Be So Good They Can’t Ignore You

Dennis Todd memorial procession

Be so good they can’t ignore you. Steve Martin

That saying brings to mind the name of Mr. Dennis Todd, who passed away on March 16, 2015, from natural causes.

Here is what others have said of Mr. Todd . . .

Dennis was a beloved member of the community.

He was well-known for his quick wit, practical jokes, his devious smile and his overalls.

Todd was so dependable that even heavy snowstorms couldn’t keep him away when he was needed at collision sites.

Dennis had a big heart; he would help anyone in need, and he was a very loyal and devoted friend who will be greatly missed by all those who had the honor of knowing him.

For about 25 years Mr. Todd owned Todd’s Towing in North Bend WA. Dozens of his towing friends put together a memorial procession in his honor. Attendees at Mr Todd’s funeral were requested to wear their best pair of overalls in his memory.

Mr. Todd was interviewed prior to passing by the film crew of the “Highway thru Hell” documentary, airing on the Discovery Channel.

Trucking is the lifeblood of America and literally puts food on the table for millions of people. But trucking can’t do it without the assistance and help of the many ancillary support segments as towing and recovery, first responders, insurance and risk management, repair, special equipment, vehicle accessories, fuel suppliers, restaurants, banking and finance, law enforcement, and other sectors, too many to mention. When the chips are down, in every sector there are people like Mr. Todd, who put on their overalls in the middle of the night, in the worst of conditions, to risk life and limb, to help restore a semblance of order out of chaos.

As we move into another year, may we remember and uphold the high standards in business and safety as exemplified by Mr. Dennis Eric Todd.

Thank you for reading this. Please have a Happy New Year and a prosperous 2016.



Driving in Canada


Running Up North

Sometimes drivers are required to run into Canada. There are 13 provinces and territories in Canada and, unfortunately, 13 sets of driving rules.

Here are few highlights of some Canadian rules . . .

Speed Limiter Rules

Two Canadian provinces – Ontario and Quebec – have speed limiter rules for heavy trucks. Any U.S. based truck traveling to or through Ontario and/or Quebec must have the governor set to 65 miles per hour or less. Yes, they check it . . .

HOS Reset

In hours of service, Canada allows a 36 hour reset, not the 34 hours required by the USDOT. Drivers in Canada are allowed 13 hours of driving within a 14-hour workday, with 10 hours off. Drivers must again follow DOT rules while traveling south of the border.

Clean Background Checks

A driver with any prior felony criminal convictions (including DUIs) or even an arrest record may be not allowed in Canada. This is a permanent, lifetime bar. There is an administrative process to gain entry, resulting in special travel papers — which must be requested at least 6 months prior to the intended entry date.

Guns, Knives, and Other Weapons

Canada has strict weapon laws. Drivers need declare to Canadian Customs authorities any firearms and weapons in their possession when entering Canada. Weapons include certain kind of knives and pepper spray and mace. Anything not declared is kept by authorities, if discovered. For more information, visit the Canadian Firearms Program.

Tinted Windows

No tinted windows are permitted in five provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. It is illegal to have any tint at all on driver and passenger side windows.

Cell Phones and Texting

Distracted driving laws for electronic devices have been enacted in all Canadian provinces. Every province has a law that says you can’t text unless you’re parked. One driver was even ticketed for texting while in a fast-food line. A wearer of an Apple Watch changing music was ticketed for distracted driving in Quebec.

Using a voice-activated navigational system, as the Siri feature on an iPhone to ask for directions, is permitted in Nova Scotia, since an October 2015 Supreme Court ruling.

Some Special Rules

In Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) drivers need to honk the horn before passing.

In B.C. and the Yukon, a flashing green light doesn’t mean you have the right of way to make a left turn. A flashing green is activated by a pedestrian at a pedestrian crossing when a pedestrian pushes the crossing button, in these two provinces.

In Ontario (and only Ontario) lane markings generally serve an advisory or warning function. Drivers may cross solid lines but can still be charged, if they pass when it’s not safe.

Ontario also has large fines for wheel-offs, up to $50,000 Canadian.

Tip: One major U.S. carrier does a full DOT inspection on its vehicles every time it crosses the border.

Thank you for reading this.

Trucking Bloopers

In lake

What is the primary root cause of most of the woes in trucking? The verdict is in. Human error.

Human error is responsible for over 95% of all collisions, goofs, and bloopers in trucking.


Climbing an 8 inch curb in Chicago? Nope, it’s not going to happen . . .


Note the guy wire anchor on the lower right. The driver didn’t . . .


Another good way to take down a telephone phone is with a 16 foot high load.


Works like a charm every time . . .


Maybe if I pretend not to notice, then no one else will notice it either?


The excuse? The GPS made me do it . . .


The first driver whipped around the corner on the icy road like a drift racer from the Fast and Furious. 


Leaving the ditch as the only option for the second truck . . .


Hauling steel is not for the faint of heart.

no bulkhead

Especially without a trailer bulkhead or headache rack. . .

The only source of knowledge is experience. Albert Einstein


Thank you for reading this.


Dealing with Ice and Snow, Oh My!


From record lows in California to record snow in Texas, snow and ice are on many driver’s minds.

Here are some “rules of the road” for driving on snow and ice.

(1.) Don’t drive beyond your skill level.

If driving on snow and ice is new to you, then first practice in a parking lot. Start, stop and make a few turns. Know when your wheels start to break traction. If you have a tach, learn how to use it so you are better aware whenever the tires break traction.

(2.) Plan your trips.

Minimize travel. About one-quarter of crashes are weather related. Only travel as absolutely necessary. Top off the fuel tank and check air in the tires. Keep extra blankets and provisions in the vehicle.

(3.) Go slow.

We can’t control the weather, but we can control our speed. Snow and ice are enemies of traction and without traction there is no way to control the vehicle. An apt expression is that of the U.S. Navy Seals: “Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.” You can’t go too slow, especially in icy conditions. In Michigan (calling itself the Winter Wonderland), drivers can get a speeding ticket even at 10MPH or less, if that speed is “too fast for conditions.”

(4.) Keep a space cushion.

Increase the following distance and allow more time to slow and for turns and curves.

(5.) Never spin the tires.

spinning on ice

Tires get hot. Warm tires melt packed snow and can form ice. Spinning the tires means the wheels have broken traction. Use sand to regain traction in a parking lot. Another winter trick on snow is to start off in a higher gear. Until the ground is frozen, stay on firm, yard surfaces as gravel or pavement. Know how to properly use your axle interlock, if your vehicle is so equipped.

From my observations, it seems it takes drivers about a week or two to adjust their style of driving to winter conditions. Take it slow, drive defensively, and you will probably get there.

Related . . . Driving in Hazardous Conditions




15 Rigs Blown Over . . .

Rigs Blown Over

15 Rigs Blown Over

A wind advisory is in effect until 10 AM Friday in Kern County desert, CA.

FOX11 reported at least 15 rigs were blown over before officials closed some roads. Roads are open, but wind advisories are still in effect until Friday.

Remember in driving in high-wind conditions that wind is totally unpredictable.

Caltrans Info @CaltransDist7

Related post:
Don’t Get Blown Away . . . Trucking In High Wind Conditions

The Accident Severity Model


The Accident Severity Model 

One of the most profound implications of the federal rule requiring the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) is the real-time capture of driver performance data.

What if this data could be used to prevent serious collisions? Sounds futuristic?

Omnitracs (formally a division of Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM), but now owned by Vista Equity Partners, a U.S.-based private equity firm) recently announced their Accident Severity Model can do that (that — meaning the prevention up to 85% of the most serious accidents by the riskiest drivers) . . . and more.

What the Data Says . . .

Did you know that about 50% of the fleet’s drivers will have 90% of the major collisions? Another way to look at this statistic is to say the other half of drivers will have only 10% of the serious collisions.

A serious or major collision is considered by Omnitracs  to be one of the “Big Six:”

  • Roll-Over
  • Run-off Road
  • Head-on
  • Jack-knife
  • Side-swipe
  • Rear-end

The severity of these collisions was further compounded by the fact that the drivers were completely disconnected from the driving task. Drivers . . .

  • Took zero evasive action
  • Could have seen the point of impact 6-7 seconds prior to impact (if awake), and
  • Made no attempt to minimize damage at the point of impact (brake or steer).

Drivers were sleep impaired or driving drowsy and the data indicate that 75% of these loss of control collisions occurred between the hours of 11 PM and 6AM.

10% of the riskiest drivers have 31% of the collisions.


Preventing Collisions

The Accident Severity Model is focused on helping the 10% riskiest drivers to prevent “loss of control” collisions as well as preventing the frequent, low-value claims. The model does this through the use of predictive modeling, by detecting subtle changes in driver physiology.

Part of Omnitracs’ program includes training of front-line management (as driver managers or dispatchers and driver supervisors) on techniques to speak with drivers when the data shows elevated driving risk. Drivers (preferably spouses, as well) are provided with a two-hour long sleep-science education class to better understand their behavior.

Once an at-risk driver is identified by the model, appropriate interventions (called remediations by Omnitracs) are then discussed with the driver as taking a rest break, bumping the appointment time, or the timing of future breaks.

“The biggest challenge with trying to manage severe accidents is they are typically infrequent and appear to be random. However, contrary to popular belief, many are not random at all, but a natural culmination of a series of subtle indicators that can be detected and addressed well in advance of an accident.” Omnitracs

Technological changes make new collision prevention and accident-prevention tools available to fleets of any size. This in turn will result in carriers of all sizes competing on safety as their primary competitive edge.

Thank you for reading this.

Related: “I Thought I Could Make It . . .”





The Dangers of On-Street Truck Parking

two burned out trucksThe car was traveling at high speed when it went out of control and struck the parked tractor-trailer. The resulting fire spread quickly, killing the three occupants of the car, and setting a second tractor-trailer with hazmat on fire.

“Despite no parking signs, neighbors said truckers often leave their rigs parked overnight.” WPVI-TV

This early Sunday morning collision in Philadelphia only illustrates the dangers of on-street parking.

Parking commercial motor vehicles (“garaging” to your insurance agent) can be challenging. Many municipal codes prevent overnight parking in residential areas. Some codes ban any standing, stopping or parking for any duration unless loading or unloading or some other work is being performed. Parking in an industrial area may expose the vehicle to theft or vandalism.

New startups like Truck Smart Parking Services are putting together apps and packages to help solve the problem.

In the meantime, I would encourage every carrier to have a clear parking policy. Drivers should be guided by the policy as to what is and what is not acceptable. Drivers may have permission to take their vehicle home and often park near their homes. If they are pulliing a trailer, this means they might park on the street.

These days street parking is not a good option (if it ever was— this is an old problem) because many drivers are distracted while driving or might not be alert to a parked vehicle. It doesn’t matter whose fault an accident was, or how legally parked the vehicle was, when someone gets hurt or worse.

My suggestion here is for management to craft a parking policy that encourages away-from-street parking to the extent reasonably possible, preferably in a secure lot. There are always trade-offs and risks no matter where a vehicle is parked. Choose wisely.

Thank you for reading this.

Related: Positioning the Commercial Motor Vehicle When Stopped


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.

Preventing Crashes at Intersections


On Thursday, a semi was headed westbound on Highway 24 when a pickup pulled in front of it at the intersection of Woodman in Falcon, Colorado. The truck driver was ejected from the truck as a result of the crash, resulting in fatal injuries.

40% of Crashes

About 40 percent of crashes are at intersections. Intersections range from complex expressway interchanges to simple, rural crossroads. In an uncontrolled intersection, there are no traffic control devices.

What is one of the main causes of intersection crashes?

In a study of intersection crashes by the NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis, when comparing intersection crashes with non-intersection crashes, it was found that the “critical pre-crash event” — defined as an event that made the crash imminent (i.e. something occurred that made the collision inevitable) — was “turned with obstructed view.” NHTSA analysts  found  “turned with obstructed view”  occurs at intersection crashes  335 times more than at non-intersection crashes, usually in left-turns.

It is found that regardless of type of traffic control device, traffic signal, or stop sign, illegal maneuver and inattention were observed significantly more than expected in crossing-over crashes, while turned with obstructed view and misjudgment of gap or other’s speed in turning-left crashes.

False assumption of other’s action was found as the most significant critical reason in turning-left crashes at traffic signal and in turning-right crashes at stop sign.

The next most prevalent critical reason for an intersection crash was “inadequate surveillance,” appearing about 6 times more often in intersection-related crashes than in non-intersection-related crashes.

Other reasons for intersection crashes include: illegal maneuver (4.1 times), false assumption of other’s action (3.8 time), misjudgment of gap or other’s speed (3.1 times). Reasons may vary by type of maneuver, whether vehicles were turning right, left, or going straight through the intersection.

The results show that significantly more than expected drivers were assigned critical reasons such as external distraction, false assumption of other’s action, misjudgment of gap or other’s speed and turned with obstructed view when they were turning left at intersections controlled by traffic signals. Also, significantly more than expected drivers were assigned critical reasons such as internal distraction, inattention, illegal maneuver, too fast or aggressive driving behavior, and critical non-performance error when they were crossing over at intersections controlled by traffic signals.

In short, if a crash happens at an intersection, the crash only occurred because one or both drivers made some sort of error. One driver may have misjudged the other driver’s speed or closing gap, while the other driver may have misjudged the other driver’s intentions, or may not have been paying attention at all. The result is chaos.

The results also show that significantly more than expected drivers were assigned critical reasons such as inadequate surveillance, misjudgment of gap or other’s speed and turned with obstructed view when they were turning left at intersections controlled by stop signs. In addition, significantly more than expected drivers were assigned critical reasons such as inadequate surveillance, inattention, external distraction, and illegal maneuver when they were crossing over at intersections controlled by stop signs. The crashes characterized by turning-right at stop sign have false assumption of other’s action assigned as critical reason significantly more than expected

Some Intersection Safety Tips

Here are some defensive driving tips for intersections . . .

• If you are stopped and a vehicle approaches with the turn signal on, do not assume the signalling vehicle is going to turn: wait until the vehicle starts the turn so you know for sure, before pulling out.

• Approach intersections assuming that cross traffic may not obey traffic control devices and anticipate the need for collision avoidance.

See and be seen. Keep vehicle lights and reflective devices wiped clean at every stop, and assure that all lights are operational. Keep the headlights on 24 hours of the day.

Rock and roll. Be mindful of the “A pillar” blind spot where the cab meets the ends of the windshield. This can obscure vision. Rock and roll in the seat to look around the pillars.

obscured view

This truck had a number of objects dangling in the driver’s view, when it was hit by a train. 

• Keep the windshield and mirrors clean and be sure the driver’s view is not obstructed.

• Use a window-wash treatment as Rain-X in bad weather. Keep a spare jug of window wash in the truck in winter.

• When practical, avoid making left turns. UPS follows a no-left-turn policy in about 90% of their turns.

• Always be ready to yield right of way at an intersection, to avoid a collision.

Cover the brake at intersections. Physically move your right foot from the throttle to over the brake pedal.

• Never signal another driver to proceed. The driver may not look and end up in a collision.

Know any other great intersection-safety tips? Please share them.

obsecured view

Thank you for reading this and have a safe weekend.

Critical Reasons for Truck Crashes


The Facts

The 62-year-old truck driver drifted off the road into the grassy ditch alongside the highway, rolling his truck and trailer.

A family of four was stopped for a left turn when their pickup truck was struck in the rear by a bobtail semi truck, killing their two daughters in the back seat and critically injuring the parents.

Three adults and four children were in a jeep, stopped in a construction zone, when it was struck from behind at an “Interstate speed,” killing all seven . . .

These crashes had one thing in common: police concluded that the drivers were not paying attention to the road.

In a study of truck crashes (the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey (NMVCCS), conducted from 2005 to 2007), the “immediate reason” leading up to the crash is referred to as the “critical reason.” (The critical reason is not presumed to be the same as driver’s fault.)

Although the critical reason is an important part of the description of events leading up to the crash, it is not intended to be interpreted as the cause of the crash nor as the assignment of the fault to the driver, vehicle, or environment.

In February 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHHTSA), National Center for Statistics and Analysis, released a statistical analysis of crash data from the NMVCCS study classifying the critical reasons in truck crashes.

Critical reasons concerning driver error in truck crashes are broadly classified as:

  • Recognition errors,
  • Decision errors,
  • Performance errors, and,
  • Non-performance errors

The analysis found that driver error occurs in 94 percent (±2.2%) of the crashes.

Here’s the Breakdown . . .

Recognition error (as driver’s inattention, internal and external distractions,
and inadequate surveillance),  at 41% (±2.2%) was the most frequently
assigned critical reason.

Decision error (driving too fast for conditions, driving too fast for the curve, false assumption of others’ actions, illegal maneuver and misjudgment of gap or others’ speed) accounted for about 33 percent (±3.7%) of the assigned critical reason.

Performance error (such as overcompensation, poor directional control, etc.) was the critical reason in about 11 percent (±2.7%) of the crashes.

Non-performance error (ex. driver fell sleep) was the critical reason accounted for 7 percent (±1.0%) of the crashes.

Other driver errors were recorded as critical reasons for about 8 percent (±1.9%) of the drivers.

Critical Reason Attributed to Vehicles (2% of Crashes)

Critical reason attributed to vehicles are about 2 percent of the NMVCCS
crashes, (although none of these reasons implied a vehicle causing
the crash).

  • Tire problems accounted for about 35 percent (±11.4%) of vehicle-related
  • Brake related problems as critical reasons accounted for
    about 22 percent (±15.4%) of such crashes.
  • Steering/suspension/transmission/engine-related problems were assigned as critical reasons in 3 percent (±3.3%) of such crashes.

Critical Reasons Related to the Environment (2% of Crashes)

Critical reasons attributed to the driving environment (road and/or weather conditions) were assigned to about 2 percent of truck crashes.

  • In about 50 percent (±14.5%) of the 52,000 crashes the critical reason was attributed to slick roads.
  • Glare as a critical reason accounted for about 17 percent (±16.7%) of the environment-related crashes
  • View obstruction was assigned in 11 percent (±7.2%) of the crashes.
  • Signs and signals accounted for 3 percent (±2.5%) of such crashes.
  • The weather conditions (fog/rain/snow) were cited in 4 percent (±2.9%) of the crashes.

Using the Data

Please help spread the word about these critical crash reasons to your safety personnel, driver managers, fleet supervisors, and drivers. Drivers can do two things, and only two things while driving, to avoid a collision: manage their speed and manage their space.

As many truck-car collisions are due to errors on part of the car driver, the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) driver needs to drive defensively. And as all collisions are considered to have an element of “randomness” associated with them, CMV drivers need to be on high alert at all times.

Thank you for reading this.



A Holiday Warning Reminder . . . Again


A Woeful Tale . . .

The home, friends said, looked like a castle. It burned for four days.

The six members of the family inside, including four grandchildren, were not able to escape the fire in January of this year.

What happened?

Most likely an electrical spark set a Christmas tree on fire. The tree had been cut at least two months prior.

As we move into and through the holiday season, a house fire is the last thing on our minds. While only several hundred home fires involving Christmas trees occur each year, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says fires involving Christmas trees can be very deadly and cost millions of dollars each year.

The problem?

If a Christmas tree is not watered daily or is allowed to dry out, it can literally explode in flames if exposed to a spark or heat source.

Leading causes of Christmas tree fires (per NFPA)

Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 38% of home Christmas tree fires.
· Eighteen percent of home Christmas tree fires involved decorative lights.
· Wiring or related equipment was involved in 12%.
· Cords or plugs were involved in 5%.

Twenty-two percent of Christmas tree fires were intentional.
· Only 9% of the intentional fires occurred in December.

Nine percent of Christmas tree fires were started by someone, usually a child, playing with fire.
Candles started 8% of home Christmas tree structure fires.
Leading areas of origin
Two of every five (39%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.
Seven percent were chimney fires.


What You Can Do

The good news is that these type of fires continue to trend downward. They are almost becoming rare, but still can be a hazard, if precautions are not taken. Here’s what to do to protect your castle:

  • Keep fresh cut trees well watered (not necessary for artificial trees).
  • Check your Christmas electrical cords and lighting. Look for frays and cuts in the insulation and exposed wires. Replace bad wiring and bad extension cords.
  • Don’t overload electrical outlets.
  • Do not connect more than three light strings together.
  • Do not overload extension cords.  If the cord becomes warm when in use, it is overloaded.  Don’t run the extension cords under rugs (especially a Christmas tree skirt) or furniture as they might become a fire hazard.  Secure cords so they don’t become trip hazards.
  • Only use lights with the Underwriters Laboratories Approved or UL Approved designations.  These lights go through thorough testing procedures to ensure they are safe to use in or outside your home.  In that vein, only use outdoor lights out of doors as they need to meet higher levels of certification.
  • Don’t place a tree near a working fire place or fire pit or other heat source as a space heater.
  • Don’t leave a lot of wrapping paper or empty packages near the tree when the presents are unwrapped. This contributed to 30 fires (and 2 deaths) last year.
  • When disposing of the Christmas tree, never attempt to burn it in the fire place.
  • Consider installing a sprinkler system in your home.

Another safety tip is to never attempt to fight a Christmas tree fire. This is considered a major mistake by firefighting experts. Safety of friends and family should be our number one concern. Get everyone out and then call 911.

With that, here’s hoping you have a happy and healthy holiday season.

Stay safe.

Thank you for reading this.





Preventing Sideswipe Collisions

 New Jersey Turnpike

Some Findings

Some findings from a truck safety and operational study . . .  (N.J. Turnpike)

Overall, more crashes occur in the outer lanes than in the inner lanes.

Sideswipe collisions occur more frequently than any other type of crashes in both the inner and outer lanes. Sideswipe collisions occur more frequently in outer lanes than inner lanes.

Rear-end collisions occur more frequently in outer lanes than inner lanes, which may suggest increased speed variations or unstable traffic conditions.


About 45 percent of all truck-related crashes are categorized as sideswipe collisions.

Sideswipe Collisions can be Dangerous

One consequence of a truck sideswipe collision is a fuel fire.

This collision between two tractor trailers occurred in August 2015 in the outer northbound lanes at exit nine in East Brunswick Township on the N.J. Turnpike, resulted in minor injuries to the drivers.

8-12-15 outer northbound lanes at exit nine in East Brunswick Township

Due to their prevalence, drivers should be made aware of the risks of sideswipe or “blind spot” collisions. One study of 16,264 car-truck collisions found the truck at fault in over half of sideswipe collisions.

According to the National Safety Council:

A blind spot is never a valid excuse for lane-encroachment collisions. Drivers must make extra allowances to protect themselves in areas of limited sight distances.

Collisions While Being Passed

Sideswipes and cut-offs are preventable when the professional driver fails to yield to the passing vehicle by slowing down.

If the professional fails to move to the right when possible, the collision is also preventable

Management and fleet supervisors need to establish standards for defensive driving in any type of fleet safety program. (Hartford Insurance)

Unsafe Driving Acts

The top 2 ranked Unsafe Driving Acts of car drivers are:

  1. Driving inattentively (e.g., reading, talking on the phone, etc.)
  2. Merging improperly into traffic, causing a truck to maneuver or brake quickly

Truck drivers behaviors leading to crashes also include inattention, distraction, and failure to follow correct procedures. Sideswipe collisions usually occur while merging or passing.

Sideswipe Countermeasures

Accident countermeasures are examples of Defensive Driving strategies designed to reduce preventable accidents. The objective of countermeasures is to reduce motor carrier fleet accident rates by establishing a company standard for safe driving.

A sideswipe collision is considered preventable if the:

  • Driver was not entirely in their proper lane of travel
  • Driver did not pull to right and slow down or stop for vehicle encroaching on their lane of travel when such action could have been taken without additional danger
  • Driver was passing slower traffic near an intersection and had to make sudden stop
  • Driver made a sudden stop to park, load or unload
  • Driver rolled back into vehicle behind them while starting on a grade
  • Vehicle was improperly parked.

Additionally, drivers should . . .

  • Avoid changing lanes unless really necessary.
  • Signal lane change intentions well ahead of time.
  • Take time to look carefully before changing lanes.
  • Slow down and always maintain a generous following distance and space cushion based on traffic conditions and the vehicle’s size, weight, and stopping distance.

While most of this appears to be common sense, the number one safety tool is awareness, at all levels of operations. Once made aware, drivers can change or modify their driving behaviors and choices.

Thank you for reading this.

Related: Driver Behaviors as Predictors of Crashes

A Collision is a Collision is a Collision

right turn

What is a Collision?

Anyone who is a safety manger or owns or drives a truck may become involved in a collision.

If your truck hits or comes into contact with something or someone or any property, then it’s a collision. A collision may or may not be a DOT reportable accident. But a collision is a collision is a collision.

If a vehicle you strike does not appear damaged, it is still a collision. Sometimes the extent of the damage may be hidden or not easy to see to the untrained eye, or people involved later feel injured and go to the emergency room for treatment.

Should I report it to the police?

While some jurisdictions have a certain dollar damage threshold for what is a reportable accident, it’s a good practice to report a collision for two reasons:
(1.) The final damage bill may be higher that originally estimated,
(2.) Failure to report the collision may be illegal and could result in a citation.

A conviction for “Leaving the scene of an accident” is a serious matter for a CDL driver under 383.51: Disqualification of drivers, that can result in a 1 to 3 year license suspension for a first a offense or a lifetime ban for a subsequent conviction.

Another situation that occasionally occurs is when someone else hits your truck and leaves. There may be no or little damage to your vehicle. It is possible the fleeing driver is unlicensed or under the influence and fears arrest. Once again, it is a good idea to be proactive and make a report to the police as to what happened.

Can I leave a note for/with the other driver?

A note is not a police report. A note can blow away or get lost. Someone else can cause greater damage and not leave a note. It is best to always contact the proper authorities.

I don’t want to get insurance involved and I would rather pay for the damage out of pocket.

If you don’t tell your insurance company about a collision because you’ve decided to handle it privately, if the person you hit later claims an injury, the insurance company might not protect you.

If you are uncertain about the correct course of action, consider checking with your insurance agent and asking them if you should file a claim or not.

In any case, always get as much information as possible at the scene from the other driver, and take photos of the scene and any damage. It’s always a good idea to keep an accident kit in each vehicle. Ask your insurance agent for help in putting together an accident kit.

Not every collision is serious, but when things go unreported, facts can become fuzzy and things can quickly tailspin out of control.


If your truck hits a person or property or another vehicle, it is a collision.

Have a policy requiring any collisions are reported to the proper authorities and channels.

Know your insurance company’s reporting requirements for collisions. Contact your agent if you need advice or more understanding of what you need to do.

Thank you for reading this.

You Want Me to do Whaaat? Preventing Truck Backing Collisions

3 Tip-top Truck Driver Training Tips



Tip No. 1. Instructor’s Mirrors

Problem: The driving instructor or trainer cannot see much using the driver’s mirrors, especially in turns.

Solution: Mount large round mirrors for the instructor.

instructor mirror

Tip No. 2. Windshield “Whiteboard”

Problem: Students may be unfamiliar with a shift pattern or need a visual cue.

Solution: Use a felt-tipped pen or dry erase marker, and the windshield as a whiteboard. (Some drivers use a a felt-tipped pen on a side window to scribble notes as border mileage when crossing state lines.)


Tip No. 3. A Dual Instrument Panel for the Instructor

Problem: The driver’s instrument panel and gauges may be hidden from the instructor’s view, so the instructor cannot monitor speed, RPMs, or if the turn signal is on or off.

Solution: Mount an instrument panel on the instructor’s side.

dual instrument panel

Bonus Tip

I also like an instructor’s brake pedal, to help keep things under control at all times.

At one time a new truck driving school in town with a fancy new truck made a right turn, taking out a telephone pole. The collision cut power to a busy business district and resulted in a huge insurance claim, and, ultimately, put the school out of business. (Yes— if your company takes out a power pole on a turn, the exposure can include business losses due to the power outage. So watch those turns!)

One really bad training collision in 2004 in Climax, GA killed three students and the instructor, when the truck stopped and then pulled in front of a train. It is speculated that the student’s foot slipped off of the clutch. There was a light rain and students switched drivers before the crash.

An instructor’s brake (and instructor’s mirrors as above, on the turn) could have helped to prevent these collisions, in my opinion.

Thank you for reading this. As always, if you are not finding the answers you require, please contact us directly.


New DOT Reg Requires Electronic Logging for CMVs


The ELD Rule

Today the DOT released a final rule ( opens in .pdf format— over 500 pages long) requiring use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) by most commercial motor vehicles. The rule will to be published in the Federal Register and gives motor carriers and affected companies a two year window to comply, from the date of publication.

Highlights of the Rule

The new mandate applies to over three million drivers on the road.

MAP-21 mandates this rule.

Section 32301(b) of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act, enacted as part of MAP-21 (Pub. L. 112-141, 126 Stat. 405, 786-788, July 6, 2012), mandated that the Secretary adopt regulations requiring that CMVs involved in interstate commerce, operated by drivers who are required to keep RODS, be equipped with ELDs. (page 45)


Few Exceptions to the Rule

In today’s rule, FMCSA includes an exception from the ELD mandate for driveaway-towaway operations, as defined in 49 CFR 393.5, provided that the vehicle driven is part of the shipment delivered. (For more details, please see page 74)

The rule will not apply to drivers in commercial vehicles manufactured before model year 2000.

FMCSA also includes an exception for to those drivers operating CMVs older than model year 2000, as identified by the vehicle identification number (VIN) of the CMV. p. 75

“Subject to limited exceptions, today’s rule establishes clear requirements for the use of ELDs in CMVs operating under circumstances where drivers currently must keep paper RODS. Generally, the requirements apply to drivers who are subject to the HOS limits under 49 CFR Part 395, and do not satisfy the short-haul exception to the RODS requirement.” p.84

The Agency, however, has provided limited exceptions from the ELD mandate. The 8-day out of 30 threshold is intended to accommodate drivers who infrequently require RODS.

ELD use will be required only if a driver operates outside the short-haul exception to the paper RODS provision for more than 8 days of any 30-day period. (p.85)

For those motor carriers whose drivers engage in local operations, ELD use would be required only if a driver operates outside the timecard provisions of part 395 for more than 8 days of any 30-day period. The requirement would be applicable to the specific driver rather than the fleet. FMCSA notes that its safety requirements generally do not vary with the size of the fleet and the ELD rulemaking should not deviate from that practice. (p.87)

Today’s technical specifications require that all ELDs be integrally synchronized with the engine. However, the rulemaking does not preclude the use of smart phones or similar devices which could achieve integral synchronization, including wireless devices. (p.88)

All CMVs are Included

. . . FMCSA declines to limit the regulation to CMVs over 26,000 pounds or exempt small passenger vehicles. (p.90)

What to Expect

More information will follow in the months ahead from the device manufacturers. As new devices come on the market, expect the costs of the units and service contracts to decline over time.

Thank you for reading this.



No Trucks Allowed . . . This is Why


The Mark of Distinction

Most businesses take a lot of pride in their operations. They spend thousands of dollars on landscaping, maintenance and making their parking lot look good. Every year. Thousands of dollars.

Then some tractor-trailer that took a wrong turn comes whipping in and out, dragging the trailer wheels on the pavement, mashing down any loose gravel and sometimes gouging out chunks, all at the same time, leaving their “mark of distinction.”

Here’s the end result . . .

quick turns

It’s really unprofessional.

Not only that, it’s hard on the equipment and tires. Any product in the trailer may get bounced around, and sometimes, depending on the load, in a tight 90 degree turn the trailer can lean over on the wheels.

A common turn-around “trap” is a church parking lot. Church parking lots may be designed for car traffic and not hold up under a fully-loaded tractor-trailer.

If a truck damages a parking lot, like falling through the pavement or busting up the concrete, the company is liable for the damages.

Dry Steering

Another real smooth move is dry-steering.


Dry steering is turning the front wheels while the truck is stationary or not in motion.

Once again, the tires — the front tires this time — are being ground into the pavement and it’s hard on the power-steering system. And it will leave a smaller mark of distinction, especially on concrete or pavement when it’s hot.

Do not dry steer!

Dropping Trailers

We, of course, try not to actually “drop” the trailer. But uncoupling a trailer on pavement on a hot day can result in the pads of the landing gear or dollies sinking into the pavement. Consider placing a pad, plate, or plank under the dollies, if the parking lot does not have concrete strips for trailer parking.


Avoid Doing Damage to Parking Lots

Plan your drops. Communicate with the customer.

If there is no room or little room to turn around, consider backing into the parking lot from the street.

Make sure the trailer will be stable, if uncoupled on a parking lot.

Always be professional on the customer’s property and off.

Thank you for reading this.


Perfect Practice Makes Perfect?

2handsPractice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. – Vince Lombardi.

Yesterday I touched on a couple of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits. Later Covey developed his 8th Habit— “Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.” This one habit really concerned putting the other 7 habits into practice. Implementation and execution are always difficult, because learning new habits is difficult.

Learning is Mysterious

Most of us learn by watching others. I started watching truck drivers way back in the gasoline era. Yes— at one time there were few diesel pumps around as gasoline was cheap and plentiful, before the first ‘energy crisis.’

We also learn by practice. If we are self-taught, this is not always the best way to learn because sometimes it is akin to learning by trial and error — as most of us have a tendency to over-rate our own abilities and level of skill.

In the ‘Parking Follies’ video, the first driver sets himself up to fail with his setup and everything goes down hill from there until another driver coaches and spots him. The second driver tries with all his might, but gives up in the end.

What Went Wrong?

One study of human performance by Brooke Macnamara of Princeton, David Z. Hambrick of Michigan State and Frederick Oswald of Rice, found that practice alone, while important, accounts very little for individual differences in performance (only about, on average, 12% depending on the “domain” or area of activity). Age and memory can affect learning and performance, as well as basic aptitude.

“The view that essentially anyone can do essentially anything is not scientifically defensible.” David Lubinski, professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University

The great coach Vince Lombardi found this out in his career when, in 1951, he lost 43 of 45 members of his varsity football team in a cheating scandal. It took him several seasons to rebuild his team.

Starting from Scratch

Performance is an important issue today as more and more motor carriers start their own training schools from scratch to develop new drivers. The key, I believe, as Vince Lombardi did, is to take nothing for granted and truly “start from scratch.”

Every season Lombardi opened up the playbook and started from page one. His only assumption was that the players had forgotten everything they knew from the previous season. In training new truck drivers, on day one, I would tell them to take everything they think they know and throw it out the window.

Performance experts suggest working on one new habit or behavior at a time. Take steering for example. Some carriers expect drivers to use shuffle steering as a safe and effective method to control the vehicle (versus palming the wheel, or using the hand-over-hand method). Performance driving instructor Dave Storton says making shuffle steering a driving habit can take four or five weeks of effort, if a driver is learning it for the first time. There is not enough time in the length of an average truck driving school to make shuffle steering a habit.

Another way to learn faster is by focusing on keystone habits. a term popularized by Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit.” In transportation, good driving is supported by keystone habits as preforming thorough vehicle inspections, scanning in all directions while driving, or careful trip planning. Duhigg says the power of habit comes down to self-discipline and self-discipline outperforms high IQ. As James Clear, author of Transform Your Habits said, “Each day we make the choice to become one percent better or one percent worse.”

In Summary

Take the mystery out of performance by focusing on a mastery of the basics. Get everyone on the same page by focusing on the fundamentals and building good keystone habits throughout the organization. Work at becoming one percent better.

Thank you for reading this.

Stop and Think of Trucking Safety

safety aducational

How often do you think of trucking safety?

Many times we put great effort in safety programs, plans and initiatives. On an almost daily basis, vendors and manufacturers are coming up with new apps, new technology, new systems, and new programs. It’s difficult not to think of some aspect of safety . . .

It’s enough to make your head spin.

With all that is going on in a normal operation, we have to run to keep up with yesterday, let alone the needs of today or tomorrow.

Where does one even dare to start?

Stop and Think


The Safety Imperative

When the late Stephen R. Covey published his 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, his intention was to help people solve personal and professional problems. Early on in his book, Covey introduced the concept of paradigm shift — how two people can see the same thing, yet both differ on what they see.

Covey then introduced his Seven Habits, which he labeled imperatives, or powerful principles used by many of the world’s top executives and most influential leaders. Imperatives are principles that compel a person to act, such as Covey’s First Habit “Be proactive,” or take responsibility for your behavior — a key element of any safety initiative as well.

Covey’s Second Habit, “Begin With the End in Mind,” says we need to imagine or envision in our minds what we cannot at present see with our eyes. Envisioning the End in Mind, I believe not only relates to safety, but is an essential and often overlooked component of safety. Without having an idea where we want to go, a singular goal in mind, we’ll never get there. In that case, any road will do, because any road will take us there. And that is a mistake, a big mistake.

So as we approach the new year and plan for 2016 and beyond, let’s stop thinking about safety projects and start thinking about outcomes — What do we really want to achieve?

On a Mission . . .

Are your outcomes part of your organization’s Mission Statement? A mission statement focuses on what you want your organization to be and do.

Setting the mission is top management’s responsibility. A mission cannot be delegated to anyone except the people ultimately held accountable for it. — Jack Welch, Winning

Do you have a personal Mission Statement? Covey recommends:


  1. Write down your roles as you now see them. Are you satisfied with the mirror image of your life?
  2. Start a collection of notes, quotes, and ideas you may want to use as resource material in writing your personal mission statement.
  3. Identify a project you will be facing in the near future and apply the principle of mental creation. Write down the results you desire and what steps will lead you to those results.

Here is how Air New Zealand tied in a Men in Black theme with their end objectives in passenger safety . . .


Thank you for reading this.






Pranked: Boulders Left on The Road


Caution: Debris on Roadway

Drivers running through the “Land of Enchantment” on I-40 near Grants, New Mexico (about 80 miles west of Albuquerque) need to be cautious at night of rocks, boulders or other objects left on the highway as a prank.

Driver Steve Stukey ran into a box of rocks and other objects left on the road at night just before the Thanksgiving holiday and sustained about $10,000 in damages to his rig, including damage to the bumper, radiator and fuel tank, according to KOAT 7 News.

Four other vehicles had to be towed away from this one incident.

State Police said this type of prank had occurred for the last three nights before Stukey’s rig became the next victim.

“This is not a joke. This is serious,” said Stukey.

Please be extra cautious on I-40 until the situation is resolved.

Night Driving Tips

  • Drive slower.
  • Increase following distance.
  • Do not drive faster than you can see.
  • Guard your night vision from glare by keeping your windows clean, inside and out.
  • Focus on the road, not the lights of oncoming vehicles.


Totally Out of Control

 First responders cover their ears as injured cattle are shot inside an overturned semi cab pulling a cattle trailer that crashed on Highway 126 near Cedar Flat Road east of Springfield. (Brian Davies/The Register-Guard)Everything rises and falls on leadership. John Maxwell

Totally Out of Control

The cattle truck driver who crashed on Highway 126 on Tuesday, resulting in the deaths of more than a dozen cows, was speeding when he failed to negotiate a curve, authorities said Wednesday.

He was cited for failing to drive within a lane, state police said.

According to court records, he has had a number of driving violations during the last decade. He twice was convicted of speeding in 2011, which resulted in the state Department of Motor Vehicles suspending his license.

In August, a man filed a claim against . . . him and his employer (at the time), alleging damages when he was hit by their truck. The lawsuit seeks at least $100,000.

The truck with trailer turned onto its side after shearing a tree and striking a power pole, trapping and killing a number of cattle in Tuesday’s crash. A crew had to remove downed power lines at the crash scene.

Additionally, a state police trooper fatally shot 12 of the injured cows that could not be saved. (The Register-Guard)

 Safety is a Choice

Why anyone would hire a driver with a bad driving record, a previous license suspension, and who brought grief to himself and his previous employer?

Did the driver lie about his driving history or withhold information?

Did the cattle hauler (yes – this was a cattle-hauler, livestock hauling is their specialty) properly vet the driver? Did they do a background check? Do they have hiring standards or a safety program in place?

What went wrong?

I have the utmost respect for cattle-haulers. It’s a tough and thankless job and requires a lot of driving skill and finesse. A cattle-hauler has to be a very good driver, a really special person.

But a tougher job is that of the first responders that have to clean up the messes that — in many cases — should have never happened. Many first-responders are volunteers. They only want to help their communities. But they are the ones who have to deal with the carnage, broken bodies, and the many horrors and aftermaths of the bad drivers and employers who made bad choices.

We can do better than this . . . We have to.

Thank you for reading this.

 Related: Driver Behaviors as Predictors of Crashes

Driving in Hazardous Conditions


“Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?” – George Carlin

The I-94 Pileup

On January 9, 2015, a crash near mile-marker 90 on I-94 west of Battle Creek caused a pileup of 193 vehicles, including 76 tractor-trailers. One truck driver was killed and 22 people were hospitalized. Many vehicles and freight were destroyed. The road was closed for two days during the cleanup.

A month later, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) commissioned a Road Safety Audit on that stretch of road. The results of that study were issued on Monday.

One of the report’s key findings was:

Approximately 65 percent of the winter season crashes involved a vehicle driving “too fast for conditions”, compared to only 38 percent of all-season crashes. This suggests that speed plays a greater role in winter-season crashes compared to other seasons.

This also supports the Michigan State Police (MSP)  findings from the January 9, 2015 crash, in which a total of 58 drivers were cited for driving too fast for conditions, including 30 commercial drivers.

“With 77 percent of drivers driving too fast in the snow, causing the crashes, we certainly need to have education also,” Capt. Michael Brown, MSP, said. State Police intend to increase patrols during adverse weather. Other countermeasures will include an additional lane, better signage and use of smart technology.

What the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations Say

§ 392.14 Hazardous conditions; extreme caution.

Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction.

Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated.

Whenever compliance with the foregoing provisions of this rule increases hazard to passengers, the commercial motor vehicle may be operated to the nearest point at which the safety of passengers is assured.

This regulation is what is known as a standard of care, or the duty of care which all people have toward others. This regulation defines how a reasonably careful person should have and would have acted in a situation of hazardous driving conditions.

This video captures, from inside a truck, what went down during the January 9th crash.

There is precipitation on the windshield and the road is snow covered. While the driver was able to stop, another truck locks it’s brakes and crashes into the pile. Minutes later, flames start to spread over the wrecked vehicles.

Then the calls started to come in to 911 . . .

I-94 post-crash fire.

I-94 post-crash fire.

Lessons Learned

The biggest lesson here is that drivers were not following the standard of care required of them. Drivers were simply traveling too fast for conditions. The pileup started when a van slowed down because of the condition of the road and was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer. Soon dozens of tractor-trailers piled up, including one hauling hazardous materials and one hauling fireworks, that later exploded in the fire that followed. Almost half of the truck drivers in this pileup were cited for speeding.

Tips to Avoid Winter Crashes

• Distribute the weight of the load as evenly as possible. Scale every load in winter: invest in safety.

• Slow down gradually. Avoid panic stops. Avoid use of the brakes. One winter driving tip is to de-clutch the power train by feathering the clutch pedal and simply idling to a slower speed or stop. This technique works on black ice as well, when hitting the brakes can cause a spin or jack-knife.

• Accelerate slowly. Spinning the tires means there is no traction and no action.

• The worse it becomes, the slower you need to drive. Put on the emergency lights, if necessary, to “be seen” and to warn other drivers of your presence. Keep a six-second following distance and keep a “space cushion” around the vehicle. Don’t stay in a “pack” of vehicles.

• Do not use cruise control in adverse weather. Stay in control.

• If conditions are dangerous, do not continue to drive, per §392.14. Hills, slopes, blind curves or grades may be particularly hazardous. The key thing to keep in mind is the possibility of loss of control. If the wheels start to spin or the front tires start to slip or slide, the vehicle cannot be controlled. The vehicle must be kept under control at all times. That is what we mean by following a standard of care.

• Do not pay attention to what other drivers are doing. Their equipment and loads may be different. Always drive at a safe and prudent speed that works for you.

In adverse weather, slower is faster. The key is smooth driving.

Winter is a time we all need to re-learn how to drive again.

Thank you for reading this.

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