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.

Top Hours of Service Survival Tips

Roadside InspectionTroubles, Troubles, Troubles

Troubles, Troubles, Troubles, was once a popular blues song sung by B.B. King, and could be the theme song of many organizations when it comes to Part 395 – Hours of Service of Drivers.

While the rule section is not that many pages, for many drivers and their motor carriers it can be an almost perpetual source of trouble. Out-of-Service rates for drivers average about 40 percent per year for logbook violations and 28.7 percent for Hours of Service violations. Fines for both drivers and the employer can quickly run up, drivers may be placed out-of-service – even arrested, and the employer/company may end up with bad safety rating or be subjected to the “intervention” process.

The troubles don’t stop there. In the event of a serious collision, any Hours of Service records come under close scrutiny by not only the DOT but by the litigators.

Any error or discrepancy in a log, no matter how small, is breaking the law. Trial Lawyer


It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way

Here are a few top tips to avoid Hours of Service troubles . . .

Tip #1.

Avoid unnecessary roadside inspections.

About 35.4 percent of roadside inspections are triggered by speeding. Don’t speed. Don’t employ drivers who make a habit of speeding. Take any speeding tickets seriously.

Tip #2.

Do good pretrip inspections.

Roadside inspections brought about by vehicle defects:

  • Lighting 16.6%
  • Load Securement 15.7%
  • Tires 9.4%

This wheel was held on by one lug nut. If you were the DOT inspector, wouldn’t you want to see what shape this driver’s logbook was in?











Tip #3.

Keep all paperwork in order.

Establish a filing system where timesheets, logbooks and their supporting documents can be easily found and matched for the last six months.

Even with the new mandatory Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs), up to eight supporting documents are required for every 24 hour period. Now is the time to get better organized.

Tip #4.

Audit your drivers’ logbooks or timesheets.

Some drivers have never been properly trained in Hours of Service rules. They may be too embarrassed to admit they are not sure on how to log.

Omissions in the Log – Indicating Possible False Logs
• Frequently omitted daily mileage.

• No on-duty time.
• Failing to show the name of the place the driver reported for duty.
• Failing to show the driver’s location at each change of duty status to conceal work performed.

• Failing to show the name of the place where the driver went off duty for the rest of the day to conceal actual driving times.

All omissions are very serious and need to be corrected.(Log Audit Manual)

Tip #5.

Train and retrain on Hours of Service rules.

One of the biggest and most common mistake I see is trying to teach all of the hours of service rules in one session. On first glance, it seems straightforward: show a short video, review a few of the rules, ask if anyone has any questions, and then send the drivers on their way. This is one area that calls for the best training you can provide. Break it down into a series of short sessions with frequent review and assessment of learning. The key is not only in gaining knowledge, but obtaining understanding.

Thank you for reading this.