Friday, March 11, 2016

Night Driving

 Although the majority of driving takes place during daylight hours, at some point all professional drivers will have to drive after dark. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities on the road occur at a rate of three times greater at night than during the day. While only a quarter of all driving is done at night, more than half of all driving deaths occur at night.

Your depth perception, ability to distinguish color, and peripheral vision are worse in low-light conditions. If you do not regularly drive at night, you are at a higher risk for experiencing fatigue. Roadway lighting is often very poor and in most rural areas lighting is very limited.

Here are 6 tips to ensure your night driving safety:  

  1. Know your truck, and be prepared to stop within the distance you can see with your headlights. During your pre-trip inspection, make sure your headlights are clean and properly adjusted.
  2. Keep your windshield clean. A dirty windshield can create glare and make it harder to see. 
  3. Always use your high beam headlights when possible. Increase your chances of being able to see as far as possible.
  4. To ensure your vision, avoid looking directly into the lights of approaching motor vehicles. Try to focus on the fog line of the roadway and avoid staring into the bright lights.
  5. Dim your instrument panel lights and keep your dome light off. Too much illumination inside your cab diminishes your ability to see clearly outside your cab.
  6. Watch for wildlife. Often you can see the reflections of headlights in an animal’s eyes long before you can see the animal itself. Pairs of tiny bright spots in the distance are a clear warning that an animal is in front of you, therefore slow down.
Since most accidents occur during nighttime hours, defensive driving skills are a necessity to be safe on the road in the evening.

Stay alert and always reduce your speed during hours of darkness.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Beware of Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving — such as tailgating and erratic lane changing — is a factor in the majority of fatal crashes. It also can lead to road rage incidents.

A close call arising from another driver's aggressive actions can be stressful and infuriating. But it’s important that fleet drivers remain calm and don’t respond in a way that will provoke a one-on-one confrontation or escalate the situation into a road rage incident.

Keep your hands on the steering wheel and avoid making any gestures, even shaking your head. Never give an obscene gesture or shout an insult. According to AAA Foundation, almost nothing makes another driver angrier than an obscene gesture. Remember, the other driver has already acted aggressively. You don’t want to agitate him or her further.

Aggressive driving is defined by AAA as reckless performance behind the wheel, such as:
  • Speeding in heavy traffic
  • Tailgating
  • Cutting in front of another driver and then slowing down
  • Running red lights
  • Weaving in and out of traffic
  • Changing lanes without signaling
  • Blocking cars attempting to pass or change lanes
  • Using headlights or brakes to “punish” other drivers.

Road rage is malicious behavior directed at specific drivers, which may escalate to violence. Examples include:
  • Cursing and rude or obscene gestures
  • Throwing objects
  • Ramming
  • Sideswiping
  • Forcing a driver off the road
  • Brandishing or discharging firearms

Here are some tips, culled from AAA materials, on how to avoid becoming a road rage victim:
  • Don’t give other drivers a reason to feel offended. When you merge, make sure you have plenty of room and use your turn signal to show your intentions before making a move. If you’re in the left lane and someone wants to pass, move over and let the vehicle by. Don’t tailgate – allow at least a three-second space between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead.
  • Don’t let an aggressive driver tempt you to retaliate. Keep your cool and continue your trip.
  • Give angry drivers lots of room. If the other driver tries to pick a fight, put as much distance between your vehicle and the other vehicle as possible. Don’t, under any circumstances, pull off to the side of the road and try to settle things in a physical confrontation.
  • Avoid eye contact if another driver is acting angry with you.
  • If you believe another driver is following you or is trying to start a fight, get help. Don’t get out of your vehicle, and don’t go home. Contact the police or drive to a place where there are people around, such as a police station, convenience store, shopping center or even a hospital. Use your horn to get someone’s attention. This will usually discourage an aggressor.
 For the full article from Fleet Safety News, click here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fleet Owner Magazine Interview with Tom Schilli and Jake Rudisill of Schilli Transportation

Keeping Commitments

Schilli Transportation’s flatbed operation is benefiting by managing change and focusing on employee satisfaction.

After 40 years in business, there’s no doubt in Tom Schilli’s mind that change is the only constant. When it comes to regulatory issues that impact his company, he says, “the key is “to learn how to make it work for us. It’s difficult to avoid change imposed by regulations so we embrace, accept and manage with it. When there are regulation changes we look for good things.

“For example,” Schilli continues, “we think the pending regulation requiring Electronic Logging Devices has awakened shippers and shown them how valuable a driver’s time can be. That’s actually helped us create a better way of life for our drivers.”

Another issue that Schilli would like to see resolved is the lack of adequate, safe overnight parking and access to facilities for drivers. “It something that gets in the way of a better experience for drivers across the industry,” he states, “and it’s a challenge we’ll be facing for years to come.”

As the owner of Indiana-based Schilli Transportation Services, Schilli says what’s most important is making and keeping commitments to employees. “Providing a good working environment helps us stay competitive,” he states. “We cater as much as possible to personal needs because that leads to a stable workforce.  For instance, we’re proud that over 20 years ago we realized how important it is
to drivers to be home on weekends. Good drivers have stable families and that leads to retention.”

Driver recruitment and retention is especially a challenge in the Schilli Specialized Flatbed Division, a platform trailer operation that hauls building materials, metal, machinery and wood products for customers in the eastern half of the U.S., specializing in job site deliveries. The issue is the manual labor required of flatbed drivers at pick up and delivery locations.

“There’s a lot of time and effort involved in loading and unloading, tarping and uncovering flatbed loads,” Schilli relates, “and when the cargo is high off the ground, there’s an opportunity for drivers to fall. Drivers are still required to check that cargo is properly secured, but in most cases we either use loading services or stay away from facilities that do not have proper safety equipment.”

The Schilli Specialized Flatbed Division accounts for roughly one third of the Schilli Transportation Services operation. In total, the diversified logistics, transportation and distribution services business operates 425 Kenworth and Freightliner tractors and about 1,000 flatbed, dry van, moving and specialized trailers. Schilli also offers distribution, packaging, containerization, warehousing, storage, sales and leasing, and maintenance services.

A recent area of focus at Schilli, notes Jake Rudisill, general manager of Schilli Leasing, was to order 150 new East Manufacturing flatbed trailers. To date, the fleet has taken delivery of the first 20 BSTII 53-ft units fitted with Hendrickson axle-suspensions and disc brakes, as well as Jost landing gear and Hendrickson TIREMAAX PRO inflation systems.

“We’ve been running steel-aluminum combo units but felt that all-aluminum trailers rated for a 56,000-lb capacity concentrated load would give us more flexibility and the ability to haul heavier loads,” Rudisill states. “East also has a reputation for building trailers that maintain their value, so we have a lot of confidence that that these trailers will last for their intended 15-year service life in our operation.”

Value is exactly what Tom Schilli says Schilli Transportation Service is all about, beginning with his focus on attracting and keeping satisfied employee. “Today,” he states, “I get the most satisfaction out of coaching and watching our people succeed than I do from any material success that comes from running a successful business.”

Friday, October 2, 2015

Schilli NationaLease Team at Detroit Diesel Headquarters

SNL Team at Detroit Diesel Headquarters

September 27 & 28, 2015

Managers with Schilli NationaLease were recently invited to spend a couple of days at Detroit Diesel in Detroit, MI. This valuable trip focused on key maintenance items, equipment specifications, parameter tuning, and covered all the tools necessary to provide a better and more reliable tractor to their customer base. This training was important in understanding all of the integrated systems of the equipment (Tractor / Engine / Transmission). SNL management is now developing many new training techniques to be relayed to their customer base at the Shop / Driver level to improve overall performance, reliability, and fuel economy. Everyone at SNL is extremely excited from this visit and look forward to incorporating these value added changes into our customer offering.

L – R: Allen Gill (Shop Manager, Kokomo); Scott Plencner (Regional/Shop Manager, South Bend); Greg Tarr Jr. (Lead Tech, Shoals); Jake Rudisill (GM – Remington); Jason Rush (Shop Manager, Indianapolis); Bill Pembleton (Master Tech, Indianapolis); Rick Allen (Shop Manager, Mt. Vernon); Dave Northcutt (Shop Manager, Remington); Tracy DuBois (Shop Manager, Savannah); Jeff Rickey (Master Tech, Remington); Josh Waterhouse (Shop Manager, Sperry); David Tracy (Shop Manager, Temple); Rich Burge (OTR Maintenance Manager, Remington); Matthew Jessip (Shop Manager, St. Joseph)

Friday, August 28, 2015

The following is a letter sent to the Lafayette Journal & Courier from the President of our company.  It was published in the paper on August 27th.  Click here for the link to the paper's website:

This year, nearly all of us have seen the problems created when highways and bridges are not maintained properly.  Traveling from Indianapolis north has been especially difficult with portions of I-65, US 52, and US 421 being under construction.  Among the many affected by the current I-65 road closure are truckers across Indiana, including those operated by my company, who have lost thousands of hours of productivity waiting in long traffic lines and detours.

So, I take this opportunity to share 2 inequities regarding wear-and-tear on our highways and the payment of fuel taxes.

The first is permit fees for overweight loads.  Trucks hauling loads in sealed ocean-going containers are allowed, with special permits, to haul 95,000 pounds gross weight (The weight limit for other trucks 80,000 pounds).  The permit fee for this privilege is $850 per year, or less than $3 per day.

I believe Purdue’s highway engineers would agree this weight limit increases wear-and-tear on our bridges and highways, and that this permit fee is very small in comparison to the cost of highways.  The trucking industry is vital to our nation’s economy, but such favoritism for certain segments of our industry is inequitable. 

The solution?  Repeal this little-known law which favors the container haulers, a small segment of the industry.  If higher weights are required, then allow higher weight for all by increasing the number of axles on the trailers to evenly distribute the weight and reduce bridge and road damage.    

The second is the method of collecting fuel taxes from the transportation industry.  Our industry favors equitable treatment of all modes of transportation, and I believe a majority in the transportation industry support an increase in fuel taxes --- if equitable collection procedures are in place.  Currently, an 11 cents per gallon tax is collected via quarterly fuel tax reports filed by Motor Carriers. The fallacy of this process is that many companies either fail to file or falsify the quarterly fuel tax reports to avoid the tax.  Indiana is one of only two states which use the dual method to collect; that is, partial collection at the pump and partial collection by tax fillings.

The solution?  Collect the 11 cent tax at the pump. This would assure compliance with collection. The 11 cent add-on would then fairly represent the tax paid by the trucking industry, and the Indiana motoring public would be aware of the full amount of tax paid by the trucking industry.  It has been estimated this action would collect an additional $15 million per year from the non-payors as well as reduce enforcement costs.

If you agree with my thoughts, send this note to your State Representative and Senator and urge them to make these changes. Fair funding for roads is in everyone’s best interest, and is supported by the trucking industry.  Although these suggestions increase cost to the trucking industry, they are less expensive than the future costs to replace bridges and highways that are now maintained with inadequate care and insufficient funding.  

It is time to improve our Indiana highway system.

Thomas R. Schilli
Schilli Transportation Services