Archive for October, 2020

Drive Awake, Arrive Alive

Sleepiness and driving is a dangerous mix that makes America’s roadways unsafe. Taking place from November 1-8, Drowsy Driving Awareness and Prevention Week is a national campaign to educate motorists about the hazards and serious consequences of drowsy driving. 

Sleepiness has many causes. Research shows that the risk of sleep-related crashes is higher for young males, shift workers, adults with children at home, truck drivers, and people with untreated sleep disorders or with short-term or chronic sleep deprivation. In the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that drowsy driving causes 100,000 police-reported crashes with 71,000 injuries and 1,550 fatalities each year. In Washington State from 2011 to 2015, drowsy drivers caused 308 serious injury and 64 fatal crashes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Large Truck Crash Causation Study attributed sleepiness and fatigue as factors in at least 18,000 or 13% of all commercial motor vehicle-involved crashes. In crashes involving passenger vehicles, the passenger vehicle driver was twice as likely to be fatigue-impaired when compared to the commercial vehicle driver.

Much like alcohol and drugs, sleepiness impairs a driver’s hand-eye coordination, reaction time, judgement, vision, and situational awareness. Some of the negligent behaviors attributed to drowsy driving include:

  • Distracted driving.
  • Following too closely.
  • Going over the center line.
  • Failure to yield right-of-way to other vehicles, pedestrians, or bicyclists.
  • Disregarding signals (e.g., stop signs, red lights, yield signs, turn signals, etc.).

In Washington State, drowsy driving is illegal and can result in a $550 negligent driving violation. “Drowsy drivers put everyone on the road in danger,” says Washington State Patrol’s Chief John R. Batiste. “This form of impaired driving can be prevented by taking some easy, sensible steps before getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.” The following tips can help truck drivers prevent drowsiness and fatigue:

  • Get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel.
  • Maintain a healthy diet and exercise.
  • Take a break every two hours or 100 miles to refresh.
  • Avoid alcohol, drugs, and medications that cause drowsiness as a side effect.
  • Recognize signs of drowsiness such as frequent yawning, heavy eyes, and blurred vision.
  • Do not rely on “alertness tricks” such as smoking, drinking coffee, rolling down the window, turning up the radio, etc.

More information and training resources to prevent drowsy and fatigued driving:

National Sleep Foundation

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

National Safety Council

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Tarp It, Tie It, Strap It

Make sure your load is properly secured before making deliveries. 

Secure Your Load Week is October 19-23, a time to remind ourselves as motorists about the importance of keeping roadways safe from unsecured loads and litter.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2016 unsecured loads caused 683 deaths, 19,663 injuries, and 90,266 traffic incidents in the United States. The Washington State Patrol reports that debris on Washington roadways causes approximately 400 collisions every year. An estimated 40% of the litter on state highways comes from unsecured loads. In 2019, state troopers investigated 154 collisions caused by unsecured loads and contacted 7,386 motorists who failed to secure their vehicles’ load.

Enforced under Maria’s Law, unsecured load violations in Washington State are punishable with fines up to $228. Violators face penalties up to $5,000 and potential jail time if their unsecured load falls out of their vehicle and injures someone. Maria’s Law is named after Maria Federici, who in 2004 suffered near-fatal injuries that left her blinded and traumatized after unsecured wood from a rented trailer smashed through her car’s windshield on I-405 in Renton.

During Secure Your Load Week, the Washington State Patrol, Washington State Department of Transportation, Washington Traffic Safety Commission, Washington State Department of Ecology, and local agencies will step up their work to keep highways safe, clean, and litter free. They ask that you call 911 to report unsecured loads, littering, and dumping.

Unsecured loads cause injuries and fatalities that are 100% preventable. Here are a few tips for truck drivers to help make sure your load is secure:

  • Binders, chains, nettings, and tarps must be securely fastened to the trailer.
  • Make sure unused dunnage, broken pallets, or other loose debris are cleared off your trailer.
  • Freight should be neatly stacked and tightly fastened inside trailers.
  • Don’t overload your vehicle.
  • Double check to make sure your trailer doors are properly closed.
  • Keep your cab clean to make sure trash or debris do not fly out of the window.

Also, ask yourself the following questions before getting on the road:

  • Is there a chance of debris or cargo falling or blowing out of my vehicle?
  • Is my load secured at the back, sides and top?
  • What would happen to my load if I had to brake suddenly, I hit a bump, or another vehicle hit me?
  • Would I want my loaded vehicle driving through my neighborhood?
  • Would I feel safe if I were driving behind my vehicle?
  • Is “secure your load” on my company’s safety checklist?  

Visit the following links for additional information and resources:

Washington State Patrol lost or unsecured load reporting website.

Washington State Department of Ecology litter laws website.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Driver’s Handbook on cargo securement.

King County load securement resources and information.

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Don’t Let Crime Hold You Up

Crime Prevention Month  takes place each October to raise awareness of issues such as victimization and the need for volunteers to create safer, more caring communities. The annual observance began in 1984 as an effort of the National Crime Prevention Council to unite government agencies, civic groups, schools, businesses, and youth organizations to educate the public about crime prevention issues.

Truck Drivers Shouldn’t Be Victims

Driving, parking, and working alone in unfamiliar and isolated places puts truck drivers at risk of becoming targets of robberies and assaults. Such crimes can result in serious physical and emotional injuries and fatalities, and can also impact companies’ retention and ability to meet their customers’ needs. Minority and female drivers are at a higher risk of harassment and violent crimes such as assault, rape, and having their trucks vandalized. Many truck drivers worry about their personal safety and feel they are alone in having to protect themselves. Crime Prevention Month provides an opportunity to show your drivers that you care about their safety. Consider holding a safety meeting to talk about crime prevention topics and truck drivers’ concerns. Follow up by providing education, training, and resources that can help protect your drivers from becoming victims of a crime. If you have a driver who becomes a crime victim, identify resources that can support them and their loved ones through any grief or trauma. 

Helpful tips:

Before a pick-up or delivery

  • Look out for suspicious people loitering around your pick-up and delivery areas.
  • Be alert to vehicles that may be following you. Write down a description of the vehicle and the license plate number and a description of the people in the vehicle.
  • Put a placard on the vehicle that states that the driver carries no money.

At the delivery site

  • Ask that a manager or an employee be present until you are finished with your delivery.
  • Make sure that there is proper lighting where you park or work.
  • Try to make the delivery when other drivers are around.
  • Always maintain situational awareness.

At parking lots and rest areas

  • Don’t park in isolated places to do paperwork or to take breaks.
  • Keep vehicle doors locked at all times.
  • Look around the cab and trailer before entering.
  • Always have a cell phone ready and call 911 if you ever feel threatened or see something suspicious.

If you are robbed

  • Remain calm, follow the suspect’s instructions, and assume they are armed.
  • Try to remember a good description of the suspect(s), their vehicle, direction of travel, weapon used, and anything they said.
  • Call 911 as soon as you are safe.
  • Protect any evidence and gather witnesses until police arrive.

Helpful resources

Personal safety tips for truck drivers

Preventing cargo theft

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries resources for crime victims & workplace violence prevention

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Crime Prevention for Truckers research project

Truckers Against Trafficking

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