If Insurance is the Flower, Is Loss Control the Weed?

flower beds

Insurance is a Good Thing

Insurance is an important part of business, providing enterprises options to pursue greater opportunities they would not have had without it and affording continuity when things go wrong, as they sometimes do. The insurance industry is in the business of managing risk and the field of Risk Management has sprung forth from it, much like flowers after a spring rain.

Risk Sources and Complexity Have Increased Over Time

As part of the Risk Management process, insurers field consulting specialists in loss prevention, who are concerned with identifying hazards and risks, and cost-effective alternatives and solutions.  These consultants may be in-house or outsourced and operate under a myriad of titles and designations, including, to name a few:

  • Accident Prevention
  • Loss Control Engineer
  • Loss Control Specialist
  • Loss Prevention
  • Risk Control Field Representative
  • Risk Engineer
  • Risk Manager
  • Safety Engineer

Depending on the nature of the operations, the loss consultant will “survey” or gather information in person or by phone, usually after an insurance policy goes into effect or when it renews. If the survey is in person, the loss consultant will set up a time that is most convenient for the insured, avoiding periods of high activity so not to disrupt operations, or low activity as vacation times and holidays.

The Loss Control Survey Process

Setting up the appointment is the first step of the loss control survey process, which consists of three core phases:

  1. Presurvey
  2. Survey
  3. Postsurvey

In the presurvey phase, the loss consultant should provide the insured with a brief listing of the information to be examined, such as: company safety programs, inspection forms, incident and accident investigations, and other records and documents as company policies and specific records.

The survey starts with an opening conference, a walk-through of any facility or a look at any vehicles present, a records/documents examination, and a closing conference. The purpose of the survey is not to find a list of deficiencies, but a factual review of safety and discussion of any hazards or potential hazards, why the situation is hazardous, and what can be done to improve safety. The loss consultant may discuss several recommendations to improve safety and various options to meet those recommendations.

The postsurvey phase should result in a formal, follow-up letter of recommendations and how the insured can make safety improvements. On occasion the loss consultant may schedule a follow-up visit regarding the recommendations.

Meanwhile, In The Real World . . .

Change is difficult. In the real world, you find people don’t like or want change. “We’ve always done it that way.” Complacency sets in.

“We see over and over where organizations start out really strong and have executive support, but then they don’t continue to steadily grow the risk management process at their organizations.” Steve Zawoyski PwC

Anyone working in loss control or risk management soon discovers the prevailing attitude that our job is to make life difficult. And the status quo can be mean and resourceful. Rather than seeing any added value, loss control becomes a weed, and like any noxious weed, people are constantly trying to kill it.

Tips for Better Loss Control/Risk Management 

  1. Communicate well. One of the most effective communication strategies is to listen more than you speak. But just because it’s effective, doesn’t mean we always do it or do it well. Clear communications save everyone time and money. Failure to communicate well is the root cause of many a misunderstanding.
  2. Ask your loss consultant questions. Why is this recommendation critical? What are some other alternatives? Are there any time constraints in following up?
  3. Be forthright. Nobody is perfect. Not meeting certain safety standards can always be fixed. But not fixing a possible safety issue is never a good long-term policy. Cutting back on safety efforts will not result in long term savings.
  4. It’s the little things that make a big difference. The key word in loss control is control. Small improvements over time add up. Take control over the safety improvement process.

Thank you for reading this.


Five Good Habits of Professional Drivers

window view

Habit 1. Professional drivers keep their windows and mirrors clear.

Professional drivers use a good quality automotive glass cleaner when washing their windows—never dish soap or common household cleaners.

Tip: Don’t use the window-washing squeegee device found in self-service fuel stations as it may contain embedded gas, oil, and road salts that will transfer onto your windshield. For best results use a microfiber cloth to apply the cleaner and another microfiber cloth to wipe it off.


Habit 2. Professional drivers keep their window wipers in good working condition.

Professional drivers know the rule of thumb is to replace the wipers every six to twelve months— the frequency depending on driving conditions and climate.

Tip:  Replace your wipers during normal service. Don’t to wait until the wipers start to chatter or streak. Clean the wiper blades whenever you are cleaning the window glass. Some drivers use 303 wiper treatment on the blades.

Washer Reservoir







Habit 3. Professional drivers keep their window-washer reservoir full.

Professional drivers top the window-washer reservoir with a quality windshield glass cleaner.

Tip: Don’t use plain water as it can become a breeding ground for bacterium. Be wary of cheap, “home-brew” cleaning solutions that may damage paint or the rubber on the wipers.


Habit 4. Professional drivers check their tire air pressure frequently.

There are all kinds of tire pressure systems. Tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), adopted by about 1/3 of fleets (NACFE 2013 Benchmark Study), cannot add air to an underinflated tire, and automatic tire inflation systems (ATIS)— used by about 10% of fleets (Ibid)—  while able to restore air to tires, usually can not report the actual inflation pressure in any given tire. The best tire inflation checker, for the majority of fleets, is still the professional driver.

Tip: Check cold PSI with a quality air gauge.






Habit 5. Professional drivers constantly check their vehicle.

Every time they stop, professional truck drivers do a quick walk around the truck before hitting the road. They check the tires, the lights, brakes, load securement, etc.

Tip:  If you are out of view of the truck— be sure to check the coupling release, too.

It’s not Easy

It’s not easy being a pro— if it were, everyone would be above average and there would be nothing new to learn. Simply put, professional drivers have high standards and do more than expected.

Thank you for reading this.



Five Deadly Truck Driver Behaviors

Anyone can make an honest mistake. But sometimes an error can carry a lot more risk than bargained for. Risky things . . . have a way of going wrong. Some mistakes are never okay. Here are five risky driver behaviors that should never occur . . .

Situation 1: Allowing Unauthorized Drivers

child driving semi

It’s never a good idea to let an unauthorized driver behind the wheel of a big rig.  It’s a really, really bad idea to let a child drive a tractor trailer. See more here.

Yet many companies do not have a formal policy prohibiting unauthorized drivers. Another bad idea . . .

Situation 2: Backing on the Expressway

backing up on the expressway

This driver made a mistake and missed his exit ramp. He then made a much bigger mistake by backing on the expressway.

Another bad, bad, idea . . .

Situation 3: Making a U-turn on a Highway

Never mind the double-yellow and oncoming traffic . . . They got away with it . . . this time. That’s all that matters, right? Wrong.

One truck was hit while making a U-turn when the truck got stuck in the mud and could not clear traffic, costing the company a $755,000 settlement. Some U-turns gone bad have ended in multi-million dollar lawsuits after costing other drivers their lives.

Situation 4: Texting While Driving

texting crash

This truck driver was texting, when he sideswiped a car before losing control and crossing over the medium into oncoming traffic, resulting in a fatal crash.

“It just didn’t have to happen. This driver needs to take this all on himself,” said one of the investigators.

Situation 5: Running the Rail Crossing Lights or Gate

RRX Crossing violation

This driver is well behind the 15 foot stop line, but then decides to proceed anyway . . .

No harm, no foul . . .

That is, until somebody has to call 911 . . .

The Burden is Always on the Company

These high risk and dangerous driver behaviors occur again and again. Many times a small error was made and the error becomes compounded by taking a shortcut. Nobody likes to admit to making a mistake.

At other times, it is simply bad judgement on part of the driver.

In any case, the company can be called to task

They systematically deposed the truck driver, safety director, dispatcher, and company designated representative and each was asked, under oath, if he/she believed that the truck driver had adequate training. —Attorneys for Plaintiff

Here are some other bad driver behaviors known as “red flag” violations.

BASIC FMCSR Part Violation Description
Driver Fitness 383.21 Operating a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) with more than one driver’s license
Driver Fitness
(a)(2) Operating a CMV without a valid commercial driver’s license (CDL)
Driver Fitness 383.51 (a) Driving a CMV (CDL) while disqualified
Driver Fitness 383.91 (a) Operating a CMV with improper CDL group
Driver Fitness 391.11 Unqualified driver
Driver Fitness 391.11 (b)(5) Driver lacking valid license for type vehicle being operated
Driver Fitness 391.11 (b)(7) Driver disqualified from operating CMV
Driver Fitness 391.15 (a) Driving a CMV while disqualified
Drug/Alcohol 392.4 (a) Driver uses or is in possession of drugs
Drug/Alcohol 392.5 (a) Possession/use/under influence of alcohol less than 4 hours prior to duty
Fatigued Driving (HOS) 395.13 (d) Driving after being declared out-of-service (OOS)
Vehicle Maintenance 396.9 (c)(2) Operating an OOS vehicle

Thank you for reading this. Have a safe day.


Loss Control: Preventing Truck Repair Shop Fires

truck shop fire

Many firms with commercial motor vehicles have in-house repair shops which may engage in anything from light repair work to full frame-up overhauls. Risk of fire and loss may increase depending on the nature of repair work done. Loss of the shop may result in the additional loss of any vehicles in or around the shop. A major shop fire could truly test business continuity.

Here are a few tips to avoid risk of fire in your truck repair shop.

Perform a Waste Audit
What types of waste are produced by the shop?
Is the waste hazardous?
Are refrigerants, solvents, batteries, used oil and antifreeze recycled?
Does the shop use a reputable recycling company for assistance in its waste stream?
Is hazardous waste kept separate in properly labeled and sealed containers?
Is the waste storage area secure from the elements (rain, snow, standing water) and unauthorized personnel?
Are written records kept of any waste stored on property?
Is hazardous waste transported by a licensed hazardous waste hauler and properly disposed?
Are waste manifests and documentation kept for at least three years?

Properly Store any Flammable and Combustible Liquids 

For small quantities (containers under 5 gallons U.S.) does the shop have an approved flammable liquids storage cabinet (designed to meet the requirements of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 30, Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code)?

Does the shop have a policy limiting the storage and quantity of flammable liquids used and stored inside buildings?

Does any outdoor flammable liquids storage meet the requirements of NFPA 30?


Properly Store any Compressed Gases

  • Are areas posted where gases are present?
  • Are cylinders inspected (1.) Upon delivery (visual) (2.) Per manufactures’ recommendations thereafter?
  • Are cylinders examined as soon as you receive them? If you detect signs of damage or leakage, move them to a safe, isolated area and return them to the supplier as soon as possible.
  • Are gases grouped and kept separate from combustibles?
  • Are cylinders stored upright with the steel protective cap screwed on?
  • Are full and empty cylinders kept apart when stored?
  • Are cylinders secured with chains or cables (to keep cylinders from falling over)?
  • Are cylinders stored in dry, well-ventilated areas away from exits and stairways?
  • If storing compressed gas cylinders outside, are cylinders stored off the ground and out of extremely hot or cold environments?
  • Are compressed gas containers stored away from high pedestrian and vehicle traffic areas? (Containers are more likely to be damaged there.)
  • Are oxygen cylinders stored at least 20 feet from flammables or combustibles (or separated them by a 5- foot, fire-resistant barrier)?
  • Are oil and grease kept away from oxygen cylinders, valves and hoses?
  • If hands, gloves or clothing are oily, is there a written policy in place to not handle oxygen cylinders?
  • Are fire extinguishers near the storage area, appropriate for gases stored there?

Some Gas Cylinder Do’s and Don’ts
• Do not tamper with connections and do not force connections together.
• Do not hammer valves open or closed.
• Do not drop, bang, slide, clank or roll cylinders.
• Cylinders may only be rolled along the bottom rim.
• Do not let cylinders fall or have things fall on them.
• Do not lift a cylinder by its cap unless using hand trucks so designed.
• Use carts or other material handling equipment to move cylinders. Use ropes and chains to move a cylinder only if the cylinder has special lugs to accommodate this.
• Keep cylinders secured and upright. (But never secure cylinders to conduit carrying electrical wiring.)
• When transporting compressed gas cylinders, be sure the vehicle is adequately equipped to haul compressed gases safely. (Do not haul compressed flammable gases within a van, inside a car, or in the cab of a vehicle).
• Know accident procedures.

Empty Gas Cylinders

When empty, close and return cylinders. Empty cylinders must be marked with the word EMPTY or letters MT. Empty acetylene cylinders must be so labeled. Be sure valves are closed when not using the container and before returning containers. Properly label returning containers.

Fire Extinguishers

Are fire extinguishers placed near all doorways and exits and/or to local fire codes?
Are fire extinguishers periodically inspected and serviced?
Are staff trained in use of fire extinguishers?

Ensure that access to fire extinguishers is not blocked or obstructed by any object or materials.

Other Shop Tasks

Is the shop floor swept daily and clear of combustibles?
Are shop rags placed in a fire-resistant container?
Are cleaning solvents secured when not in use?
Are any spills immediately cleaned up?

“Hot Work” (Electric or Gas Welding, Cutting, and Brazing or similar Flame Producing operations, and Grinding)

Is there a written hot work policy?
Does the hot work policy prohibit hot work in or on a tank or container unless it is properly vented?
Does the hot work policy prohibit hot work in or on any vessel, tank or container which
carries or has carried flammable materials, liquids or gases until the container
has been cleaned and tested and declared safe for “hot work” by the job safety
Are appropriate ventilating devices before and during hot work? (Opening a shop door will not provide proper ventilation in most cases.)

Hot Work Do’s and Don’ts
Never strike an arc on a compressed gas cylinder.
Always wear the appropriate type of PPE for the welding or cutting, including proper PPE and eyewear for infrared or ultraviolet radiation, depending on the process being employed.
Always wear protective ear equipment as appropriate. Protection which covers
the entire ear is recommended.

Smoking Policy

Is smoking prohibited near flammables and allowed in designated areas only?

No smoking signs should posted in all areas of the building or facility.

Other Fire Prevention Steps

Automatic sprinklers, fire suppression systems, smoke and fire detectors, etc., will help protect the facility and may result in reduced insurance premiums.

To Learn More . . .

For further protection of your truck repair shop, I strongly recommend obtaining a copy of your local building fire code and becoming familiar with National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) code.

Thank you for reading this.



A Simple DOT File Organization System

Introducing the Progressive Reporting Agency

Half of any task is planning and organization. Chris Vernon, who recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan as an Engineer Company Commander, took some of his organizational skills from his business and military experiences to form the Progressive Reporting Agency.

Progressive Reporting Agency is a DOT compliance service bureau based in Midvale, UT, dedicated to helping companies with DOT regulated trucks and drivers.

Organized for Success

One of their products is an Audit Assistance Package consisting of a series of nine folders. Each folder has a checklist printed on the jacket as to what the folder must contain. Additional forms are available for download.

Progressive’s 9 Folder system:
1. General Company Documents
2. Insurance
3. Accident Register
4. Driver Qualification (DQ) File
5. Drug &Alcohol Testing
6. Record of Duty Status-RODS (Log Books)
7. Maintenance – Tractor
8. Maintenance – Trailer
9. Maintenance Plan

General file jacket

“DOT Audit preparation is critical.  We have a proven system that is an easy to follow DOT Audit Checklist that has nine folders, including a folder with everything you need for your driver qualification files, helping ensure you have all the required documentation organized and ready for your DOT Safety Audit.”  Progressive Reporting Agency

Over the years in visiting and talking to transportation business owners or their staff, I have seen literally an “all or nothing” attitude with their DOT paperwork. Getting organized is the first step to getting it done.

It’s not only the DOT that may want to see your files and paperwork. Insurance companies also have a right to inspect your files as well . . .

For more information:

Progressive Reporting Agency
7304 S 300 W, Ste 201
Midvale, UT 84047
Email info@progressivereporting.com

Thank you for reading this.

Disclaimer: Reference to any specific product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, company name or otherwise does not constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the author or a guarantee of any specific results. This blog is for informational purposes only. Thank you. 


How can Pedestrian Collisions be Prevented?

pedestrian collision

But First: The Good News . . .

Good News: Nationally, U.S. pedestrian fatalities have decreased by 1.7 percent from 2012 to 2013. It is the first decrease since 2009. A pedestrian is a person on foot or on roller skates, skateboard, etc., other than a bicycle. A pedestrian can also be a person with a disability using a tricycle, quadricycle, or wheelchair.

But not all parts of the country fared so well. Pedestrian deaths increased in Jefferson County, according to  WDRB of Louisville, KY. In 2014, 18 people were killed crossing the street — two by the same ready mix concrete company. Pedestrian injury collisions were the highest in over a decade, numbering 483 in all.

“I got out of the truck to tell him he ran over someone and he said he didn’t even know. If I hadn’t stopped him he would have kept going.”

It’s not always the fault of the driver. In some cases, the pedestrian is jaywalking, on the cell phone or listening to music, darting into the road or not visible. Busy multi-lane roads can be difficult for pedestrians to safely cross.

Wheelchairs are difficult to see, and in one case in Michigan, a 21-year old man was pushed by a truck several miles down the the Red Arrow Highway at speeds up to 50 MPH before the driver was alerted and stopped. The young man was unharmed but needed new wheelchair tires.

Most weekday pedestrian deaths occur between 4 PM and midnight, but most weekend pedestrian fatalities occur between 8 PM and 4 AM.

How can Pedestrian Collisions be Prevented?

Many truck-pedestrian collisions occur at intersections or in making right-hand turns (and left-hand turns for buses).

Tips include:

• Run city routes at night, if possible in order to avoid the busiest parts of the day. Some waste and recycling companies have made this their safety policy.

• Vehicles should never back up at an intersection.

• Turn slowly when near pedestrians, at walking speed. Start and stay in a low gear.

• Do not accelerate during or in the turn. Wait until the turn is completed.

• Buses should make “square” left turns.

• Always be ready to stop when making the turn.

• Young children (age 10 or less) have no traffic sense and can dart in front of the vehicle unexpectedly, especially if on a skateboard or roller-skates. Be cautious of children in a hurry going to school or coming home.

• If the light is red, stop and stay well behind the crosswalk, to gain visual control of the intersection.

• Pedestrians have the right-of-way in marked or unmarked crosswalks. Be always ready to yield. Drivers must stop for pedestrians in crosswalks (but many DO NOT).

• Always stop for any pedestrian crossing at corners or other crosswalks, even if the crosswalk is in the middle of the block, at corners with or without traffic lights, whether or not the crosswalks are marked by painted lines.

• Do not pass a vehicle that has stopped at a crosswalk. A pedestrian you cannot see may be crossing the street. Stop — then proceed when any and all pedestrians have crossed the street.

If parked, always look under and around the vehicle before moving it.

cross over mirror




• If your trucks deliver or pass through cities and metro areas, consider installing cross over mirrors on the vehicle, now required since 2012 on all State of New York trucks that deliver in New York City.





blind spot

Thank you for reading this.

Disclaimer: Reference to any specific product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, company name or otherwise does not constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the author.

Please Don’t Pull out in Front of Me

“Please don’t pull out in front of me . . .”

One of the strangest realizations when driving a truck is that, as big as the vehicle is, your truck is invisible. Drivers will look up, seemingly make eye contact and pull out right in front of the truck.

Train engineers experience this as well.


Driving Blind

There are various theories for this happening. Sometimes the mind of the observer cannot connect something big coming toward them with its actual velocity.

If one observes a 747 Landing, it appears to be hanging in the air and yet the “drop speed” is 140 knots or about 160 MPH.

A-pillar Blind Spot.

At times drivers glance up and don’t look around their A-pillar blind spot.


Or drivers are simply not attentive to driving . . .

There Are Many Reasons Drivers Don’t See You

Drivers may be distracted. Drivers may be under the influence. Drivers may have limited eyesight or multiple blind spots in their vision. Eyesight can change overnight. There are as many distractions as there are drivers.


Drive defensively. Use the Smith System of driving. The idea for Harold L. Smith’s copyrighted system for safe driving came to him in the Navy during WWII when he read a notice on a board in Guam pointing out how many servicemen were dying in car collisions. After the war, Smith researched vehicle collisions and concluded the majority of collisions were caused by “a lack of vision.”

The Smith System of Driving

  • Aim High In Steering ® —Looking further ahead than other drivers
  • Get The Big Picture ® —Seeing more around you than other drivers
  • Keep Your Eyes Moving ® —Being more aware than other drivers
  • Leave Yourself An Out ® —Positioning in traffic better than other drivers
  • Make Sure They See You ® —Making yourself more visible than other drivers

Distracted driving is on the rise. More people than ever are texting, phoning or driving inattentively. There are more drivers taking meds or combinations of meds that could affect their driving. There are simply more drivers out there than before and the need for defensive driving is greater than ever.

Thank you for reading this.


Unified Registration System (URS) Compliance Notes

The DOT’s Unified Registration System (URS).

Grab a cup of coffee or two or three as today we will look at the Unified Registration System (URS).

URS logo

The Unified Registration System (URS) is the DOT’s new interface or portal between those regulated by the DOT and the DOT. The URS is essentially an electronic online registration and filings system (called the MCSA-1 online application).  Form MCSA–1 is the URS online application and is available, including complete instructions, from the FMCSA Web site at http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/urs.

URS will “consolidate” the filings and paperwork for:

  1. USDOT Registration (and renewals – called the Biennial Update)
  2. Insurance (financial responsibility information — sent in directly by the insurance company)
  3. Designation of Process Agents (resident agents who collect legal paperwork — sent in directly by your process agent service bureau).

Who is required to comply with this rule?

Any and all “entities” (persons, organizations, companies) regulated by the US DOT:

  • Motor Carriers
  • Intermodal Equipment Providers
  • Hazardous Materials Safety Permit Applicants/Holders
  • Brokers
  • Cargo Tank Facilities
  • Freight Forwarders

Today, a notice about an extension of the effective dates for URS was published in the Federal Resister.

URS Effective Dates
                                            (Existing)         (New)
                                            effective/      effective/
     URS final rule major provision         compliance      compliance
                                               date            date
Registration Application Process using        10/23/2015      12/12/2015
 the MCSA-1 online application for New
Use of MCSA-1 online application for all      10/23/2015       9/30/2016
 new and existing entities for all
 reasons to file........................
USDOT Number as sole identifier               10/23/2015       9/30/2016
 (discontinuing issuance of docket
New Fees Schedule.......................      10/23/2015       9/30/2016
Evidence of Financial Responsibility          10/23/2015       9/30/2016
 (Insurance Filings and Surety Bonds/
 Trusts) for New Private HM and New
 Exempt For Hire Carriers...............
Evidence of Financial Responsibility          10/23/2015      12/31/2016
 (Insurance Filings and Surety Bonds/
 Trusts) for Existing Private HM and
 Exempt For Hire Carriers...............
Process Agent Designation (BOC-3) for         10/23/2015       9/30/2016
 All New Motor Carriers (including
 Private and Exempt For Hire Carriers)..
Process Agent Designation (BOC-3) for          4/25/2016      12/31/2016
 All Existing Motor Carriers (including
 Private and Exempt For Hire Carriers)..
\1\ New and existing Non-North American motor carriers will begin to use
  the MCSA-1 online application on 9/30/2016.

The URS system will accept filings for evidence of financial responsibility (insurance) from existing private hazardous materials carriers and exempt for-hire carriers, and filings for designation of process agent from private and exempt for-hire carriers beginning on September 30, 2016. Existing companies are encouraged to submit filings earlier than the December 31, 2016 compliance deadline.


Applicants are cautioned to ensure that the name and address of the business as set out in all pre-registration filings match exactly the name and address provided in their . . . filings. Any deviation will result in rejection of the supplemental pre-registration filings.


Businesses can change names and addresses and it may happen several times in their early years. The DOT intends to use the URS to screen for so-called “chameleon” carriers, who get shut down for safety violations or unpaid fines and then open again as a new company.

A new applicant is defined as anyone who does not have, and has never been assigned a USDOT, Motor Carrier (MC), Mexico owned or controlled (MX), or Freight Forwarder (FF) number. These new applicants will be required to use the new online application when requesting registration and a USDOT number beginning on December 12, 2015.

If you have a US DOT Number, there is no need to file for a new DOT number. Renew your registration (US DOT Number) with the required Biennial Update, and renew any time there is a change in operations. If you fail to renew as required there are fines and your operation will be placed Out-of-Service (OOS) by the DOT.


The US DOT/FMCSA has made a change in how they will gather information and required filings. Certain paper forms are being eliminated. New applications for DOT numbers need to file with the URS (via the MCSA-1 online application) starting December 12, 2015 and pay $300 for a DOT Number. All DOT Number holders will have to file with the URS as of September 30, 2015.

Expect further clarifications as the new system is deployed.

Thank you for reading this.



John Taratuta, Risk Engineer (989) 474-9599

Operation Safe Driver Week is in Full Swing

Roadside Inspection

This week marks the CVSA’s 2015 Operation Safe Driver Week which runs October 18-24.

The goals of Safe Driver Week include increasing vehicle traffic enforcement, safety belt enforcement, driver roadside inspections and driver regulatory compliance, all aimed at pinpointing unsafe driving behaviors.

The top five warnings and citations issued to CMV drivers were:

  1. Speeding
  2. Failure to use a safety belt
  3. Failure to obey traffic control devices
  4. Improper lane change
  5. Following too closely.
  • 392.2S Speeding may result in up to 10 CSA Severity points, depending on the speed and/or location (school or construction zone, etc.).
  • 392.16 Failing to use seat belt while operating CMV has a Violation Severity Weight of 7 points.
  • 392.2LC Improper lane change and 392.2FC Following too close can result in 5 points each.
  • 392.2C Failure to obey traffic control device is pegged at 5 points.

These types of infractions are considered Dangerous Driving and a number of these violations will result in a company’s Unsafe Driving BASIC to be flagged with an Alert.

Best Practices

Don’t wait for the DOT to flag your CSA scores. Unsafe Driving violations are considered problem driver behaviors by the DOT.

But it’s not the DOT’s problem.

Review your CSA scores, safety and performance data. If you have repeated bad players with bad driving habits on your team, they need to change their problem behaviors.

Like right now . . .

Thank you for reading this.






Just Another Mile of Road . . .

Hamilton Road

Just Another Mile of Road

There is nothing special about Hamilton Road, in northern Michigan. Its shoulders are wide, like many roads in the area, to help spot deer. The road is kept up and in good shape and lightly traveled.

The truck driver was familiar with the road, having worked for his employer for five years, one-third of his driving career. But, this summer on an early Wednesday morning, for some reason, he didn’t negotiate the above curve.

Perhaps it was a deer in the roadway, springing out like they sometimes do. Perhaps it was something else. We’ll never know because the 36 year-old driver was found trapped and “unresponsive” in his overturned tractor trailer. He was survived by his wife and three children.

Rural-road, Rollover Crashes are the most Prevalent

The DOT’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) was established in 1992 to track all Transportation related crashes. Prior to the BTS, fatal crashes were closely tracked from 1975 onward by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Their findings about trucks (vehicles over 10,000 pounds GVWR) include:

Almost two-thirds (63 percent) of all fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred on rural roads, and 24 percent occurred on rural and urban Interstate highways.

Rollover was the first harmful event in 1 in 20 (five percent) of all fatal crashes involving large trucks and 3 percent of all nonfatal crashes involving large trucks.

Single-vehicle crashes made up 21 percent of all fatal truck crashes, 15 percent of all injury crashes, and 22 percent of all property damage only crashes involving large trucks in 2012. The majority (63 percent) of fatal large truck crashes involved two vehicles.

For truck driver, speeding was the most often coded driver-related factor; distraction/inattention was the second most common.

What do the Numbers Really Say?

One thing we know for sure is that every crash is different. The roadway is different. The vehicles involved are different. And the drivers are different.

Tracking statistical data, however, can point to trends. For example, one insurance company noted that their data showed a lot of limo and bus collisions occurred when the vehicles had no passengers. The implication is that the limo and bus drivers may have let their guard down a little when driving, after making their drops.

European Truck Accident Causation study found the top 3 main causes for collisions between a truck and other road users are:
1. Non-adapted speed,
2. Failure to observe intersection rules,
3. Inattention.

So what do the numbers really say?

  • Truck crashes are trending upwards. Car crashes, too. Insurance is likely to rise.
  • All drivers need to be mindful, not mind-full. Pay attention. Don’t become another statistic.

Thank you for reading this.








Automated Braking Systems

This demo truck is loaded (40 tons) and traveling at 50Km/Hr (31 MPH).

Professionals Know the Limits

Professional truck drivers are concerned about safety, their personal safety and the safety of those around them. They have one goal and only one goal in mind: getting there—safely.

Professional truck drivers are constantly checking their trucks. Every time they stop, they do a quick walk around the truck before hitting the road. They check the tires, the lights, load securement, and, if they are out of view of the truck— the coupling release.

Professional truck drivers are constantly checking the road, their mirrors, the road, their gauges, the road, the mirrors, the road, and so on.

Professional truck drivers are in control of their vehicles 100% of the time. They are extremely careful of vehicle placement in their lanes and in turns, wheel slippage in adverse conditions, and when their body tells them to slow down or even stop.

In short, professional truck drivers know their limits. They know the limits of the equipment they are driving, the road they are driving on, and they know their personal limitations.

X-Ray Vision

One limit is night driving. Night driving brings with it all kinds of special challenges as nighttime glare, vulnerability to sleep or sleep-like states and its associated decreased alertness, limitations of headlights, etc. which contribute to the inability to see nighttime hazards. This is especially a concern in turns or cresting hills, when the vehicle’s headlights are not pointing straight ahead.

headlights on








Ask any experienced EMT or First Responder and they will tell you some of the worst crashes they ever saw have occurred at night. Sometimes the crash involves farm equipment with no lighting, large animals on the road, or “pranks” as leaving large stones, huge tires, or even construction equipment (like a bulldozer) on the roadway for unsuspecting drivers to hit. On a turn or in a dip in the road, at night many hazards are almost impossible for any driver to see. Or, at times, other drivers may fail to see and yield right of way to the truck.

New truck safety technology as in the video above or the Detroit Assurance™ system, in my opinion, will add another layer of protection for the professional truck driver. With the high costs of collisions including downtime, increased regulatory oversight and insurance cost, the new Collision Warning and Braking systems will contribute to safer, efficient operations.

Thank you for reading this.

Disclaimer: Reference to any specific product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, company name or otherwise does not constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the author.






Ignorance: More Deadly Than a Speeding Bullet?


War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength. George Orwell

Too Big to Quench

The fire was big and hot. Too big for the local Fire Department without help from an airport foam truck. So hot the driver could not be found.

Cause of the crash?

A sudden swerve by the tanker driver to avoid a mattress on the road . . .


mattress on road

That’s right. Police say the driver crashed after swerving to avoid mattresses that fell from the roof of another vehicle.

The mattresses are fine. The tractor, tanker, and driver are now just memories.

Sure, the driver probably believed he was doing the right thing. The outcome was not what he expected or desired.

Preventable or Not?

Insurance companies see accidents as random events. That means in any given time or place the “odds” — a measure of the likelihood of an event’s occurrence — have an equal probability of happening  — or not happening (for a given set of like organizations).

Somewhere out there another mattress will fall off another vehicle. But we just can’t predict when or where. It will be another random event.

“Luck is the residue of design.”

We can, however, prepare our drivers for these freakish events. We know, for example, that 90% to 95% of crashes are due to human error. Driving means operating a vehicle at high speeds inches away from other humans operating their vehicles. Human drivers are prone to making errors. Sometimes serious errors. This means we need to always drive defensively. Fully automated driving is years, if not decades away (according to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute).

Defense driving means asking ourselves and our drivers questions like:

  • What do I do if a mattress is on my path in the roadway?
  • How should I safely crest a hill?
  • How should I check traffic at an intersection?
  • What should I do for a tire blowout?

These are just a few “random” events I pulled from today’s Google Alert on truck crashes.

There are many driving situations that should be reviewed periodically with drivers. Top companies do this in the form of a newsletter, in the context of a safety meeting, a Qualcomm message, or a call from a dispatcher.

Prepare today for tomorrow’s random events. It will save lives and property and help keep everyone’s insurance rates down.

Thank you for reading this.









Driving Blind

blind driver

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision. Helen Keller

An Eye Opener . . .

An opthamologist told of an eye exam he once preformed. The elderly patient casually remarked he had just driven over 1,400 miles, back from Florida.

“How did you manage that?”

“Oh, my wife tells me when to turn or to slow down.”

The man’s wife had no driver’s license and he was legally blind. Together they formed a driving team and had a system for “driving blind.”

Here are the stories of two commercial drivers who had their full eyesight, but it wasn’t on the road.

Driver A, 71 years old, was turning the corner 3.30 pm on January 29, 2014, when he hit a 52 year old woman. He had been waving to a fellow bus driver who had given way to him. He continued on for about 20m (65 feet) before stopping, trapping the woman under the bus for several hours. She died in the hospital. He was charged with negligent driving causing death and later pleaded guilty. According to the prosecutor, he was not looking right when he was turning right.

Driver B, is suspected by the prosecutor of watching a video while driving on I-405, when he slammed his truck into a disabled car, killing the 19 year old driver.  A post-accident analysis revealed an unexplainable 18 second delay in reacting to the car. The truck driver was not fined or criminally prosecuted for vehicular-homicide. The deceased driver’s family settled for $750,000 in insurance.

What The Research Says

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) has more than 475 employees and conducts research on transportation safety. Their studies have found:

  • The most dangerous tasks while driving are visual-manual in nature (reaching, typing, texting, writing, interacting with passengers, eating, drinking, or smoking).
  • Taking your eyes off the road to dial a cell phone or look up an address and send a text increases the risk of crashing by 600 to 2,300 percent.
  • The greatest, most serious distracting things in the vehicle today are handheld electronic devices.

The key point is that any time a driver takes his or her eyes off of the road to attend to other tasks, risk will increase. And the risk increases not by a small margin, but by a magnitude of hundreds of times.

“Even the researchers were amazed by the magnitude of the increase in risk.”


choking on Dr. Pepper

Hermitage, PA. This driver lost control after choking on a drink, destroying 23 new cars.

Among VTTI recommendations is: The public needs to be informed of the relative risks of the various tasks that are commonly accomplished in a moving vehicle.

Anything that a driver does that takes his or her focus and vision off of the road carries with it a high measure of risk, greater than most drivers seem to realize.

Now help spread the word.

Thank you for reading this.









The Breakdown on Breakdowns

There’s one rule in trucking: keep the wheels moving.

If a truck is stopped or disabled on the road or even on the side of the road, it can become a road hazard and, as such, the driver has a duty to warn motorists of its presence.

Failing to use hazard warning flashers §392.22(a) is one CSA Violation Severity point for Unsafe Driving. This citation is often paired with Failing/improper placement of warning devices §392.22(b) which racks up two more CSA Violation Severity points.

Trucking companies and other motor carriers are racking up dozens of CSA points by drivers positioned on the side of the road or in a breakdown lane without using their hazard warning flashers or properly placing their warning devices (such as safety triangles).

As Indiana Jack points out in his video, he, too, has noticed improper placement of warning devices.improper warning

The regulations are clear: §392.22 says:

(a) Hazard warning signal flashers. Whenever a commercial motor vehicle is stopped upon the traveled portion of a highway or the shoulder of a highway for any cause other than necessary traffic stops, the driver of the stopped commercial motor vehicle shall immediately activate the vehicular hazard warning signal flashers and continue the flashing until the driver places the warning devices required by paragraph (b) of this section. The flashing signals shall be used during the time the warning devices are picked up for storage before movement of the commercial motor vehicle. The flashing lights may be used at other times while a commercial motor vehicle is stopped in addition to, but not in lieu of, the warning devices required by paragraph (b) of this section.

(b)  . . . place the warning devices required by § 393.95 of this subchapter, in the following manner:

(i) One on the traffic side of and 4 paces (approximately 3 meters or 10 feet) from the stopped commercial motor vehicle in the direction of approaching traffic;

(ii) One at 40 paces (approximately 30 meters or 100 feet) from the stopped commercial motor vehicle in the center of the traffic lane or shoulder occupied by the commercial motor vehicle and in the direction of approaching traffic; and

(iii) One at 40 paces (approximately 30 meters or 100 feet) from the stopped commercial motor vehicle in the center of the traffic lane or shoulder occupied by the commercial motor vehicle and in the direction away from approaching traffic.

warning devices









The above diagram appears in your state’s CDL manual.

The regs say the warning devices should be placed within 10 minutes of the stop. The reality is that safety triangles should be placed as soon as the vehicle is secure (brakes are set), especially at night or near well-lit backgrounds which can obscure a truck. Half-awake or impaired drivers have a tendency to line up with the vehicle ahead, often with tragic results. So put on the emergency flashers and get those warning devices out there any time your commercial vehicle is stopped on or next to the roadway.

Breakdown or Stopping Summary

Ensure drivers put on their hazard warning flashers and properly place their warning devices, if stopped on, next to, or near the roadway.

Ensure every commercial vehicle (over 10,001 pounds GVWR or 26,001 pounds GVWR, depending on your state) has at least three warning devices as safety triangles secured in the cab or on the vehicle.

Review with your drivers the regulations, company policies and driver’s manuals for §392.22 requirements on a periodic basis.

Thanks for reading this. Have a safe day.



John Taratuta, Risk Engineer, (989) 474-9599


Putting New Safety Technology to the Test

Freightliner Cascadia

New truck safety technology is a fact. Freightliner of St. Cloud in Central Minnesota is allowing truck purchasers the opportunity to become better acquainted with the Detroit Assurance suite of safety systems with a one-week test drive on a brand new Freightliner Cascadia.

The Detroit Assurance safety system fully integrates with the Detroit engine and transmission, the truck’s braking systems and dashboard to enhance driver safety with the following features:

  1. The Radar System senses when a vehicle is too close and then enables the Active Brake Assist feature to mitigate collisions, and Adaptive Cruise Control to adjust to traffic conditions.
  2. The Lane Departure Warning (LDW) is an optional system that uses a camera to track the truck’s position and provide warnings if the truck veers out of its lane.

The St. Cloud Times covered these systems in a video of a demo drive here.

Safety experts believe these technologies will be mandated in the next five to seven years as they contribute to accident avoidance. Early adopters may be rewarded with lower insurance premiums.


Disclaimer: Reference to any specific product, process, or service by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, company name or otherwise does not constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the author.