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

Trucker DaveMeet Trucker Dave

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

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

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

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

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

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

Freight volume is not tied to your pay.

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

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

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

Here’s my response to Trucker Dave . . .

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

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

No Facts about the Future

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading this.

Safety in a 0.5% Economy

No shorts cuts on the road to success.

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

Safety Critical

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plan For Turbulence

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading this.

Turnover Up . . . Safety Down?

In-n-outTruckload Carriers’ Turnover is Up


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

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

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

What is Turnover?

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

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

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

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

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

Turnover is Expensive

Direct costs of replacement hiring include:

• Recruiting (sourcing)
• Interviewing
• Hiring expenses

On-boarding costs include:

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

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

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

First Year Employee Turnover

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

To calculate first year employee turnover . . .

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

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

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

Thank you for reading this.


RRX: The Most Dangerous Railroad/Highway Grade Crossings

Five people died at this crossing in Evergreen Alabama.

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

Danger on the Tracks

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

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

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

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

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

Distracted Driving

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marsh: Most Truck Crashes From Drivers Being Sleepy or Distracted

Fatal hard braking

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


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

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

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

Nuclear Verdicts

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

Distracted Driving

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

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

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

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

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

What Smart Companies Do

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

Tip: Space + Focus = Collision-free Driving  Marsh

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading this.

The Hazmat Quizmaster — Is That Hazmat?

hazmat testTake the Hazmat Quiz

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

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

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

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

How to Identify Hazardous Materials

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

• Caution
• Danger 
• Poison
• Warning

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

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












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













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

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

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

Check the Hazardous Materials Table (49 CFR 172.101)

The Hazardous Materials Table identifies and classifies hazardous materials.

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

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

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

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

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


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

Thank you for reading this.

Dangers of Flash Flooding and Driving

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


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

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

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

Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities involve vehicles.

2015 flooding

Heavy blue show flooded roads in 2015 Houston flooding.

What to Do

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t be this guy . . .

Thank you for reading this.

Preventable Accident Guidelines

collisionControlling Preventable Collisions and Claims

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

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

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

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

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


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

Vehicle Ahead

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

Struck From Behind

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


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

Being Passed

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


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

Fixed Objects

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


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

Private Property

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

Passenger Accident

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading this.


The Registered ELDs: An Update


Voluntary Use of ELDs . . .

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

Never volunteer! U.S. Army survival tip

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

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

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

How does one know their ELD meets the DOT standards?

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

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


Other Promoted Solutions

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading this.





What to Expect During an FMCSA Compliance Investigation

CMV enforcementIt Starts With a Letter . . .

So said Justin Smoot of Cottingham & Butler in his webinar On Friday, April 15, 2016, What to Expect During an FMCSA Compliance Investigation.

It’s a letter from your friendly Department of Transportation saying they will arrive within a week (generally within 3 days) for a compliance audit.

This is not the same as a new-entrant safety audit, whereas the DOT is checking out your level of safety. A compliance audit is looking for something specific.

That something could be an acute regulation violation — severe enough as to require immediate corrective actions (usually a singularity) — or a critical regulation violation — indicative of breakdowns in a carrier’s management controls (usually a pattern or repeat violation). The audit letter will specify what records will be looked at.

Top Audit Tip: Cull your records— only provide what was asked for.

Typical DOT Audit Items

• The MCS-90

The MCS-90 endorsement is the form that serves as the required proof that the motor carrier is in compliance with the federal regulations to protect the public.

The MCS-90 form applies to both interstate carriers and certain intrastate carriers (based on commodity hauled).

The form could be found within your insurance policy or attached to the policy. Ask your agent about it if you cannot identify the form. This form should be kept at your place of business. Your insurance agent will provide you with a copy of the MCS-90.

Top Audit Tip: Create a MCS 90 File

• The DOT Accident File / Accident Register

Let’s be clear, the DOT Accident File / Accident Register is always a required form (or file), whether or not  your company was involved in a collision. Write “NONE” on the form if you have not had any DOT reportable collisions. At least have a State Police or Highway Patrol accident report in file for each collision. The DOT may check this against your Loss Run record.

Top Audit Tip: Create DOT Accident File / Accident Register

• The Driver Qualification (DQ) File

Each driver (or, really, every CMV driver applicant) needs to have a Driver Qualification (DQ) File.  I find myself blogging more and more on the topic of DQ files and the more I blog, the more seems to be left unsaid.

The driver needs to meet the requirements of the General Qualifications under 391.11.

The DQ File, itself, needs to meet the General requirements for driver qualification files under 391.51.

The Application for Employment needs to meet the elements under 391.21.

Certain background Investigation and Inquiries are required under 391.23.

  • And pay particular attention to the minimum requirements under 391.23 (d.) and the drug and alcohol requirements of 40.25.

The driver needs to meet the physical qualifications under 391.41(a).

  • The driver further needs to certify their medical certificate with the DMV or state licensing agency.
  • The employer (motor carrier) needs to document the driver went to an examiner listed on the National Registry.

Drivers have to certify any violations under 391.25.

There should be a Road Test (or for CDL drivers, an equivalent under 391.33.

Lastly, drivers may need certification of entry-level training under Part 380.

Other DOT Audit Areas . . .

Justin Smoot covered Drug and Alcohol testing requirements, Hours of Service, Driver-Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs), Corrective Safety Plans, and much more. Specific questions were answered by Justin by email.

For future webinars, please visit Cottingham & Butler’s Transportation Safety Webinar Series.

Thank you for reading this and much thanks to Justin Smoot.


Top Driver Qualification FAQs . . .

in control

They did it, again!

What they did was present another information-jammed-packed presentation—

Yesterday, Kathy Close and Daren Hansen of J.J. Keller presented a webinar called, Top Driver Qualification FAQs  The who, what, when, and where of DQ file management.

Here are a few highlights . . .

If someone drives a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV), then they need to be qualified. And if they need to be qualified — with few exceptions — the qualifications need to be documented in a DQ file.

This could include . . .

  • Hostler truck drivers (Yard spotters)
  • Temps/seasonal drivers
  • Contract drivers
  • Owner/operators
  • Supervisors/managers
  • Business owners/principals
  • Any CMV driver

Did we miss anyone?

“If they are Behind-The-Wheel (BTW), then they are a driver.” Kathy Close, Transportation Publishing editor.

What has to be in the DQ File?

  • DOT Application for Employment
  • Motor Vehicle Record (MVR)
  • Safety Performance History
  • Certificate or Road Test/CDL
  • Medical Card/National Registry verification
  • Annual Driver’s List of Convictions/Annual Review

JJ Keller can assist motor carriers in their DQ file needs in several ways.

Some may prefer to download various forms available on federal and state websites. I will caution you these forms may not always be current or the latest form version. Download at your own risk.

What if something is missing in a DQ File or on a form?

Suppose you downloaded a free form from somewhere but are missing a page or two? Now what?

Kathy and Daren gave four golden rules of DQ File compliance . . .

  • Acknowledge the error.
  • Show a good-faith effort to comply.
  • Never back-date documents (falsify)
  • Correct your process/procedures.

Goofs occasionally happen to the very best motor carriers. Forms are not filled out. Forms are incomplete. Follow-ups are not done. Mistakes are made . . .

Okay, a paperwork mistake was made. Now what?

One consideration is the amount of time that has elapsed since the error. But if it was recent, it should be corrected.

Errors in DQ File recordkeeping should never be corrected by anything that could be considered fraudulent.

Do not attempt to hide the error. Document what was discovered and what, if anything, was done to correct it.

Then, the most important part, is to initiate a correction to your process and procedures so something like this does not happen again or is not likely to happen again. This might be in the form of a new checklist, a self-audit review or some other form of administrative control that works best in your particular operation.

Other DQ File Considerations

• Keep the file organized.

Things have a way of creeping into the DQ file. In some respects it’s a lot like a personnel file.

But it is not a personnel file, HR file, employment file or what-have-you file. The DQ file should not serve as a collection point for such things as payroll garnishments, court documents, accident reports, and the like. Only keep the information that is required to be in the file, nothing more and nothing less.

Any optional records in the DQ Files can and will be audited for violations if presented to auditors.

• Keep the file secure, if . . .

If the DQ File is keep together with secure information as Drug and Alcohol testing results or background investigation results, then the file must be kept secure (under lock and key, with authorized access only).

Tip: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations list minimum retention periods.

Kathy and Daren covered much more in their presentation, including a question and answer segment at the end. I appreciate their help in keeping folks informed of the many regulatory nuances and thank JJ Keller & Associates Inc for sponsoring the webinar.

Thank you for reading this.

If You See Orange Barrels . . . It’s a Work Zone

construction zone

Winter . . . and Construction

In Michigan, the local saying goes, there are only two distinct seasons . . . winter and construction.

Most drivers know when it’s winter, but some drivers seem to be confused as to when they are entering a construction zone . . .

Many drivers tell Law Enforcement Officers, “I didn’t know it was a construction zone,” tweeted Sgt. John Perrine.  So here’s a heads-up:

TIP— If you see orange barrels it’s a work zone. Sgt. John Perrine

Many states double fines and “points” for traffic infractions in a construction work zone. Avoiding a ticket, however, should be the least of our considerations; we want to be safe and make sure everyone else is safe, too.

Because there can be distractions and a lot happening at the same time, construction zones can be dangerous and deadly. The Federal Highway Administration (FHA) reminds us in the last 5 years:

  • 4,400 persons died (85 percent of which was the driver or passenger) in work zones
  • 200,000 persons were injured
  • A fatal work-zone collision involving a truck occurs every 3 days

Statistics from work-zone crashes show:

  • 47% of fatal rural work-zone collision involve trucks
  • 49% of fatal truck-involved work-zone collisions involve a truck running into something or someone, and
  • 30% of fatal truck-involved work-zone collisions involve driver distraction.

The most common type of work zone crash is the rear-end collision. Drivers are following too closely or not paying attention.


• Keep a good following distance and be ready to suddenly stop.

• Look for other vehicles trying to merge late into the lane.

• Some states enforce the zipper merge.

• Stay under the posted speed limit.

• Expect the unexpected. People will make mistakes.

• Turn the radio off and CB down.

• Limit conversations.

• In bad weather, slow down and leave extra following distance.

• Be mindful of flaggers and signage.

• Out east, cars will (illegally) pass your truck by driving on the shoulder.

• Allow extra drive time in your schedule.

• Don’t make ANY unnecessary lane changes.

• Keep your headlights on.

• Drive defensively.

My personal strategy is to avoid construction zones, if possible. If I can’t avoid them, I will try to run through the zone during off peak-traffic times. Sometimes they can’t be avoided.

Yeah . . . I’m that guy following the work-zone speed limit . . . And I hope you do, too . . .

Remember today’s tip: If you see the orange barrels, it’s a work zone.

Thank you for reading this. With thanks to Sgt. John Perrine.


Drivers . . . Chock Your Wheels

Roll-away_mixerReady Mix Trucks Rolls Away

A 48-year-old ready mix truck driver was fatally injured Wednesday April 13, 2016 while working under his vehicle, which passed over him when it started to move, then rolled about the length of a football field into an unoccupied house.

No one else was injured or hurt in the incident. The name of the driver was not released, but the driver was said to be well known and respected in his community.

Drivers . . . Chock Your Wheels

Did you know that all wheel chocks are not created equal?

The size and type of wheel chock used is really dependent on several factors including the vehicle’s size and weight and the angle of the road surface (slope or grade). There is actually a formula to determine maximum slope angle of a chock.

We’ll skip the math today, but keep in mind that parking on an angle greater than 10 degrees increases the risk of the vehicle rolling over the chock. The surface under the chock needs to be firm, as well, or the chock can be squashed down.

Parking on inclines greater than 30% gradient (16.6 degrees) is not recommended with wheel chocks. (Another sort of anchor may be appropriate for safety purposes.)

Wheel chocks are covered under SAE J348, but the standard itself is not helpful as it is under revision.

What To Know About Wheel Chocks

Wheel chocks are designed to supplement the parking brake. I can recall, for example, a time when trailers were not equipped with parking brakes and wheel chocks were essential to even unhook the trailer. Everybody carried 4x4s in the cab for this purpose. Today that is not the case, but there is still a place for wheel chocks, as large vehicles roll away every day, especially if parked on a grade, even a slight grade.

Trucks and trailers can roll-away, even if the parking brakes are set if:

  • brakes are out of adjustment
  • brakes are worn
  • brakes have been poorly maintained
  • a combination of the above

Brakes can easily get out of adjustment if a driver does not do his/her daily air-brake checks. Brakes that are out of adjustment are frequently cited on roadside inspections.

Automatic slack adjusters are really a misnomer, because if a driver does not fully apply the service brakes, the adjusting ratchet may not properly adjust. Most braking is light pressure (between 8 p.s.i. to 15 p.s.i on the application gauge). Rarely does a driver need to jam on the brakes during normal driving. But unless full-brake applications are made, the slack adjusters will not adjust themselves.

One way to help the automatic slack adjusters to properly adjust is to do daily pre-trip inspection brake checks: (a.) check the air brake gauges, (b.) do the Parking Brake Check or “Stall” Test, and (c.) the Air Loss or Leak-Down Test. They check (d.) the Low-air warning devices and do the (e.) Protection valves POP-OFF test.

Chock Your Wheels

So always use wheel chocks whenever:

  • parked on a grade
  • working around the truck
  • working under the truck
  • parked in high wind conditions
  • at docks (per OSHA or state rules)

Make sure the vehicle is always properly secure with wheel chocks . . . and it will be.

Thank you for reading this.

More  . . . Test Your Air Brakes

Loss Run Lollapuzzoola

loss run

A Harvest of Sorrows

A motor carrier’s loss run report can say a lot about where they are at when it comes to safety. A loss run is a report that offers a history of claims that have been made on a commercial insurance policy.

Here are a few incidents from a loss run I recently viewed . . .

1.) Description of Collision: The tractor-trailer was turning right when the driver realized he did not have enough space to execute the turn, so he backed up in the turning lane and backed into the vehicle in line behind him.

Claims for injuries, as a result of this collision, were presented and the insurance company settled for $100,000.

2.) Description of Collision: Tractor-trailer was making a right and misjudged the turn and said he had to back up to make it. The vehicle behind was slightly bumped while the truck was backing.

The other vehicle left the scene and no police report made.

3.) Description of Collision: The  tractor-trailer missed its turn, stopped and reversed without looking, striking the left front of the other vehicle.

The insurance company paid $6,600 in damages.

4.) Description of Incident: After pulling the loaded trailer from the dock, the driver could not find an empty parking space to drop the trailer. He dropped the trailer on side of driveway where other trailers and rigs had previously parked. After he pulled out from under trailer and went around to pick up an empty, he witnessed the trailer tip over onto its right side. Ground under right landing gear was soft.

The insurance company paid $3,200 in damages to the trailer and the freight, for unloading the trailer, and for tow trucks.

5.) Description of Incident: The driver was backing under trailer. He did not realize the trailer was too high. Damage resulted to the bunk extenders and brackets.

The insurance company paid $6,440 for repairs.

The driver said, "“I didn’t see nothing," after backing into this $250k Ferrari FF.

The driver said, “I didn’t see nothing,” after backing into this $250k Ferrari FF.


One thing that can stand out on a loss run report is the fact that some of the same drivers keep having “bad luck.” About ten percent of a fleet’s “high-risk” drivers can result in one third of all claims, according to some studies.

This is why it pays to investigate each and every accident and incident and have an accident preventability program in place and “score” each and every safety event. Was it really a case of the driver being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or was it simply the bad judgment of the driver that resulted in the collision or incident? We know driver error is responsible for most collisions.

  • Backing in traffic is a major no-no. There is simply no excuse for it. Having a number of these same incidents over time tells me this mid-sized carrier does not care about training or safety (as was the case).
  • Backing under a trailer and ramming the back of the cab is . . . dumb. The driver rolled the dice on that one . . . and lost.
  • Sure . . . they might drop empties along the driveway . . . not fully loaded trailers. Why didn’t the driver find a plank to put under the landing gear if he wanted to set a loaded trailer on bare earth? Why not indeed . . .

In final analysis, in my opinion, this carrier wants to keep expanding, but doesn’t want to bother with investing in safety. They don’t determine accident preventability. They don’t have safety meetings. Their next loss run most likely will be much like their last one . . . if they can find a risk partner to underwrite their losses . . .

Thank you for reading this.

Keeping Drivers Safe on the Road

Golden rules of driving

Fatal Truck Driver Collisions On the Rise

SInce 2009 there has been an increase in work-related fatalities of large-truck occupants, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why is that? What is driving this? What can be done?

Not Wearing Seat Belts / Safety Belts

The most effective way to prevent crash injuries/deaths in large trucks is simple: drivers (and occupants) need to wear a safety belt (or bunk restraints) while driving.

Studies show about 1 in 6 truck drivers doesn’t use a seat belt. Other studies show seat belts/safety belts could have prevented up to 40% of these crash-deaths.

Three other significant facts arise from safety-belt studies and driver behavior. Unbelted drivers usually:

  • Work for an employer without a written safety program
  • Have had at least one moving violation in the past year 
  • Often drive 10 mph or more over the speed limit.

In other words, the unbelted driver is a risky driver or high risk driver.

What Employers Can Do?

Enforce a mandatory safety belt/ safety belt use policy. Drivers need to be aware of the policy and the consequences of violation.

Of course, one of the best way to keep truck drivers safe on the road is to prevent crashes. Invest in safety. Invest in new technology.

But new technology can only go so far. How you recruit, train, and monitor drivers is where new technology can help the most.

Beside using a seat belt/ safety belt employers can encourage and monitor drivers:

  • Not to use their cell phone
  • Not to drive over the speed limit
  • Never use alcohol or drugs on the job
  • Plan the trip: encourage driving during daylight hours rather than after dark, whenever possible.

These, plus the use of a safety belt are called the golden rules of safe driving.

“Poor safety is nothing more than a lack of leadership.”

Be a Safety Leader

Other safety initiatives include incorporating a Fatigue Management System for drivers. Fatigue is a major hazard because it affects most aspects of a driver’s ability to do their job. As such, it has implications for safety. One such option is Omnitracs Analytics’ Driver Fatigue Model.

Behavior based Driver Training should be de rigueur for every driver employer starting with Defensive Driving Training (Instructor-led training or E-learning modules) and continuing with advanced training or even remedial training for the drivers who need it.

Take and make safety initiatives that are unique to your set of operations. Sometimes this means taking at look at your safety awards or safety incentives program. Some regulatory bodies like OSHA do not like incentive or bonus programs because they believe poor safety can be hidden. One option is to pool the names of safe drivers and randomly pick a winner for recognition. Another bonus option is to find out if there are any particular privileges a driver may want as extra-long weekends or the like. Find out what works best for your particular drivers,

Improve a Little at a Time

It took a long time to get wherever you are at. Changes will take some time as well. The idea is to keep looking for unique solutions that can make a big difference in the long haul.

Thank you for reading this.

There Really Wasn’t Anything Anyone Could Have Done . . . Or Was There?

fatal collision

There Really Wasn’t Anything Anyone Could Have Done . . .

On Thursday, a young man with autism stepped off the bus in Omaha and was fatally injured. He attempted to cross the street from around the front of the bus and was struck by a tow truck. He was 24 years old.

“There really wasn’t anything anyone could have done.” Witness to the collision.

For those of us in the world of loss control and traffic safety and collision prevention, we might disagree with that statement.

Sure, a pedestrian has the duty to take reasonable and prudent caution before venturing out in traffic. But a driver can never assume a pedestrian will do this.

  • Children under the age of 10 or 11, for example, have no sense of traffic. They will follow balls, toys, pets or other children into a busy street.
  • Many traffic signals do not allow sufficient time for the elderly to cross a typical street.
  • Parked vehicles as buses, trucks, SUVs, etc., are huge blind spots and can hide someone about to cross into the street.


  • A basic rule when driving past parked vehicles is to look for feet under the vehicle, indicating someone is about to step out.
  • Slow down. Slowing down gives a driver more time to process driving information and respond (not react in a panic). One study found that a reduction of 5 km/h or about 3 MPH could be expected to result in a reduction of 30% of fatal pedestrian collisions and 10% of collisions would have been avoided altogether.
  • Be alert and avoid distractions. Be mindful of driving. Focus, focus, focus.

What is Defensive Driving?

Defensive driving is a set of driving skills.

A skill is the ability to do something well, or expertly.

By that simple definition, the average driver is . . . well, average. Many U.S. drivers have never had any formal driving classes in their lifetime. Driver’s Ed is not universal because it can be expensive. I can remember a while back when Texas allowed parents to skip formal driver’s ed classes and teach their own kids how to drive in the parent-taught driver education (PTDE) program. Kids take on-line classes and the parent does the in-car training portion. (On a side note, It was interesting because at that time, Texas had an open-container law in which a passenger could legally drink alcohol while going down the road.)

The point is not everyone has good defensive driving skills because they have never been taught that particular skill set.

Secondly, we all need reminders from time to time because even the best defensive driving skills can get stale.

Over time one notices that certain types of collisions seem to occur in a series. Awareness of a particular danger is increased . . . and then, oddly enough, those types of collisions seem to disappear. Then the cycle repeats itself. (Some say all accidents simply follow the law of averages. I disagree.) Learning by making mistakes is neither the best nor the most efficient way to go about defensive driving. Drivers need training and retraining.

Defensive driving is a form of training or practice for motor vehicle drivers to drive in such a way that they consciously reduce the dangers associated with driving.

If you employ drivers, then teach them defensive driving. One advantage of living in the Age of Information is that the costs of training keep going down (while the cost of doing nothing keeps increasing).

There is no excuse for any employer of drivers not to have a defensive driving program.

Thank you for reading this.


Get the FAQs: One of Two Upcoming Can’t Miss (Free) Webinars . . .

In control


Here are two upcoming Webinars, that may be of interest if you are involved in transportation.

Top Driver Qualification FAQs

On Thursday, April 14, 2016, at 11 AM EDT Kathy Close & Daren Hansen of J.J. Keller will present a webinar about Top Driver Qualification FAQs.

J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. is a privately-held company that was founded in 1953 by John “Jack” Keller. Their mission is to be the first choice for customers looking for assistance in managing risk and regulatory compliance in our primary areas of expertise – Transportation, Industrial/Workplace Safety & Human Resources.

The days of tossing the keys to a new driver and sending them on their way are long gone. Any driver of a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) needs to be qualified and the qualification process documented. These records need to be in a driver qualification (DQ) file. The driver needs to be road tested and a proper background investigation done.

Next week Thursday, join Kathy Close & Daren Hansen as they delve into the some of the top problem areas in qualifying drivers in Top Driver Qualification FAQs.

What to Expect During an FMCSA Compliance Investigation

On Friday, April 15, 2016 at 1:00PM CST, Justin Smoot of Cottingham & Butler will present on What to Expect During an FMCSA Compliance Investigation.

Cottingham & Butler is headquartered in Dubuque, Iowa, employs nearly 700 employees nationwide and is the 35th largest insurance broker. Their mission is to PARTNER with their clients, to PROTECT their most valuable assets, and to BUILD an exceptional company of passionate insurance professionals.

Does the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) still do compliance audits and investigations? They sure do. A DOT audit may last from hours to even weeks. If you have a DOT number and operate in interstate commerce, under certain circumstances, your company could be subject to a DOT compliance audit or investigation. Some states have adopted these federal rules as well.

Next week Friday, join Justin Smoot for his talk about What to Expect During an FMCSA Compliance Investigation.

There should be a brief Q&A session near the end of these webinars to answer additional questions you might have.

Thank you for reading this.

Drivers . . . Be Mindful of . . . People

Checking on the scene . . .


It was her first concert and the Greyhound bus dropped her off on an evening scheduled stop on U.S. 23. She called home on her cell phone, as she crossed the dark highway. She was 18 and never saw the truck . . .

The numbers are still coming in for 2015, but everything so far points to last year as being one of the most dangerous years for pedestrians says the Insurance Journal. It is estimated that about 15% of fatalities in 2015 were pedestrians. About a decade ago the average was about 10% to 11% per year.

About 42% of the pedestrian fatalities occurred in the states with large metropolitan centers: California, Florida, Texas and New York.

But as the photo below shows, pedestrians can show up where you least expect them.

Pedestrian on expressway

A truck dashcam catches a pedestrian strolling along an expressway.


There seem to be blind people out there trying to drive, and there are blind people out there trying to walk. Turn on your lights so they can see you coming. Dress in contrast to the pavement so the drivers can see you.  Frances Eckhardt, Vancouver

Cellphone-Distracted Walking

In 2015 the National Safety Council (NSC) added a new category called cellphone-distracted walking when tracking unintentional deaths and injuries. NSC estimates that between 2000 and 2011 more than 11,000 people were injured while walking and talking on their phones.

“Cellphone use reduces situational awareness. You are unaware that you are unaware. Peripheral vision drops by 10 percent when you’re using a mobile device, enough to miss a traffic light or an oncoming car. That pulls our attention away and results in unsafe behavior.” Lisa Kons,  Minnesota Safety Council.

So many people walking and texting has led to a new word —petextrian. People are literally bumping into things, not watching where they are going, while interacting with their electronic devices.


(A countermeasure is a measure or action taken to counter or offset another one.)

There is an interesting phenomenon every commercial truck driver notices sooner or later in their career. . . the larger the truck you drive, the more invisible it seems to become.

The only effective solution to this cloak of invisibility are basic defensive driving practices such as those of the Smith System:

  • 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

Learning to effectively manage time and space is the key to defensive driving. For example, if you don’t have six seconds following distance, the vehicle ahead might be able to swerve around someone, but you will not have enough time to anticipate the danger and respond in an appropriate manner.

Another tool is the active practice of mindfulness while driving: focusing on one thing in the moment.

  • Set all distractions aside
  • Give driving your full attention
  • Do not to judge anything that you’re experiencing. It is what it is.
  • Enjoy the journey.

Thank you for reading this.

More: Preventing Roll-overs of Pedestrians

How can Pedestrian Collisions be Prevented?



Rollaways . . . Runaways . . . Driveoffs . . .

Anthony Dellegrazie kneels over the covered body his dad, in Brooklyn on Monday.

The Case of the Unsecured Vehicle . . .

A truck driver stopped his tractor-trailer to drop off lunch to a fellow worker. Noticing the truck had started to roll away, he attempted to get back in the vehicle and during the attempt, the 26 year old father of two was fatally injured.

While these type of collisions are sometimes referred to as “freak accidents,” they are not that uncommon. An online search for “driver killed trying to stop rolling truck” shows over 27 million results . . .


A countermeasure is defined as a measure or action taken to counter or offset another one.

Drivers should be in the habit of a following what some call the Cockpit Exit Routine.

(1) Set the brakes or check that the brakes have been set. To set or check the air brakes,pull the yellow knob on the dash. This will also automatically deploy the trailer air brakes.

(2) Ensure the ignition key is in the “off” position. On average, a truck key is left in the “on/ accessory-position” at least once a year, resulting in a drained battery (and about a $225 average service call).

(3) Check that the turn signal or emergency lights are off.

(4) Check a second time that the air brakes have been set  by pulling on the yellow knob again.

(5) Once outside, take a final glance back at the truck, making sure no lights have been left on. Set wheel chocks if the vehicle is parked on an incline.

Drivers should not attempt to chase or stop a rolling truck. I am not aware of any situations where such an attempt made the situation better. More than likely, a panicked attempt to stop a truck already in motion will result in a serious injury or worse.

Stay cool. Stay calm. Follow the Cockpit Exit Routine.


The NY Post reported a tragedy occurred early this week when someone stole Phil Dellegrazie’s brand-new flatbed truck while he was loading it by his metal shop in Brooklyn. After confronting the man at an intersection, the suspect ran over and killed Mr. Dellegrazie, who was well-liked and respected by the local community.

If your vehicle is being stolen, it’s hard to stop yourself from reacting. But the key thing is to respond, not react.

The best response is to call the police, then your insurance company. They deal with this everyday. One vehicle is stolen every minute, nationally.


According to NHTSA  up to half of stolen vehicles are a result of oversights or mistakes made by the driver . . .

  • Always lock the vehicle, taking the keys with you
  • Avoid keeping a spare key hidden in or on the vehicle.
  • Always lock the door and roll up the windows.
  • Never leave the vehicle running.

Thank you for reading this.



Dangerous Goods Symposium (DGS XI) – Free Registration Until April 15th

 Dangerous Goods SymposiumLablemaster

Founded in 1967, Lablemaster is a privately held company based in Chicago, IL that offers software, products, and services for compliance with all dangerous goods regulations.

‘Dangerous goods’ are materials or items with hazardous properties, also known as hazardous materials or hazmat.


Every year for the past decade, Labelmaster has sponsored a Dangerous Goods Symposium for instructors and professionals involved in the shipping of Dangerous Goods.

The 11th annual Dangerous Goods Symposium (DGS XI) will be held September 7th – 9th at the new Loews Chicago Hotel on 455 North Park Drive. Normally running around $300 a night, mention Code ALC906 to secure the group rate of $199/night, if you stay at Loews.

This Dangerous Goods Symposium is for anyone involved in the training, transporting or handling of Dangerous Goods/Hazardous Materials.

Registration  for the 11th annual Dangerous Goods Symposium is free until April 15th.  Topics will cover topics as Dangerous Goods 101, to training best-practices to the latest lithium battery regulations, as well as updates in the ever moving world of Dangerous Goods/Hazardous Materials.

Register here: DG Symposium Registration.

Each person attending needs to register separately.

If you are involved in involved in the training, transporting, or handling of Dangerous Goods/Hazardous Materials, want to learn more or want to build your industry network, then don’t miss the the 11th annual Dangerous Goods Symposium.

Follow Labelmaster on LinkedIn, Twitter, G+, YouTube, or their blog.

Thank you for reading this.