Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Beware: It's Pothole Season


Because of this winter’s extreme freeze-and-thaw cycles in many areas, the spring of 2015 promises to deliver quite a pothole season. That’s good news for collision repair shops, dreadful news for fleet managers and drivers.

AAA recommends a number of measures to help prevent pothole damage. You may want to pass these AAA tips along to fleet drivers:

  • Inspect Tires – The tire is the most important cushion between a vehicle and a pothole. Make sure tires have enough tread and are properly inflated. When checking tire pressures, make sure they’re inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended levels, which can be found in the owner’s manual or on a sticker on the driver’s door jamb. Do not use the pressure levels stamped on the sidewall of the tire.
  • Inspect Suspension – Make certain struts and shock absorbers are in good condition. Changes in vehicle handling, excessive vibration or uneven tire wear can indicate bad shocks or struts. Have the suspension inspected by a certified technician if you suspect problems.
  • Look Ahead – When driving, make a point of checking the road ahead for potholes. An alert driver may have time to avoid potholes, so it’s important to stay focused on the road and not any distractions inside or outside the vehicle. Before swerving to avoid a pothole, check surrounding traffic to ensure this will not cause a collision or endanger nearby pedestrians or cyclists.
  • Slow Down – If a pothole cannot be avoided, reduce your speed safely. Make sure to check the rearview mirror before any abrupt braking. Hitting a pothole at higher speeds greatly increases the chance of damage to tires, wheels and suspension components.
  • Beware of Puddles – A puddle of water can disguise a deep pothole. Use care when driving through puddles and treat them as though they may be hiding potholes. 
  • Check Alignment – Hitting a pothole can knock a vehicle’s wheels out of alignment and affect the steering. If your car or truck starts pulling to the left or right, have the wheel alignment checked by a qualified technician.
  • Recognize Noises or Vibrations – A hard pothole impact can dislodge wheel weights, damage a tire or wheel, and bend or even break suspension components. If you hit a pothole, listen for any new or unusual noises or vibrations. If you notice any, it’s time to have the vehicle checked by a technician.

To view a CBS News report on this year’s pothole season, click here.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sun Glare

Sun glare is a major problem in many areas right now because of the presence of highly reflective snow and ice. This hazard is especially pronounced just after sunrise and just before sunset.

Vision Council of America (VCA) offers the following tips for motorists to help reduce the dangers caused by sun glare: 
  • Drive cautiously and leave a proper distance to ensure ample reaction time.    
  • Make it a habit to lower visors to help block some of the reflected light.    
  • Avoid using high-gloss vinyl cleansers on dashboards.    
  • Keep the car windshield clean and the windshield washer fluid reservoir full.    
  • When possible, take an alternate route lined with tress or tall buildings in lieu of one with extreme glare.    
  • Turn on headlights to reduce the possible poor visibility of oncoming drivers.    
  • Most importantly, wear sunglasses at all times when sun glare is a problem. Even more important is to wear sunglasses with polarized lenses to reduce glare, and lenses with UV protection to shield the eyes from damage.
To watch a video from Consumer Reports offering driver advice on dealing with sun glare, click here.

Click here for the full link to the article on automotive-fleet.com.

Friday, February 6, 2015

VTTI Tasked with HOS Restart Study


The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute is heading the Federal Motor Carrier Administration’s study of the 34-hour restart provision of the Hours of Service rule for truck drivers.

The study will measure the impact on the safety performance and fatigue levels of truck drivers who take two nighttime rest periods during a given 34-hour restart break.

VTTI is seeking to recruit 250 truck drivers for the on-the-road study, which will involve tracking and assessing driver performance and short-term health outcomes over a five-month period. 

Drivers will be split into two groups, one taking two rest periods during a 34-hour restart break and the other taking less than two.

“We are excited by the opportunity and have assembled a world class team to lead this landmark study,” said Richard Hanowski, director of the safety center at VTTI. “We have an opportunity to perform ground-breaking research that will have an impact for decades to come.”

To produce a representative sample of drivers, the study will include truckers from small, medium and large fleets in long-haul, short-haul and regional operations. There will also be variation in the sectors of the industry, including flatbed, reefer, tank and dry-van trailers.

Drivers will be tracked and evaluated using ELDs to track duty status, a Psychomotor Vigilance Test to measure alertness, and Actigraph watches to assess sleep. The trucks will also be equipped with onboard monitoring systems and cameras to record and measure SCEs and driver alertness. The Karolinska Sleepiness Scale will be used to measure a driver’s own assessment of sleepiness as well.

“We have coordinated similar projects that were smaller,” said Hanowski. “This will be the largest study of its kind ever performed using commercial vehicle drivers.”

VTTI will produce a final report after the data has been collected and analyzed. The report will be subjected to independent peer review panels by medical and scientific experts before ultimately being delivered to the Department of Transportation and Congress.  VTTI has previously carried out FMCSA studies on driver fatigue and HOS regulations as well as other driver safety related issues.

“Truck driver fatigue is a prevalent problem and is a tremendous safety concern on our nation’s highways,” said Thomas A. Dingus, director of VTTI. “We are privileged to have the resources necessary to help inform policy makers in a collaborative effort to significantly reduce the number of safety-critical events occurring on our roadways.”


To see the original article, click here.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Here is an email received by Schilli employee Lou Wilkinson.
 
I urge all of you to contact your elected representatives to support this.


The status of volunteerism is deplorable. we have 5 EMTs that try to cover our town's needs, 2 at a time, 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.   On top of that, we're starting to get a significant number of support calls to go to Rensselaer and support the paid ambulance service.

Anything making volunteering more attractive or helpful to young people, just starting out, aids everyone involved.

So please, take a minute, drop your elected reps a line, an email, a web comment....

You can find your local rep here -> http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

And there should be a link to the reps "contact me" site....2 minutes is all it will take.

And it could be you needing the ambulance or your house burning next time.  Do what you can to ease your own suffering here.

 

Here's my short message to Congressman Rokita:

 
I urge you to support HR 343.

In our small town, EMS and Fire are, exclusively, volunteers. We have only 5 EMTs that try, 2 at a time, to support our community 365 days a year, 24 hours a day.

Anything to make volunteering more attractive to young people trying to start families and make ends meet with their limited time helps everyone in the community.


Friday, January 9, 2015

Avoiding Head-On Collisions

A head-on collision is one of the worst collisions on the road, as they often result in a fatality. Fortunately, these collisions are relatively rare. Head-on collisions can occur on any type of roadway from curvy roads to straight stretches and from two-lane highways to one-way streets. It is vital to be aware of the roadway and other vehicles to avoid head-on collisions. It is also important to be prepared to react to such situations to avoid a collision and to minimize the potential for injury or death.

Head-on collisions can occur when a vehicle crosses the median, or centerline. This can be a result from a driver who is asleep, distracted, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Crossing the centerline or median can also occur when a vehicle takes a curve at too great a rate of speed.

Head-on collisions can happen when a driver, knowingly or unknowingly, travels the wrong way in a traffic lane. A common example of this is when a driver enters the roadway and does not see that the road is divided with a median strip. As a result, the driver goes left of the median instead of right and into oncoming traffic.

To help avoid a head-on collision, look down the road for erratic behavior of oncoming traffic. Communicate with other drivers using your horn and headlights. Running headlights, even in daylight, can be especially helpful on curvy roads when other vehicles are more likely to veer from their lane of travel. 

Be careful not to hug the centerline, but drive on the right side of your lane. If an approaching vehicle enters your lane, first slow down as quickly as possible without losing control. Braking will reduce the force of impact if a collision should occur. Drive to the right to avoid the collision, if possible. Going to the left could cause a more serious collision in the event the other driver attempts to recover back to his or her lane at the last second. Going to the left could also cause a head-on collision with other oncoming vehicles. 

When going right, don’t jerk the wheel as this could cause you to lose control of the vehicle and could cause a rollover. If you have to exit the roadway, slow down but do not lock the brakes. This will help maintain control of the vehicle and to avoid hitting solid objects like a tree or bridge support. 


All drivers should continue to practice safe driving habits, such as avoiding distractions, passing with care, and maintaining safe speeds, which will help to avoid head-on collisions. Should a head-on collision occur, wearing your seatbelt can help save your life.