Monthly Archives: October 2016

Should Your Fleet Use A Video Safety System?

With the proliferation of safety technologies available to the modern fleet, you may be wondering which technology is right for your needs. If there is one that has reached a significant level of maturity, it is in the area of video safety technologies.

Video monitoring technologies are no longer the byproduct of lab testing. They have taken such a hold mainly because they offer a number of advantages for fleets. Still, should trucking companies be doing more to hasten their adoption?

Low Penetration

Currently, video monitoring technology has only about 6 percent penetration within fleets nationwide. This leaves a whopping 94 percent of modern motor carriers currently evaluating or just starting to integrate video-monitoring solutions into their fleet operations.

For some, the answer lies in the insurance company. They hope that insurance companies will increasingly kick in discount or incentive programs to support a motor carrier’s initial investment in the systems – which comes at no small cost.

Take European countries as an example. The penetration rates in those countries come in almost at 70 to 80 percent, but insurance companies across the pond are more likely to offer upfront discounts. American insurers want to see rates drop as claims drop, as opposed to offering upfront incentives.

Did you know that Department of Transportation statistics show that almost three-fourths of all crashes involving a commercial motor vehicle are not the truck’s fault? And yet, motor carriers continually spend their hard-earned money on claims because they don’t have the video evidence required to witness the event.

Technology Evolves

It could be that fleets are holding on to their wallet waiting for the technology to continue to emerge. Admittedly, these are new technologies and many a fleet manager may want to see how the various technologies continue to evolve.

Most of the current technologies are still using low resolution cameras. In many cases, the resolution is so low that you cannot make out the license plate number on an adjacent vehicle.

The benefit to low resolution models lies in the data transmission capabilities. At a lower resolution, you can send data faster and take video for far longer.

For fleets who do utilize higher resolution imagery, they may get around the data streaming problem by keeping the video logged within the device and then downloading it when necessary, such as when a safety event occurs.

Some manufacturers have developed onboard cameras that record continuously, while others rely on specific triggers. If a truck driver brakes suddenly, the recording system may retain and backup 15 – 20 seconds of video preceding the incident.

Video clips can be uploaded, whether it be to settle a claim or coach a truck driver, as necessary. The fact is this: the sooner after an incident that you can coach the truck driver or respond to a claim, the better.

Privacy Concerns

While these technologies offer new solutions, they are not without concerns, especially where driver-facing cameras are concerned. A recent survey found that 91 percent of truck drivers are opposed to the use of driver-facing cameras.

One concern in using driver-facing cameras lies in the litigation aspect. Every shred of video recorded on a driver-facing camera could potentially be requested at discovery in a trial. An enterprising attorney could find every instance of a truck driver doing anything, from smoking to drinking coffee, and create enough doubt in a juror’s mind to sway the outcome of the trial.

If you are utilizing triggered video clips, then you only need store those recordings. This is one area where a driver-facing camera could be used with less risk. As long as you have a written policy outlining how the video is triggered and saved, you should be good to go.

In the end, video recording technologies are just one spoke in the safety wheel. But how sturdy is the wheel without all spokes in place? Give video technologies a second look and increase your fleet’s safety performance.


Stay Safe As You Find A Place To Sleep

If there’s one thing every long-haul trucker knows, it’s that finding a safe place to park overnight is always a concern at the back of their mind. We’ve heard all the stories. A truck driver winds up at an abandoned gas station or dark side of the road and – in some cases – winds up either assaulted or the victim of a hijacking.

In less stark cases, truck drivers experience wasted hours and end up fatigued simply because it’s difficult to find a safe place to park it. As the economy improves, truck drivers and fleets have increasingly put pressure on state legislators to do something about the growing parking shortage.

Government Recognition

The fact is, overnight parking safety has become such an important topic, that now the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is weighing in on the issue. They have been including measures in highway bills for some time to address this problem.

The problem lies in allocation local funding to develop more secure rest area for truckers, especially those on busier interstate routes. Rural routes also need attention, as these areas provide ample ground for the bad guys to commit their dirty deeds without anyone else around for miles.

Many states felt the call to action in 2009 when trucker Jason Rivenburg was murdered while sleeping at an abandoned gas station. Bills introduced were written to invest in compensating for shortages in safe and reliable rest areas for truck drivers.

New Words, Same Problem

Even as we type these words, we must acknowledge this isn’t a new problem. According to a Department of Transportation (DOT) study completed in 2002, state funding cuts and perilously low budget allocations were crippling efforts to address the critical parking problem.

Yet, was anything done? In some states, yes. In others, there was movement in the opposite direction. In early 2008, Louisiana closed 23 of its 43 public rest areas. While the recession mitigated some concerns, as freight movement increases, suddenly Louisiana finds itself woefully short of safe areas for truck drivers.

While reports of attacked or hijacked truckers shines a light on the problem, this goes beyond the most terrible examples. The entire industry feels a financial pinch when there’s a parking shortage crisis. When a vast majority of truck drivers report having to keep diving when they are tired because of a lack of rest stops, everyone’s safety is put at risk.

Forced Into a Corner

With most rest stops either full or nonexistent, truckers are forced to stop in secluded areas, perhaps behind grocery stores, at shopping malls or on freeway onramps or shoulders.

Another area where the parking shortage is concerned lies in trucker wellness. It’s stressful when a truck driver can’t find a place to park. Truckers must also be concerned of damage. When ten trucks are trying to squeeze into a tight space, the chances of a scrape or other damage increases exponentially.

We are in a time when trucking needs to attract new employees. This is an industry we all love, a job worth being proud of. We are the vanguard of the nation’s supply chain. It’s important that the Knights of the Road have safe places to sleep at night.

What You Can Do

Don’t wait for the state or federal government to act. You can act yourself. Look to solutions that include:

  • Sharing safe parking areas and points of interest with a network of truck drivers.
  • Utilizing the wisdom of the crowd. When you see a lot of other trucks there, you might be able to consider that a safe place.
  • Planning custom route options that change and/or include rest areas that the fleet knows about and can plan for.

In the end, truck drivers need the tools and knowledge to ensure they can park safely when they need to. It’s not only good for truck driver retention, it’s ideal for families at home waiting for their truckers to get home safely.

Safety Rules For Long Haul Truckers

Being a professional truck driver comes with a measure of responsibility. Hopping into a cab and hitting the open road may sound like a basketful of fun, but in reality, there are few jobs that call for more expertise and road caution.

You need to know what the easy-to-follow rules of the road are. When you are operating a heavy-duty commercial vehicle, you have a responsibility, and not just to the freight you are carrying, but to yourself, your fleet and those on the road around you.

The fact is long-haul trucking is quite possibly one of the most crucial jobs one can undertake. Ensuring timely delivery of the nation’s goods is no small task. At the same time, it’s also not without risks.

For Newbies or Pros

Face it, one of the reasons you love this work is because you don’t have to sit in a windowless cubicle. At the same time, it’s virtually impossible to endanger others on the road from a cubicle.

According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration there were over 100,000 injuries and 315,000 accidents involving large trucks in 2012. In 2014, Time ranked truck driving number 8 on its list of 10 Most Dangerous Jobs in 2014.

So if you aren’t practicing solid safety measures you may not be driving as safe as you think. Let’s take a moment to look a little deeper into better truck driving safety measures.

Whether you are brand new to the cab or an experienced trucker, it’s never too late to brush up on your safety skills. You need to know the latest and greatest on truck driving safety, and we’ve got the goods for you right here.

Blind Spots

One of the most important safe truck driving principles involves blind spots. Remember, you are aware of your truck’s no-go zones, but other drivers may not be. The no-go zones are where most crashes occur.

The most common no-go zones include:

  • In front of the cab, just off to the side.
  • Directly behind your vehicle’s side mirrors.
  • Directly behind the vehicle.

Others may not be aware of these spots, and as a result, they may drive dangerously close. Although this can be a frustrating scenario, the responsibility is on you. You have to exercise extra caution before turning or changing lanes. Maintaining a safe distance is also crucial.

Work Zones

Did you know that around a third of all fatal work-zone accidents involved a large heavy-duty commercial motor vehicle? As a professional truck driver, you’ve got to take extra time when entering or exiting a work zone.

Interstate and in-city construction zones can both be dangerous if you aren’t paying attention. Your delivery can always wait, and is never more important than someone’s life or safety.

Truck Maintenance

When you think about safe truck driving, the maintenance of your vehicle may not be the first thing that comes to mind, but it should be. You need to make sure you are giving your vehicle a thorough inspection each morning.

Check everything from fluid levels to your horn, mirrors and more. Even more vital, you must make sure you are checking your brakes. If you spot anything unusual, always report it to dispatch before getting behind the wheel and firing up your vehicle.

Speed Control

Following the speed limit is always a good thing, but when you are behind the wheel of a Class 8 truck, sometimes even the speed limit is too fast. This is especially true when you are entering or exiting an onramp.

Also take special care when you are entering a curve. When encountering a curve, it’s important to make sure your speed is far lower than the posted limit.

Want to be a consistently safe professional truck driver in mind? With these tips you’re sure to be on your way!

How To Build A Culture Of Safety Within Your Fleet

The fact is this: If you want to be in charge of a fleet that operates safely, you have to instill the values of safe operation into your front-line and managerial staff. It all starts with your fleet’s safety culture.

Whether we are talking about nuclear power, manufacturing or trucking, safety is always a shared value. And although we now live in the age of CSA, by itself, CSA and other regulations aren’t enough to ensure safe operation on our nation’s streets and highways.

In reality, at the end of the day,  the discussion of safety in a regulatory environment comes down to simple academics. A responsible fleet work to manage safety and compliance within the envelope of regulations.

Remember, having a poor risk record isn’t only about safety. How safe your operators are is also a matter of good business.  An accident not only costs money, they can lead to downtime, lawsuits, higher insurance premiums and a damaged reputation.

The Key is Empowerment

Are you measuring the level of individual empowerment within your fleet? Furthermore, are you helping your truck drivers manage both their compliance and individual performance records?

Sometimes programs like that are just what you need to get your drivers on board. You want to make your operators feel like they have adequate buy-in, not that they are just cogs in the safety wheel.

Have you got those up and down the chain realizing that the needs of the fleet, the shippers, carriers and receivers are all interconnected? Safety-sensitivity has to be baked into the cake at fleet headquarters, but it also must be a company-wide responsibility. Everyone needs to feel like they have a stake in fleet safety.

Methods to Ensure Safety

But what do you do to ensure your fleet gets the safety picture? There are a number of methods you can employ. Take, as an example, truck drivers who are running between 11:00 pm and 5:00 am. If a driver is required to check in, and feels too tired to safely continue driving, can pull over and call into dispatch.

Doing this provides the truck driver with a sense of empowerment. It allows them to be in charge of the decision on whether or not they want to make the run at that moment. The key factor is communication. You don’t want your drivers to feel like they are making this decision in the vacuum.

Another tactic could be honoring operators who have a good safety record. If a driver hits a million safe miles, perhaps they should be recognized for that. Consider that it could take a decade to get to a million miles and we suggest you really pour on the lavish praise. You could also lower the bar to, say, 500,000 miles.

The key is to get your truck drivers to feel like they are a part of more than just a trucking company, but that they are part of a safety company. Relationships must be created with drivers; relationships that help further the goal of safe operation.

Keep Management in Mind

When there are failures, make sure you address them at the source, but also take a deeper look into what’s happening on the management side. Is your fleet manager engaged?

Furthermore, does your Safety Manager have the tools he or she needs to effectively get the job done? These are important questions. As you tackle CSA and ensure safe fleet operations, they’ll need to be answered.

In the end, ensure safety is valued across not just your company’s operations, but within its culture. Safe principles must be baked into the core of your fleet’s mission. Otherwise you may not be doing everything you can to keep your truck drivers safe.


What You Need To Know About Corrosion And Collision Repair

With winter right around the corner, it’s time to revisit an important conversation in truck maintenance: corrosion. Do you know everything there is to know about this important topic?

There are a number of ways that corrosion strikes, from salt to chemicals, moisture or collision damage. Just consider the fact that once you complete a collision repair, it becomes a prime target for corrosion. Also consider that corrosion eats away at your vehicle’s structure and you can see how this could become a safety problem.

When you are on the road, it also isn’t hard to spot vehicles that are suffering corrosion problems. In some cases, you may notice a panel is corroded when the rest of the vehicle is not. This could be a sign of bad collision repair.

With Maintenance in Mind

It’s no secret that the collision repair process can cause a vehicle to become susceptible to corrosion. Often, it’s unavoidable, simply because of the processes in place to install the new part, from welding to heating and final application.

The problem is that most fleet shops won’t have the equipment or training they need to ensure the vehicle is protected from corrosion the same way it was when it originally came from the factory.

Heavy-duty commercial vehicle manufacturers will generally use a specific set of galvanizing treatments, primers, sealers and other advanced coatings designed to ensure there’s no corrosion for the vehicle’s entire lifetime.

Consider that the average vehicle today is over 11 years, and you realize how little you see the “rust buckets” of yesterday. The fact is, a focus on safety drives continuous innovation at the factory level.

Factory Level Protection

Now we are seeing increasing usage of high strength steels and advanced coating systems. At the origination point, the vehicle body is generally dipped into a bath of zinc phosphate. The liquid in turn saturates the welding seams. This is how corrosion protection is done at the OEM level.

OEMs are also increasingly turning to new innovations such as cavity wax, which seeps into panel gaps, seals panel gaps, retains its consistency and is self-healing. Cavity wax may be one of the best ways to prevent vehicle corrosion, post-collision maintenance.

Some also refer to this substance as an anti-corrosion treatment or agent. As a general rule, it is important to use this substance after a repair weld has taken place.

There are also a good number of reasons why your shop technician may want a simpler solution. Whether you need specialized equipment or the equipment wands are simply too big to get into tight spaces, utilizing a popular anti-corrosion spray or liquid goes a long way to ensuring your vehicle’s structural integrity isn’t compromised.

Finding a Small Cavity Wand

The best way to seal your new repairs against corrosion resistance is to utilize a small cavity wand. A number of manufacturers sell such wands. Small cavity wands attached to a base unit are able to wick material into tight seems or small spaces or drains.

The wands generally run around 8” and provide easy access to spaces like frame rails and rocker panels. You can also fit them into small holes and small diameter spaces.

The fact is, truck manufacturers have done a great job over the years on improving the corrosion resistance of their vehicles. Still, accidents happen, and you want to know that your expensive repair isn’t left to fend for itself against the cold and bitter elements.

It only makes sense to ensure you are using the right tools to protect your vehicles, for the safety of both your truck drivers and those on the roads around them. Stay safe this winter!