School is back in session and millions of Americans are on the roads this time of year for their daily school commute. This brings a noticeable flood of traffic to the roads over the next few months, making an increase in road and pedestrian traffic as students walk or ride their bikes to school. Dillon drivers need to take precautions when preparing for their trip, keeping everyone’s safety in mind.
If you know that you’ll be driving near a school during arrival or dismissal times, be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. When driving on truck-approved routes that traverse through or near residential areas, always keep in mind potential bus traffic. Buses will be out picking up and dropping off students during the weekdays, so be aware of those times with higher traffic.
Familiarize yourself with the signal lights that bus drivers use to alert motorists. Yellow flashing lights mean that the bus is preparing to stop, and red lights indicate that the bus has stopped. If you get stopped behind a school bus that has its stop sign extended, it is against the law to pass and extremely dangerous to do so since there may be children crossing the street ahead. Once the stop-arm is withdrawn and the bus begins moving, it’s safe to continue.
Always be mindful of your truck’s height and weight. Make sure there is a safe space cushion around at all sides of your vehicle to prevent accidents if you need to stop at any time. Abiding by the speed limit is always expected but it’s also important to be mindful of school zones and suddenly reduced speed limits. Knowing where school zones are in the areas that you are traveling in can be helpful to avoid any unexpected delays.
Of course, always refrain from texting, browsing the internet, scrolling through social media, and any other distractions that could potentially take your eyes off the road, even if you’re sitting and waiting behind a stopped school bus.
Top three tips for this season:
Check out HoS rules and regulations to ensure your efficiency and safety out on the road to minimize delays and maximize your productivity when planning your routes around this time of year. Keep your eyes on the road and limit distractions for a safe and accident-free fall.
Operation Safe Driver week is a safe-driving awareness initiative that is geared to improve the driving behaviors of passenger vehicle drivers and commercial vehicle drivers. By implementing various educational and traffic enforcement tactics and interactions, CVSA is confident that with the help of our law enforcement our roadways will become safer.
This year, Operation Safe Driver Week is set to take place July 11-17. The main focal point for this year is speeding. Even though there was a significant decrease in highway travel due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, there was an increase in traffic fatalities which came as an eye-opener. The National Safety Council’s (NSC) preliminary estimates revealed that there was a 24% increase in the estimated rate of deaths on US roadways over a 12-month period, even with a 13% decrease in miles travelled nationwide. This is reportedly the highest estimated year-over-year jump calculated in the last 96 years. Speeding is a serious issue on the roads and statistics show that it has been a factor in more than a quarter of traffic accident fatalities since 2008, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway safety.
While their focus is speed, law enforcement will also be keeping a close watch for other dangerous driving behaviors such as reckless or aggressive driving, distracted driving, following too closely, improper lane change, running stop signs and stoplights, DUIs, and drivers not wearing their seatbelts, etc.
Programs like Operation Safe Driver Week are implemented with intent to end these unfortunately common unsafe driving behaviors in and around commercial motor vehicles. When identified by law enforcement, offenders will be pulled over and issued a citation or warning. Over time, as life slowly returns to normal, it is likely that speeding will decrease with the influx of traffic. However, it is crucial that drivers are continually reminded of the importance of safe driving habits and being alert for other drivers around them as well. Safe driving, everyone!
Maintaining a healthy diet while out on the road can often be a challenge for many truckers during their long days away from home. The plethora of goodies and snacks easily accessible along the way can be very tempting, no doubt. However, it is important that truckers focus on what foods they are regularly consuming to keep them in good health. Not having access to a full kitchen of delicious home cooked meals everyday can make it very tempting to stop at the nearest McDonalds for a Big Mac, large coke, and fries. Not only is that meal loaded with calories but regularly eating fast food can be expensive as well. Thankfully, there are several alternatives to help make life on the road healthier and a little easier.
Everyone has heard the saying, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. In order to maintain a well-balanced diet, it is imperative this meal doesn’t get skipped. A healthy breakfast benefits you by maintaining your energy level when you are on the road for extended periods of time. Luckily, breakfast can be quick and easy, with minimal prep time. Perfect when you have jam packed day ahead of you. Give these alternatives a go:
*Tip: Be mindful of items high in sugar, as that can lead to a slump later in the day.
Lunchtime is another opportunity to make quick, easy, and healthy eating choices. Options may be limited, depending on what you have access to, but that does not mean your meal cannot still be nutritious and delicious. Here are a few ideas for lunch:
Hunger is likely to strike in between meals, and with it the temptation for that truck stop candy bar or other similarly unhealthy snack. To avoid this, keep your truck cab stocked with healthy grab-and-go alternatives that make snacking guiltless. Try these options instead:
As dinnertime approaches, the long hours spent driving all day can start to take its toll. Substandard meal choices are most commonly made during this time of day. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that dinner is most beneficial when it is your smallest meal of the day. Schedules may be tight but, to ensure proper digestion, try your best not to eat dinner right before bedtime. Pro tip: Get a miniature slow cooker (if your truck allows for it). It will make life much easier when cooking meals and prevent the urge to grab that large pepperoni pizza from the nearest truck stop. Try these options:
Other tips to keep in mind include watching what you drink (ie: replace a sugary soda drink with green tea if you need a caffeine boost or coffee with sugar-free creamer or no creamer). During home visits, meal prep before hitting the road again so that you have meals ready to go. Practice portion control. Keep a stash of healthier condiment choices in your cab for sides and salads to help cut back on calories. You can also download mobile apps such as MyFitnessPal to log your meals and help you stay on track.
While there are still so many other ideas and healthy options out there, this will certainly help you get off on the right foot. When you start to incorporate healthier choices, you will be on the road to becoming a happier, healthier trucker in no time!
No matter the time of year, you should always be conscious about your tires. Safety, fuel economy, increasing the life span of your tires, it’s always good to be monitoring them and always inspect them pre-trip. The summer can especially be harsh on tires with the heat and storms. We’ve put together some tips to help you stay safe on the road.
Know the correct air pressure requirements and regularly check the air pressure to make sure the level is correct. This should be at the top of your list when doing your pre-trip inspections. Check air pressure when the tire is cold, prior to starting your trip for a more accurate gauge. If you notice the tire is having difficulty maintaining the pressure, contact the maintenance department.
Check your tire tread. A tire that has low tread depth is at more of a risk to blow out when it hits debris. If tread appears to be wearing unevenly, it is a sign of improper air pressure.
Before leaving for your trip, check out the condition of your tires. Listening for air leaks look for signs of irregular wear. Improper inflation, misalignment, failure to rotate and out-of-balance tires can cause uneven wear.
Hitting Road Debris
If you happen to run over or hit a big piece of road debris, do not keep driving. Find a safe spot to pull over and check for any damage. The side of the road should only be used in an emergency or if no other safe alternative is available.
Always replace missing valve caps immediately.
Make sure to look between dual tires to see if something is lodged or if you find any obstructions or foreign objects.
Maintaining your tires will help you stay safe on the road as well as help in avoiding citations, improve gas mileage and expand the lifespan of your tires. For more information on regulations check out the FMCSA and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s websites.
Normal speed limits are always reduced in construction zones. Slow down when approaching the zone and go 2-3 mph slower than the posted construction zone speed limit to increase reaction time and allow yourself a good following distance.
2. Be alert for directions
Stay extra alert in construction zones. Be prepared to follow a flagger’s directions. In a construction zone, a flagger has the same authority as a regulatory sign.
3. Maintain one lane
When approaching a construction zone, you will notice lanes ending. Be prepared to merge if necessary, and merge early. If possible, stay in that lane. Avoid aggressive behaviors such as driving on the shoulder and blocking lanes so others cannot get in.
4. Drive defensively, keeping a proper following distance
It is important to keep a safe distance between your vehicle, traffic barriers, construction equipment and construction workers, as well as a good following distance. A minimum of six seconds is recommended under perfect road conditions. Adding a few more seconds in construction zones is highly recommended.
5. React properly to hazards
You never know when a hazard is going to present itself. Looking a minimum of 15 seconds ahead (eye-lead time) allows time to identify and react to hazards, giving you the opportunity to determine the safest course of action. Always be thinking about possible situations of how a hazard can present itself so you have a plan on what your next move could be.
6. Keep an eye on the road ahead
Pay attention to obstacles, debris and construction workers and construction vehicles that may enter the line of traffic. This will help in anticipating problems and reacting in time.
7. Expect delays
Map out your trip before you leave to see if you will be going through any construction zones. Highway agencies will post about various zones and detours to help you avoid the work zones. For more information on national traffic and road closures, check out the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
You know all state license plates.
Not just the basic ones. All of them. Does Florida have another fish plate? Yep. Wait, there’s a Georgia University of Alabama license plate? Of course, there is. You know them all and you can point one out from three car lengths away. You’re going to win it big at trivia someday.
You’re a snob for your favorite radio hosts.
Nobody better bother you during Stern! Ugh, is Madison singing again on Alt. Nation? Can she stop? Maybe it’s local radio for you, whoever it is, they’re part of your routine and family. Every day you are spending more time with your favorite radio or talk show host than your family. You know all their favorite songs and even how they pronounce Wednesday.
You know every chain restaurant menu by heart.
You have the app on your phone, and you’re racking up rewards points one bite at a time. From McDonald's to Olive Garden takeout. You know what you like and how you like it. Whether it’s dressing on the side or an 8-count, every chain restaurant menu is locked and loaded at the back of your mind at all times.
You are an expert meteorologist.
You have all the weather apps on your phone and think you missed your calling as a meteorologist. Knowing what weather conditions are going to be like on the road is important for safety and you want to be prepared at all times. You know the exact minute the rain will hit.
You have clothes for every season with you.
Sure, it might be the springtime, but you never know when a freak snowstorm is going to hit New Jersey. You have a wardrobe fit for all weather conditions and you’re always prepared for sweltering humidity or frosty mornings.
You’re the “MacGyver” of cooking.
Not feeling truck stop food? No worries at all, you already know how to make great meals with a few basic ingredients. You are a master chef in a cab. Ask a fellow hauler what they have cookin’ up. You might just find a new recipe to add to your arsenal.
While 2021 offers a fresh start to a new season, it also presents itself with new challenges, like making and keeping your fitness goals while on the road. The year 2020 was stressful enough, why not start with making some positive changes to help your mind and body.
Spending long hours on the road in a cab can be tricky to find the proper time or space for a good workout. We have a few tips to help spark your wellness, while behind the wheel:
Start some morning stretches.
Stretching is beneficial to wake up your body after a night’s sleep or even after a quick cat nap. Start with a few arms stretches, a toe touch, hamstring and chest stretch, neck roll, and some side stretches. You should be loose and awake now to start your day. Remember not to overstretch if you are just beginning and stop the exercise if you experience any pain.
Get those steps in.
You don’t need a fancy Fitbit or Apple Watch to track your steps, find a small step calculator online or at any department store. Most cell phones even count your steps as long as you hold them while walking or exercising. Set a step goal for yourself and try to reach that every day. We try to shoot for ten thousand. You’d be surprised how a quick morning and night walk can add up.
Move your muscles while driving.
Cabin exercises can help if you suffer from any neck or back pain. Especially if you’re stuck in traffic, try a few neck turns or back stretches. To relieve pressure from your lower back, shift your body weight back and forth within your seat. Hold it for a few seconds each time, while switching sides. Repeat a few times back and forth.
Find some equipment.
Resistant bands, ankle or wrist weights are all compact and easy to incorporate into your fitness routine. If you’re going for a walk, put on some ankle weights for a more strenuous workout. Find an inspiring playlist and just get moving. Resistant bands are like having a little gym anywhere, you can use them to stretch your arms, legs, back, and more.
Remember to be practicing safe driving at all times. Safety is first. If you are taking a break from the road to do any exercises, please turn the engine off.
By setting aside some time daily for exercise, you’ll feel happier and healthier behind the wheel.
Before you go anywhere, check the weather so you know driving conditions and whether you need to delay or or reevaluate your trip. It’s important to be consider your haul.
Remember to take your time and drive slowly. Account for extra time in your travels and take measures to slow down. It takes a lot longer to slow down on icy highways and roads. Increase your following distance. Six seconds is the minimum in ideal weather and traffic conditions. To allow plenty of time to stop in snow or ice, additional following distance is needed. Remember to adjust your speed down to account for lower traction when driving in these conditions as well. Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid any skids.
Be prepared for all cold weather conditions from ice and snow to sleet and fog. Delays can happen and cause road closures.Have your snow brush, ice scraper, anti-gel to treat your fuel, extra warm clothing, blankets, prescribed medications, and food and water on hand.
Keep these items in your cab at all times:
You and your vehicle must be prepared for driving in wintry conditions, including snow, ice and freezing temperatures. Expect delays. As long as you’re prepared, you’ll have smooth travels all season long.
No one likes roadside inspections but we all have to do them to keep ourselves and others safe on the roads. During 2018, Federal Roadside Inspections reached 126,080 and State Roadside Inspections reached 3,405,923. The FMCSA reported 79% of drivers as out of service, 83% of vehicles out of service and 11% of hazmat loads out of service. Out of service is not something you want to be. Here we will give you some tips to help you be prepared for your next inspection.
So what is a Roadside Inspection?
As defined by the FMCSA, “examinations of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and/or drivers by Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP Inspectors.” The FMCSA helps improve the safety on our roads to reduce the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities involving large trucks.
What happens in a Roadside Inspection?
Did you know there are eight different levels of inspection that could be performed on a driver and/or their vehicle? The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) explains each of the inspection levels and what is checked in each of them.
Make sure all your documents are up-to-date. Keep them together so they are easy to inspect. A “typical” Level I inspection usually takes about 30 minutes to an hour to complete. During this inspection your driver’s license, medical examiner’s certificate, driver’s record of duty status, documentation of annual inspection, hazardous materials paperwork and permit credentials will all be looked at. Keep materials in a binder or folder so an inspector will be able to go through everything quickly and at once. This will make you look organized and can help get you back on the road sooner.
Have a good attitude
Always have a good attitude. You are at the discretion of the inspector and they are the ones who choose who to inspect. Having a bad attitude and being rude might increase your chances of being chosen for an inspection. Remember, inspectors have to inspect a certain number of vehicles a day. Just smile and be polite. Kindness can go a long way.
Keep it clean
Cleanliness is important. We’re not saying your truck should be spotless, but it should be clean. Clean up loose debris on the floor and keep the outside of your truck looking clean too. Inspectors will be looking at things such as brakes, tires, windshield wipers and more.
It is important to know and understand out-of-service criteria and always be checking for it before you leave for your trip. If you do receive out-of-service violations, those are serious and must be addressed immediately. Do not leave before an out-of-service violation has been resolved because you could face disqualification and large fines.
For more information on Roadside Inspections, please visit the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s website.
Truck drivers spend countless hours in their cabs, so it is important that they are comfortable. Long hours can be uncomfortable so you’re probably wondering how you can make it comfortable. It is not impossible. With proper preparation you will be able to enjoy your time on the road.
Your sleeping space
It is hard for anyone to get comfortable at night to fall asleep, let alone truck drivers. Sleeping quarters in trucks aren’t always the comfiest so you might want to consider getting a nice mattress pad. Laying down on a bed that meets your needs will help you get a good nights rest so your next day on the road will be more enjoyable.
The Driver’s Seat
You spend a lot of time in the driver’s seat and we understand how hard it can be to make it comfy. We have some tips you can try. Try adding a seat cover with extra lumbar support. With the proper support you should start to feel better on those longer drives.
No one likes a hungry driver. Before you take the quick and easy option of fast-food, try eating some healthy options. It will make you feel better in the long run. Pack yourself some snacks such as trail mix or fruits to eat throughout the day. For meals you can have healthier sandwiches or jar some veggies and make a salad!
Sometimes all you need a little exercise to make you feel better. When you’re at the truck stop go for a little walk. Do a few jumping jacks or a few crunches in your bed. This can help re-energize you to finish your run. Getting exercise while on the road will go a long way.
Keep it Clean
Use seat-back organizers to organize cleaning supplies, flashlights, gloves and tools. Keep a well organized binder of all your important documents needed for a roadside inspection. Utilize mini crates to keep items from being shuffled around during a drive and they’ll help keep you organized. Keep a trash can readily available to collect and get rid of any trash. Make emptying that waste bin a priority so you will never have to worry about trash in your cab.
Serious drivers. serious hauling.
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