Category Archives: Legal

Key Tips To Improving Your CSA Scores – Part III

Welcome to our final installment where we look at how to improve your CSA scores. Even though we are facing a wholesale change as CSA scores transform into the IRT model, trucking companies must still live and die by the current model, so we want to cover everything we can to help you make sure your fleet is prepared.

Today, we are going to finish out our look at how you can ensure your CSA scores are in tip-top shape. Let’s first dive into preventative maintenance, pre-trip inspections, and your DVIR. As any fleet manager knows, it is absolutely critical that a systematic maintenance on all vehicles and trailers in the fleet are completed, but what more should they know?

Looking at Inspections

A motor carrier’s truck drivers should be well-trained on how to do pre-trip inspections. The best way to train a truck driver is to provide an example and show them examples of how to do it. Are you properly watching how long your truck drivers spend on an inspection? This should be a matter of company policy and should provide a standard by which all your operators live by.

Note that Federal regulation 396.13 state that the truck driver needs to do the following before hopping in the cab and operating the commercial motor vehicle:

  • They must be satisfied that the motor vehicle is in safe operating condition.
  • They must review the last driver vehicle inspection report.
  • They must sign the duty report and note any defects or deficiencies.

Are you performing simple tests to ensure your truck drivers are performing their pre-trip inspection properly? How many of them should have noticed issues that were not picked up during the inspection? Furthermore, how are they properly ensuring the cargo they are carrying is secured?

Consider that things falling off the truck could not only harm CSA scores, it could cause potential injury or death to other drivers on the road. When a truck driver puts something on the vehicle, they have got to ensure it does not move, is blocked, braced, and tied down.

There are two pre-trip schedules. Schedule A is a pre-trip inspection performed by a mechanic or shop technician. Schedule B is an inspection that generally refers to keeping oil healthy. Annual inspections should be standard operating procedure. Is your fleet ensuring they are completed?

HazMat Compliance

There is something very important to consider. If your fleet transports hazardous materials, you need to make sure your truck drivers are thoroughly familiar with the Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR). Fleets that carry HazMat freight are required to have a higher CSA score than regular motor carriers. Common issues that HazMat carriers must be trained in include:

  • Ensuring HazMat goods are classified and packaged correctly.
  • Ensuring shipping papers are correct.
  • Ensuring correct markings, labels, and placards are present.
  • Ensuring an emergency response kit is readily available within the vehicle.

Another thing to consider is the route. HazMat drivers operating on restricted routes can receive a CSA violation. Are you operating with a commercial-grade navigation system that complies with truck-legal routes?

Effective Safety Committee

Not all motor carriers have a safety committee, but yours should. Implementing a safety committee ensures your fleet is safety-conscious. Even more, as CSA moves towards the IRT model, the FMCSA is going to be looking at safety culture as barometer for fleet performance.

A safety committee is designed to learn the root cause of safety issues, as well as how to fix them. Even more, a safety committee cannot be just for show. It must have the authority to implement changes as it sees fit.

In the end, even though CSA is changing, to win the business your fleet is deserved, you need to make sure you have safety on the mind. CSA scores and your bottom line stand to benefit from this mindset.

The Keys To Proper Coaching – Part II

In our last installment of this Two-Part series, we looked at an important measure of truck driver success: Coaching. To ensure new truck drivers are up-to-speed on how they should operate commercial motor vehicles, fleets must put time and effort into taking care that they are properly coached.

While technology and matching up truck drivers are important, there is more that goes into coaching. This week we will move on from cost and technical requirements and look at the real red meat of coaching. How long does coaching take and what really matters? What should a motor carrier expect to gain out of an effective truck driver coaching program?

Evaluating the Time Required

To provide truly effective coaching as part of a comprehensive truck driver safety program, some time needs to be put into the process. You simply can’t sit two people together for a half-hour on a one-time basis and expect them to achieve a true level of training or behavior modification.

Of course, the amount of time spent on individual coaching sessions depends a lot on the fleet. How many vehicles is the fleet running? Where is the fleet located? How many new truck drivers are on the payroll? By addressing these questions, a fleet can properly determine how much time (and of course, the cost) required to get the necessary result.

Technology also plays a role, as we discussed in last week’s post. If a fleet is utilizing video elements to their coaching program, they must consider how long it will take to compile the video, watch the video, and coach to the outcomes. Ensuring a coaching solution includes a portal accessible through the web or mobile device can help fleet managers and coaches stay on top of coaching tasks and truck driver development.

Measuring Success

An effective coaching program does more than just sit two people together and hope for a positive outcome. Safety managers must come up with a scorecard by which both truck driver, and even their coaches, can be evaluated by. It is critical to measure what works, who is an effective coach, and whether the truck drivers being coached are absorbing the information being provided.

Did you know that nearly 80% of a fleet’s risk level comes from less than 20% of their driving force? Without a measurable coaching program that is tracked and evaluated, it is nearly impossible for a fleet to determine who those 20% are, outside of waiting for a collision to occur.

Coaches must be assigned a specific workflow. An effective program will help a fleet go from managing claims to preventing claims. Key performance indicators, surveys, benchmarks, and recognition for a job well done all go a long way to getting coaching buy-in and achieving real results.

Many fleets use a 4-step process to manage coaching:

  1. Watch the event twice using video. An understanding must be made regarding the particular behavior being witnessed on the video.
  2. Watch the event at least once with the truck driver so that they can walk you through what was going on in their mind when a particular event happens.
  3. Properly explain the risk associated with the particular behavior. Ensure the truck driver understands the risk and what could happen if the behavior continues.
  4. Properly document the coaching session, take notes, and log any metrics or performance indicators used in the coaching session.

Coaching is about making a lasting behavioral change. Fleets should be building their coaching program around effective coaching, but also effective follow-up. Coaching should never be a one-off situation, but rather an ongoing education session. Only by practicing these principles can motor carriers ensure their truck drivers are staying safe on the road and avoiding risky behaviors.

The Keys To Proper Coaching: Part I

When it comes to increasing a fleet’s level of overall safety, coaching is key. Yet, far too few transportation companies handle coaching properly. Fleet managers must understand that to maintain a top-notch level of truck driver safety, they must take a comprehensive and proactive approach to safety coaching.

Essentially, transportation companies must combine all the cutting-edge tools at their disposal with an effective “human element” to ensure their truck drivers are getting the message. Programs exist that provide fleet managers and supervisors with the data they need to improve coaching opportunities and truck driver performance.

By investing in coaching, motor carriers can better manage driver risk by predicting which truck drivers and behaviors are most likely to result in a collision. This allows a fleet manager to focus his or her coaching efforts on those who need the most help.

There are three critical factors associated with effective coaching:

  • Reduction of truck driver turnover;
  • Cost cutting, and;
  • Morale boosting;

In addition to this, there are more than a few ways in which a fleet can measure the success of their coaching efforts:

  • How much time it takes to coach;
  • The overall cost of coaching;
  • Measuring behavioral change, and;
  • Seeing improved safety scores across the fleet.

Let’s look at one of the most important parts of any coaching program: The truck driver.

From an Employment Perspective

It is no great secret that employees thrive when they are recognized for a job well done and improved performance. They also appreciate it when their fleet actively spends time, money, and effort in ensuring they can safely operate their vehicles and can succeed.

While some employees may initially balk at measures taken to improve coaching, such as in-cab video, telematics, or other methods, once they realize that these systems can help exonerate them from false claims and help them become better truck drivers, it isn’t long before they buy into the concept.

When truck drivers know that their fleet is actively investing in making them better, it increases overall morale. As morale increases, truck drivers are less likely to jump ship to another fleet. Research shows that coaching has a net positive effect on how employees view their job.

From a Cost Perspective

Effective coaching also goes a long way in improving your company’s bottom line. When truck drivers are better at what they do, it helps to realize greater cost savings through fewer accidents and claims. Fleets also realize less vehicle wear-and-tear and increased fuel efficiency.

Furthermore, when truck drivers are less likely to quit and go elsewhere, this decreases the costs associated with turnover, recruiting, and retaining truck drivers. When the coaching is effective, the bottom line sees better days.

Using Technology to Coach

The fact is this: Watching video footage is an extremely effective way to train new or inexperienced truck drivers. It also allows a coach to get a clear look at how well a truck driver is doing and what their learning curve is. How quickly does the truck driver respond upon seeing the footage?

Telematics allow coaches to dig into the raw data associated with how the truck driver is driving. From sensing speed to braking and more, sensors and other advanced telematics solutions provide hard data that coaches, and truck drivers, can swiftly act upon.

The fact is, no cost is too high when it comes to ensuring safe operation of fleet equipment. Trucking companies should ensure they are investing wisely into coaching efforts. With so many new truck drivers entering the work force, a guiding hand could be the only thing preventing a disaster out on the road.

Proper Air Brake Inspections Are Critical To Safe Operation

Did you know that almost 1,600 commercial motor vehicles were put out of service during Brake Safety Day this past April? Out of the over 11,000 inspections completed in North America, over 13 percent of inspected vehicles got an out-of-service violation because of substandard brake maintenance. It is critical that trucking companies pay close attention to the condition of their air brakes, and not just because they are worried about a violation. Brakes play a critical role in the overall safe operation of commercial motor vehicles.

Chamber Size

That’s why we wanted to devote this week’s blog post to ensuring your air brakes are in proper order. Are you aware of all the steps required to ensure the functionality of your braking system?

First, make sure that brake adjustments and checks are completed before the brakes are in use. When the brakes are heated up, stroke measurements can be far longer. Why? Because the brake drum itself expands when in use. Cold brake check measurements are key to getting a proper reading.

The brake chamber size must be determined while in this state. First, technicians will want to locate the size markings on both the clamp and chamber body. Are those markings easily readable? If not, special calipers can help technicians ascertain the proper chamber measurement size.

Ranges for brake chambers generally fall between 6 and 36. Steer axle brakes will be smaller due to the nature of the steer axle. Expect those measurements to fall somewhere between 12 and 20. Heavier axles, by their nature, rely on larger chamber sizes.

Pushrod Stroke

What method will you use to determine a brake’s applied pushrod stroke? There are a couple to choose from. First, you can mark the pushrod with a reference point. This will allow you to operate the brake then go back and see where the measure met up with actual performance.

Second, you can measure the released position of the pushrod. Make sure to take account of the distance from a single point on the pushrod body to a fixed point near the brake chamber. If that measurement is off at all, you may of a problem.

Wherever your measurement comes out at, you will want to lower the vehicle’s air pressure through either running the engine or pumping the brake pedal. It will be important to ensure you have reached between 90 and 100 psi on both the primary and secondary tanks. With the correct air pressure indicated, make sure you apply and hold pressure to the brake pedal to get a true reading.

Fortunately, many brake OEMs already make their products with marked pushrods. This allows technicians to quickly determine whether a brake is out of adjustment or not without having to go through the manual checkmark process. Brakes that are within alignment will show the marking as being inside the body of the brake chamber. Conversely, if any part of the indicator is visible, the brakes either need to be flushed or are out of alignment.

Checking Adjustments

To get a good idea of whether brakes are adjusted properly or not without a fully-fledged inspection is another option. Ensure the vehicle is properly secured, then grab a prybar and pull back the push bar from the brake chamber. What is the push bar’s range of motion? If you are nearly an inch within stroke-free distance, your brake may be out of adjustment.

Without brakes, there is no safe operation of any vehicle, commercial or otherwise. Always ensure your technicians are up-to-date on how to check a rig’s air brakes and you can rest assured that your fleet is operating safely, day-in and day-out!

Is Your Fleet Drowning In Safety Technology?

There is one constant in the trucking industry today: Advanced safety technologies are dramatically reducing serious crashes, injuries, and fatalities on our nation’s roads and highways. Yet, far too many trucking companies have their eyes set firmly on their insurance costs. Is there a disconnect between road safety and insurance costs? There is, but the reason isn’t as obvious as it may at first seem.

The fact is, fleets have access to a wealth of safety technologies and data related to efficient truck driving, yet they are not utilizing these technologies to their fullest advantage. Motor carriers need to figure out how to implement the technologies and utilize the data provided by their use to increase overall safety measures.

Drowning in Safety

There is a phenomenon in trucking called “tech fatigue.” With the ELD mandate and advanced fleet management and safety systems coming at fleet managers from all angles, it can become easy to get overwhelmed and find yourself “drowning in safety.” While many motor carriers have plans in place to mitigate these problems, there are often disconnects between management and the truck drivers themselves.

Are truck drivers aware of specific alerts, beeps, and communications delivered by advanced safety systems? Furthermore, do fleet managers know when to act on said alerts or communications? There may be a solid plan in place to deal with such things, but without firm communication and a plan in place to manage these systems and train truck drivers and others within the organization on how to use them, the message can get lost in the noise.

It is critical that fleet managers ensure their truck drivers are not only trained on newly installed safety systems, but have buy-in that their truck drivers know how to and, even more, want to use them. The equipment being installed should be properly vetted and key decision-makers within the organization should understand how they will have an impact on the organization as a whole.

There are also problems with fleet managers focusing only on poor truck drivers. Even if an operator has a safe million-mile record, mistakes happen. Professional, experienced truck drivers should not be ignored for the sake of focusing on newer, less-experienced truck drivers with a minimal driving record.

When an adverse event occurs, do you have a corrective action plan in place to address the problem? How are you using the available data to influence the decision you make in regards to your truck drivers? Only through proper training and follow through can these questions be answered.

Technology is not a Curse

The problem is that as motor carriers add more and more technologies to their vehicles, it can become difficult to not only keep everyone on board, but figure out the most optimal ways to utilize these technologies. Advanced safety and fleet management systems do not just suddenly make themselves known to operators.

It is important to never assume that those operating your commercial motor vehicles will know exactly how a piece of technology works, especially if the only experience they previously had was with putting a pen to paper.

Fleets must invest real time and effort into ensuring those who are utilizing an advanced technological solution are aware that it is going to be installed, how to use it, and how to utilize the data it provides. Many of these software and hardware systems are not inexpensive. Why should a motor carrier sink a ton of their well-earned money into implementing a system without the follow-through required to ensure they are getting the most out of it?

 

Safety Initiatives Taking Hold

No matter where you are around the globe, trucking safety initiatives are changing the industry. Trucking advocacy groups and fleets alike are doing everything they can to improve their safety profiles and raise awareness for trucking safety and overall advancement, no matter where they are around the globe.

In one heartwarming trucking story, the Australian Trucking Association has supported a campaign advocated by students from Swinburne University called “Don’t Truck Around.” The university’s Communication Design department completes an annual campaign focused on safe driving measures, from using a cell phone while driving to drinking and driving.

The campaign also aims to teach youth how to interact with large commercial motor vehicles once they finally start driving. Knowing how to react around a large truck is an important part of safely operating a passenger vehicle on any road anywhere in the world.

The numbers of commercial motor vehicles operating on Australian roads is only set to continue increasing over time, leaving that country with an essential choice. The Australian Trucking Association partnered with the school to pick top finalists to pitch their campaign.

In good news for trucking in general, no matter who won the competition, our compatriots down under stated they would use the feedback garnered from everyone who pitched, as well as information gleaned from their annual conference. They expressed interest in integrating it within the future decisions made regarding trucking in Australia.

Large U.S. Outfits Integrate Safety Systems

One of the largest players in trucking, Penske Logistics, has made a decision that will likely push safety technologies in a way that could see greater adoption across the trucking spectrum.

With a fleet of 2,800 heavy-duty commercial motor vehicles, the company has pledged to add video-based safety technologies to the mix. The technologies they have committed to outfitting on their fleet will include event-triggered on-board cameras that face both inside and outside the cab.

They hope to use the inward-facing camera information for truck driver coaching initiatives and bettering of fleet safety initiatives. Their commitment to outfitting these technologies also extends to older fleet vehicles.

Penske had previously run a pilot program within the company using the methodology from the larger idea. Internal company reports pointed to good results from the internal tests. The company reported a reduction in road safety incidents and higher overall safety scores for their truck drivers.

This technology will add to other technologies in use by the company, from backup alarms to collision-avoidance systems and more.

Using the Smith System

The company relies on the Smith System to train its truck drivers on the best way to operate a big rig. The Smith System relies on five key factors designed to reduce collisions, prevent injuries and save lives.

The five common principles of the Smith System of truck driving include aiming high on your steering, always being on the keen lookout for hazards, never get lost in a glare and stare. Always keep your eyes open and leave yourself a way to get out of a hazardous situation.

Always keep aware of the area of space around your tractor-trailer and make sure passenger cars and others on the road can always see you, whether through the use of your signals, lights, horn or other implement.  The Smith System uses a rating system to determine the safety efficacy of the truck drivers under the system’s tutelage.

With so many decisions within the trucking industry focused on safety, expect constant evolution in the sector. No matter the system used, trucking will continue to improve its safety profile the world over for a very long time; a good thing for everyone involved.

Staying Safe On The Job: Essential Tips For Every Professional Truck Driver

If you are a professional truck driver, you know how important it is to take special care on the job. Being a truck driver does not come without on-the-job risks, but if you take special care, you can ensure your health and safety from your first day on the job all the way through to your retirement.

The good news is that safety training and technologies have made it easier than ever for truck drivers to avoid nasty injuries on the job. And as a professional truck driver yourself, you can contribute to this ongoing trend. That’s why we wanted to cover often-overlooked on-the-job safety tips every truck driver should keep in mind.

Move Around

Being a truck driver is a sedentary job, much like many jobs nowadays. This is why it is important to take time to get out of the vehicle and move around. Minimizing your time spent in the cab’s seat helps keep your body healthy and limber. Don’t just sit in the driver’s seat while at rest stops. If your cab is equipped with a bed, you may even want to lie down and stretch, as opposed to sitting in your seat.

Clothing Matters

There is nothing worse than wearing tight or chafing clothing during long hours in the your vehicle. You want to wear loose, comfortable clothing and footwear. A big part of this is blood circulation. Not only does a lack of circulation lead to major health problems down the road, it is also incredibly uncomfortable.

Avoid Long Jumps

One of the most dangerous things a truck driver can do is jump from the cab down to the ground. You want to make sure you step carefully out of your vehicle and take great care in getting to the ground. One foot or hand should always be on a support piece, whether on ascent or descent to and from the vehicle. If you lose your grip or otherwise find yourself in an awkward position, it can lead to injury or worse.

Don’t Be A Hero

Never try to be the toughest guy on the block when handling loads. If possible, use mechanized equipment to handle loads. If you do not have equipment to help you, don’t attempt to lift a load you think may be too heavy for you. Also avoid lifting from your back if you do have to lift a box. If a load is too heavy for you, seek assistance.

Consider Road Vibrations

Whether you are truck driver or fleet manager, consider the effect road vibrations have on the occupant of a vehicle. If the vehicle is an older model, vibrations can have a negative impact on the entire body. When vibrations occur over a long period of time, critical bones and organs can be subject to injury, from the spine to other internal body structures.

Consider The Cab

Relating to road vibrations, it is important to consider a truck’s interior design. From the instrument panel’s layout to insulation and reduction of interior noise, all of these are important factors. Trucking companies and owner operators must pay careful attention to the layout of the cab to ensure both maximum comfort and safety at all times.

Watch For Fatigue

It is critically important for truck drivers to watch for fatigue. If you have been driving for many hours, non-stop, fatigue can be a major problem. If you become inattentive while driving your commercial motor vehicle, it can result in a major accident or worse. You should always practice safety and realize that when fatigue steps in, getting your load there in time should take a back seat.

 

How To Incentivize Better Safety Within Your Fleet

When it comes to training your tuck drivers to operate safer out on the nation’s roads, why not add an element of competition to incentivize behavioral change on a macro scale. We’re here to tell you exactly how to do that.

Take a peer group and set up a competition system, whether your truck drivers are working individually or within a team. Turn safe driving into a competition and offer prizes to truck drivers who play “the game” the best.

First you want to set up the goals for your safety competition.

Using SMART Goals

One of the most effective goal-setting techniques in the modern corporate world is that of SMART goals. SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Results-focused
  • Time-bound

As one example of how you can use SMART goals to create a better safety paradigm within your fleet is if you want to decrease overall idle time to less than 15 minutes per day. Pick a specific time period and choose your factors. You may want to focus on several goals at a time, and that is fine, but make sure your goals do not overlap or cause confusion. You want your truck drivers to understand and buy-in to the program. It should be more than simple safety window dressing.

Once you have selected your measurable factors and chosen your timeline, you want to establish behavioral patterns you wish to see changed. You can measure behavioral changes through hard baseline data.

Using Data to Reach your Goals

In order to figure out how well your fleet is doing at meeting the goals, it will be important to collect the data and determine a method for analyzing it. You want at least 30 days of control data, regardless of the time frame parameters of your competition. Make sure you do not notify those in the competition pool of the pre-defined parameters so that you don’t tempt them to try and game the system.

Once you have the data collected, use it to determine whether you have set a realistic timeline for the program. Also make sure you are taking outside factors into consideration. If you are trying to set up a competition surrounding idle time, you don’t want to hold bad weather or construction against them within the game.

What Are Your Incentives?

Of course, the only way you will see real results from the program is if there is a winner or group of winners. You could also create specific categories of winners, whether it be “Least Idle Time” or “Most On-Time Deliveries.” With larger groups you may want to have more winners.

Remember, the best way to inventivize real change is to create a realistic program. You could use cash prizes, gift cards, company schwag, more off-hours, or other things you think your truck drivers or employees may find particularly meaningful. Above all, make sure there is a reasonable chance to have a winner every time.

Be Transparent

Transparency is extremely important to ensure you have buy-in for your program. You could place stats or standings in the break room or provide an online portal your truckers can log into to see where they rank.  This helps motivate participants to do better by creating a little open friendly competition among them.

Finally, use the data to provide actionable tips and tricks to your truck drivers. Use the information you find to enhance your overall training endeavors. Whether you use a classroom-type setting, online video, or in-cab prompts, there are many ways you can use the data to increase safety measures.

Of course, in the end, the most important thing is making sure your truck drivers are both safe and happy. Utilizing friendly competition to accomplish these goals is a healthy way to do it.

Do ELD Exemptions And Uneven Enforcement Gut The Rule?

The ELD Mandate, which went into effect on December 18, requires that the majority of interstate commercial truck drivers use ELD devices to ensure they are properly tracking their hours of service so as not to exceed the federal limits. Yet, that majority has been steadily shrinking as exemptions and uneven enforcement potentially neuters the mandate’s effectiveness.

OOIDA Requests A Major Exemption

There are currently many petitions sitting with the FMCSA, from a technical exemption for UPS to petitions from power and communications contractors. Yet, there is one petition that represents a huge question mark in the future and effectiveness of the ELD mandate.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has petitioned the FMCSA to exempt small business trucking companies with operations under $27.5 million in annual revenue. Should this petition be approved, the exemption would in effect exempt 95 percent of all trucking companies.

To be fair, the OOIDA did include some qualifiers in their petition request. One such exemption was for motor carriers who have an unsatisfactory safety rating. The other was that exempt fleets would be required to document and present a proven history of safety performance that includes no at-fault crashes.

Those opposed to this line of reasoning say that there is no specific definition of what constitutes an at-fault crash. With nearly 93 percent of OTR trucking companies currently reporting no DOT-reportable crashes, the number of trucking companies removed from potential exemption is negligible. Should the OOIDA’s request be approved, the number of motor carriers looking at an exemption could stand in the tens of thousands.

While many do not expect the petition to wind up being passed by the FMCSA, it should be noted that 25 members of Congress sent a letter to the FMCSA supporting the petition. On the other side, the Trucking Alliance filed comments opposing the exemption.

What both sides acknowledge is that even if the FMCSA were to approve the petition, the inevitable result would be a trip to court and a legal battle. Why? The ELD Mandate is a Congressional imperative, so any major changes granted by the FMCSA would be subject to lawsuit by either side.

Will the ELD Mandate Have Any Teeth?

With the ELD Mandate suffering under the burden of enforcement issues and constant questions, some wonder if it will have any major impact on trucking safety. Consider that 17 states are waiting for April 1 to begin enforcement, with another 12 allowing the enforcement officer to decide. With the resulting 10 states writing ELD tickets, enforcement has been spotty across the board.

Currently, most of tickets being written are not for specific safety concern but are instead related to either no logs available or spec problems with the device being used. With the ELD enforcement picture so cloudy, is it even possible to determine whether their use is having a positive impact on trucking safety? With the jury still out on the effectiveness of the current HOS rules, no one knows.

Although December was the intended start of enforcement, many operators are waiting until April 1 to get compliant. With enforcement uneven across the board, trucking operators are betting that low enforcement levels will mean they won’t get a ticket, or even if they do, they won’t be put out of service or get a CSA ding. With the incentive to get compliant now taken away, the time between December and January provides a nebulous picture of the mandate’s effectiveness. How this will all play out as trucking advocates and fleets attempt to evaluate crash rates and safety levels is anybody’s guess.

 

Spring Driving Tips Every Professional Truck Driver Should Know

Any professional truck driver will tell you that you need a different set of skills for spring truck driving than you do for winter driving. But how many truck drivers actually know what these tips are? Not being able to tell the difference between a winter road and a spring road can be dangerous to not just the truck driver but to all those on the road around them.

Well, springs almost here. Are you ready for these essential spring truck driving tips? Let’s get started!

Spring Into Safe Driving

When was the last time you had seen a sign telling you to watch for ice on the side of the road while driving in a sunny location in Southern California. Situations like this should make every professional truck driver consider the different truck driving extremes presented by different seasons.

As winter snow melts, be sure to watch for spray kicked up by other road vehicles traveling through the slush. If there is no spray being kicked up and the road appears to be wet, it probably means the roads are icy. Be sure to check you mirrors and antenna as well. When temperatures drop below 35 degrees dampness can freeze if the surface of the road is colder than that.

It only takes a small amount of ice to cause you to lose control of your truck, which could change the trajectory of your entire day. You might also take caution when there are heavy winds. Understandably, lighter trailers are at a higher risk of blowing over, but heavy trucking trailers are at risk as well. Don’t leave anything for granted when it comes to the safety of your vehicle.

Where trucks may not exactly blow over, high winds can result in the truck going off to the side of road or for the truck to lose traction when roads are slick, which can lead to a crash.

Warm Weather Doesn’t Automatically Mean Safe Driving

When the weather begins to warm, wild animals start moving closer to highways. The ground closest to the pavement warms faster than the ground away from pavement, causing vegetation to grow faster in these areas. Wild animals set out toward vegetation when this happens and can make roads more dangerous for both truck drivers and those operating passenger vehicles.

Female deer can give birth as early as February and continue to fawn through July. When deer are pregnant, they need more vegetation and move at a slower pace. If one suddenly appears in front of you, it will be harder for them to move out of the way.

Wild animals are likely to be livelier near the highway around dusk and dawn. There are still plenty of wild animals out during the day and in complete darkness, so be alert.

If an animal jumps in front of your truck while driving down the highway, don’t panic, grip your steering wheel tightly and slow down without slamming on your breaks. This will keep your truck on a forward path making it safer for yourself and others around you. Deviating from the forward path has caused many trucking deaths and even more accidents involving other vehicles around the truck.

Keep an Eye on Four-Legged Friends

Remember deer are much smaller than your truck and hitting one may damage it, but it is much safer than swerving and possibly tipping over your truck and load. Your job will most likely be in tact for hitting a large animal but flipping the truck and ruining the goods in the trailer may cause a different outcome for your safety and the safety of your job.

The beginning of spring is the best time to check your truck’s air conditioning mechanism to ensure it is functioning at full capacity. It is getting warmer out and you’ll need it soon.

Always pay close attention to your truck tires’ condition to ensure they are in good shape for the warmer weather ahead. Examine your tires for deterioration and any indication of tire rot.

Keep these principles in mind and you will be  safe operator no matter the season!