Archive for category motoring public education

Washington State Patrol Begins Litter Prevention and Secure Load Emphasis on April 15

On Monday, April 15, the Washington State Patrol will begin a 28-day patrol emphasis to crack down on motorists who throw roadside litter or travel with unsecured loads. The effort is being conducted in tandem with the Washington State Department of Ecology and state Department of Transportation. The emphasis is intended to improve the safety and environmental cleanliness of state highways and roadways.

The State Patrol reports that debris on Washington roadways causes approximately 400 collisions every year. Unsecured loads account for 40% of litter on local highways. Traffic violations for littering or failing to secure loads on highways can reach $5,000 and potential jail time. The highest fines are for throwing “lit debris” such as cigarettes and spilling larger items that can cause crashes leading to injuries and death.

Litter and unsecured loads are completely preventable. Don’t throw litter onto the roadway. Wait until you reach your destination and drop it in a proper waste receptacle or disposal facility. Make sure your load cannot slide, shift, fall, sift onto the roadway, or become airborne. Each load is different. Look for potential problems with your load. (Is it tall, narrow, double stacked, loose?) Develop a plan to safely secure each type of load.

Five Tips to secure your load:

  • Tie down load with serviceable rope, netting, chains or straps.
  • Tie large objects directly to the vehicle or trailer.
  • Cover the entire load with a sturdy tarp or netting.
  • Don’t overload the vehicle.
  • Always double check load to make sure all is secure.

Visit Keep Trucking Safe.org for training tools on how to safely tarp, strap, and stack your loads.

Washington State Patrol press release.

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Rain, rain, go away!

By Jena Williams

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It looks like the rain isn’t going anywhere for a long while here in western Washington.

This morning a colleague relayed her commute into work to me – pouring rain, everyone driving crazy fast, cutting off trucks and each other; in other words, driving too fast for conditions. I get that Washingtonians feel impervious to rain and pride themselves on the idea that sheets of rain will not affect their driving.

I wish that were true. The fact of the matter is that wet roads have less traction as confirmed by the Federal Highway Administration and your own common sense. This means that unless you are a member of the Fast and Furious crew and have the help of Hollywood to defy the laws of nature, you will need extra stopping time.

So slow down and give trucks and yourself extra room to stop. Let’s all keep it safe out there.

Our appreciation lasts more than a week

By Jena Williams

Thank-you

As you all know, last week was National Truck Driver Appreciation Week. Many of your companies celebrated their drivers with barbeques and maybe even awards to recognize safe and dedicated drivers. I hope they did and that you had a great time.

I spent the week thinking of everything I need and use each day that was brought to me by a truck driver. I’m especially grateful to the driver that brought the cold medicine to my pharmacy so that my dizzying headache would go away. And to the one that brought the tea to my grocery store. And the one who delivered the construction materials that built my warm house. Thank you.

Your dependability in making your deliveries on time and your patience in dealing with 4-wheelers on the roads continues to impress me. Your constant vigilance keeps us safe on the highways and most drivers don’t even realize the stress you are under as they are cutting you off.

This infographic, called Truckpocalypse reminds us how you keep things rolling the remaining 51 weeks of the year as well!

Since we’re on the topic of all that we need being brought by truck, I’d like to know what our readers haul. Will you type what you normally haul in the comments?

More info on National Truck Driver Appreciation Week: http://www.truckline.com/appreciation_week.aspx

Truckpocalypse infographic: http://www.truckerclassifieds.com/truckpocalypse/

Here’s a good link to forward to others that may not recognize the space trucks need to be safe on the roads – No Zone: http://www.udot.utah.gov/trucksmart/know-the-no-zone.php.

Don’t cut off trucks!

By Jena Williams

Semi vs. minivan

Summer is almost here, which means driving with the top down, carloads of teens on break, families on vacation…in a word “traffic,” lots of it.

While others are having a good time, truck drivers are still working.

Talking to truck drivers reveals that one of the most stressful parts of their job is dealing with being cut off in heavy traffic. Why? Because if you are in a collision with a semi-truck, it likely won’t be a fender bender and you likely won’t walk away from it. The truck driver’s biggest concern is staying on high alert for the erratic behavior of other drivers to protect them from their own mistakes. So please don’t risk your life or make a driver’s stressful job any harder. Drive safely around trucks.

So enjoy your summer, but keep it safe. Remember that the truck driver in the next lane is bringing stuff you need to a store near you or possibly straight to your doorstep. Be kind to the driver as the driver is working hard to protect you as well.

Teens and Trucks – Share the Road: http://www.cvsa.org/programs/teens_and_trucks.php

The No Zone rap: http://youtu.be/9m1-FIAhcSA

Great info from Oregon DOT on truck’s blind spots: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PP-NIUL6LzY

Best tips for sharing the road with big trucks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqRKEo82ays

Be nice to truckers on Memorial Day

By Jena Williams

Leave more space for trucks

Memorial Day weekend unofficially marks that start of summer for many people. It seems the extra day off tends to be more associated with barbeques than the patriotism of soldiers who gave it all for our freedom. School is wrapping up and with it, and there’s a certain playfulness in the atmosphere as everyone looks forward to a break from their insane routines.

Traffic will be heavy today as people return from weekend getaways and local get-togethers. There will also be trucks on the road because delivering all we need is a 24/7 job. So be nice to the truck driver in the next lane. When traffic starts to bunch up, don’t cut in front of the truck just because there is a big space there. That space is there to keep them from squishing the vehicle in front of them during an emergency stop.

Also important is to remember the “No Zone.” Don’t linger around trucks in areas where you cannot be seen.

So this Memorial Day, remember our soldiers, remember loved ones that aren’t here this year. And on the roads be safe.

Check out these videos on YouTube for more info:

No Zones rap: http://youtu.be/9m1-FIAhcSA

Smooth operator stopping demo: http://youtu.be/ptpl7HChRlI

How long does it take a commercial vehicle to stop in perfect conditions: http://youtu.be/nsUWBZkx-3U

To see or not to see

By Jena Williams

The other day, I passed a semi-truck and trailer stopped on the side of the road. The driver was out and nervously eyeing traffic while he checked his load. It was not an ideal place to stop and he was obviously concerned about the vehicles streaming by just feet away.

I’d like to take this opportunity to remind motorists to stay alert when there are trucks on the side of the road and in parking lots. Please watch out for the drivers and give them plenty of room.

Drivers, wear high-visibility clothing when outside your rig. We appreciate you and want to keep you safe!

More information from KeepTruckingSafe.org: http://www.keeptruckingsafe.org/hazardpreventiontools.html#safetyplanVisibility

Ever wonder what makes a company great?

By Jena Williams

Is it years of experience? Supportive management? A strong safety culture? Reputation? Yes, all these things are important, but the most important ingredients are the dedicated employees that make up the team.

Last Friday, I was privileged to have the opportunity to ride along with Jim Carter of Oak Harbor Freight Lines, Inc., to see firsthand how a truly professional truck driver gets it done. Jim’s been a truck driver for 25 years with the last two and half at Oak Harbor Freight Lines. Jim is meticulous in checking the load to prevent load shift, careful with his deliveries, friendly with all his customers and always on the go!

He has some advice to new drivers just starting out, “Always pay attention to your surroundings and the other vehicles, including other trucks on the road. Don’t trust that they won’t cut you off. “

Thank you again to the supportive management at Oak Harbor Freight Lines for giving me the opportunity to ride along with one of your best!

I’ll never stop being amazed by the variability of this industry, the complexity of the process and how hard you all work to make it look easy.

So many of us don’t realize the dedication of truck drivers to getting all we need, where we need it and on time.

So to the rest of the motoring public, from Jim and all the other hard working drivers out there – give them space on the roads.  Check out the No-Zone for more information on driving safe around trucks. Always remember that if you can’t see the driver in a mirror, the driver can’t see you.

FMCSA Share the Road Safely, No-Zones: http://www.sharetheroadsafely.org/noZone/sideNoZone.asp

Working in the dark

By Jena Williams

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Truckers put in long hours all year, but the shortening of days mixed with fog or rain make working outside treacherous.

Always wear high-visibility clothing or vests when working outside your truck.

Employers, consider providing headlamps to your workers so they can keep their hands free. Headlamps are double-duty in allowing workers to see and be seen.

Here are a few of my favorite safety materials on this topic from KeepTruckingSafe.org:

Camo is not part of this job description: http://www.keeptruckingsafe.org/safetymaterials/901082013.pdf

Working in the dark: http://www.keeptruckingsafe.org/safetymaterials/90842012.pdf

This is what motorists see: http://www.keeptruckingsafe.org/safetymaterials/90322009.pdf

Find more at www.KeepTruckingSafe.org

I bet you’ve got stories of close calls or lessons learned. Share them in the comments.

Freedom isn’t free

By Jena Williams

We at KeepTruckingSafe.org appreciate you Veterans. Thank you for your service!

If you are a returning veteran, consider a new career in trucking. We need you!

GI Bill resources for servicemen and women will help you get your CDL: http://www.gibill.va.gov/resources/education_resources/programs/ncd.html

What would you do to keep an experienced driver for ten more years?

By Jena Williams

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published the results of a study: Occupational Highway Transportation Deaths Among Workers Aged ≥55 Years – United States, 2003-2010. The study found that on-the-job highway transportation death rates increased substantially at age 65, especially in transportation and warehousing industries and in transportation and material moving occupations.

It might seem that the finding of this study is, well, obvious. To be blunt, we tend to expect older workers to die more. But I would caution you to dig a little deeper because I think there is some important information to be gleaned here.

Consider that in the general population, these types of deaths only begin to increase substantially at age 75 years.  Why would deaths increase a decade earlier for workers?

There are many possible reasons and theories for this. I’ll present mine here and hope you’ll add yours in the comments.

The editor recommends interventions to benefit older drivers. (I would argue that these interventions would actually benefit all drivers!) The first is that we need to do a better job of selecting and adapting vehicles to accommodate drivers.

There are many other recommendations as well, such as less driving, less nighttime driving, etc., but I would like to explore the idea of adapting vehicles to accommodate drivers a little more.

Consider that before most people buy a personal vehicle, they sit in it and take it for test drive. Generally, people don’t buy a vehicle that isn’t comfortable to them. Unfortunately, comfort may not be a priority when many companies purchase their vehicles. Instead fuel economy, aerodynamics, and cost take the forefront. Plus, a company’s workforce comes in all shapes and sizes, so initially tailoring vehicles may seem nearly impossible.

One might argue that physical comfort doesn’t really have anything to do with crash-related deaths, but I would disagree. Fatigue is fatigue, whether brought on by long hours or awkward postures. It is still worth considering.

As the article states and we already know, “…older workers bring a wealth of skills and experience to the workplace…” I think we can agree that keeping an experienced worker for an additional ten years is valuable in a market with a declining labor pool.

What kind of investment are you willing to make in a skilled worker to keep them around for another ten years?  Would you improve the stairs into the cab? Would you add or improve handholds? Would you improve adjustability in the seat? Would you improve the location of the steering wheel? All of these can be associated with excess strain and fatigue on the body, potentially increasing crash risk.

And one more question, would you ask them what they need to make their job safer and easier?

These are just some of my thoughts. What are yours?

Link to full report: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6233a1.htm?s_cid=mm6233a1_e

And for drivers – always wear your seatbelt. Always.