. Then apply baking soda, dishwashing liquid, and hydrogen peroxide until it forms a paste. Allow solution to soak in, and then scrub away with cloths or towels.
  • Change fuel filters.
  • Check windshield for cracks.
  • Ensure every light on your truck is working, and replace bulbs as needed.
  • Replace wiper blades. After this tough winter, your truck will need it.
  • Top off antifreeze, transmission fluid, power steering fluid, and brake fluid.
  • Drain water separator.
  • Check and replace pump filter.
  • Test for bacteria and contamination in fuel and storage tanks.
  • Check exhaust system for leaks.
  • Give your truck a deep wash and wax, making it super shiny, clean and ready for spring.

What are some tips you have for regular truck maintenance?  Leave them in the comments!

Dealing with Stress on the Road

Stress can heavily impact your life in major ways. The American Medical Association has noted that stress is the basic cause of more than 60% of all illnesses and diseases. It contributes to high blood sugar, muscle tension, headaches, insomnia, weight gain, decreased libido, alcoholism, suicide, drug abuse, digestive disorders, asthma, and paranoia. Regardless of the amount of stress, the body reacts the same: with a cascade of over 1,400 biochemical reactions that impair cognition and affect every basic function of the body. This can happen several times a day, with long-term debilitating effects. Truckers can be especially vulnerable to stress since their work takes place on the road, where anxiety is especially high. Here are several tips for dealing with stress:

 

  • Deal with stress in the moment. Don’t wait until the end of the day to think about the pileup of bad things going on in your life. Handle one small thing at a time. Nine times out of ten, worrying and fretting won’t change anything about a situation. Take stock of what you need to consider, make the decision, and move on with the understanding that you will be responsible for the consequences. Ask yourself the question, what’s the worst thing that can happen? And can you handle that very awful thing? If so, you’ve imagined the worst, and it’s probably not as bad as you think. Then there can’t be much more worrying to do.
  • Analyze how you cope with stress. Often, the coping we do is even more harmful to our bodies, further compounding the effects of stress. Overeating, consuming alcohol, smoking, driving recklessly – all of these actions are ways we cope. Try to find healthier ways to manage stress, including exercising, talking it over, cleaning, getting a massage, crunching on carrots, or writing all your thoughts down.
  • Deal with the problems that are continual stressors. Do you have a friend who constantly upsets you? Are you in a lot of debt? Are you having relationship problems? Tackle these issues head-on instead of putting them off, where the tension will continue to build. Enroll in a debt management program. Seek counseling with a loved one. Talk to the friend. Once you tackle the smallest problems, the little ones are easier to handle.
  • Take time for yourself every single day. That doesn’t mean sitting down in the front of the TV. We’re at our best when we engage our minds, as clichéd as that sounds. Do something that keeps you active, whether it’s reading, playing games or exercising. Take some time to recharge. Call an old loved one over the phone. Reconnect with a lost friend. Write down every single great thing you’ve done over the last few years, even the small things.
  • Eat healthily, eat healthily, eat healthily. The number one thing you can do to alleviate some stress in your life is to eat a healthy diet. We are what we eat. Keep away from processed, fried foods and sodas. Stick to plain old water. Reduce the amount of caffeine you intake. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables and foods high in protein and fiber. You’ll be able to cope with stress much better if your body is well-nourished.

 

What are some ways you deal with stress on the road? Leave it in the comments!

Challenging your PSP/CSA 2010 Scores

We often get lots of questions regarding Pre-employment Screening Program reports, or PSP, what the difference is between PSP and CSA scores, and how you can challenge any discrepancies regarding your score.

The PSP was created by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to help motor carriers assess a driver’s crash and serious safety violation history as a method of pre-employment screening. Driving records are pulled from the FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Management Information System. This report captures data on a single company driver.

To compute the CSA score, the Safety Measurement System (SMS) captures roadside inspection results, safety violations and crashes for all drivers and vehicles across an entire fleet. The system then compares one carrier’s BASICs (Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories) data to others of similar size to come up with a percentile ranking, or score. The higher that score, the more likely the driver will be inspected in the future.

To obtain this score, log in to SMS here with your USDOT Number and PIN. If you don’t have a PIN, you can request one from the USDOT.

Drivers and employers can purchase PSP records for $10 directly from the PSP site. When you download your PSP record, it might be blank, or it might have violations, depending on your history. The PSP contains the most recent five years of crash data and the most recent three years of roadside inspection data from the MCMIS (Motor Carrier Management Information System) for an individual driver. It ONLY contains MCMIS inspection and crash information that is uploaded to MCMIS by FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) staff and state partners.

Ensuring that the information in the report is accurate is very important if you are looking to get hired and you know the carrier participates in the PSP program. Over 80 percent of carriers currently participate in this program, according to a recent survey from Overdrive. If you get your report and notice there are items that aren’t correct, you can dispute the data. This is important to note because reviews of violations that are adjudicated in the state court systems do not automatically result in a change to the report.

If you find inaccuracies on your report, you can contest it. For example, if your report identifies a violation that’s documented on an inspection report, and it’s inaccurate, you can request a data review through the FMCSA’s DataQs site. If a state court determines that you’re not in violation, your record will not be automatically cleared, so you’ll need to follow through with the data review.

Most importantly, check your PSP records and CSA scores often. It is crucial to maintain an accurate report, especially if you are going through an employment screening process.

Have you ever found a discrepancy on your report? Let us know in the comments!

Why Did You Become a Truck Driver?

Why Did You Become a Truck Driver?

Whether it’s the freedom, the ability to see the country, the characters you meet on the road, to manage your own business, or for the money, truckers have many reasons for choosing their career. We took to social media to ask drivers their personal reasons for becoming drivers, and here are the top answers, some funny, some poignant:

• I failed as a professional dancer.
• My uncles and grandfather drove a truck. It’s in my genes. I tried a few other careers but kept ending up behind the wheel.
• I always excelled at driving, and a taxi was too small.
• A toothpick through my foot with my hubby gone.
• I think I saw Convoy one too many times, so here I am.
• Company I used to work for needed to be able to repo large vehicles.
• The legacy of my grandfather. I wanted to be just like him since I was five years old.
• My family had a construction company. I would rather haul dirt than spread dirt!
• Had to find a way to get away from my ex-wife.
• My father drove for 40 years and I remember as a kid bouncing down the road in an old Cabover.
• I grew up wanting to drive a big truck.
• Riding in the truck with my dad as a kid.

What are some reasons why you became a driver? Please let us know in the comments!

Winter Driving Tips for Truckers

Winter driving can be dangerous and unpredictable. Black ice, sleet, slippery roads, and distracted drivers compound the risk factor. But as a truck driver, your risk is even greater, since you are operating a huge vehicle that can become a serious weapon if you lose control on the road. To protect your safety, as well as the safety of others, here are several tips for winter driving:

• Watch your temperature gauge and windshield carefully. As you glide from one state border to the next, temps can change swiftly. The condensation on your windshield will freeze at 32 degrees, an indication that there may be ice on the road. Watch the temp gauge as well, because even small dips in temperature can create unpredictable hazards.

• Keep several gallons of windshield de-icer stored in your truck. De-icer keeps your windshield clean and allows you to see. If you run out and you find yourself in freezing temps, you could be in serious trouble.

• Carry emergency supplies. To be prepared for any hazard, the emergency kit should contain batteries, gloves, a flashlight, a sleeping bag, a warm hat and socks, non-perishable foods, medication, screwdriver, pliers, wrenches, a small knife, duct tape, spare bulbs, jumper cables, extra fuses, bottled water, a foldable shove, window de-icer, emergency flares, an extra cell phone charger, a first aid kit, and a small section of tarp.

• Dress warm. Splurge on a pair of decent driving gloves so you can keep a good grip on the wheel. Wear two pairs of socks and thick rubber-soled work boots. Always keep an extra pair of socks and boots in your truck in case you have to step out in the cold and into the thick snow.

• Put anti-gel additive in your tanks. Diesel gels in cold temps, so and your truck won’t run without diesel. Put the additive in before you fuel to ensure good mixing.

• Watch for clues that black ice might be near. Check for ice build-up on the mirror arms, corners of the windshield, or antenna. Also watch if the spray from tires on vehicles in front of you stops.

• Get off the road if it gets really bad. No load is worth your life. Take shelter somewhere warm. If you can’t find a safe place to exit and are on the shoulder, stay inside your truck.

• Keep tire chains in your truck. When conditions really start to worsen, you’ll want to put on the chains to maintain good traction.

• Always complete a pre-inspection before driving. This is especially important during hazardous winter weather. Check tire pressure, wiper blades, fluids, lights, and brakes. Always make sure your spare tire is in good condition as well.

• Slow down. Drive slowly and carefully during winter weather, keeping a firm grip on the steering wheel and minimizing all distractions. Always keep your eyes on the road and leave plenty of room between your vehicle and everyone else’s.

• Help a fellow driver in need. Many motorists get stranded during icy weather, and stopping to help them may almost be like saving their lives. Fellow truckers also find themselves stranded or without proper supplies. If you can, pull over, assess the situation, and offer supplies or a helping hand.

Have you ever been caught in fierce winter weather? What were you glad you had in your truck? Let us know in the comments!