Archive for December, 2012

Unconventional safety training

By Jena Williams

I love looking at old photos, particularly the ones of my parents when they were young. Not long ago I was looking at a photo of my mom at my age. We are similar in height and build, but it struck me that she was much thinner than me at the same age.

This shouldn’t matter except that I’ve recently been concerned about my mom’s health and how it’s been impacted by the fact that she is not at an optimum weight for her height. (Darn BMI!)

It struck me that if I am heavier now than she was at my age, how heavy would I be at her age? WWWAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

It was time to make a change. No more denial, no more just accepting my poor eating habits and lack of exercise. No more excuses. Yeah, I’m a busy mom. But if I wanted to be healthy, I needed to make a major change.

Only I didn’t make a major change, I made a series of little changes – little changes that over a year’s time resulted in a 30-pound weight loss. The changes I made were things I could live with long term, because I knew a “diet” wouldn’t work for me. I also made the changes one at a time. Once I got used to one change, I would add another. For example, I started ordering the 12 oz. mocha instead of the 16 oz. Then I started uttering the words “just a little chocolate, please. “ Then I replaced some, not all, of my mochas with hot tea.

Then I replaced my afternoon Cheetos.  (Okay so this was a big change for me, but necessary since I can’t be trusted with just one snack-sized bag.) Instead I made myself eat carrots (they’re orange too, right?) or apples for an afternoon pick me up. I also found that once I started exercising, I began to crave healthier foods. One cannot work out on Cheetos alone! Apples and peanut butter or a protein drink make workouts much better!

There are definite obstacles to overcome, especially when your workplace is in a semi-truck. Healthy eating takes planning, making time to work out takes planning. But it is doable. And once you get used to it, it becomes much easier. Drivers will have the added challenge of finding ways to store and heat healthy foods and safe places to park and exercise. The links below show how fellow drivers have done it.

Why am I sharing all this? According to numerous reports, the younger generation is by and large (no pun intended!) much heavier than previous generations. Does the younger generation look at the physical limitations of the older generation and think “that could be me someday, only worse because I’m heavier now?”

So what’s my point? Stay with me, I’m almost there… The American Journal of Industrial Medicine recently released an article called “Risk Factors, Health Behaviors, and Injury Among Adults Employed in the Transportation, Warehousing and Utilities Super Sector.” Not surprisingly they reported that TWU workers ages 65 and older had the highest prevalence of hypertension of all industries and the TWU workers in general had the highest prevalence of obesity.  They concluded that companies should emphasize health and wellness goals including “treatment of hypertension … by encouragement of healthier behaviors and more physical activity.” “For younger TWU workers…wellness efforts should be directed at promoting exercise and improved lifestyle, with the goal that they will be in a state of better health as they become older workers.” But how?

So how can we change the culture of an entire industry to embrace a healthier lifestyle? Consider this – maybe it’s not a conventional training tool, and maybe it might offend some people, but what if as a sort of safety training, you asked older workers to bring in pictures of themselves in their early 20s? You could make a competition out of guessing who is who. Then the older drivers could share the “wish I’d known then what I know now” stories with the younger drivers.

If people get into it, maybe they can share how they have overcome their own obstacles to health on the road. Maybe a breakthrough might occur. Maybe it might inspire change.

Employers, what can you do to encourage health in the workplace? How about offering a portable bike as incentive to exercise? Or maybe offer a portable fridge or insulated lunch sack filled with healthy on-the-road snacks for participation in a health-related activity.

Yeah, I know. Lots of maybes, lots of what-ifs, but I’d love to know if you decide to try this approach with your company, how it was received. Share your ideas in the comments section below.

Healthy living tips for truckers:

Rig your bike:

Bring your bike:


The long haul:

Cab friendly snacks:

Happy New Year!

Merry Christmas!

By Jena Williams


Many of us will be celebrating Christmas Eve with family and friends tonight. I for one don’t want to forget the truck drivers who brought everything we need for the festivities. Thank you to all the truck drivers, dispatchers, warehouse workers, and mechanics for getting all the goods here on time. And thank you waste haulers and recycle haulers for taking away the mess afterwards.

I hope you are home with your families to celebrate the holidays, but if you are not, tell us in the comments below where you are so we can appreciate what you’ve given up for us.

Many of us are also traveling for the holidays. Give trucks lots of room. Use this guide to learn about blind spots around trucks. If you can’t see the driver in his or her mirror, the driver cannot see you either.

Please be safe out on the roads so you can get to those holiday events in one piece.

And for those of you who doubt there is a Santa Claus, we have proof:

No Zone:

DOT travel tips:

Drivers light the way

By Jena Williams

You gotta love the enthusiasm of drivers. The pride in their rigs, their patriotism, the way they care for others. I know it’s a stereotype, and not all are so caring, but time and again I’m impressed by those in the industry.

In a show of pride in their rig, father and son team, Pat and Nolan Rabey, decked it out in 15,500 lights for the Montesano Festival of Lights. Beautiful!

Each year companies and drivers donate $100 per truck and a day of work time for the privilege of driving in the World’s Largest Truck Convoy to benefit the Special Olympics. In an economy like ours, that is very generous.

Hero drivers help kids, stranded motorists and each other.

I recently heard about a frostbite injury to a driver because he and another driver helped each other chain up. His fingers froze after 3 hours in the freezing weather. (Good plug to remember to put extra gloves in your truck.)

If you have a photo of your rig deck out, send it to me at and I will see that it is added to this blog post. Drive safe out there!

More info on preparing for winter driving:

More hero stories:

 Georgia driver lost his leg in order to keep his runaway truck from hitting other motorists.

Driver leaps in to save others.

Level headed driver saves injured motorist.


By Jena Williams

A great day for births and marriages, but not for this. Washington we have lost another driver. Please take care out there:

Link to Seattle Times article:

Did you miss it?

Chaining simulation

By Jena Williams

I’m referring to the cool new tire chaining simulation that TIRES just produced. It’s not too late to add some fun to your next safety training or to just check out your own hazard spotting skills. Check out the simulation at:

To get monthly trucking safety updates and to be the first to hear about our simulations as they are released, sign up for the TIRES E-news on:

And don’t worry, your email address is safe with us. We do not share with anyone.

Be safe this week! We appreciate you!

Comment below with your own tips for safety in winter weather.

More info on severe weather:

Trucker’s winter survival kit:

Getting real with fall prevention

By Jena Williams

As you may or may not know, we at TIRES are working to decrease injuries in trucking. We gather information from multiple sources to try to determine what causes injuries so that we can prevent similar situations in the future. We talk to employers, injured workers, opinion leaders, star performers, associations, labor representatives and are guided by our amazing steering committee.

We gather all the data – hard data and observational data to develop training materials and reminders to keep workers safe. We hope you use them in your safety trainings. We also hope you’ll share with us what you already know and have learned from experience. For example:

  • What are your most pressing concerns?
  • What topics are we missing?
  • What can we do to help you and your co-workers to be safe in your work?

One of the issues that continues to plague us is how to keep you safe from falls from a load. An ironic injury just came to our attention. It involved a 45-year-old car hauler who was injured while cleaning his windshield. This driver was stopped at a gas station and had climbed the tire to clean the bugs off his windshield. As he stepped down, his foot landed on, then slipped off the curb behind him, fracturing his ankle. This driver pointed out the irony of the injury considering he climbs all over his 14-foot load securing vehicles into position every day. If a 6-inch slip can fracture an ankle, what might a 14-foot fall do?

If you were a construction worker working on a roof, you’d be required to wear fall prevention gear. The same is true if you were a tree trimmer. But a truck driver parked in or near a busy street has little to no fall protection. What do you do to stay safe and to keep from falling? Please share your ideas in the comments below so we can pass them on to other workers.

Link to info on fall prevention: