Category: Safe Driving

Parking Shortage Worsens

September 21, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

WASHINGTON — Concerns over the ongoing plight to park trucks safely is prompting a group of national and regional stakeholders to plan ways to improve parking availability, given a new Department of Transportation survey that found dire shortages in metropolitan areas. Deputy Transportation Secretary Victor Mendez said a National Coalition on Truck Parking would convene in a few months to develop recommendations. “We know truck parking has been a long-standing problem in our nation, and we need new approaches to fix it,” Mendez said. “Now more than ever, this country needs better planning, investment and innovation from those who have a stake in safe truck parking and transportation.” More than 75% of truck drivers and almost 66% of logistics personnel reported regularly experiencing problems with finding safe parking locations, according to the congressionally mandated report from the Federal Highway Administration, unveiled Aug. 21. “As states and private truck-stop operators reported only a few plans to expand truck parking capacity, the incorporation of truck parking analysis and planning into the state or metropolitan freight plan, if one exists, may help to galvanize stakeholders and champions and build off of freight analytical information derived for the plan to help advance opportunities for public, private or public-private investment,” the report said. The report, titled Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey, and the formation of the coalition stem from the 2009 murder of Jason Rivenburg. The New York driver was killed during a robbery while parked at an abandoned South Carolina gas station. His widow, Hope Rivenburg, has advocated for federal rules meant to ensure safe parking.

Members of the new coalition include American Trucking Associations, FHWA, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, Natso and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. Trucking executives say a lack of parking for truck drivers is among the most pressing challenges confronting the industry because difficulties in finding places to park pose problems for truck drivers looking for safe stops to rest. “Real action includes better information for professional drivers, and it requires real money, making truck parking another reason our leaders in Washington must pass a robust, long-term highway bill and for the states to dedicate the resources we need to this critical, yet too often overlooked, necessity,” said Dave Osiecki, ATA’s chief of national advocacy. FHWA’s survey said drivers, state motor carrier safety officials and state DOTs cited parking problems in every state. The report indicated that shortages are primarily evident during nighttime hours, from the early evening into late morning. The shortages also occur mostly on weekdays throughout the year, although certain weekends present challenges. “State departments of transportation recognize that the issue of adequate parking for commercial truck drivers is a serious safety concern,” AASHTO Executive Director Bud Wright said. Natso, which represents truck-stop operators, praised DOT’s efforts in establishing a coalition focused on the issue but noted the report did not expand on how trucking fleets work to ensure drivers and trucks have safe, legal places to park. In the DOT report, truck-stop groups indicated there is a need for additional spaces. Very few of them, however, responded that there were actual plans to increase the facilities to accommodate more truck parking. The report highlights regions and corridors such as the Chicago region and the Interstate 95 corridor in the Northeast with a significant shortage of truck parking, as well as regions with strong showings of unofficial or illegal parking along shoulders and ramps, on local streets and in commercial areas.

Matt Hart, executive director of the Illinois Trucking Association, told Transport Topics that consistent parking options throughout the Chicago region and the Midwest are hard to find for many truckers — a well-known fact among drivers. “Our members’ hope is that [the coalition] finds a way to improve safety for truck parking — safety for the truck drivers and safety for the motoring public that we share the road with. As long as we keep safety as our top priority, I think we’ll be fine,” Hart said. Gail Toth, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, said she hopes the coalition stops studying the issue and starts proposing reforms that would provide safe parking. “We have a shortage of truck parking. No surprise. We have a couple of truck stops, by no means the size of something that you would find in the Midwest,” Toth told TT. “We already know we have a shortage of over a thousand parking spaces any given night of the week. So where do we put those guys?”

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© Transport Topics, American Trucking Associations Inc.

Safety Tips

August 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Trucking requires full concentration on the road. Not only must commercial drivers contend with other motorists, dangerous weather conditions, and wandering wildlife, but they must do so while operating large rigs, often carrying heavy and sometimes dangerous cargo. One mistake carries possible huge repercussions.
To help stay out of harm’s way, consider the following safety tips when driving:
• Do not tailgate. Be patient. Maintain proper space with the vehicle in front of you. According to studies, the most common vehicle trucks hit, is the one in front of them, due to tailgating. The bigger the rig the longer it takes to brake and stop.
• Signal early when approaching an intersection, giving other motorists ample warning of your intended direction.
• With so many blind spots on a truck, minimize lane changing. Check your side mirrors at least once every 10 seconds.
• Use the truck’s flashers when driving below the posted speed limit for an extended period of time.
• Give your truck ample time and space when slowing down for a complete stop. Use brake lights early. Most motorists don’t realize how long it takes for a rig to stop.
• If you must idle the truck, keep windows closed to avoid prolonged exposure to fumes.
• Avoid idling while sleeping, loading, or unloading.
• When pulled off to the side of a road, highway, or Interstate due to mechanical problems, always use flashers, reflective triangles, and even road flares to alert approaching drivers.
• Always have tire chains at the ready, especially when driving in mountainous regions.
• Try to maintain a full fuel tank in winter driving to prevent water condensation from building in the fuel lines.
• Maintain additional space with the vehicles in front of you when driving in rain or snow.
• Operate below the posted speed limit when driving in wintery conditions.
• Exercise caution when approaching bridges in wintertime. Bridges freeze faster than roads, creating difficult to detect black ice.
• Slow down in work zones. Close to one-third of all fatal work zone crashes involve large rigs. Plus, you could lose your commercial drivers license if caught speeding in a posted work zone.
• Take plenty of driving breaks, especially while driving cross-country, to help remain alert.
• Don’t fight eye-fatigue. Pull off the road and take a nap. The consequences of falling asleep at the wheel, far outweigh those associated with arriving late.
• Strictly adhere to commercial driver hour restrictions. By law you cannot exceed 11 continuous hours of driving. You could jeopardize your truck driver career if caught violating this law.

Tips for Avoiding Defensive Truck Driving

July 22, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Tip 1: Stay out of the way

You’re probably laughing at this tip. You’re a big truck, staying out of the way is close to impossible. However, one of the best things to do is by giving aggressive drivers plenty of room to get around you.

If another driver is endangering you or their actions are threatening, the best tactic is avoidance. There is a diversity of drivers on the road. They have different goals for being there, but like you, everyone is just trying to get somewhere, even if some are in more of a hurry. The best tactic is to let them do what they need to and stay out of their way.

Tip 2: Be aware of your surroundings

No driver is 100% safe. There’s always texting, application of lipstick, talking on cell phones, and often times when this is happening, the people doing one of the things is speeding. Keep an eye out for others – and also your own – bad habits.

One of the keys to safe truck driving is observing and responding to the unexpected things that other drivers do. As a truck driver, you should be scanning the road constantly, both ahead and behind.

Tip 3: Take a Zen-like approach

Be more of a supportive driver than an aggressive driver. Don’t join in their aggression or get too fixated on their driving. Be a smart, peaceful truck driver. Be safe and calm.

Tip 4: Don’t do unto others

Getting road rage from another driver can be dangerous to your health, well-being and other people around you. It can also add to the other drivers aggression which can ruin your day and their day. If you have a little bit of road rage, don’t take it out on others.

Tip 5: Overcome overconfidence

Overconfidence could be the root of defensive driving. We all think we’re good drivers and its all the other drivers out there that are dangerous. Examine your own driving behavior: slow down, obey traffic laws, and always wear a safety belt. If we all looked at those tips, highways would be a lot safer.

Tip 6: Take a refresher course

Your road habits decay the longer you drive, perhaps because you’re overconfident. Take a refresher course on defensive driving. A lot of trucking companies have this type of course, ask HR if yours is one of them.

These lessons can help your everyday life on the road and will give you ways to safely approach a stop sign or street entrance. The courses are valuable in many ways. Any money you spent on the course may end up saving you in payouts to speeding tickets or traffic misdemeanors.

Tip 7: Rest and refresh

Drowsy drivers annually cause about 56,000 crashes. This usually happens late at night or early in the morning. Shift workers whose sleep is disrupted by working at night or working long or irregular hours also face the same risks. Drowsy drivers can be just as dangerous as drunk drivers.

Make sure you get good nights sleep and don’t get on the road tired. Not only will rest keep you safe on the road, but it will also keep you healthy. Staying alert can save your life.


Heat exhaustion: First aid

July 8, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Heat exhaustion is one of the heat-related syndromes. Symptoms range in severity from mild heat cramps to heat exhaustion to potentially life-threatening heatstroke. Heat exhaustion can begin suddenly, usually after working or playing in the heat, perspiring heavily or being dehydrated.

Heat exhaustion signs and symptoms include:

  • Faintness or dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Heavy sweating often accompanied by cold, clammy skin
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Pale or flushed face
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headache
  • Weakness or fatigue

If you suspect heat exhaustion

Untreated, heat exhaustion can lead to heatstroke, which is a life-threatening condition. If you suspect heat exhaustion, take these steps immediately:

  • Move the person out of the heat and into a shady or air-conditioned place.
  • Lay the person down and elevate the legs and feet slightly.
  • Remove tight or heavy clothing.
  • Have the person drink cool water or other nonalcoholic beverage without caffeine.
  • Cool the person by spraying or sponging with cool water and fanning.
  • Monitor the person carefully.

Call 911 or your local emergency number if the person’s condition deteriorates, especially if he or she experiences:

  • Fainting
  • Confusion
  • Seizures
  • Fever of 104 F (40 C) or greater

Flashing lights require slowing down and moving over

July 1, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Remind drivers of their obligations under the many ‘Move Over’ traffic laws.

There is often the misperception by the general public that commercial drivers exhibit hurried, reckless driving. High profile crashes reported by the media seem to perpetuate this damaging stereotype of the industry.

One training topic that might aid in reducing crashes — and punch holes in this negative image of truck drivers — is to remind your staff of the “Move Over” laws that are prevalent throughout all state traffic codes. A commercial driver that respects the flashing lights shows that the majority of truck drivers do not ignore traffic laws.

When an emergency vehicle is stopped or parked on or next to the roadway and using a visual signal, motorists must make a lane change into an available lane not immediately adjacent to the emergency vehicle. This is obviously no easy task when attached to a 53 foot trailer and bumper-to-bumper traffic is moving at a high speed. If your driver is unable to make a lane change, he or she must slow down to a reasonable speed for existing weather, road, and vehicular or pedestrian conditions.

The bottom line is that a commercial driver operating his or her commercial motor vehicle in an unsafe manner is a reflection upon your motor carrier. The traffic tickets issued to commercial drivers draw much attention from multiple stakeholders in the transportation industry, including shippers, insurance providers, enforcement, safety advocacy groups — and a plaintiff’s attorneys in the event of a crash.

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