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.
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.