Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Safety First

On November 4, 2016 a driver securing his load at ArcelorMittal in Burns Harbor, IN was stuck by the trailer of another driver. He was airlifted to a Chicago hospital but later died from his injuries.
This is a reminder to all of us that we need to pay attention to what is going on around us at all times; not just when driving but when loading, securing, inspecting, etc.. Always put safety first.
More off-road collisions occur while backing than at any other time. The biggest cause of backing collisions is driver error. All driver error collisions are preventable. Following these backing rules can prevent you from having a backing collision.
  1. Never back if you don’t have to. If possible, use parking places where you can pull straight out.
  2. Never back without KNOWING that it is clear behind you. NEVER ASSUME; GET OUT AND LOOK!
  3. After getting out to look, back before the situation changes.
  4. Back SLOWLY. Backing slowly gives you better steering control and time to stop if it becomes necessary.
  5. Always use a guide if available. If a guide is not available, get out and look several times during the backing maneuver.
Many turning collisions happen because of driver error. A driver guesses that his trailer will clear, but an error in judgment causes him to have a collision. Again, all driver error collisions are preventable.
To prevent a turning collision:
  1. DON’T GUESS! Know where your truck is going, especially on blind right turns.
  2. Check your mirrors at least 5 times while turning. If you’re not sure that your trailer will clear, STOP AND LOOK. It takes a little longer, but it prevents collisions.
  3. Block the inside of the turn with your trailer. A common cause of right turn collisions is allowing a vehicle to get between you and the curb. Collisions also happen on left turns. Usually the trailer runs over something that you thought it would clear. Carelessness is the only reason drivers have left turn collisions.
  4. LOOK where your trailer is going; KNOW that it will clear, and GO SLOWLY. Going slowly gives you more time to see and react to an unexpected situation.
  5. NEVER make a U-turn on any road or highway. U-turns always create unsafe situations. If you have missed a turn, proceed to the next street and go around the block, or find a safe place to safely turn around off the road.
  6. Give yourself time to react to bad situations. That is the essence of Defensive Driving.


When drivers are interviewed following an accident, one of the things that comes up frequently as a cause is that the driver was distracted from the duty of driving.  Drivers can become distracted by other vehicles that are driving too slowly, hitting their brakes unnecessarily, or weaving back and forth in the lane.  Sometimes it seems that these drivers are having a great game of "chicken" with the big truck.

Don't let these "games" distract you from your professional duties.  If someone is playing games with you, or driving in an irresponsible manner, don't get angry or try to get even.  This only hinders your ability to think and function in an emergency situation.

Your first priority is to drive and act in a safe manner, no matter what is happening around you.  If this sort of thing happens, either drop back from the other vehicle, or if necessary, stop.  Either of these solutions will remove the unsafe driving hazard and the distractions that are caused.

Don't be guilty of "road rage" style driving behaviors.  Remember: "A mad mind can't think; and a mad mind can't do." You are the professional.  Make sure your actions and reactions show that you have earned the title.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Federal Mandate requiring the use of electronic logging upheld

From CCJ, published Oct. 31, 2016

A federal mandate requiring nearly all U.S. truck operators to use electronic logging devices to track duty status has been upheld in court, meaning the December 18, 2017, compliance date remains effective.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the federal court overseeing the case, voted to keep the mandate in place, securing a victory for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and its ELD rule. Its decision was issued Oct. 31, following oral arguments made in Chicago on Sept. 13.

The decision does not change the rule’s exemption for pre-2000 year-model trucks, which are allowed to operate without an ELD.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed a lawsuit on behalf of two truckers in March in an attempt to have the mandate overturned. But OOIDA was unable to convince the court of its arguments that the rule violates truckers’ Fourth Amendment rights to privacy. OOIDA also claimed the rule didn’t meet standards set by Congress for an ELD mandate — an argument the court also rejected.

The rule “is not arbitrary or capricious, nor does it violate the Fourth Amendment,” the 7th circuit judges wrote in their decision. The decision was issued by circuit judges William Bauer, Michael Kanne and David Hamilton.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is the same court that tossed out FMCSA’s 2010-published ELD mandate on the grounds that the rule didn’t do enough to protect truckers from harassment by carriers via the devices.

The court in its Oct. 31 decision said the agency fixed those issues in its 2015-issued rule.

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals is the highest court in the country next to the Supreme Court. OOIDA still has the option to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

The ELD mandate rule, published December 2015, requires all truckers currently required to paper logs to transition to an ELD by December 18, 2017.

 To visit CCJ's article, click here.

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.