Monthly Archives: February 2017

The Keys To Proper Cargo Securement

Not only is properly securing our cargo a matter of good business, it is a crucial safety matter as well. If a piece of cargo is damaged due to a shift or a fall, not only will the carrier not get paid and load not delivered, but someone could get seriously injured – or even killed – should the incident be particularly severe.

This is why the aim of Part 393 of federal regulations pinpoint specific aspects of cargo securement, from how items are blocked or braced to how they are tied down, whether it be on a flatbed, in a van or reefer. When the vehicle is in motion, will the load shift around or stay put? During moments of a sudden stop, can the cargo be relied on to remain immobile?

Also, it is important to consider what inspectors look for when they are addressing safety violations. As an example, if you don’t have enough securement straps to handle the weight of the load, you could get hit with a hefty fine.

Tie-down Rating Specifications

Have you heard of belly strapping? Depending on the size and weight of the load, it is important to ensure there are enough straps in place to properly secure the load. A belly strap refers to an instance where a strap is placed on the first tier of the load, then more placed atop the load as it climbs.

In total, the combined ratings of the straps or chains used to secure the load must equal at least one-half the load’s total weight. As an example, if the load is 40,000 pounds, then the combined weight of whatever tie-downs are used must equal 20,000 pounds. If the cargo is especially dense, more rules govern how it should be blocked.

There is no difference in weight requirements between straps and chains. Chains must also equal at least one-half the weight of the cargo. For a heavy equipment hauler carrying anything in excess of 10,000 pounds, direct tie-downs must be applied, at a minimum of four, although most fleets will opt to use more than the minimum for added safety.

Strap Emplacement

If a tractor is hauling a flatbed trailer with no header board, or they are pulling a lighter cargo, two straps must be utilized within the first ten feet of the front of the load.

Although weight and friction will often keep loads from moving across a trailer deck, it is important to butt together the first and second stacks of cargo. When they are butted together, regulations dictate that a strap every 10 feet should keep it in place. If the stacks are not butted together, the second will need straps too.

If there are loose metal pieces or other various articles, such as those with a lumber load, those sections are sometimes inserted into gaps in the load for greater stability. There must always be downward pressure on whatever is being hauled, keeping it snugged firmly to the deck, otherwise the vehicle will not be cleared to hit the road.

Other Applications

In cargo hauled in vans and reefers, the freight must be kept from shifting around when the vehicle is either stopped or in motion. Loading the freight to the walls of the van is great, but some vans flex. In this case, load-lock poles can be used.

Depending on the jurisdiction and type of cargo being hauled, inspectors may or may not decide to open the doors. Regardless, it is up to whomever locked and loaded the freight to ensure it is secure.

In the end, all parties are responsible for the safety of the load, whether it be in regards to the truck driver or those around them on the road. In the end, for freight’s sake, cargo safety is key.

Why Increased Safety Isn’t Following Insurance Premiums

Ask anyone, or look at any number of trucking-related data sets, and you will see that safety technology has drastically reduced crash rates, injuries and fatalities over the last ten years. Yet if you look at the average cost for insurance – including settlements – you will see that rates have been on the rise for some time.

The main reason for this is that fleets are not doing anything with the data produced by the safety technologies they employ. In many cases a fleet safety manager may be utilizing an advanced technology, but have no idea how to diagnose or address specific issues related to the data said technology produces.

Know the Technology

Take, for example, a truck driver who hears an incessant beep coming from the dash, but has no idea why the beep is occurring. This could be a truck driver with a stellar safety record, yet by running a report, the safety manager could glean that the truck driver routinely leaves less than two seconds stopping distance between them and the vehicle in front of them.

In this situation, it could be that only the truck driver knew the beeping was occurring. If no alerts are sent to the safety crew, no one knows there is a problem. Instead the eye stays on the worst truck drivers, rather than realizing even million-mile truck drivers are human and can make costly mistakes.

While many safety managers might have a plan in place for those with the worst record, many overlook the fact that safety issues could arise anywhere down the line, from the worst operator to the best.

So, what’s an intrepid fleet safety manager to do?

  1. First, make sure you train your truck drivers on new systems that are installed. Equipment and the safety expectations related to said equipment must be set before the truck driver is expected to use them and know what they mean.
  2. Second, make sure to inspect everyone, no matter how great their record may be. Don’t focus on just a few truck drivers. The entire fleet must be evaluated.
  3. Third, ensure you have comprehensive corrective action plans in place for potential problems. How will you address actionable data? Make a plan and stick to it.

Utilizing Proper Training

Fleets are on the right path quickly adopting collision-mitigation, lane-departure warning and other advanced safety systems, but if the truck drivers behind the wheel don’t know how to respond correctly these systems provide no value.

How do you address this disconnect? Through proper training. One cannot assume that these technologies will just magically make sense to the truck drivers who must understand what they are saying and act on the information.

Here’s what you need to know to ensure you are staying on top of the problem, fleet-wide:

  1. Never assume that your truck drivers simply know how to change duty status and edit their logs on a touchscreen, especially if all they’ve known previously are paper logs.
  2. While these systems are useful, they can send signals that can be distracting. A truck driver must be aware of where the sound is coming from and why to avoid potential safety issues.
  3. The time for a truck driver to learn how a collision-mitigation system works is not when a collusion is about to occur. Truck drivers must have the knowledge before-hand, that way their reactions are appropriate and timely.

The fact is this: You can’t create a paper manual out of YouTube video. You’ve got to have a comprehensive training program in place to ensure your truck drivers are on top of the systems they are using. Only by following these principles will you ensure that as your safety numbers rise, your insurance premiums drop.

The Best – And Safest – Cities For Truck Drivers​

We wanted to take a moment to examine the best – and safest – cities for truck drivers. The fact is, sometimes you may get some grief as a truck driver, depending on the city you are in. Perhaps you need to park your rig at home and it’s a problem.
Where you live matters. In some cases, you may live in a city that has the best trucking job opportunities, but they may also be some of the most expensive cities. From Los Angeles to New York, there’s a lot to consider in a city. Let’s take a look at the first – and most important aspect – of most people’s lives and that’s their financial situation.
No Income Tax States
If you ask a truck driver which city they think is the best to live in, you’ll get all kinds of answers. From Oregon to South Carolina, people’s opinions run the gamut. Of course, you know the actual answer: The best state is the one that leads you home.
Still, if you are looking to put your roots down in a new state, you may want to consider one where you won’t have to pay any state income taxes. For a self-employed truck driver, whether you are an owner-operator or small carrier, can benefit hugely from living in a state with no income tax.
Here’s your list:
• South Dakota
• Florida
• Nevada
• Alaska
• Texas
• Wyoming
• Washington
• Tennessee
• New Hampshire
Beyond what city you live in, you also want to take care to decide what address is on that that envelope.
Urban or Rural Address?
Once you have narrowed down the state you want to move to, it’s time to evaluate the cities. Do you want to live in a rural or urban environment?
One of most important considerations is where the best trucking jobs are. Also, how is the transportation and the type of truckloads available.
Take Seattle as an example. Moving there will expose you to things like terrible traffic, seafood deliveries, some crime and a 3,000+ elevation of the Snoqualmie pass.
Conversely, if you choose a rural area in Washington, say Lake Moses, you can count on a laid-back, safe environment where lake tourism is the largest source of truckloads and local income.
Certainly, rural areas will offer a lower level of creature comforts than the city, but certainly there are benefits. If you are a trucker with a family at home, of course good school districts, attractions, and safe neighborhoods are the priority.
The Safest Cities
So, what are the safest cities in the U.S.? One of the main things you want to look for when you move somewhere is how safe it is, not just for you and your family, but for your rig.
Some of the safest cities in the U.S. may surprise you, and include:
• Sunnyvale, California
• Cary, North Carolina
• McAllen, Texas
• Bellevue, Washington
Of course, all cities have neighborhoods, so you’ll want to make sure you investigate the specific area you will be moving to before taking the plunge.
Where Will You Park?
A final consideration should be truck parking. A big issue for truck drivers in dense urban areas is where they can park, both for convenience and for safety.
Make sure your neighborhood doesn’t have a vehicle weight limit or a negative viewpoint on truckers and where they can park. If you can’t park your truck, it will be hard to develop an income driving route plan.
In the end, there are a number of factors that govern what city you live in, with safety being at or near the top of the list. Take careful consideration, and you’ll be sure to find the right place to land in no time at all.

How Safety Technology Is Changing The Trucking Industry

As the long march of technology continues unabated, industries across the world are impacted, in ways both good, bad and profound. Where trucking is concerned, nowhere has this impact been more pronounced than in fleet safety.

The fact is, trucking companies and truck rental operators are expanding their safety offerings to include highly advanced features that supplement truck driver intuition. This, all while the cost of such technologies continues to drop.

Where It All Began

The transition to advanced safety technologies began with major rental companies adopting them. When major players make the shift, technologies proliferate and are much more easily spread across the board.

And while systems like on-board stability control have been around for many, many years, the game is changing as new technologies come online. Whereas before one may only be able to avoid a collision, today’s advanced sensors can go so far as to help mitigate a jackknife in real-time.

As the technologies have increased, payback time has decreased. A fleet can now reasonably expect payback for an advanced on-board safety system to roll in at around 12 to 14 months.

For larger trucking companies, the return is simple. Common features like collision avoidance systems and air disc brakes have become so affordable that they are almost no-brainers. Even smaller trucking companies can get in on the action at the low price points offered.

More Advanced Systems

As the advanced features of yesterday become the common features of today, we look ahead to what new technologies being released today will be the common features of tomorrow.

Laying the groundwork for advanced safety technologies includes integrating technologies such as forward-looking radar and collision mitigation systems. The new generations of active control systems are able to reduce collision costs and lower lost time and truck driver injuries.

Thanks to rapid advances in computing power and automated technologies, trucks with these systems have active linkages to braking and powertrain controls. Simply put, these go far beyond simple alerts and become active participants in how the truck is controlled.

These systems are simply negligence agnostics, meaning that they can operate at speeds faster than a human can think, decide on a course of action and react.

Leveraging Cost with Safety

Although these systems can be expensive for smaller fleets, larger fleets see long-term savings in reduced crash costs and better safety for their truck drivers.

For smaller companies with multi-year lease contracts, safety packages can be integrated at the manufacturing level, thus allowing smaller operators to take advantage of better safety features without breaking the bank or hurting the bottom line.

Consider that smaller fleets are more susceptible to crashes and it isn’t hard to see where there’s a real return on safety investment.

Big Players 

Driving the development of these technologies are huge companies like Ryder, Penkse, UPS and FedEx. All four of these companies now spec their vehicles with advanced safety systems as a standard procedure.

UPS, for instance, has been ordering trucks with collision avoidance systems since 2015, standard. FedEx has been spec’ing forward-collision avoidance systems for almost the same amount of time on certain vehicles, though they are not as far ahead on them as their shipping rival.

While none of these systems are fully automated, meaning at some point the truck driver must react to prevent sure disaster, they go a long way to ensuring innovation continues. How fast safety technologies move towards greater automation depends on the pace of development.

Either way you look at it, however, these systems are having  a huge impact on both industry truck driver safety and the safety of others on the road. Where this will all end up – and how far these technologies develop – is anyone’s guess, but for now everyone is happy we’ve come this far.


Safety In Agriculture Trucking

Winter may be here, but with planting and harvesting season around the corner, it’s important to take a look at trucking safety in agriculture.

With springtime comes warm weather and sprouting flowers. In many parts of the country, fertilizer is being spread across fields and tractors are doing their jobs in the fields.

Safety During the Growing Season

This year, due to what is expected to be a busy growing season, the Agricultural and Food Transporters Conference (AFTC) of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) are pushing efforts to educate agricultural truck drivers about the importance of safe operation and the nation’s highways and rural roads.

In the agricultural industry, timing is critical. Flexibility is often needed to get food delivered during busy times. There’s a lot to consider. For example, did you know that truck drivers bearing agricultural freight are exempted from certain hours of service regulations. This is just one example of why it’s so important to understand all the rules and regulations governing agricultural haulers.

As a general rule, truck drivers are limited to a maximum of 11 driving hours per day. However, in agriculture, flexibility is needed to get the job done.

Of course, agricultural seasons don’t wait for exact schedules or the whims of a fleet. Still, the agricultural hours of service exemption are limited in a number of ways.

Safety First

When it comes to working in agriculture, whether you are in the field or driving in the cab, everyone lives by one mantra: “Safety First.”

Working in agriculture means working in hazardous conditions. The same goes for those operating on the roads and delivering these goods to those who need them.

That’s why diligent management of trucker safety is so important. As a harvest or planting season approaches, conscientious trucking safety managers should put themselves in a safety-first mindset. But what are the practical steps you can take?

Finding the Right People

The key for any fleet, and especially those working in agriculture, is to know your truck drivers. But are you hiring the right ones? You must be very careful in your hiring decisions, considering your truck drivers will not only be transporting your vital cargo, but they will be responsible for the safety of those on the road around them.

But how do you find the right person? You must ensure they:

  • Provided they are 21-years-old
  • Are able to perform the duties of a truck driver without any health issues.
  • Are fluent in English, can read highway and traffic signals, right reports, and interact with inspectors should the need arise.
  • Safely operate the commercial motor vehicle.
  • Can safely secure the cargo and complete all the necessary steps to lock in the load.
  • Are not operating with more than one valid CDL.
  • Have a list of any motor vehicle violations they have incurred in the past.
  • Be able to pass a driver’s road test or equivalent, depending on the state.
  • Complete a valid employment application.
  • Have a valid medical certificate on file.

The fact is, truckers serving the farming community play a vital role in our nation’s food supply. So while it is important to remain flexible and get the food there when it needs to get there, always remember to follow the golden rule of trucking, no matter what it is that you’re hauling.