Tag Archives: safety

ELDs

Are You Ready?

By Larry Pruitt

With the FMCSA‘s Electronic Logging Device Mandate deadline quickly looming, Owner-Operators and small fleet owners alike are trying to wade through all of their options for the upcoming mandate deadline.  They’re trying to decide what will work best for them.  I know some companies have been testing different products on some select trucks in their fleet, while other operations are holding out hope that there will be a stay at the eleventh hour.  In my opinion, Congress doesn’t seem to agree on anything these days and unable to get anything passed, so I seriously doubt that this will get stopped before December 18.

With that being said, there is a very large contingent of drivers that have made the statement that they are leaving the industry when this mandate takes effect.  Some may leave and will probably move on to other careers, but most will continue on and adapt to the mandate. This upheaval in the industry will subside, and as my Mom would say, “This too shall pass”, and I agree with her, “This too will pass… it may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass”.  I’m old enough to remember back in the late-eighties or early-nineties when the CDL License Program was being introduced into the Trucking Industry.  There was a large number of drivers that were afraid that the CDL process would be so complicated that there was going to be a large shortage of drivers.  Drivers were going to leave the industry in droves because of something that today is viewed as no big deal and just part of the process of the regulations that we are saddled with today.

I’m not going to try to change anybody’s mind here on whether you want ELDs or don’t want them.  I’m just going to pass on my experiences, as I switched over to an ELD a little over a month ago.

To give you a little bit of background, I’ve been doing my logs on a tablet for the past 5 years or so using the Big Road app. I found that my logs were much easier to make sure that they were filled out completely and most of all, correctly.  This helps ensure you have a lesser chance to fall victim to a form and matter violation at a roadside inspection. The app would not let you sign your log unless everything was filled out properly.  I installed the connection to ECM back in September using the same app Big Road app.  I chose this product for a couple of different reasons, one was that I already was familiar with the app and the other was that I had good luck with tech support previously.  I wanted to get acclimated to using an ELD now versus trying to get compliant in the middle of December and having trouble.

The process of switching over has been pretty much uneventful so far.  I haven’t been caught about to run out of hours in my day yet, but I’m sure that will happen eventually.  I’m very fortunate that my operation allows me to be home every night.  I will admit that e-logs make it easier to keep track of duty status changes, it automatically knows when you start driving and when you stop driving, so you don’t even have to look at it for the biggest part of the day.  I will go back into it later and add notes to my stops whenever I have the time.

I think that ELDs are going to affect the industry over the foreseeable future.  I think that changes are going to be just as hard on shippers and receivers.  The truck lines are going to force shippers to get their trucks in and out and back on the road.  Let’s face it, companies are not going to be able to let trucks sit at a shipper or receiver for roughly 8 hours and then only have 6 hours left for their day and still be able to make any profit whatsoever.  Shippers will have to get better or their freight will lay on their dock, because no one will waste their time with that shipper.  I can see more drop and hook freight in the future, in segments that have never before been drop and hook operations.

One thing is for sure, the small fleet folks may have to change how they do business.  I think most small carriers will be able to adapt if they approach this from working within the system rather than trying to work around the system.

Well, that’s my opinion and experiences on the ELD mandate.  There are folks that agree with me and most definitely some that do not agree with me but are very passionate about their opinion.  No matter what anyone’s opinion is, let’s revisit this issue in about a year or so and see what the industry and it’s logging issues are at that time.  To everyone involved, GOOD LUCK with the mandate!

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Larry Pruitt is an owner-operator with over 20 years of experience and has been involved in trucking for close to 40 years. He is a firefighter in North St. Louis County Missouri and resides with his wife, Jeanette, in Saint Clair, MO.


 

18 Reasons Why You Need 3-In-1 AirPower Lines on Your Rig

By: 

Tired of tangled, kinked, leaking air lines? Upgrade your rig from nylon coiled air lines to Tectran 3-in-1 AirPower Lines. We promise you won’t regret it! Here are 18 reasons why you should make the switch:

  • No tangling or snagging like you have with coiled air lines
  • Improved appearance on the truck

18 Reasons Why You Need 3-In-1 AirPower Lines on Your Rig | Trucker Tips Blog

  • Tectran AirPower Lines last years longer than nylon air lines
  • Flex Grip prevents inadvertent crimping of air lines at the glad-hand connection 18 Reasons Why You Need 3-In-1 AirPower Lines on Your Rig | Trucker Tips Blog
  • Spiral Wrap has beveled edge which protects lines from damage and abrasion
  • Spoon-cut spiral wrap eliminate sharp ends than can damage hoses and cable
  • Tectran LIFESwivel at the tractor connection eases installation and extends life
  • Coiled air lines break down quickly due to UV light deterioration
  • AirPower Lines remain more flexible in cold weather
  • Easier and faster hookup saves time and money
  • WeatherSeal sleeves on plugs provide superior corrosion protection18 Reasons Why You Need 3-In-1 AirPower Lines on Your Rig | Trucker Tips Blog
  • Greater strength and flexibility than coiled lines
  • APL Tec-Clamp makes installation fast and easy with No Tools Needed
  • Designed for operating pressures up to 225 psi
  • Available with red and blue hoses, as well as with black hoses
  • Tractor-side bend restrictors are non-corrosive, and prevent kinking in turns18 Reasons Why You Need 3-In-1 AirPower Lines on Your Rig | Trucker Tips Blog
  • Available in various lengths to meet the needs of your application
  • Best of all, it’s made in the USA!

18 Reasons Why You Need 3-In-1 AirPower Lines on Your Rig | Trucker Tips Blog

I-C-E

In Case of Emergency

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

It doesn’t matter if it’s winter, spring, summer or fall; you can find yourself in an emergency situation a long way from home. I think we have touched on this topic before, but it never hurts to have a little refresher because this one is so important! We are in the midst of the winter season once again, which is historically our most dangerous.

I doubt there is a driver out here that doesn’t have a cell phone with all their contacts saved. Just recently I put the letters ICE (In Case of Emergency) in front of those that I would want called if something were to happen to me and I wasn’t in a position to either make a call myself or tell others who to call.

There are also apps available that you can download onto your smartphone that will allow people you trust to track you. I have the “find my friends” app on my iPhone which will show my current location to anyone I have granted permission to, as well as showing me theirs, in real time. My sister, my best friend and my husband all use this app. It really is a blessing knowing that we can, and do, know where each other is anytime we need to. I LOVE sharing my location with my other close trucking friends and having them share theirs with me.

I send a text message each night letting my family and friends know where I’ve stopped for the evening. I see many of my friends checking in all sorts of places on Facebook when they stop to eat, shop, deliver or pickup and when they stop for the night. Facebook seems to me to be a double-edged sword though. I really would prefer y’all check in a much more private and secure place when you are planning on going to sleep!

It’s so much easier today to call home and talk to your family while using your hands free device. Back in the day you had to find a payphone and then you were tied to it while you were catching up on the day’s events back home. It’s so much easier to make miles and help those miles go by faster while talking to your loved ones or friends at the same time.

Check Sleeper Decal available at Iowa80.com

If you are running team, it’s not a bad idea to have something outside on the truck saying that you are. In case of an accident first responders know to look for the other person and or pets. If that is not possible, at least put something in the driver’s door that states you have a co-driver and/or a pet.
Winter seems to lead to more emergencies and it’s harder to get help to a driver if road conditions are bad. Be prepared to sit on a cold and snowy road for hours and maybe you can help other motorists who did not leave prepared. Carrying extra water and food & blankets in the winter is always a good idea. In the summer you are not going to freeze to death.

More vinyl decals available at Iowa80.com.

Make sure that all the emergency equipment is in the truck and ready to go. Look at your fire extinguisher to make sure that the charge is still full. Check to see that your reflective triangles are in the box and in working condition. I think most drivers carry a reflective vest these days and it’s a good idea to wear it if you have to get out and set up your triangles when your truck breaks down.

Emergencies are always going to happen but if you are prepared for them and always give safety 100% of your attention hopefully you can have, or help someone else have, a good outcome. Depending on the situation, your preparedness just might save a life.

Be safe, be prepared and stay alert to the increasing dangers that go along with the job we do. This goes for parking lots, docks for pickups and deliveries, as well as going up and down the road…and don’t forget to put I-C-E in your phone!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Chain Up!

Chain Up! Winter Driving Tips for Semi Trucks | Trucker Tips Blog

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Ready or not, winter is here! If you run out west you had better be prepared to meet the requirements of the western states when it comes to snow chains. Even if you are stopped on a nice sunny day with no hint of snow in the forecast, you could still be at risk of getting a ticket for not carrying the proper amount of chains for the truck you are driving. It is extremely important that you familiarize yourself with the requirements for EACH state law regarding chains BEFORE you enter that state. Unfortunately, the laws are not the same from state to state, so getting the information ahead of time is crucial.

We recommend finding out which state has the strictest law and carry the maximum chains you will need, weight allowing. This way you will always be compliant. Another thing to check on, and be sure of, are the dates of requirement which can differ from state to state. For instance, Georgia now has a chain law as a result of all of the wrecks they’ve had in recent winter storms. Again, it’s important to look at the law in ALL states where you run.

When the chain law signs go up, you had better be prepared to hang “iron” or hire some of the people who sit at chain up areas to hang chains for you. If you don’t, you certainly aren’t going anywhere! Make sure that you know your company’s policy about chaining up or parking when the road conditions get to this point. Many companies will allow you to run around a severe winter storm or blizzard, which is the ideal situation. However if they don’t, you need to have the knowledge to keep yourself safe.

Before you find yourself in a situation where you need to put chains on your tires, it would be a good idea to find a place and practice putting them on your wheels. Standing in the cold and snow with drivers splashing you with yuck off the road is not the time to be figuring this out.

Make sure that you have plenty of bungee cords or spider bungees to help secure the chains once they are on. Time and travel on rough snowy roads can and will loosen them, so pay attention in your mirrors. It’s nice if you have a chain hanger under your trailer or on the frame of your truck so that you can hang wet sloppy chains up and not let them freeze in a big lump inside your tool box.

It’s a good idea to check your tires after running chains. Even if your chains didn’t break, other trucks will probably have one break and a broken link in a tire means a trip to the tire shop for repair. I would never have guessed this if a friend hadn’t told me (after learning the hard way).

Sometimes chains can help you even if there isn’t a chain law in effect. For instance, if the road is icy and you have to stop for an accident on an incline, chains might be the only way you are going to be able to get going again. Sometimes after a really big snow it can take truck stops awhile to get everything plowed, especially with all of the trucks in the lot. In a case like that chains or a shovel are going to be your only way out. Another good idea, one we ALWAYS do during winter months, is to carry a bag of sand, salt or kitty litter to help you get enough traction to get going. Be prepared – it may just save your life one winter day!

Remember to SLOW DOWN in inclement weather. Nothing will help you avoid disaster better than a slower speed! We have to keep a sharp eye out at all times for new drivers; 4-wheeler and 18-wheeler alike. For some, this could very well be their first ever winter driving experience. We need to be driving our trucks for them, as well as for ourselves, to keep everyone safe. It is our responsibility as the professionals out here to stay calm and behave as such. We can lead by example and do our best to keep the accident statistics down this winter.

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Signs

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

When we hit the road, there are a plethora of signs we need to recognize and understand. Some are suggestive, some are required, some are cautionary, and some are informational. It is SO important that we know which is which so that we can always obey the law.

We all know and recognize the red octagon, the famous STOP sign, STOP is NOT a suggestion! People running these, along with their electric counterpart, the red light, kill or maim innocent people every day. It is for our personal safety as well as the safety of everyone else that these signs are put in place to protect us.

Speed Limit signs that are white and black are law, but they also represent ideal conditions, if the weather conditions are bad you could be cited for traveling the posted speed limit so you always need to use good judgement as well. There are a lot of new electronic signs erected all over the country that will post adjusted speed limits or alert drivers to accidents or bad weather and all kinds of useful information that needs to be communicated to the motoring public that are very helpful.  There are a few states such as Wyoming and Georgia that have speed limit signs that will change with the weather or traffic conditions.

Signs- When we hit the road, there are a plethora of signs we need to recognize and understand. Some are suggestive, some are required, some are cautionary, and some are informational. It is SO important that we know which is which so that we can always obey the law.

There have been several accidents lately involving low overpasses and weight limits on certain roads.  In one instance, a woman destroyed a historic bridge in a town she was familiar with,  after the damage was done she said that she didn’t know how much a ton was.  A ton is 2000 pounds and many roads and bridges are marked with Weight Limit signs telling a driver what is allowable.  If you are over this weight and something as catastrophic as tearing the bridge down occurs you or/and your company just became responsible for that bridge.   Most but not all trailers are 13’6” high which is a standard in the industry, height over that in many states require you to have permits and depending on how high you are they will also require pilot cars.  Each state differs so you should know before you go.  If you approach an overpass that says the clearance is 13’6” slow down!  Some states will pave and not change the signs.  Slowing down could save you the damage and enormous expense of such an accident.

Railroad Crossing Signs warn you of tracks that you are about to cross and you need to heed them. When it comes to truck VS train the truck will lose every time! This sign is even more important to trucks who carry Haz Mat or who pull trailers with low clearance. Getting stuck or hung up on a track could become a major disaster!

Orange signs are used to warn us of upcoming construction, they could tell us there is a flag person ahead or workers and equipment on the roadway. Whatever they tell us, take them seriously, road construction is a necessary part of life and the people who perform it have a very dangerous occupation already, let’s do our part to help keep them safe! Let them do their job and we will reap the rewards of safer smoother roads.

Then there are the blue signs, the service related signs, those telling you where the rest areas are, hospitals and gas stations. All kinds of things we need, restaurants, hotels, motels and other services motorists will need at any given time, that’s when we need to look for those blue signs. We both remember all too well when those signs weren’t around, it was much more difficult to locate necessary places back then, almost a guessing game if you had never run that lane before. Believe me, blue is better! We are grateful for those blue signs!

Another helpful tip is to know that the brown signs out there are used to designate historic places such as National Parks, Zoos, Museums, Visitor Centers and various tourist destinations such as campgrounds, picnic sites, theme parks and such. All in all, we have a very significant and helpful series of signs to help guide us along our travels for all types of purposes. You can joke about that old 60’s song with the chorus that goes “signs, signs, everywhere a sign, blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind” by Five Man Electrical Band. But in all honesty? I’d hate to think where we’d be without them today!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


 

Communication

Clarity is Key

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

I can’t even begin to tell you how many times or in how many ways a simple direction can be miscommunicated between two drivers. If your co-driver or another driver offers to help you back up to a dock or into a parking space, you really should make sure that you are both on the same page when it comes to the signals you will be using.

There are a few standard hand signals that you’d think would be the same for everyone, but unfortunately this isn’t always the case. When asking for or volunteering to help, it is important to discuss the signals you will be using so there is no confusion that results in damage to your truck and trailer or the truck and trailer next to you.

As a team we had a hand-held walkie talkie that we could be on a CB channel so the one outside doing the directing could safely stand. One of us could see where the truck needed to go and were able to communicate that without having to run back and forth. If you don’t have a walkie talkie, you can still fall back on the old reliable: hand signals.

Clarity is Key- I can't even begin to tell you how many times or in how many ways a simple direction can be miscommunicated between two drivers. If your co-driver or another driver offers to help you back up to a dock or into a parking space, you really should make sure that you are both on the same page when it comes to the signals you will be using.Again, it is very important to establish the ground rules when using hand signals, be VERY CLEAR. For example, it’s much easier to tell the driver which way the trailer needs to go by pointing left or right than it is to try to tell them which way to turn the wheel. Holding your hands out flat, facing each other far apart and moving them slowly together is one of my favorite ways of showing the driver how close they are getting to the dock; remembering that they can’t see my hands coming together unless I hold them away from my body so there is nothing blocking the view from the mirror. Another universal signal is a fist in the air, this one ALWAYS means stop!

One of the most confusing aspects of communicating can be wording and how some words can mean different things to different drivers. I learned just how confusing this could be when I was teaching truck driving school. I was walking alongside a student who was backing a truck up to a dock and I was talking him through the entire maneuver. When I said, “Ok, now turn it to the right”, he thought I meant the truck. I said, “Your other right, son. Are we going forward or are we backing up?” I meant the trailer, of course, needed to go right. As you can see, your directions and signals need to be VERY clear. This is something you need to keep in mind even WITH walkie talkies.

Another very important tip to remember is that whoever is on the inside needs to be able to always see whoever is on the outside of the truck. If you happen to be the driver on the outside, make sure that you have eye contact with the driver behind the wheel at all times. If you need to be over on the blind side, be sure to stay within eyesight of the spot mirror or driver’s window. If you can’t see the driver you need to move into a position that enables you to see each other, yet still gives you the vantage point necessary for whatever maneuver you are working on.

If, for any reason, you do not totally truck the person that is helping you, G.O.A.L (GET OUT AND LOOK). Any damage done, with or without a spotter’s help, is the sole responsibility of the driver, so don’t take any chances! SAFETY FIRST! Take your time. Talk to your spotter or co-driver and make sure you understand each other. Then you can proceed to do whatever it is you need to do knowing it will be done safely and efficiently.

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.