Monthly Archives: March 2017

Is Your Fleet Ready For The FDA’s New Food Safety Rules?

Get ready. As of April 6, new food safety rules set forth by the FDA will be put into effect for fleet food delivery. Enforcement is set to begin immediately. The rule specifically falls under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

This act, passed in 2011, was put forth in response to an outbreak of listeria and salmonella at food manufacturing and processing plants. Fortunately, we’ve got the latest on what you need to do to ensure you stay in compliance with the new regulations.

Specifically, the new rule requires those involved with the transportation of human and animal food – be it shippers, carriers or receivers – to follow a specific set of practices to ensure sanitary transportation. Whether it be properly refrigerating food, thoroughly cleaning vehicles or ensuring excellent protection for food in transit, the rules are changing and your fleet needs to be ready.

There are some exceptions to who needs to comply, based on specific dates. Those that meet the following criteria have until April 6 of 2018 to comply with the new regulations:

  • Small businesses other than motor carriers that are not also shippers and/or receivers.
  • Businesses that employ fewer than 500 persons.
  • Motor carriers who have less than $27.5 million in annual receipts.

The Rule Details

The rule details focus on a requirement for ensuring food is properly refrigerated. Vehicles and equipment that is not properly cleaned and sanitized are also addressed. What the rule does not do is address more specific components of food security, from seals and locks to transport security.

While there has been some industry hand-wringing where rule flexibility is concerned, there are important ways in which carriers can ensure they comply with the final rule.

In addition to clarifying protective measures designed to keep food from cross-contaminating, the FDA will provide specific web-based training seminars to help fleets better comply with the rule changes.

This is why it is important that everyone from operators to managers and dispatchers are well aware of what’s required in the rule. It’s important they keep tabs on temperatures, planning ahead and route specifics and schedules.

Here are specifics on what each individual employee should consider when keeping proper food safety in mind.


Are your planners paying attention to the food coming in and what equipment is required to keep it at the appropriate temperature? Furthermore, it’s important that the operator is experienced in working with such equipment.

Also, does a trailer need to be washed prior to loading. You’ll want to make sure the truck driver knows what the pickup timeframe is and plans enough time to wash it out.


Ensure your dispatchers are properly communicating instructions to truck drivers. They must also confirm loaded set/box temperatures and double check refrigeration settings against the required range.

While the load is in transit, it is vitally important to monitor temperature readings. If there are any discrepancies, the truck driver needs to make sure they immediately notify dispatch and that dispatch is staying on top of it.

Truck Drivers

Although this is important anyway, food transportation makes pre-trip inspections even more vital. Reefer units must be properly checked. From the air chute to door seals, the trailer condition must be paid close attention to.

It is important to check for extra condensation and any obvious leaks. Box temperature must be checked at least every few hours or whenever the vehicle is stopped for a prolonged period of time.

Finally, it is critical that your fleet technicians are paying close attention to preventative maintenance. Old equipment must be repaired or replaced before food becomes potentially contaminated. Keep the FSMA from negatively impacting your fleet scores by keeping these essential tips in mind!

Essential Safe Driving Tips For Truckers – Part II

Welcome to Part II of our series, Essential Safe Driving Tips for Truckers. In today’s installment, we are going to dive deep back into important road safety tips that every professional truck driver should know.

Ask any CDL driving instructor, and they will tell you that the following items are essential smart truck driving tips that every commercial motor vehicle operator should know. While many of these can be referred to as “common sense” tips, there’s no harm in ensuring they are drilled into every truck driver’s mind.

Wheel Turning

When you are turning the wheel rapidly, especially in a parking lot, or if you are preparing to back up to a dock, it is extremely important to keep your fingers closed while you spin the wheel. This is even more important on older vehicles. After all, do you want to end up with broken fingers on your hand because you didn’t maintain a closed grip on the wheel?

Load Tarping

Are you ensuring you are tarping a load in low winds? Unless you want to find yourself lifted 20 feet into the air by a 40 mph wind, it is vitally important that you ensure there are no strong prevailing winds before you tarp a load.

Watch Trailer Clearance

Whether you are operating a lowboy or a car-hauler, it is extremely important to pay extra attention to trailer clearance. From railroad tracks to parking lot grades, overpasses and bridges, don’t get caught up as you blast your radio and go careening down the road, only to end up with a major accident on your hands because you weren’t paying close enough attention to trailer clearance.

Take Breaks

This may seem simple, but when you are on a run with few moments to spare, don’t find yourself driving and driving without taking a break to stop, stretch and check your trailer. This is especially important if you are hauling a flatbed load. Always double check for soft tires, air leaks or any dripping fluids underneath your stopped vehicle.

Utilize GPS

The fact is this: GPS is a truck driver’s best friend and nowadays GPS units designed specifically for truck drivers can provide vital information that was previously unavailable. Whether it be distance before exiting, lane changes or traffic reports, the cost of these units is worth the value they provide to the truck driver. GPS units can also help mitigate truck driver stress when they are entering an unknown area.

Use Caution in the Evening

If there’s one thing many a professional truck driver will attest to, it is the importance of utilizing extra caution at night. This is even more vital when you are in tricky maneuvering situations. The last thing you want to do is leave a truck strop at night, think you are entering the roadway, and then drive your vehicle into a ditch or hit the back end of another trailer. Always stay alert and move cautiously at night.

Do A Foot Check

When you are delivering, especially to a new customer, are you parking safely and scoping out the place before pulling up? All too often a shipper or receiver will say “Oh, don’t worry,” only for the hapless trucker to find that their vehicle is trapped and unable to turn around or exit a dock. This is also a good time to pay close attention to clearance. Whether it is a ditch, pole or fire hydrant – or just poorly designed dock – it is crucial that you do an on-foot vehicle inspection before backing in headlong into an unknown space.

The fact is, many of these may seem like things every truck driver should know, but not all truckers practice these – and the tips in Part I – on a regular basis. If you want to be a safe trucker, always keep these tips in mind!

Essential Safe Driving Tips For Truckers – Part I

As a professional truck driver, you know how important it is to keep safety paramount when you’re behind the wheel. We understand that covering important safety tips for truckers is never something you can have too much of.

We get it, it’s likely you have a load to deliver and are in a rush to do it. Still, it’s important to remember that you should never get caught up in the ‘hurry, hurry, and hurry some more’ mentality. The fact is, your safety – and the safety of those around you – is more important than getting your load there on time.

Driving a heavy duty commercial motor vehicle takes a specific measure of skill, timing and responsibility. If you don’t exercise common sense on the road, you run the risk of putting yourself and those sharing the road with you in serious danger.

That’s why we felt it would be a good time to cover important truck driving safety tips. While it’s important to follow the rules of the road, as well as the rules your carrier hands down in regards to your driving, there are common safety tips that every professional truck driver should know, and we will cover those today.

Stay Alert

Are you aware of everything going on around you? If you aren’t looking well ahead down the road in front of you, you could miss something important rapidly approaching your rig.

This is even more important when you are operating in heavy traffic. Be aware of what is in front of you and always have an escape plan at the front of your mind in the case that something unexpected happens.

If you aren’t aware of what is going on in front, behind, and to the sides of you, you could miss something vital and wind up with a serious accident on your hands.

Check the Weather

Are you aware of the weather conditions preceding your trip? As a long-haul trucker, it’s even more important to stay abreast of weather conditions.

Make sure you keep a constant eye on the outside temperature and specific road conditions. Knowing what to expect from the weather is a vital part of proper trip planning measures.

Leave Room

How much room are you leaving in front of your vehicle as you barrel down the road? If you don’t leave plenty of room in front of your vehicle, you aren’t giving yourself enough opportunity to respond in case something unexpected happens.

It is vitally important to keep a buffer zone between you and the vehicle in front of you. The emptier space you have in front of your rig, the longer chance you have to respond in the event of an on-road emergency.

Avoid Constant Lane Changing

If there’s one thing that’s drilled into every trucker’s brain in training, it’s to avoid constant lane changing. Passenger cars dodge in and out of lanes on a near-constant basis, but that doesn’t mean you should.

When you do need to change lanes, ensure you do it very carefully. It’s important to remember that the odds of an accident increase dramatically whenever a lane change occurs.

Still, if you maintain your lane presence, if or when an accident does occur, the chances of you being held at fault are greatly lowered if you weren’t the one making your way in and out of the lane.

Still wondering what all the steps are that you can take to ensure your safe arrival at the destination? Join us next week in Part II of our series when we cover just that!

Trucking Safety Roundup: Big Data And Distractions

Today we are going to take a look at two different aspects of trucking safety. One is how big data can go a long way in helping fleets improve their safety numbers. The other is how distractions are impacting highway deaths and trucking accidents.

Big Data And Trucking Safety

The fact is, the trucking industry burns through billions of dollars and wastes millions upon millions of hours each year sitting idle. Not only would finding ways to decrease idle time save money, it will also improve trucker safety.

In fact, researchers at Iowa State University have pinpointed a specific solution using big data and it involves data sharing.

The primary challenge is finding an effective way to share data between state traffic centers and operators around the country. The only way to improve freight safety through big data is to ensure proper communication across the board.

Road Data

The Department of Transportation has a lot of data on the conditions of American roads and highways and they want to ensure this information is of some use to motor carriers. Whether it be through better on-time delivery performance or increased safety, idle time is minimized, road data can be used to effectively increase fleet performance.

Researchers know this through fleet surveys. According to a number of motor carrier surveys, fleets consistently reported benefiting from access to real-time road condition data, traffic information, congestion data and construction project time and location information.

As the trucking industry becomes increasingly driven by technological change, carriers need to learn how to level the playing field. Still, many small carriers simply don’t have the manpower or expertise to analyze this data or use it to improve their safety measures.

One of the best ways to leverage the power of information is to employ the use of a third-party vendor who knows how to navigate the data and turn it into effective safety initiatives.

The Problem of Distracted Driving

According to auto insurers, distracted driving is becoming a major problem, not just for those driving passenger vehicles, but for truck drivers as well.

Per the Department of Transportation, traffic deaths spiked 10.4 percent in 2016, this following a 7.2 percent spike in 2015. Still, the data shows that the spike isn’t spread uniformly across the country.

As logic would dictate, distracted driving is more of a problem in urban areas. Truck drivers operating short, regional or urban routes are stuck navigating complex traffic patterns and dealing with passenger cars that often get too close or engage in otherwise risky driving behaviors.

In addition to these factors, truckers are driving more miles than ever before. From severe weather patterns to falling gas prices and other national driving trends, there are a number of causes to point to.

The Demographic Factor

Contributing to the distracted driving problem is a major demographic shift. Areas with a large number of either older or younger drivers experience a high degree of distracted driving. Truck drivers operating in places like Florida or West Coast cities find themselves dealing with road vehicles with distracted drivers behind the wheel.

Also, in states where recreational marijuana is now legal, it adds to a growing list of impairments. No longer is alcohol the only thing slowing reaction time or contributing to distractions.

In the end, as a professional truck driver, it is vitally important that you mitigate your own distracted driving. From avoiding text messaging to ensuring you are constantly on alert, you’ve got enough to worry about on the road around you without adding your own distractions to the list.

Whether it be distracted driving or using big data to improve safety measures, there’s always a safety round up to be discussed. Join us next week when we look at the week’s latest safety measures.