Automated Mode Engaged: Here Comes Otto . . . the Self-Driving Truck


Computer Driver On-board

A company called new company, Ottomotto, LLC, is working on retrofitting tractors to drive autonomously, without a driver on-board.

Ottomoto’s target market is interstate trucking.

. . . the technology would effectively double the output of the U.S. transportation network at 25 percent of the cost. Techcrunch, Apr. 26, 2016


Risk Areas of Autonomous Trucks

Not every driving contingency fits into a neat algorithm. There are certain situations in which drivers literally need to see around corners. For example, one top race car driver slammed on the brakes going into a blind corner when he noticed the crowd was looking in a different direction— they could see a crash that he could not.

Autonomous vehicle researchers have found that driving is mostly about situational awareness. This is true not only for motor vehicles but for anyone flying a plane or even running a train, as the investigative reports about AmTrack 188 seem to indicate. Safety experts have been saying this for years.

One risk of current autonomous vehicle technology is that a driver needs to step in if required. At that time, the driver would have to be fully “situationally aware.”

Another risk is having a new or inexperienced driver at the controls in an autonomous vehicle emergency. New regulations would need to be crafted for that contingency.

Failure is Not An Option . . . Or is It?

If one looks at how the U.S. space program started, only a select few were allowed to participate. When manned spaceflight was new, no one what would happen. Test pilots formed the first group of astronauts.

In ushering in the new era of self-driving trucks, it seems that the driver is being ignored. Pundits are already predicting millions of truck drivers will soon be unemployed.

And that seems to me to be a big mistake. Much of what a truck driver does will not fit into someone’s idea of the way things should be.

In fact, Steve Jobs said thinking that a great idea is 90% of the work is a mental disease. There are thousands of factors that go into making an product and “it never turns out how it starts.”

As it stands, truly driverless trucks are a long way off. The technology might soon be here, but its applications will be limited for quite a while, probably for decades.

Thank you for reading this.



Texas bus crash

Driver Loses Control

It was still raining last Saturday morning when they recovered the bus on Highway 83 in Webb County, Texas.

The bus was northbound when it lost control and when off of the road, resulting in eight fatalities and dozens injured. One factor that National Transportation Safety Board investigators will look at is if hydroplaning contributed to the rollover.

What is Hydroplaning?

To look at loss of traction, it helps to first look at a tire’s grip or traction. Every tire has a footprint or “patch” where it meets the road.

tire patch

Anytime something comes between the tire and the road — snow, ice, rain, loose gravel, — there are fewer pressure points and less contact with the road.

But there is more to it than just that. The tire needs to be properly inflated (and that information is specified by the vehicle manufacturer — not on the side of the tire). The tire also needs to have adequate tread depth (in bad weather conditions, this is more than the legal minimums of 4/32-inch on front tires and at least 2/32-inch on other tires).

Finally, the driver needs to know what they are doing. Getting into trouble is the easy part. Preventing a small problem from turning into a major disaster or a catastrophe is the true measure of a driver’s level of skill. Sometimes this means not driving at all . . .

The tire patch, proper tire inflation, adequate tread depth and driver skill level all contribute their part to whether or not a vehicle can be safety driven depending on weather conditions. A good patch but no tread depth can be as bad having a good tread depth but under– or over–inflated tires, etc.

Hydroplaning is the loss of control by a driver when their vehicle’s tires ride on a thin film of water over the road.

Conditions for hydroplaning can be expected where water or other precipitation accumulates to a depth of one tenth of an inch or greater, especially at speeds greater than 45 MPH.

Bad road design can result in improper water runoff. The most frequent lawsuit in the state of South Caroline against the DOT is for hydroplaning. The state has paid out millions is claims over the years. One reason cited by SC DOT officials is water sometimes cannot run off due to thatching of grass alongside the roadway.

So depending on how fast a vehicle is going and the depth of water, on the roadway, the vehicle can ride up on the film of water, becoming unstable or even impossible to control. The vehicle is then hydroplaning.

Hydroplaning Countermeasures

• Listen for a sloshing sound from the wheel wells.

• Look for pools of water forming on the road.

Slow down when it starts to rain.

• Turn off the cruise control.

Don’t drive in heavy rainfall, if you can safely park.

Drive smoothly: no sudden turns or braking.

• Keep tires properly inflated with plenty of tread.

• Take a skid-school course for your class and type of vehicle.

The key to prevent loss of control due to hydroplaning is to read the roadway. And be ready for that ‘Someday.’

Thank you for reading this.

Who’s In Your Bathroom . . . The Gov’t Wants to Know

Rest area

Take a Break, Maybe . . .

At times, using public restrooms can be a little creepy. You never know what you might find . . . from bad graffiti to the by-products of someone’s bad habits.

Imagine you are a truck driver and have to rely exclusively on public rest facilities . . .

The American Trucking Association says more women drivers are needed by the industry. The ATA is perplexed that only about 5% of long-haul drivers are women.

My theory as to one reason there are few women truck drivers is because public restrooms are not always available when needed or not always up to standards.

This is a problem for all truck drivers, not just women. Like the old saying . ..  when you gotta go, you gotta go.

It is not always possible to find or even use rest facilities when they are needed. Location is an issue. Parking is an issue. Security can be an issue.

Drivers, left to their own devices, have responded with the notorious “trucker bomb” . . . and worse. During an inspection, one mechanic found a hole cut in the floorboard . . .  over the engine . . .

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence that finding a rest stop or rest facility is not always possible for many truck drivers.

But Wait . . . There’s More!

Now the federal government has issued guidelines that schools need to open public restrooms and locker rooms to members of the opposite sex, if that person does not “identify” with their own gender. The government’s theory is that equal access is a civil right . . .

If so, it won’t be long before all public restrooms will be required to follow Washington’s directives. All public restrooms will essentially become uni-sex like in the old Soviet Union or former Eastern Block countries . . .

While undoubtedly some will applaud, not everybody will be able to handle it. I’ve had one driver tell me he quit truck driving because he was stuck over the weekend in a Chicago terminal that had no facilities and dispatch would not allow him to move his truck. Because of the area and being at night, he was afraid to walk several miles to find a restroom.

How comfortable would a lady feel walking into a public rest facility late at night with several men in it?

Take Action Today

Contact your local schools and tell the school administration how you feel on this bathroom issue.

Contact your Representatives at both the State and Federal levels, as well.

Phone, email or write a letter. Even if you have never written a letter in your life.

Let’s keep the government out of our bathrooms . . .

Thank you for reading this.

Fatal Road Crashes Involving Pot Double in WA

Marijuana fatalities double

A Significant Increase in Marijuana-Related Fatal Crashes

The AAA released a study showing fatal collisions involving a driver who recently used marijuana have doubled since its legalization in Washington state.

“The significant increase in fatal crashes involving marijuana is alarming,” said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Perhaps more alarming is that the trend of marijuana related crashes is still on the increase. We don’t know where it will eventually flatten out or how legalized pot in one state can lead to negative consequences in other states where the drug is banned.

A previous study by the University of Colorado School of Medicine, reported two years ago by the research digest ScienceNews showed a similar increase in fatal collisions. Researchers indicated the results show “a need for better education and prevention programs to curb impaired driving.”

Marijuana, Cannabis, Hashish, Etc. Are Banned Substances for Drivers

While states may choose to allow the cultivation, possession, and transportation of marijuana, no state allows the use of marijuana (or its derivatives) while driving a vehicle.

About 1/3 of states have adopted the per se standard for the use of any drugs. The U.S. Department of Transportation established the per se standard for illegal drug use for commercial drivers. That means any evidence of recent illegal drug use is considered a violation of the law.

Per se means that any detectable amount of a controlled substance, other than a medicine prescribed by a physician for that driver in a driver’s body fluids, constitutes per se evidence of a “drugged driving” violation. Stop Drugged Driving

So called “medical marijuana” is available by a “card,” not a prescription, so it cannot be considered a prescribed mediation.

Commercial Drivers Are Subject to U.S. DOT Administrative Rules

All commercial drivers are banned from the use, possession or transport of drugs and alcohol while in a commercial motor vehicle.

Drivers with CDL licenses are subject to drug and alcohol testing. Furthermore, drivers can be subject to Disqualification under § 391.15 for driving a commercial motor vehicle under the influence of a 21 CFR 1308.11 Schedule I identified controlled substance. The federal government lists marijuana as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act

A driver who has been disqualified is not able to drive a commercial motor vehicle for one to three years. If the use of drugs or alcohol were involved in a bad crash, the courts can even impose a lifetime ban.

THC, the active component of marijuana stays in a person’s system for 4-8 weeks.

CDL drivers should be informed that under random testing, they can be called for a random test at any time — even on days off.

A driver may be directed to take a drug test even when at home in an off-duty status.  Once notified to report for random testing, drivers must immediately report to the testing location. Delaying your arrival may be considered a refusal (see 49 CFR 40.191), which is equivalent to testing positive. FMCSA

Can drivers use marijuana and drive— even if it is “legal” for recreational or “medical” use?

Due to safety issues, the answer is no — drivers may not. There can be severe consequences for themselves and their company, if they do . . .

Thank you for reading this.

The Delivery Area Safety Inspection

Night loading at papermill

Identifying Hazards

A hazard is sometimes defined as the precondition for an accident. Management needs to create a safety culture in which the entire organization—every employee, every function, every level—has the capability and the responsibility for hazard identification.

One effective tool for hazard identification is the workplace inspection. Inspections can be conducted at anytime and, with proper training, by employees, supervisors or managers.

The Delivery Area Safety Inspection is an example of a safety or hazard inspection which can be conducted at a dock, cross-dock, or shipping and receiving area.


  • How is the load secured when the driver is not in attendance?
  • Is there a load seal on each delivery/shipment? What is the procedure to break the seal?
  • What is the policy/procedure to check shipping papers/manifest against the delivery/shipment?
  • What is the policy/procedure to check for damage to the shipment?

Conformance to Job Safety Analysis (JSA)

  • Is there a Job Safety Analysis (JSA) on file for dock-area staff? Is the JSA signed by management?
  • What Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) are required?
  • Do drivers follow the 3 Points of Contact during ingress/egress?
  • What kind of a barrier gate is in place that prevents loading equipment from colliding with and damaging the dock doors?
  • What kind of dock-lock system or vehicle restraint is in place? Does dock-lock system have a light bar with roll-up door control? What is the plan for regular maintenance on the vehicle restraint equipment as bumpers, lights, communication packages, and other loading dock accessories?
dock lock

A dock-lock system

If no vehicle restraint system is in place, how are the tires chocked or vehicle secured against movement?

  • What is the policy/procedure for Loading/Unloading? Tank hook up? Tank filling?
  • What Safety Data Sheets (formerly MSDS) are posted?
  • What is the policy/procedure for Emergency Procedures? Co-Mingling of Hazmat Classes?
  • What is the procedure to report hazards or concerns, unsafe practices, or damaged equipment to supervisors?

Top Tip: Workers on foot should never be on the
opposite side of a flatbed truck from a forklift while it is loading or unloading material. CNA

Driver and Location Issues

  • Is there a need to back up?
  • Where do drivers take their Shipping Papers/Load Manifest?
  • How is the area control? Where do drivers go when loading/unloading?
  • What are any access obstructions?
  • What kind/nature of any slopes are present?
  • What foot traffic is allowed in the area?
  • Are there any storm drains?
  • What kind of worker exposure is there to open loading dock doors and other areas that employees could fall 4 feet or more?


Safety refers to the measures taken to protect the driver, vehicle and cargo during transport operations from hazards.

Security refers to the measures taken to protect driver, vehicle and cargo against sabotage, attacks, and theft while it is in transport.

Dock Incidents and Accidents are Rare . . . but Deadly

dock hazards

















Drivers — especially new drivers — need to know where to be at all times while in the Material Transfer Zone (MTZ). There are potential hazards from moving vehicles and lift trucks, many times moving in reverse with limited sight distance, slip and fall hazards from climbing up and down or from uneven or slippery surfaces, and unique location hazards.

That’s why it’s a good idea to periodically inspect your dock areas — before something happens . . .

Thank you for reading this.

Training Tip: Ask the Questions No One Dares to Ask

Ask the Questions No One Dares to AskQuestions? Anyone?

Whether addressing a large group or conducting one-on-one training, everybody can have questions. You may know your stuff, but on the receiving end, things are not always clear. Sometimes even basic concepts become garbled.

At times the participants may be dwelling on a previous point. Or they may simply not be paying attention or their minds were distracted. Concentration beyond a minute or two can be difficult for some. And all of us have our limits when exposed to complex or new technical information.

Tip: Merely presenting information does not constitute training.

What is Training?

Training is teaching, or developing in oneself or others, any skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies. Wikipedia

— A process by which someone is taught the skills that are needed for an art, profession, or job.

— Organized activity aimed at imparting information and/or instructions to improve the recipient’s performance or to help him or her attain a required level of knowledge or skill.

From these definitions we can see training is an activity or a process of teaching or developing skills, knowledge, information, instructions, or competencies. Training is something that takes one to the next level of knowledge or skill.

How Do We Know When Training Has Been Achieved?

Simple skills are easy to teach. Highly complex skills and knowledge can take years to learn or master.

Successful training should result in a change of behavior or the learning of a new behavior. In short, the person being trained should be able to somehow demonstrate what they have learned.

One problem I frequently encounter during training sessions is that participants don’t always ask the questions they have.

Some Training Tips

  • Know your stuff. Training is all about prep. Take the time to review what you will teach and what the objectives are. Create a lesson plan and start with your objectives. What new skill or knowledge will the participant(s) be able to demonstrate when finished?

You can’t teach what you don’t know.

The worst training session I ever attended was a Hazmat presentation years ago by a DOT employee in Lansing, MI that lasted about twenty minutes or so. The trainer ended with, Well you guys know this stuff anyway. Perhaps we did. Perhaps he did . . . but I still wonder.

  • Break it down. Complex training can be broken down into “chunks.”
  • Stick to the plan. It can be easy in our highly technical and information-centric world to get off-topic. Everything presented should support the training outcomes and objectives.
  • Encourage note taking. Taking notes is a proven learning method. Not everyone is a good note taker, so it’s a good idea to prep the participants by saying, Write this down . . . before any key concepts, phrases, procedures, etc. I like to have extra pens, pencils and paper available for the training session. For field training, encourage participants to bring a pocket notebook with them. (This is also an excellent marketing opportunity to distribute pens and notebooks with your company information or logo.)
  • Review, review, review. Tell them what you are going to talk about. Tell the information. Then tell them what you told them. Ask questions like: Are you with me so far? Does that make sense? What was the key thing I said when we first started? Fire off a pop quiz or ask someone a direct question.
  • Ask for their questions. This is where you may get the most blank stares. Have a few questions prepared in advance about the materials, then ask and answer them, saying, Well these are some questions others have had . . . Then ask for more feed back about their understanding.

Thank you for reading this.

What Are Materials of Trade?


Materials of Trade

Sometimes in the course of our work we have to carry in our vehicles certain things like caulking, paint, solvents, etc. that are considered by the DOT to be hazardous materials.

A hazardous material is “a substance or material which has been determined by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to be capable of posing an unreasonable risk to health, safety, and property when transported in commerce.”

Materials of Trade (MOTs) are hazardous materials (other than hazardous waste), that are carried on a motor vehicle and used in the course of a person’s daily work. MOTs might include gases for a welder, paint for a painter, fuel for a landscaper, or caulk for a carpenter. As such, the quantity of materials will be limited, but the driver will not need to have a hazmat endorsement (and a CDL license) or need to have hazmat placards on the vehicle, shipping papers, emergency response information

Note that MOTs are carried on a motor vehicle. Placement of the materials in the vehicle

One client was stopped at a roadside inspection and ticketed for having a box of caulking on the front seat of his pickup.

Top Tip: Keep MOTs out of the cab of the vehicle.

Never carry acetylene tanks in a cab or cargo van! 

And don’t just toss a cylinder in the back of a truck or have the MOTs piled loosely on a flatbed or in a cargo vehicle as a van or enclosed trailer.

Top Tip: Properly secure any and all MOTs you carry or haul.

Knowledge about MOT is important.

The regulations that apply to MOTs are found in 49 CFR Section 173.6. They include:

• general knowledge of MOTs regulations;

• quantity limitations;

• packaging requirements; and

• marking and labeling requirements.

Know the MOT quantity limits . . .

With the exception of tanks containing diluted mixtures of Class 9 materials, no more than a combined gross weight of 200 kg (440 lbs) of Materials of Trade can be transported on any one vehicle. Size limits for individual packages apply to Materials of Trade as described below: • If a hazardous material is a high-hazard material (Packing Group I), the maximum amount of material in one package is 0.5 kg (one lb) for solids, or 0.5 L (one pt) for liquids.

• If the hazardous material is a medium or lower hazard – that is, if it belongs to Packing Group II or III, other than division 4.3, or is a consumer commodity (ORM-D) – the maximum amount of material in each package is 30 kg (66 lbs) for solids, or 30 L (8 gal) for liquids.

• For Division 4.3 materials (only Packing Group II and III materials are allowed) the maximum amount of material in each package is 30 ml (one oz.)

• Each cylinder containing a gas (Division 2.1 or 2.2) may not weigh more than 100 kg (220 lbs.)

• A diluted mixture of a Class 9 material (not exceeding 2% concentration) may be transported in a tank having a capacity of up to 1500 L (400 gal.)

Hauling MOT quantities beyond these limits means the organization and driver need to meet the regulatory requirements of hauling hazardous materials.

And you don’t really want to go there if you don’t have to . . .

Thank you for reading this.

Clays Ferry Bridge Incident Report Released

Clays Ferry Incident

Clays Ferry Bridge Incident

The Known Unknowns

On March 21, 2016 , the Kentucky Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program released their report on a fatality involving a 52 year old truck driver.

FACE is a research arm of The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), which in turn part of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Most of this FACE report on what actually happened is based on speculation.  Whether the driver nodded off (cited as Rec. No. 3) or was distracted (Rec. No. 2) is anyone’s guess.

Nobody (perhaps, thankfully), saw exactly how the fatality occurred. For reasons still unknown, the driver braked hard and his truck jumped the wall, resulting in a fuel fire. All that is really known about the incident is the driver’s body was found several hundred feet below the bridge.

The Facts

The company was about a year old and had two trucks.

The report determined, “The employer did not have any written employee safety programs or provide any training . . .

Many startups and small companies do not, in my experience. By definition, they lack a mature safety culture.

What is Safety Culture?

Safety Culture is a value within organizational culture such that safety is never compromised.

The “maturity model” concept that says an organization’s safety culture is not developed (or remains negative) in a new company or organization until it passes a certain stage of maturity, generally with the passage of time.

The opposite of a mature safety culture or negative safety culture is based on makeshift or improvised (ad hoc) safety policies, procedures, and practices, if any.

Some safety researchers have suggested that an organization doesn’t really have a safety culture until it has met and overcome a difficult safety challenge (or sometimes a series of challenges).

There is plenty of anecdotal evidence to back this up. Organizations are never the same after loss of someone’s limb or life. By then, however, its too late . . .

Risk Maturity

Eight dimensions of “risk maturity” have been identified by Martin Loosemore, who has researched Risk Management for over 20 years and has published over 200 books and articles in risk management, crisis management, OHS, etc.. . .

  • Risk management awareness;
  • Risk management culture;
  • Risk management processes;
  • Risk management skills;
  • Risk management image;
  • Application of risk management;
  • Risk management confidence; and,
  • Resources invested in risk management

These eight dimensions have been fit by Loosemore into four “maturity levels:”

Level One Risk Management

  • Efforts are largely on an ad-hoc basis, unstructured and reactive.

Level Two Risk Management

  • There is still no structured approach except for a small number of people on selected projects with little consistency.

Level Three Risk Management

  • Risk management is integrated into business processes on most projects, through a formalized and generic risk management process, including specific processes and tools also integrated into quality management processes.

Level Four Risk Management

  • While difficult to achieve, level four requires a significant investment of time and resources. It is characterized by a proactive culture of risk management which is inextricably integrated into every project, organizational function and supply chain. Risks are analyzed by state-of-the-art techniques; there is top-down commitment to risk management.

The key benefit of having achieved proactive risk management (and a positive safety culture) is that proper resources are assigned to areas where the greatest risks are, not in “damage control.” As one risk expert said, “Firefighting is exciting, but not very efficient.”

Thank you for reading this.

Driver Safety Rules

Rules of the road

The Rules of the Road

Every organization with motor vehicles not only needs policies and procedures, but some basic safety rules as well.

There is no magic number of how many or how few rules are appropriate. Rules need to be reasonable and reflect the scope of your operations.

Driver Safety Rules

Drivers are responsible for complying with all rules, including:

  • Before driving, check that all occupants (incl. the driver) are wearing a seat belt.
  • Drive the vehicle with the headlights illuminated.
  • Unlicensed/unauthorized persons cannot operate a company motor vehicle. You may not gave them permission to operate any company vehicle.
  • If impaired, affected or influenced by alcohol, illegal drugs, medication, illness, fatigue, or injury, do not operate a company motor vehicle.
  • Distractions are a leading root cause in many crashes. While driving never engage in activities as using a cell phone for talking or texting, eating, using a computer, GPS or MP3 player, applying makeup, reading, looking at maps, or any other activity that takes a person’s eyes or attention away from driving. 
  • Radar detectors are illegal.
  • Obey the posted maximum (or any minimum) speed limits at all times.
  • Hitchhikers or unauthorized passengers are not allowed inside the motor vehicle.
  • A motor vehicle that is mechanically unsafe to operate need to be repaired before it is driven.
  • Secure any cargo or equipment on or in the vehicle, before driving.
  • Move to another traffic lane or slow down when approaching an emergency vehicle along the side of the roadway
  • Observe all state and local laws while operating the motor vehicle
  • Never accept or take payments or gifts for carrying passengers, freight, or materials not authorized by the company
  • Never push or pull another vehicle or tow a trailer without company authorization.
  • Never transport flammable liquids and gases without prior authorization. If authorized, only DOT or UL approved containers are to be used, and only in limited quantities when necessary
  • Use only issued reflective triangles for emergency stops. Ignition or burning flares can be a fire hazard or burn out in a short time.

Each organization should have its own, custom driving safety rules, depending on its operations. For example, if drivers work near traffic, that might include the mandatory use of proper personal protection equipment (PPE) as reflective vests.

Positive Rules are Better Than ‘Negative Rules’

Harvey Penick was the head “pro” at the Austin Country Club for almost 50 years. Penick put down his observations on teaching over the years in his book, Harvey Penick’s Little Red Book.

One of Penick’s techniques while instructing golfers was to always be positive. He would tell anyone he was coaching only what to do to get something right— not what they shouldn’t do.

This is a good practice in writing organizational safety rules. Keep things positive as much as possible. If we expect positive results, we need to be positive at all times.

Another national company I worked with replaced the phase, “You must . . .” with “You need to . . .”  It just sounds better when communicating.

Subtle changes like these can help make the difference in creating a high performance organization.

Thank you for reading this.


The Important Stuff . . .

roadside inspection

The key is to know what is important and what is unimportant and what is exciting. You can’t learn everything. — Richard Feynman

What is the Important Stuff?

What is the ‘important stuff’ when driving a commercial motor vehicle (CMV)?

The answers might vary — depending on who you would ask. Dispatch is concerned about timely arrivals, maintenance wants to service the vehicle at an opportune time, billing is looking for the BoLs in proper order to do their job, safety has another alert about this or that, the customer has their own set of problems  (no dock, no forklift truck, nobody in shipping and receiving, no restrooms, no loading/unloading after 6AM, etc.).

The driver is not supposed to have any problems with the vehicle, road conditions, weather, traffic, roadside inspections, miscommunications or personal problems. After all, everybody else’s problems are the driver’s problem and should take priority, right?

Can You Hear Me Now?

In experiments about decision making, researchers have found out the main reason mistakes are made is not due to any internal mental process or mental miscalculation, but rather by faulty information (called “noise” or flawed inputs). Most interesting, errors are made almost exclusively due to bad sensory inputs, not how the information is processed.

In driving we know from crash data that distractions and fatigue, leading to driver error, are factors in most collisions. For example, after an initial crash, a secondary crash may occur because drivers are distracted by the first crash.

In some of the most serious crashes, Omnitracs (formally of Qualcomm) found drivers took zero evasive action when sleep impaired or driving drowsy.

Distractions lead to missed cues. A common error is the “looked but didn’t see” collision (also known as improper lookout), when a driver glances in a certain direction but fails to pick out an approaching motorcycle or vehicle. These collisions commonly occur in urban environments or at intersections where potential distractions may be greater in number than in rural environments or on less busy side roads.

What Organizations Can Do

Many times commercial drivers are exposed to training concepts about distracted driving or driving drowsy. But training rarely exposes drivers to how increased levels of distraction (the noise) can filter out critical cues leading to driving errors. Drivers cannot simultaneously safely multi-task and drive.

Secondly, the organizational safety culture needs to adopt the mindset when a driver is driving, they are driving. Drivers should not be alerted to non-essential information and/or tasks. Even hands-free electronic devices can have a certain level of distraction.

The key to safe driving is to pay attention to the important stuff while driving — and that’s driving.

Bad as it Gets: ​Big-rig Driver Flees Scene

Big-rig driver flees sceneFatal Hit and Run

Facts are few in the Saturday, April 30th hit-and-run crash that left a 28 year old man dead and a driver in critical condition in Vernon, Calif.

Minutes before, the truck driver was allegedly involved in another crash, and had run a red light, causing the collision. He then unhitched from the trailer and drove away, leaving two men trapped under the trailer. The truck driver is still at large, but police have named a person of interest. The tractor was located about a mile from the the scene.

Fight or Flight?

What is known is that the driver was allegedly involved in a crash and by all indications, had already made a decision to flee that scene and subsequently ran a light.

The psychological reaction to a sudden stressful event is sometimes called the flight or fight response, or “acute stress response.” A stressful event (a stimulus—like a collision)  results in a release of adrenaline and norepinephrine in the bloodstream. This is followed by physical reactions as increases in heart rate and breathing, constricting blood vessels and tightening muscles. The primary consideration is that fight or flight is is an automatic response, the person has no control over it.

A number of truck drivers have stated the reason they had left an accident scene was because they panicked. One truck driver was shot by police when he attacked the officer with pepper spray and a weapon, after his truck was placed out of service, These are examples of the flight or fight response on the road.

Driver Training and Preparation is Key

Savvy insurance companies are always interested in an organization’s accident management systems. What is your policy regarding collisions? Do you have a process in place to determine collision preventability? Do drivers receive any defensive driver training? Do drivers know what to do in the event of a collision? Is there an accident kit aboard the vehicle? Would drivers know how to use the kit?

Roadside inspections can be stressful for drivers. Some drivers have told me they shake like a leaf in the wind during an inspection.

This is another area when driver training and preparation can be helpful — but are often not done. I saw a recent survey by the National Association of Small Trucking Companies that found clean inspections are not recorded a majority of the time. Communicate your expectations to your drivers. Train and retrain.

One type of training that is not done often is role-playing. Walk through a crash (or road-side inspection) step-by-step with your drivers. Invite a law-enforcement officer over to help. Drivers need to learn how to keep their cool when the pressure is on.

One goal of this type of training is help drivers to overcome that sense of panic in the occasion of a stressful event. Training will not make the event any less stressful, but will help drivers to better deal with their reactions should such stressful situations occur.

Thank you for reading this.

Trucker Dave is Not Happy: Why We Need to Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

Trucker DaveMeet Trucker Dave

Trucker Dave is a seasoned, professional driver. Trucker Dave blogs on and on its YouTube channel

Trucker Dave responded via YouTube to a Transport Capital Partners (TCP) blog about a survey that indicated, due to lackluster demand, driver wages won’t increase by much in the next year. Trucker Dave is not happy.

A substantial majority, 70% of carriers surveyed, expect wage increases of only 1% to 5%. Transport Capital Partners

Trucker Dave is incredulous. He can’t believe it. His perception is different . . .

The cost of living has nothing to do with the freight index.

The cost of living on the road  has nothing to do with the freight index.

Freight volume is not tied to your pay.

It’s a nice try. It’s another excuse for not raising our wages, but that just doesn’t cut it. By God— Don’t buy it for a second.

Freight volume has nothing to do with the money we make.

Following their logic — in low volume years — they expect drivers to live in grass huts and eat nothing but cabbage and potatoes.  That’s the kind of logic that’s coming out of that argument. Thank you, TCP, but we’ll look elsewhere for advice. Appreciate it . . .

Here’s my response to Trucker Dave . . .

  1. Price is information. Price (i.e., wages) is also known as price signal. When things become scare, they can become more valuable. A thirsty man will pay more for that first glass of water, then he would for a 100 gallons of water, especially after his thirst has been satisfied. Price is information that helps in decision making.
  2. Wages are flat during recessions. Everyone in the U.S. experienced a shave and a haircut during the Great Recession. Trucker Dave is based in Ontario and Canada never really experienced what happened in the U.S. during the recession.
  3. Wages in trucking are one of the top expenses. According to the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), 34% of trucking’s operational costs per mile is driver pay ( An Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking).

Many fleets pay a competitive wage for quality drivers. Quality drivers are in demand and will be for a long time.

No Facts about the Future

No one knows what will happen in the remainder of 2016 and beyond. There are no facts about the future. But in the possibility of a continued freight slowdown, the likelihood of driver pay increases as seen in 2014 and 2015 is not that high.

Tip: Top companies conduct business literacy training programs to . . .

• Help employees understand the business information shared with them.
• Develop future, high-level leadership.

We need to constantly communicate not only what is going on in the business, but in our industry and how it affects operations.

Thank you for reading this.

Safety in a 0.5% Economy

No shorts cuts on the road to success.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. — Joseph P. Kennedy

Safety Critical

If you operate commercial motor vehicles as trucks and buses, then you are in what is known as a safety critical industry. A safety critical industry is one where failure to perform as expected can have dire consequences.

If you are in the trucking business, operations are always sensitive to market turbulence, economic cycles, seasonal variations, and the like. It’s no secret that the general freight market is not as robust as it once was. When the economy sneezes, the trucking industry catches a cold, as the old saying goes . . .

One serious mistake, that is oft repeated in times like these, is to react, not respond to market conditions. And the biggest reaction might be in cutting back in safety and then, in maintenance. Orientations, safety meetings, and training can be trimmed, service of equipment can be delayed, safety personnel and mechanics can be laid off . . .

After all, they are an expense, part of the overhead, and don’t bring in revenue, right?

Oddly enough, things may even keep running smoothly for a while, confirming the decision.

But the problem is not a short term problem. The problems start showing up in the long term. Dumb stuff starts to happen. Wheels begin to fall off vehicles. Turnover increases. And right or wrong, a new reputation soon emerges . . .

Plan For Turbulence

In a service-based economy, swings in demand are the new normal. Plan for them.

  1. Keep staff informed. Nobody wants to find out from secondary sources on what is going on. Nobody likes surprises. Without real-time information, drivers and staff may believe things are far better than they are . . . or things are much worse.
  2. Structure your communications so that every person who is working in the business plays a part in helping to work on the business. Your employees know, better than anyone, how to best improve operational inefficiencies and save money.
  3. Talk to your customers as well. Seek ways to add value. Help them to better manage your accounts receivable. Review your accounts. Offer discounts for quicker payments and perhaps add on fees for late payments.
  4. Bonuses are not entitlements, but at the same time should not be modified or changed during the year for any reason. Your bonus structure should relate directly to your goals and be non-discretionary.  Bonuses should inspire employees to apply their best efforts to meet mutually-agreed upon results.
  5. What are the mission critical success factors of the business? What are your top three strategic initiatives? How do you add value? How can you add more value?

In turbulent times, beware of the quick fixes and avoid them. Think about the repercussions of your decisions to cut back or under-invest in recruiting, safety or maintenance.

A better solution may be to involving all of the employees in finding alternative ways to put the business in an improved competitive position.

Thank you for reading this.

Turnover Up . . . Safety Down?

In-n-outTruckload Carriers’ Turnover is Up


The annualized turnover rate for large truckload fleets rose two percentage points in the fourth quarter of 2015 to 102%, the second straight quarter it was at least 100% – the first such streak since 2012.  — ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello, April 25, 2016 Press Release.

Insurance companies are interested in an organization’s employee turnover for a number of reasons. High turnover can indicate employee dissatisfaction — never a good thing. High employee turnover can indicate lower levels of productivity and profitability. Mostly, high employee turnover can indicate potential safety issues and, therefore, more risk. Turnover is a measure of safety.

In my 40 year safety career, I’ve found that companies with the lowest turnover rates in their type of industry usually also have low accident rates and excellent safety cultures.  While there are certainly more precise and scientific measures of safety culture,  I believe that turnover rates provide the best quick, easy, and cheap “snapshot” of an organizations’ culture. — Dave Weber, a former Safety and Environmental Manager and founder of Safety Awakenings

What is Turnover?

Turnover (also known as the attrition rate or churn) is sometimes measured as . . .

the annualized number of drivers per 100, who voluntarily or involuntarily leave (terminate) employment with the employer.

Turnover is easy to calculate. If you had 100 drivers last year and 11 left their jobs or were terminated, your turnover rate was 11 percent. This was the 2015 turnover rate at less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers. The 2015 truckload (TL) turnover rate was about 93 percent, but jumped in the last two quarters to 100 percent.

Top Tip: The turnover rate should be calculated on a quarterly basis for top management review.

Employee departures will occur from time to time as part of the employment process. But when turnover percentage increases, management needs to look to identify applicable improvement opportunities to reverse the trend.

Turnover is Expensive

Direct costs of replacement hiring include:

• Recruiting (sourcing)
• Interviewing
• Hiring expenses

On-boarding costs include:

• Orientation/training of the new employee
• Acculturation to the culture and organizational expectations

Hiring costs are conservatively estimated to be 20% of annual salary for mid-range positions (earning $30,000 to $50,000 a year) or around $8,000. Part of that cost is the opportunity cost of lost revenues from having an idle vehicle.

Studies show that an organization’s efforts put into orientation/training and acculturation are sound investments that can result in greater employee longevity and higher productivity.

First Year Employee Turnover

Another turnover metric to look at is first year employee turnover.

To calculate first year employee turnover . . .

Divide the total number of employees who leave in less than one year by the total number of employees who leave in the same period (multiply by 100).

For example, if 4 of the 11 employees who left employment were first year employees, the first year employee turnover would be 4 / 11 = .3636 *100 or about 36.36 percent. Compare this number to the industry standard for turnover, or to organizations in your local area. Your state industry association may track these numbers to help you compare your findings.

Knowing your first year employee turnover rate is another tool that can help indicate to management if a review of your hiring or on-boarding process is necessary or even overdue..

Thank you for reading this.


RRX: The Most Dangerous Railroad/Highway Grade Crossings

Five people died at this crossing in Evergreen Alabama.

Deadly Crossings: Five people have died at this crossing in Evergreen Alabama. Note the stop sign beyond the tracks . . .

Danger on the Tracks

Trucks and trains do not mix well. Collisions at crossings are never good for the truck or the train. Collisions with a truck hauling hazmat can be outright tragic.

Yet almost everyday a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) collides with a train.

The Federal Rail Administration released a list of the 15 most dangerous crossings, out of the 200,000 crossings it oversees. At each of these crossings, multiple collisions and/or incidents have occurred in recent years.

The biggest issue seems to be a crossing near or at an intersection. A vehicle may have to stop for traffic and become trapped on or partially over the tracks at some of these crossings. A larger vehicle like a truck then becomes hard to miss.

Fatalities and injuries have decreased over the years and now average about 250 killed and about 1,000 injured each year — about a third of the number in the early 1980s. The majority of these crashes occur within 25 miles of a person’s home. Another statistic: a person is 20 times more likely to be killed in a crash with a train than in a collision with another vehicle.

Distracted Driving

In the majority of truck-train crashes I’m familiar with, the truck driver was distracted before the crash: talking on a CB, talking to a child riding along, distracted by work going on in a construction zone, etc.

I have personally road tested thousands of people and based on my observations, over half of drivers do not do traffic checks before or at rail crossings. Perhaps we’ve become accustomed to warning lights and gates doing our driving for us.

Not every crossing has active warning systems in place. Some crossings are even obscured or the signs can be difficult to see. Drivers need to be reminded to look for the tracks. Then look for the train.

Highway-grade crossing are unmarked on private roads, with tragic results.

Quiet Zones are crossings where the routine sounding of the train horn has been eliminated. The horn is only activated by the engineer for safety reasons.

Every Railroad/Highway Grade Crossing should be considered dangerous . . .

Thank you for reading this. Thanks also to the LabelMaster blog DG Digest for pointing out the FRA list.

More . . . Watch out! Highway Grade (RRX) Crossings

John Taratuta is a Risk Engineer (989) 474-9599

Marsh: Most Truck Crashes From Drivers Being Sleepy or Distracted

Fatal hard braking

On Friday, April 22, a single-vehicle accident took the life of this truck driver when he slammed on the brakes and his load shifted forward in Angola, Indiana.


“We have seen some nuclear verdicts, large liability claim settlements, many of them coming from the vantage that the driver was fatigued.” Richard Bleser,  Marsh Risk Consulting.

“Sometimes, I work . . . until 10 or 11 at night. Then I have to get up at 2 AM for trucking.”  Steel hauler

The DOT wants all truck drivers to be tested for apnea, a sleep disorder which can affect safety, if untreated. On March 8th, 2016 the FMCSA, along with the FRA, opened a ninety day period for public comments on its advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) for sleep apnea.

Nuclear Verdicts

A nuclear verdict has been defined as a verdict in excess of $10 million, or perhaps less than $10 million, but still high considering the injuries and damages. The majority of the recent nuclear verdicts, involve not only driving while fatigued, but some form of distracted driving according to Marsh.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving occurs any time you take your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off your primary task: driving safely. Any non-driving activity you engage in is a potential distraction and increases your risk of being involved in a motor vehicle crash. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Distractions are classified into the types: visual, manual, and cognitive.

distractionsThe CDC cites studies showing some type of distraction is present during 52% of normal driving, be it engaging in a conversation, talking on a hands-free cell phone, eating, or even simply daydreaming.

Distraction was present in 68% of crashes that involved injury or property damage, according to one study. CDC

The highest-risk driver by age, most likely to be involved in a fatal collision due to distracted driving, are between ages 20 to 29, followed by those between the ages of 30 to 39 says the CDC.

What Smart Companies Do

Safety experts agree the best way to avoid liability or potential nuclear verdicts is to not have the collision in the first place. As the nature of the risk is changing, so must organizational efforts to mitigate or even eliminate the risk.

Tip: Space + Focus = Collision-free Driving  Marsh

• Smart companies start with a comprehensive Distracted Driving Policy: Avoid driving when distracted, including, but not limited to, when eating, drinking, smoking, or emotional /stressful conversations. A formal policy serves as the foundation of your distracted driving prevention program.

Fact: Most people (86% according to a survey by Coalfire) use their smartphone for both personal use and work. Your Distracted Driving Policy should limit, and preferably eliminate, both uses while driving. In many jurisdictions cell phone/smart phone use while driving is already illegal. And doing illegal things while driving is never helpful . . .

• Train everybody (drivers, managers, and staff) on your Distracted Driving Policy. Once is not enough. Reinforce training with emails, newsletters, bulletin boards, and notices in vehicles to communicate your policy.  Update your Disciplinary Action Policy in the Employee Handbook.

• Hold management and staff accountable. Enforce the policy. Monitor and review your efforts. Use new technology to augment your safety efforts. Set the example.

• Have a fatigue management program. Fatigue Management Programs (FMPs) are interventions intended to assist in reducing driver fatigue. New technology can help here.

Thank you for reading this.

The Hazmat Quizmaster — Is That Hazmat?

hazmat testTake the Hazmat Quiz

Here’s a fun way to challenge yourself and learn a little more about hazardous materials — take the The Hazmat Quizmaster — Is That Hazmat?

Drivers and motor carriers are presented with all kinds of freight and at times have to quickly determine if what they are hauling is hazardous materials or ‘hazmat,’ also known as dangerous goods. Hazmat haulers, loaders, handlers, packagers, labelers and markers of hazardous materials have to have specific training under 49 CFR 172.700.

With high fines and penalties, no one can afford to haul a hazmat load that they are not licensed or qualified to do so. But the average non-hazmat driver is left to his own devices in determining if a shipment is hazmat or not.

Hazardous materials are products that pose a risk to health, safety, and property during transportation.

How to Identify Hazardous Materials

Look for Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) labels with the following signal words:

• Caution
• Danger 
• Poison
• Warning

Look for any of these words on the label or package.

Look for Hazardous Materials Identification System (HMIS®) labeling.












Look for National Fire Protection Association (Health Hazard, Fire Hazard, Specific Hazard & Instability) labels.













Look for a UN number, an Identification Number on the DOT Hazardous Materials Table. UN numbers range from UN0001 to about UN3518.

Look for any kind of “hazard” label, that can be an indication it is a hazardous material.

Tip: DOT guidelines for properly labeling and marking non-bulk and bulk containers are similar, but they are not the same.

Check the Hazardous Materials Table (49 CFR 172.101)

The Hazardous Materials Table identifies and classifies hazardous materials.

A DOT Hazardous Material? Yes— if listed in the DOT Hazardous Materials Table (Over 5,500 pages long)

Hazardous Materials Table . . .
Columns 1 – 5: identify and classify the material on the shipping papers.

Columns 6 – 10: proper packaging, labeling, marking, placarding and mode-specific requirements. The modes of transportation are air, water, rail and highway.

Top Tip: If you believe that you might have a hazardous material, you need to check the above indicators and seek more information before you accept it for shipment.

So how did you do on the hazmat quiz? While that one was for fun, the real quiz happens everyday when you might be presented with goods, materials or freight that could be considered hazardous materials by the DOT.


When presented with freight that could be potentially classified as hazardous materials, carefully examine the container for labels that contain signal words, special formatting showing NFPA or HMIS® labeling, UN numbers, hazard labels, or if the materials or product is listed on the Hazardous Materials Table (49 CFR 172.101). Never knowingly accept hazmat freight that is mislabeled, missing proper shipment papers, mispackaged, leaking, or for which you are not properly licensed, trained, or other qualified to handle, convey, or otherwise transport.

Thank you for reading this.

Dangers of Flash Flooding and Driving

Houston floodingOne tractor-trailer driver was among the seven vehicle drivers killed in recent flash flooding around Houston, Texas. All were trapped in their vehicles.


Flash Flooding is the Number 1 weather-related killer in the United States.

Flash floods can occur during or right after a severe thunderstorm or other weather-related event.

Flash floods can occur within a few minutes or hours of heavy rainfall or other conditions.

Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities involve vehicles.

2015 flooding

Heavy blue show flooded roads in 2015 Houston flooding.

What to Do

If the National Weather Service issues a Flash Flood Warning, or if you observe water rising quickly, take action immediately.

• DO NOT DRIVE through flooded areas. If you see a flooded roadway ahead, turn around and find another route to your destination.

• Get far away from areas subject to flooding (dips, low spots, canyons, dry creek beds, or along a stream). Seek higher, safer ground.

• Avoid areas near rivers or streams and areas that are already flooded. Roads that are underwater may no longer be intact. NEVER drive through flooded roadways.

• If your vehicle stalls, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Rapidly rising water may engulf the vehicle and sweep it away.

• Be very careful at night when it is harder to see flood dangers.

• Do not park your vehicle along streams, dry streambeds, or arroyos* during threatening conditions. (Idaho DMV)

*An arroyo is a water-carved gully or normally dry creek bed. Arroyos can fill with fast-moving water very quickly.

You will not always have a warning flash floods are coming. Most flood deaths are due to flash flooding. Turn around, don’t drown.

I’ve noticed there are a number of YouTube videos showing trucks driving through deep waters and flooded roads. This is not a good idea for a number of reasons. Drivers cannot see what they are driving on, or if the road hasn’t washed out. Water and vehicle electrical systems do not mix well. Grit becomes packed in the wheels and brakes. This list goes on. This is simply poor judgement on part of the drivers.

Don’t be this guy . . .

Thank you for reading this.

Preventable Accident Guidelines

collisionControlling Preventable Collisions and Claims

Preventable collisions can be controlled and managed. But like anything that is managed, preventable collisions need to be tracked and measured.

When an accident occurs, the events leading up to the accident, the causes and responsible conditions, the collision and the post accident events leading up to the accident events must be carefully evaluated. Driver errors are one of the factors that should be considered. The standard, which should be applied, is the concept of accident preventability. The Hartford

Although severity (average cost per claim) can be variable, claims frequency is a better number to work with from a risk management perspective. To get to that number, you need to have some easy-to-understand guidelines to follow.

Non-Preventable Collisions: Include the following circumstances:
• Struck in rear by other vehicle
These are Non-Preventable if the collision occurs:
– While proceeding in proper lane of traffic at a safe and legal speed
– While waiting to make a turn from a proper lane
– While stopped in traffic due to existing conditions or in compliance with a traffic sign, signal or officer
• Struck while legally and properly parked.

All collisions should be investigated with regards to preventability. Here is a set of generic Preventable Accident Guidelines . . .


It is the responsibility of drivers to approach, enter, and cross intersections prepared to avoid accidents that might occur through the action of other drivers. Complex traffic movement, blind intersections, or failure of the “other driver” to conform to laws or traffic control devices will not automatically discharge an accident as “not preventable.” Intersection accidents are preventable even though the driver has not violated traffic regulations. The driver’s failure to take precautionary measures prior to entering the intersection are factors to be studied in making a decision. When a driver crosses an intersection and the obvious actions of the “other driver” indicate possible involvement either by reason of his/her excess speed, crossing the lane and turning, or coming from behind a blind spot, the decision based on such entrapment should be preventable.

Vehicle Ahead

Regardless of the abrupt or unexpected stop of the vehicle ahead, Drivers can prevent front-end collisions by maintaining a safe following distance at all times. A safe following distance is one that allows the driver sufficient time, distance, and vision requirements to avoid an accident to reduce traffic conflict. This includes being prepared for possible obstructions on the highway, either in plain view or hidden by the crest of a curve of a roadway. Overdriving headlights at night is a common cause of front-end collisions. Night speed should not be greater than that which will permit the vehicle to come to a stop within the forward distance illuminated by the vehicle’s headlights.

Struck From Behind

Investigation often discloses that drivers risk being struck from behind by failing to maintain a margin of safety in their own following distance. Rear-end collisions preceded by a roll-back, an abrupt stop at a grade crossing, when a traffic signal changes, or when your driver fails to signal a turn at an intersection, should be charged preventable. Failure to signal intentions or to slow down gradually should be considered preventable.


Failure to pass safely indicates faulty judgment and the possible failure to consider one or more of the important factors a driver must observe before attempting the maneuver. Unusual actions of the driver being passed or of oncoming traffic might appear to exonerate a driver involved in a passing accident; however, the entire passing maneuver is voluntary and the driver’s responsibility.

Being Passed

Sideswipes and cut-offs involving a driver while he/she is being passed are preventable when he/she fails to yield to the passing vehicle by slowing down, moving to the right where possible, or maintaining speed, whichever action is appropriate.


It is extremely important to check the action of the driver when involved in a head-on or sideswipe accident with a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction. The exact location of a vehicle, prior to and at the point of impact, must be carefully verified. Even though an opposing vehicle enters the driver’s traffic lane, it may be possible for the your driver to avoid the collision. For example, if the opposing vehicle was in a passing maneuver and the your driver failed to slow down, stop, or move to the right to allow the vehicle to re-enter its own lane, he/she has failed to take action to prevent the occurrence. Failing to signal the opposing driver in an appropriate manner should also be taken into account.

Fixed Objects

Collisions with fixed objects are preventable. They usually involve failure to check or properly judge clearances. New routes, strange delivery points, resurfaced pavements under viaducts, inclined entrances to docks, marquees projecting over traveled section of road, and similar situations are not, in themselves, valid reasons for excusing a driver from being involved. A driver must be constantly on the lookout for such conditions and make necessary allowances relative to speed and vehicle positioning.


Traffic regulations and court decisions generally favor the pedestrian hit by a moving vehicle. An unusual route of a pedestrian at mid-block or from between parked vehicles does not necessarily relieve a driver from taking precautions to prevent such accidents. Whether speed limits are posted or the area is placarded with warning signs, speed too fast for conditions may be involved. School zones, shopping areas, residential streets, and other areas with special pedestrian traffic must be traveled at reduced speeds equal to the particular situation. Bicycles, motor scooters, and similar equipment are generally operated by young and inexperienced operators. The driver who fails to reduce speed when this type of equipment is operated within his/her sight distance has failed to take necessary precautions to prevent an accident. Keeping within posted speed limits is not taking the proper precaution when unusual conditions call for voluntary reduction of speed.

Private Property

When a driver is expected to enter unusual locations, construction sites, or driveways not built to support heavy commercial vehicles, etc., it is the driver’s responsibility to discuss the operation with the proper authorities and to obtain permission prior to entering the area.

Passenger Accident

Passenger accidents in any type of vehicle are preventable when they are caused by faulty operation of the vehicle. Even though the incident did not involve a collision of the vehicle, it must be considered preventable when your driver stops, turns, or accelerates abruptly. Emergency action by the driver to avoid a collision that results in passenger injury should be checked if proper driving prior to the emergency would have eliminated the need for the evasive maneuver. The driver is responsible for the utilization of passenger restraint devices.


Many accidents, such as overturning, jack-knifing, or running off the road, may result from emergency action by the driver to preclude being involved in a collision. Examination of his/her driving procedure prior to the incident may reveal speed too fast for conditions or other factors. The driver’s action prior to involvement should be examined for possible errors or lack of defensive driving practice.


Protruding loads, loose objects falling from the vehicle, loose tarpaulins or chains, doors swinging open, etc., resulting in damage to the vehicle, cargo, or other property or injury to persons, are preventable when the driver’s action or failure to secure them are evidenced. Cargo damage, resulting from unsafe vehicle operation, is preventable by your drivers.


Unconventional parking conditions, including double parking, failure to put out warning devices, etc., generally constitute evidence for judging an accident preventable. Roll-away accidents from a parked position normally should be classified preventable. This includes unauthorized entry into an unlocked, unattended vehicle and/or failure to properly block wheels or to turn wheel toward curb to prevent vehicle movement.


Practically all-backing accidents are preventable. A driver is not relieved of his/her responsibility to back safely when a guide is involved in the maneuver. A guide cannot control the movement of the vehicle; therefore, a driver must check all clearances for him/herself.


It is impossible to describe in detail the many ways a driver might prevent an accident without being primarily or legally responsible. The above guide merely emphasizes the most frequent occurrences. The following definition of Defensive Driving should be applied to all accidents involving drivers:

A Defensive Driver is one who commits no driving errors and makes all reasonable allowances for the lack of skill or improper driving practice of the other driver. A Defensive Driver adjusts his/her own driving to compensate for unusual weather, road, and traffic conditions, and is not tricked into an accident by the unsafe actions of pedestrians and other drivers. By being alert to accident-inducing situations, he/she recognizes the need for preventative action in advance and takes the necessary precaution to prevent the accident. As a Defensive Driver, he/she knows when it is necessary to slow down, stop, or yield his/her right-of-way to avoid involvement.

Once it is determined a collision was preventable, a driver can be held accountable.

Tip: To fairly hold drivers accountable they should be trained in the concepts of preventability and in defensive driving. Drivers will not understand the process unless they understand why and how they are held accountable. The Hartford.

Thank you for reading this.


The Registered ELDs: An Update


Voluntary Use of ELDs . . .

Starting February 16, 2016 until December 18, 2017 motor carriers and drivers may voluntarily use ELDs. Prior to purchasing an ELD, motor carriers and drivers should confirm with the ELD provider/manufacture that the device is certified and registered with FMCSA. FMCSA equipment-registration page

Never volunteer! U.S. Army survival tip

Perhaps one of the most important things a carrier can do, besides keeping their customers happy, is to prepare for the December 18, 2017 Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate.

Sure, there is already some pushback. Like many recent hours of service regulations, this one will be fought out in the courts. One could argue the legal outcome is uncertain, even 50/50 at best. Some even say the election could alter the regulatory tone, resulting in a rollback of regulations.

One can always hope, but as Vince Lombardi was known to say, hope is not a strategy. The DOT regs now on the books will require every driver who uses a Record of Duty Status (RPDS) or logbook to use a bona fide Electronic Logging Device on December 19, 2017.

How does one know their ELD meets the DOT standards?

EDL device manufactures need to certify and register their devices with the DOT. Currently there are three ELDs listed:

These devices are self-certified by the manufacturer and not by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.


Other Promoted Solutions

Other providers are promoting their ELD solutions in other ways. For example (not an all-inclusive listing):

Everybody is claiming their solutions are the real deal. And they very well may be.

But because these devices are so new, there’s bound to be some technical glitches. And if there’s one fact about new ‘automation projects,’ it’s that most do not come to fruition. A lot of time and energy can be spent and in the end the project is no closer to the finish line then they were on day zero.

In any case, if electronic logging is new to you, now is the time to start investigating potential ELD vendors. As we get closer to the compliance date of December 18, 2017, additional vendors will have registered their devices and competition will have lowered initial costs. And some device vendors, by then, may even pulled out of the market.

Thank you for reading this.