Monthly Archives: January 2017

Quick Tips For New Truck Drivers

Starting a new job is exciting but can be overwhelming. Hopefully, as a new truck driver, most of your questions were answered in orientation.

Still,  a quick reference to help you as you learn about your new company could never hurt. As a new operator, you are your fleet’s most important resource. Their goal should be to provide the highest level of Customer Satisfaction to both their internal and external customers, which is greatly impacted by you.

By satisfying their customers, they will continue to do business with clients and gain more customers. They may even find themselves on the receiving end of recommndations from other customers. This will benefit both you and the fleet by continued growth and availability of freight.

This process begins with you as a driver. Your fleet’s reputation depends on your actions and the way you represent your company. Please be courteous and professional, as you directly affect the customer’s perception of your employer.

Here are the safety and general trucking knowledge aspects you need to keep in mind:

  • You are responsible for 100% of your trailer’s content.
  • Drive a tractor/trailer or straight truck in a safe and efficient manner.
  • Load and Unload freight in a safe manner.
  • Ensure that all freight picked up or delivered
    • Is checked in and properly recorded
    • Is Secured properly
    • Is loaded according to vehicle size and weight restrictions
  • Comply with all Rush Trucking safety standards including submitting all documents as requested.
  • Ensure all overages, shortages, and damages are reported on time and properly to your Driver Manager, CSR or Load Manager
  • Complete the following as needed according to your company standards.
    • Standard forms
    • Pre/Post Trip Inspection
    • Log Books to Inspect and Report following any Accidents

Safety First

Professional truck drivers are expected to operate in a safe and defensive manner at all times. More than one at fault accident in a three-year period will result in the driver’s safety clearance being revoked.

Speed: It is expected that all truck drivers operate within the posted speed limits for the states that they are operating in. Excessive tickets will typically result in the driver being put on probation or terminated.

Following distances: Truck drivers are expected to use the National Safety Council’s following rule. This requires a minimum of 7 seconds of following distance at highway speeds and 6 seconds at speeds under 40mph. These following distances should be increased by at least 1 second if the roads are wet or slick.

Reduced Traction: Adverse weather conditions can result in reduced traction. In the event of rain, reduce your speed by 25-30% and increase your following distance by at least 1 second. If the rain is heavy enough to require your wipers to be operated on high, or if your visibility is reduced by tire spray, speeds may need to be decreased even further and following distances increased. When operating on snow covered highways, speeds should be decreased by at least 50% and following distances should be increased by at least 2 seconds. This rule applies even if the snow cover on the highway is intermittent.

Remember, there may well be icy conditions as a result of snow being compressed by traffic. When operating on icy roads, the best recommendation is “don’t.” When conditions become icy, find a safe haven and get off the road.

Until you can do this, reduce your speed to a crawl, use your 4-ways, and increase your following distances by at least 2-3 seconds. Remember, ice at 32 degrees can be up to 10 times as slick as ice at 0 degrees. This means that your stopping distances can increase by a factor of 10. (As a example, on wet ice, stopping distances at 30 miles per hour can increase from a normal distance of 100 ft to as much as 800-900 ft.)

Keep these simple tips in mind and you’ll be well on your way in no time

Identifying And Addressing Carrier Identity Theft

It happens more often than you think. A trucker pulls up to the dock to pick up a load only to be told that the load has already been picked up. Somehow, you’ve already been there. But how?

This so-called “fictitious pickup” represents a whole new wave of crime activity targeting both truckers and the supply chain – albeit if indirectly.

The Fictitious Pickup

As a matter of fact, the problem has become so widespread that the trucker think tank CargoNet issued a white paper in 2013 saying fictitious pickups are quickly becoming a significant share of all thefts reported to the firm in 2011. By 2012 the number had increased again by a further 8 percent.

Of course, “straight theft” – or, the act of simply hitching to a loaded trailer and either leaving an empty or just driving off with the full freight – still remains the loss leader when it comes to cargo theft.

Yet, year after year, so-called “strategic thefts” are grabbing a bigger slice of the freight theft pie. Today, fictitious pickups account for a full 10 percent of all cargo thefts nationwide, of which the vast majority originate out of networks based in places like Chicago and Southern California.

One thing that makes these types of theft different is the virtual component. The fact is this: No matter where your trailer is, it’s likely thieves can track it. Gone are the days where the bad guy has to randomly pick out a trailer and hope for the best. Now they know what load they want and how to get it.

The problem with fictitious pickups has expanded right alongside online freight brokering. Thanks to the internet, it is increasingly easier to set up a fictitious company and create high-quality drivers licenses that look like the real deal.

The final factor influencing the efficiency of thieves lies on our increasing reliance on speed and timeliness in getting the load from Point A to Point B. When you sacrifice due diligence for more speed, you open up the door for criminals to step into the void.

Another factor shaping this form of cargo theft is the advancement of computers and software. Thieves now have a number of different tools and methods giving them insider access and real-time updates on where trailers are going, from start to finish.

What is Carrier Identity Theft?

Carrier identity theft can be identified by:

  • A trucker showing up at the dock impersonating a legitimate motor carrier, complete with the proper paperwork and terminology.
  • The false trucker secures the load.
  • They leave.

Beyond merely forging the paperwork, scam artists find new techniques by the day, whether by posing as carriers or broker themselves or claiming old but still active authorities, depending on the situation.

In other cases, the identity thief may be the guy or gal you’re hiring. You’ve got to ensure your HR practices are rock solid and ready to weed out any candidates that could represent a threat to your operation.

So, what’s a business to do if they want to protect themselves from scams like these?

What You Can Do

Fleets are increasingly turning novel and innovative ways of dealing with the problem, whether it be through hidden cameras and GPS tracking units or hidden microphones and “sting trailers.”

You can also:

  • Extend your first route from the origin point to try and avoid making stops.
  • If you see someone following you, try to avoid them or even put a call in to home base.
  • Make sure you double- and even triple-check the identities of company reps calling you on the phone.

Also ensure your carrier identity is protected by consistently logging into your DOT carrier profile to ensure the information is always up-to-date. The keys to your kingdom lie in your contact information. Take steps to keep it safe in this brave new world of hi-tech thieving.


Keys To Back Injury Prevention For Truck Drivers

As a professional truck driver, safe operation of your vehicle goes par and parcel with your comfort and health. If you aren’t comfortable in the cab or can’t stay awake on the road, how will you expect to be able to safely operate your heavy-duty commercial motor vehicle?

As you take care of your truck, so you must take care of yourself. One aspect of taking care of yourself involves your back, and we are going to look closer at your back today.

The goal will be to provide you with information on proper back care. This will help reduce the risk of injury or inflammation and keep you just as limber as ever to carry out the various job functions of a truck driver.

An Intro to Body Mechanics

You’ve heard of vehicle mechanics, but it’s time for a primer on body mechanics. Body mechanics comes into play because everything we do affects our back, yet the back isn’t the most resilient part of our body.

How many times a day throughout the course of your job do you lift, push, pull, stretch or put some other kind of strain on your back? Likely, more than a few.

Body mechanics refers to the proper way of moving and positioning the body for certain activities. The movements themselves are designed to help prevent injury or strain.

The natural position of your back is in an “S” curve. The medical term for this position is the neutral position.

To keep your posture straight, you need to maintain a line through that “S” curve, from the middle of the ears through the shoulders, middle of the hips, knees and down to the ankles. There should be in invisible straight line running through each.

Whether you are sitting, standing, sleeping, pushing or pulling, your back must always remain in the neutral position.

Sitting is a Problem

The problem is that most of us spend the majority of our day sitting. When we sit, we increase the amount of weight placed on our spine. Remember, we are upright animals, so sitting does major damage to our posture and overall health of our spine.

Slouching puts even more pressure on the spine. Obviously, sitting in a cab or back office all day poses problems for both our posture and our spine.

So, what’s a person to do? Always try your hardest to maintain a neutral position, whether you are in a cab or sitting in an office chair.

If you can, try to move frequently, whether you call these microbreaks or if it’s just for a moment at the rest stop.

Do you work in the company storage room or warehouse? Likely if you are a truck driver, you have to move objects about within a loading dock area or within the warehouse itself.

The Keys to Proper Lifting

When moving heavy objects, remember to lift with your legs and avoid reaching above you or bending over. Always lift in the zone between your shoulders and waist.

Keep in mind that pushing an object is always better for your back than pulling it. Avoid common lifting mistakes like using fast, jerky motions and bending forward at the waist with your legs straight.

Also keep in mind that our bodies do not change when we go home from work. Keep these same principles in mind as you make the transition from the cab to the sofa. Whether you are sleeping or sitting, be kind to your back.

In the end, you cannot always avoid lifting or put yourself in position for prime back health. Still, if you know your body’s limitations and use good body mechanics, you can keep back injury at bay.


On Finding A Safe Place To Stop

The fact is this: Even the most skilled, professional truck driver will wind up having issues driving if he or she becomes too tired while on the road. Still, finding a good place to stop and take some rest time isn’t that easy. It can actually be quite a challenge for many a truck driver.

In a recent survey, a shocking 80 percent of respondents stated that they drive past the point of feeling “safe and alert” because they have problems finding a safe place to stop. So what’s a truck driver to do?

A Puzzling Situation

The parking situation can certainly be a puzzle, there’s no doubt about that. There are a different number of ways that both the industry and regulators can come to describe the current rest and parking situation.

One of the problems here is that both the private truck stop industry and the trucking industry as a whole disagree with each other on how bad the problem is, or what the best way to address it may be.

As an example, the trucking industry firmly believes that there just aren’t enough places for truck drivers to stop for a rest, and many operators out there on the roads can attest to this fact.

They cite a survey conducted by the Owner-Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA) that showed more than 90 percent of respondents stated they have a problem finding a decent parking spot at least once a week.

Even more bizarre? 10 percent stated they have problems up to five times a week. These are likely long haulers who operate in areas with sparse available parking.

Truck Stop Opinion

On the other side of the argument, the National Association of Truck Stop Operators (NATSO) reports that truck drivers who can’t find a place to rest are either unaware of the spaces available or they are deliberately passing truck stops.

They site a private survey showing that even at the busiest times in the busiest transportation corridors, there was still at least a 17 percent parking availability. The problem here is that the study relies on monitoring only busiest corridors, rather than all potential routes and where truckers may stop on those routes.

The problem doesn’t stop at discord within the trucking industry and private operators, however. Safety advocates are also at loggerheads with state agencies over how many spaces should be available to truckers and how many truckers should be allowed to stay there.

While the majority of states allow truckers to sleep undisturbed at public rest areas, others mandate that they must move on if they have been seen stationary at a public rest area for more than few hours.

A Final Word?

According to a separate OOIDA survey, approximately 15 percent of truckers surveyed reported having been pushed out of public rest areas, even if they had completed their maximum driving time for that day.

So what are some of the solutions? There are a number of concerns related to safety at truck stops. Safety recommendations can include things like locating enforcement substations or increasing police presence, though there are some logistical challenges to this proposal.

Some have even suggested a rating system for certain private facilities. Other questions surround whether rest areas are properly staffed or have security or camera systems installed. Are signs openly available to show where to go to report on a crime?

There are a number of questions surrounding safety at truck stops and rest areas. As the weeks go on we will continue reporting on these many issues and the solutions proposed to alleviate them. What will the future of trucking safety at rest stops look like? We’ll be right there to let you know.