There are a number of interesting bits of news this week in trucking safety. The first comes out of Utah, where the Federal Highway Administration opened a commenting period for the public to weigh in on a truck-climbing lane in Utah.
The news comes on the back of an announcement by the Utah Department of Transportation that it plans to install a truck-climbing lane on a steep section of Interstate 80 approximately 15 miles from Salt Lake City.
The climbing lane will stretch for around 3 miles, cutting across and over the mountain pass known as Parley’s Summit. You may be wondering, “Well, what’s so special about Utah?”
The main reason this is big news is that Interstate 80 is a major route between San Francisco and New Jersey. Many people who travel cross-country wind up taking this route.
Now, the FHWA plans to seek judicial review on the matter before March 5 of 2018. According to a UDOT spokesman, the purpose of the project is to reduce the amount of truck congestion currently on the highway. It is also meant to limit accidents that involve other motorists or wildlife.
The wildlife problem will be addressed with the installation of a wildlife crossing over the I-80. Since there a lot of deer and elk in the area, this bypass should help alleviate accident risk and save wildlife.
Ian Peterson, who is the COO for a Utah-based trucking company, was quoted as saying “I don’t see a downside to that. It’s a pretty heavily traveled canyon. There’s a lot of truck traffic in that canyon, but then there’s also a lot of commuter traffic.”
A big problem with the area is that commuter traffic has exploded as people have moved to the area in droves. According to the U.S. Cencus Bureau, Utah is the fastest-growing state by population. Surrounding communities, from Jeremy Ranch to Park and Heber City are seeing exponential growth. Unfortunately, this expansion is crowding out the route, which runs three lands in each direction. ‘
Again, Ian Peterson. “That’s really added to the number of cars on the road, especially during peak driving hours. I think it’ll make it safer because there is a lot of traffic. I think it’s a positive thing.”
New Low-Cost Safety Solution
On another safety front, a company out of Anaheim, California is addressing a problem truck drivers face during drop and hook operations. Many believe this to be a completely overlooked cause of worker compensation costs and lost productivity within trucking.
The company, UltraLift Technologies, aims to help reduce the number of repetitive stress injuries truck drivers face. The low-power tool they have developed represents a safer alternative to hand-cranking whenever a truck driver needs to raise or lower the trailer’s landing gear.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety, “upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders are one of the four most common types of workplace injury. They can also be some of the most costly.
Still, far too few trucking companies pay close enough attention to these types of injuries. Instead, so much effort has been put into distracted driving and reducing traffic accidents, that many forget there are plenty of safety concerns at stake when a truck is parked, as well.
UltraLift enters the market claiming that their tool is the first of its kind and can be used on any trailer type, whether hydraulic, pneumatic or electrical. All that is required is around 5- 10 minutes of installation time.
Since fleets have the option of quickly and easily retrofitting their fleet with this technology, with very little downtime, UltraLift is aiming to see its technology reach widespread adoption across the trucking industry.
With fleets continually trying to cut costs and add more to their bottom line, minimizing costs, injuries and workplace safety issues can go a long way. Is your motor carrier taking these problems seriously? We operate in a new age of safety. It’s time to get prepared.