Monthly Archives: May 2018

Summertime Driving Tips For Truck Drivers

Summertime! It’s a time of fun in the sun, trips to the lake or beach, and laughing kids playing without a care in the world. It, quite possible, is almost everyone’s favorite season. And while the same may be true for professional truck drivers, they must take extra care during the warm summer months.

There are so many reasons why summer represents a dangerous season for truck drivers, and with the summer rapidly approaching in most of the country, now is the time for a summertime safe driving tips refresher blog. With the sun high and the heat approaching, what’s a truck driver to do?

Adequate Sun Protection

First up is protection from the sun. Truck drivers usually must get in and out of their truck on a regular basis. Even more, they sometimes have to spend large amounts of time waiting outside their tractor while a shipper or receiver loads or unloads.

This is why it is so important that truckers protect themselves from the harmful rays of the sun. It is important to remember that there are serious risks associated with overexposure to the sun. Have you ever heard of the condition, “Trucker’s Arm”? It describes the condition that occurs when the sun scorches the left arm sitting beneath the driver’s side window.

Truck drivers need to make sure they stock up on sun block to prevent overexposure to the harsh rays of the sun. But even more than the sun, truckers need to pay more attention to other drivers just as much, if not more, than they do the sun.

Crowded Roads

It is no great secret that the summertime is the perfect time of year for hitting the road on a great American road trip. For this reason alone, professional truck drivers need to make sure they are extra vigilant.

The summer months bring more travelers onto our nation’s roads, which can make conditions even more unsafe for truckers. While not every accident can be prevented, staying alert and awake can lessen the chances of a terrible summer accident from occurring.

Drink Water

A common misconception among road warriors is that because they are in the cab of their truck, they don’t need to drink water or overly worry about dehydration, which couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is, truck drivers can wind up dehydrated. Make sure to keep a full bottle of water in the cab because you never know when you might need it.

Do A Brake Check

If there is one mechanical component to watch out for during the summer months, it is your brakes. Intense summer heat can lead to brakes fading, loss of friction, and the inability of your brakes to absorb additional heat.

This is what makes a comprehensive pre-trip inspection so important. You need to ensure you check your brakes before and after every trip, but especially during the summer to make sure your brakes are working properly.

Check Tire Inflation

High temperatures pose a particular danger for truck drivers as the excessive heat makes blowouts common. Checking your tires should be part of any comprehensive pre-trip inspection. Before you move your vehicle, especially during the summer, make sure your tires are properly inflated to avoid a potential blowout.

Finally, always make sure to practice extra caution in work zones. Memorial Day weekend just passed, and each year over 30 million drivers hit the road for this holiday. As the summer draws on, even more people will hit the road. Always use extra caution, complete a thorough pre-trip inspection and stay safe and hydrated on the roads and you’ll be well prepared for the sweltering summer months!

Safety Should Be Built Into Recruiting Efforts

Now that the ELD mandate is in place, a greater blanket of transparency has covered the trucking industry. With greater transparency comes greater scrutiny and although we are living in an anti-regulatory environment a lot of laws and regulations are still on the books. Some within the trucking industry were hoping the ELD mandate would be one of the regulations given the boot when the new administration came in and began eliminating regulations.

Yet, many of the operators who see the ELD mandate as a great, big unnecessary expense are missing out on critical tools they can use to optimize their business, increase revenues, decrease costs, and improve fleet-wide safety measures.

Building a culture of safety around recruiting creates a sense of purpose. When you concentrate your efforts on safety, it turns into an essential core value. While speed and efficiency is important, they should never be put above safety. This should be the ethos that all truck drivers and fleet managers live by.

Starting With a Clean Record

Ensuring your recruiting efforts are built upon a foundation of safety requires you to start with a clean slate, or in this case, record. Although the trucking employment market is tight, if possible, avoid hiring new truck drivers with spotty safety records. Yet there is a flip side to that coin.

In many cases, a truck driver with a clean safety record is merely a new truck driver. Statistics show that truck drivers under the age of 25 years old get into more accidents than those in higher age brackets. Certainly, not every hire can be perfect, but if you start from a solid foundation, one built upon a culture of safety, then you will come out ahead in the talent pool game more often than not.

To ensure the people you employ are well-versed in the language of safety, you want to start training them as soon as they come aboard. The best way to keep younger, newer truck drivers engaged is to provide them with clear expectations and a comprehensive training curriculum.

Start with the basics (and the BASICs!):

  • What is truck driver detention?
    • What are the base safe operating tips and tricks?
  • What is a layover?
  • How does the ELD mandate impact my job?
  • What is an MVR?
  • What do I need to know about vehicle specs, pre- and post-trip inspections?

It is important that a motor carrier sets up base expectations for its truck drivers and commits to holding themselves accountable just as much as they expect their truck drivers to remain accountable.

The Advantage of Recruiting Technology

We mean that statement both literally and figuratively.  New software-as-a-service (SaaS) and database and cloud solutions provide motor carriers with a way to access advanced recruiting tools, video orientation and coaching systems, camera, sensor, and hardware tech, and so much more!

By putting the focus on safety training from Day One, and backing your talk up with real, actionable solutions, you will ensure a safety culture that will be the envy of the industry. Now what better way can you think of to attract, train, and retain than by offering cutting-edge training, safety workshops, mentorships, and more?

Web-based interfaces provide users with portals to check status, safety information, competition information if the fleet is running such programs, and more. A new recruit with access to such a wealth of tools is far more likely to stay on board than someone who is tossed into the cab with no care given to their training.

Keep safety a core value, an integral part of your company’s mission, all while providing a more attractive target for potential truck drivers, simply by making safety a vital part of your initial hiring process.


Truck Driver Hair Testing Is Once Again Up For Discussion

The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, otherwise known as the Trucking Alliance, has come out stating they plan to lobby congress to pass a new drug testing law that mandates anyone who is applying for a safety-sensitive truck driver job to take a drug test and verify they are not addicted to opiates or other illegal drug use.

The Trucking Alliance used a United Nations event to reveal this new initiative. They cited Brazil as an example of a country who was thinking forward on the issue. Brazil requires that new commercial truck drivers in Brazil pass a hair test before renewing their commercial vehicle driving license.

Since Brazil enacted this law, over 1 million truck drivers have failed their hair test or refused to renew their license to avoid getting caught in taking the test. The Alliance represents a coalition of freight and logistics companies that support safety technologies and regulations. They have been behind the push to create new speed limiter regulations, the ELD mandate, better truck driver training and advanced safety assistance technologies.

But Why Hair Tests?

The problem lies in the type of drugs that most truck drivers struggle with. Nearly half of all the truck drivers who fail drug tests do so because of opiates, no surprise considering the opiate addiction problem facing our country. Urine testing usually does not test positive for opiates because they are flushed out of the system rather quickly.

Hair testing, on the other end, usually can pinpoint opiates because the testing goes back far enough to discover the substance. The Alliance points to current drug testing methods as not enough to address the current substance abuse crisis enveloping the nation and the trucking industry. While many fleets don’t report major problems of failed drug tests, the Alliance purports the reason behind this is that fleets are not instituting hair tests for their employees.

Opioids can be undetectable in urine after a few hours, which allows opioid addicts to simply avoid drugs before submitting to a urine analysis. A hair test, however, detects opiate use up to 90 days out from use. Opiate pain killer includes everything from brands as diverse as hydromorphone to oxycodone, or trade names such as OxyContin, Percocet, and others. A urine analysis will miss these unless taken within an hour of use.

One of the proposals on the table includes Congress requiring tests for new truck drivers but requiring them for license renewals. Once a truck driver is on the road, it is critical that the motor carrier employing them is keeping track of whether they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol. After all, lives are at stake.

Will It Matter In Our Current Political Environment?

Now the question is, will Congress or the Trump administration get on board with such a legislative push. We are currently in an anti-regulatory environment. Will more regulations, even if they make sense where trucking safety is concerned, make that much of a difference in the long run? While the Trucking alliance says yes, trucking industry advocates and trucking companies would like to keep those decisions in-house.

If hair testing is the right thing to do and will save lives, should motor carriers immediately jump on board? Also, is there a greater expense related to this type of extensive drug testing. Will small carriers be able to bear the cost? There are a lot of unanswered questions relating to drug testing and whether it should be mandatory, and it appears we won’t find the answers any time soon

Parking As A Trucking Safety Concern

Did you know that parking searches cost truck drivers and/or fleets up to $4,600 annually? In fact, parking availability is one of the top concerns whether you are asking motor carriers or truck drivers themselves. In fact, it has been documented that truck drivers feel a certain measure of anxiety over the parking situation they have to deal with on near-daily basis.

According to the Truck Parking Diary, detailed documentation from internal surveys shows that commercial truck drivers who agreed to participate in the surveys recorded parking experiences and issues across 4,700 truck parking stops.

As those who manage the Truck Parking Diary discovered as they broke down the data from the survey, several trends became apparent. The most readily available times to find parking were generally the weekends and mid-day hours. Conversely, the most difficult times were after 7:00pm during the week.

Available parking areas also stayed full all the way through to 5:00am the next day. Still, there were exceptions to the rule. The survey reported that there were higher instances of non-commercial vehicles – such as RVs – that often take up spaces reserved for commercial motor vehicles, which obviously adds to the problems truck drivers face trying to find parking.

The survey also found that if there were more flexible shipper/receiver times, truck drivers could shift their operating times away from the busiest parking times. Whatever can be done to help truck drivers find parking during peak and off-peak hours benefits both the trucking industry and the drivers.

How Much Do Truck Drivers Work?

Another aspect of the job the survey revealed was that truck drivers typically dedicated 56 minutes of allotted drive time to either parking or finding parking, rather than risk not being able to find a place to park further along the road.

This means that the truck driver effectively lowered the wages they were earning to the tune of $4,600, which accounts for over nine thousand lost minutes on an annual basis.  When 10-hour hours of service breaks were allowed, the survey determined that truck driver spent most of this allotted time trying to find parking than they did to addressing their basic amenities needs.

What did truck drivers look for when they were factoring whether or not they had found an appropriate parking space? Obviously, proximity to the route they are running is most important, but they also looked closely at whether the rest area offers restrooms and/or showers, or if the advertised parking spaces are available, and whether they had a reasonable ease of access and use.

There is Room for Improvement

Another important note that came from the survey was that there is certainly room for conditions to be improved, both by adding more parking along major freight lines and by increasing available facilities and providing the basic needs truck drivers look for when they are taking long breaks in a specific space.

Whether you are talking about public or private partnerships, more investment in parking spaces is needed. There also needs to be more flexibility in which rest areas are available to the public or commercial operators.

Throughout all this, motor carriers have been encouraged to pay reservation fees for truck drivers, which should help ease the stress of finding available parking. This would not only cut down on motor carrier costs or lost driving time but would go a long way to increasing truck driver retention rates.

Finally, truck drivers would not have to ask to shift their scheduled – or be asked to do so – based on peak driving times. Whether it be a lack of capacity, time limitations, or otherwise, truck drivers deserve to have facilities they can use, whether for increased comfort or safety.