Archive for April, 2013

One more way truckers are angels in disguise

By Jena Williams

We all know that truck drivers are generally quite selfless and do what they can to protect and give back to the community. NBC News recently featured a story on more truck driving heroes. This report was about Operation Roger, a group of truckers who volunteer to transport abandoned pets to new “forever homes.”

As cool as a program like Operation Roger is, we were wondering if there might be even more benefit to the program than placing doomed or displaced pets. How does having a pet in the cab positively or negatively impact drivers?

So drivers, what are your thoughts or experiences? After a long day of driving, does having the responsibility of a pet increase physical activity such as walking?

Studies show that people with pets live longer, so does short term fostering the care of an animal, or several over the course of a year, impact emotional health in the form of companionship? Does it decrease the impacts of loneliness? What’s better than a companion who is willing to happily agree with everything you have to say? (Of course, this may not be true if you are transporting a cat.)*

On the other hand, are pets a distraction in the cab? Do you think they negatively impact your driving in any way?

Whether you have a full time pet companion or are a volunteer pet transporter, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

To find out more information about Operation Roger or to volunteer: http://operationroger.rescuegroups.org/

NBC Nightly News Story: http://dailynightly.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/23/17879769-saving-abandoned-animals-one-ride-at-a-time?lite

Photo is courtesy of Operation Roger and the namesake for the non-profit organization.

*All opinions expressed here are the personal views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the official view of TIRES. (My bosses made me say this even though everyone knows dogs are much better pets than cats.)

Do you have a plan in place in case you or one of your drivers is involved in a collision?

By Jena Williams

We have all heard that it’s important to have and practice an escape plan with our families in case of a house fire. Well, it is just as important to have a plan with your drivers in case they are involved in a collision.

I was at a meeting recently where a corporate attorney was speaking about how important it is to have the plan in place and to test it out.

Things to consider:

  • Do you have a dedicated phone line for drivers to report collisions to you? Post it in each tractor because in stressful situations people frequently forget numbers.
  • Do you have someone to assess the scene and take appropriate photos? Evidence deteriorates quickly so the sooner it is gathered, the better.
  • Have you talked to your drivers about appropriately cooperating with and responding to questions by police investigators? Are your drivers aware that they will most likely be detained in a squad car? Survivor’s guilt could make them take more credit for the incident than they should. We all know that 4-wheelers are often the cause of truck collisions.

An attorney that specializes in this field can help you develop a plan to deal with these situations in the best possible way.

If you are thinking this only applies to large companies that can afford to retain an attorney, it doesn’t.

Companies of all sizes need to have a plan in place. There are organizations (listed below) that can connect you with an attorney in your area that specializes in semi-truck collisions. You can meet with them to develop a plan and know who to call if you ever need someone.

If the worst happens, you don’t want to be searching through a phone book to find out what to do. Have a plan in place so everyone knows who needs to be contacted and what their responsibilities are.

Where to find a transportation attorney

Transportation Lawyers Association: www.translaw.org

Trucking Industry Defense Association: www.tida.org

USLaw Network: www.uslaw.org

Harmonie Group: www.harmonie.org

ALFA International: www.alfainternational.com

What will it take?

By Jena Williams

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that distracted driving is a big problem. There are laws against it, grieving families have told their stories, we know that statistically it’s even more dangerous than drunk driving – yet it’s still happening.

April is National Distracted Driving Awareness Month so many organizations are pushing even harder to get the word out and get us to make the safe choice.

Personally, I believe it’s going to be peer-pressure that changes society’s behavior when it comes to distracted driving. It’s what has worked for smoking. I remember coming home as a horrified fourth grader to lecture my parents on their smoking habit. In those days, most adults smoked even in enclosed cars with their kids. Now, I almost never see kids struggling to breathe in the back of a smoky vehicle like my brother and I did.

I also remember not wearing seatbelts and being able to ride in the bed of the truck on hot summer days. Years later I bought a dog and had to sign a contract that I would never let her ride in the bed of a truck. Times have really changed!

I could go on all day with examples of how once generally accepted behavior gradually becomes unacceptable to a society. But how many smokers’ kids had to develop asthma or eventually lung cancer first? How many unbelted kids were thrown from vehicles before that became unacceptable?

We as a society need to make distracted driving unacceptable.

More information:

FMCSA: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/topics/distracted-driving/overview.aspx

Distraction.gov: http://www.distraction.gov/

National Safety Council: http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/Distracted_Driving/Pages/DDAM.aspx

Practical Jokes Gone Awry…

By Jena Williams

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April Fools’ Day, spring fever, the sun finally coming out…All these things lift our spirits and make us want to maybe goof off a little extra.

Not to take the wind out of your sails, but I do want to remind you that as much as we all want to make our jobs as fun as possible, please remember to keep it safe too. Think through things to make sure no one will get hurt from joking or goofing around.

For example, don’t hide or in any way alter tools needed to do the job. Don’t tamper with other people’s food or drink as you may not be aware of dietary restrictions or allergies. Never create or leave slippery surfaces.

And please, if you notice that one person is bearing the brunt of the “jokes” or “teasing,” give them a break. There is a fine line between mutual goofing off with co-workers and one person becoming the butt of every joke. It stops being funny after a while.

If you need more reasons to play it safe, check out the links below:

Practical jokes and the law of unintended consequences: http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20130107/OPINION04/701079971

Practical jokes can cross the line and become bullying: http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Research/Files/Bullying.pdf

Consider the law as well: http://www.hum.wa.gov/FAQ/FAQSexualHarasment2.html

Sharing information on pranks gone wrong from a legal standpoint: http://www.9news.com/news/local/article/327693/222/Sharing-lessons-from-April-1-Pranks-gone-wrong

Horsing around on the job is also a bad idea: http://www.mgc.edu/envsrv/safetyManualPDFs/2%20General/8%20-%20Horseplay%20Is%20No%20Laughing%20Matter%20-%20Info.pdf

If you must partake in practical jokes, here are five types to avoid: http://voices.yahoo.com/five-ill-conceived-practical-joke-ideas-3280400.html?cat=7 This is definitely not an exhaustive list!

Does how you spend your time matter?

By Jena Williams

You’ve got 14 hours to get your job done. Does it really matter when you drive, when you load, or when you take your break? Maybe…

A recent article by Soccolich, et al., suggests that how a truck driver spends his or her time during the 14-hour workday can matter a lot when it comes to safety. And it may not be as you think.

Their research showed that drivers were safer if they drove at the start of their 14-hour shift rather than doing task work (such as loading or maintenance) outside the truck for a few hours and then driving. If there was task work that needed to be done, then those drivers that took a one-hour break before beginning their drive were just as safe as those who started driving at the beginning of the shift.

How did they learn this? By using naturalistic data collection (observing drivers perform their regular work), the researchers determined that the length of time spent driving, whether 8 hours or 11 hours, did not impact safety as much as whether or not they performed other work  before the drive.

To categorize relative safety, the researchers developed criteria of safety-critical events (SCE) ­– crashes, near-crashes, crash-relevant conflicts, and unintentional lane deviations – to gauge the safety of the work day. Using various cameras, they observed driver tasks and SCE to determine how timing of tasks impacted SCE.

New data, new perspectives, and new decisions to be made….In truth, this research may or may not impact federal regulations, especially since there is often controversy surrounding different forms of data collection. However, as an employer, the more you know about what contributes to incidents and injuries with your workforce, the more you can organize your work to mitigate risk.

Link to Soccolich article: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0001457512002485

FMCSA: Summary of HOS regulations: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rules-regulations/topics/hos/index.htm

FMCSA: Interstate Truck Driver’s Guide to Hours of Service

14-Hour Driving Window

This window is usually thought of as a “daily” limit even though it is not based on a 24-hour period. You are allowed a period of 14 consecutive hours in which to drive up to 11 hours after being off duty for 10 or more consecutive hours. The 14-consecutive-hour driving window begins when you start any kind of work. Once you have reached the end of this 14-consecutive-hour period, you cannot drive again until you have been off duty for another 10 consecutive hours, or the equivalent of at least 10 consecutive hours off duty.

Your driving is limited to the 14-consecutive-hour period even if you take some off-duty time, such as a lunch break or a nap, during those 14 hours.

FMCSA approach to naturalistic data collection: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/about/news/speeches/Naturalistic-Driving-Research.aspx

http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/facts-research/art-research-Analysis-of-the-High-Risk-versus-Low-Risk-Commercial-Motor-Vehicle-Driver.htm

http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/facts-research/media/webinar-08-02-26-slides.pdf

Citation: Soccolich, S.A., et al., An analysis of driving and working hour on commercial motor vehicle driver safety using naturalistic data collection. Accid. Anal. Prev. (2012), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2012.06.024