The Climb

Mt Everest

A Legendary Conquest

It’s the stuff that legends are made of. A young, successful couple go on a quest to prove to the world that vegans can do anything by climbing the Seven Summits — the tallest mountains in the world.

One of their expedition leaders has a similar goal: to reach the summit of Mt. Everest. He finally succeeds on this, his fourth attempt, but on the way down, he had spent all he had and pays the ultimate price. . . The young couple both in their 30s, don’t make it to the top and also pay a price. Youth alone does not provide any immunity against altitude sickness in the death zone. She dies and he is stricken . . .

What’s the connection to transportation, you might ask?

We can see similar results everyday when drivers push themselves beyond their personal limits. Perhaps they are tired or not feeling well. Perhaps their health isn’t what it used to be. Perhaps their schedule was delayed and their sleep cycle was interrupted.

But they push on. They are so focused on the mission they miss their own vital signs. They bop until they literally drop.

In the majority of cases, pushing to the limits results in single vehicle collision. The truck runs off of the road. Sometimes the driver is seriously injured. If the vehicle rolls, it is likely the driver will be seriously injured or even fatally injured, His driving career is tarnished and could be over . . .

If the driver finds himself in the Land of Nod on a heavily traveled road, he may crash into other vehicles. If so, there is the likelihood of multiple injuries or even fatalities.

If the driver survives, he will be in a world of hurt. The odds are that his driving career is over. He may be sued with his company. He may be criminally prosecuted and jailed.

It doesn’t matter how good his driving record. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t intend for a collision to happen. There will people looking for justice or the closest thing they can get to justice.

Who’s to Blame?

Is the driver to blame? Is the carrier to blame? Is no one to blame? Is the “system” to blame?

Will new technology solve this problem?

Time will tell.

In the meantime, drivers need to know their limits. Drivers need to learn how to read their own vital signs. They need to know about fatigue management and the signs of sleep.

The one thing we know about sleep for sure is that you can not fight it. When your brain shuts down, there is little a person can do other than get some needed rest.

Don’t try to make the climb if you can’t do it. Stay out of the zone of death. Know when to say no . . .


Thank you for reading this.

Drivers . . . Check Your Wheels

wheel-off in Key Biscayne

Wheel-Off in Key Biscayne

On Monday morning, two joggers were hit by one of two tires that broke free from a rear trailer axle of a passing tractor-trailer, while running on a path along the Rickenbacker Causeway in Key Biscayne, Florida.

Stephanie Hilzinger was hit from behind and knocked unconscious by the rogue tire. She is hospitalized in critical (but stable) condition. The other free tire rolled into a parking lot.

A Freak Accident?

While generally called a ‘freak accident,’ wheel-offs are not that uncommon.

Wheel-offs can result from the loss of the duals when the axle spindle nut becomes loose, or when the lug nuts loosen and the tires have nothing to keep them in place.

There are a myriad of situations that can lead to wheel-offs:

Bad drivers:

Constantly run up and over curbs, fire hydrants, scrub the tires, run fast and hard through deep potholes or uneven rail-crossings. They leave their marks in the parking lot by making tight turns and dragging the trailer wheels. In short, they are abusive to the equipment and were never properly trained on how to treat the equipment or are indifferent and simply don’t care. All those stresses and strains start to add up and take their toll over time.

If you start to notice tire wear from axles knocked out of alignment, tire failures from running into things or unusual damage, it might be time to start asking some questions and check to see if you have a one-man, rapid-depreciation program that you are not aware of . . .

Bad drivers allow dirt and grime to build up on the wheels — leading to corrosion — and potential loose lug nuts. Bad drivers don’t take the time to properly inspect their equipment or may not even know how to do an inspection.

But not every wheel-off is due to a bad driver . . .

Bad Mechanics

I grew up around trucks and wheels. Things are a lot easier now then “back in the day” when all mechanics had were hand tools and a lot of grit. I’m still amazed —looking back, how my father, not a big man, could, rain or shine, repair a tire or dress the wheel bearings out in the middle of a gravel yard.

All I will say on the subject of mechanics is that there is a proper procedure to be followed in the inspection and repair of wheels. If you are not sure about what you are doing, have your work checked out by someone who has the knowledge and experience.

Bad Components

“Parts are parts,” the old saying goes. But it’s not true when it comes to wheels. Only use good, quality parts. Be cautious of ‘super deals’ or cheap knock-offs. Don’t hand your reputation over to an inferior supplier . . .

Train Indoctrinate Your Drivers

Your safety culture is your primary defense against wheel-off risk.

Drivers and mechanics need to know how to do good inspections of the tires, wheels, suspension, and brakes.

Here is a basic wheel inspection:

Grab each lug nut and give it a hard twist to check for looseness.

check the lugsVisually inspect the wheel . . .

  • Check for looseness as indicated by rust streaks or shiny metal.
  • Look for oxidation on aluminum rims.
  • There should be no missing lugs or missing studs.
  • Look for any cracks or breaks at the lug holes or any other part of a rim
    or cast spokes.
  • Check for evidence of slippage of wheel assembly on cast spoke hub.
  • Note if any stud holes are elongated.
  • Check if any wheel nut, stud, or clamp is loose, or if there is rust or corrosion
    indicating possible looseness.
  • Check if any wheel, nut, stud, or clamp is broken or missing.
  • If equipped, check if there is an improper spacer installed between dual wheels.

This needs to be done on a daily basis.

Let’s prevent wheel-offs.

Thank you for reading this.

Manage The Easy

Manage the easy

“Anticipate the difficult by managing the easy.” — Lao Tzu

Managing the Easy

How does one ‘anticipate the difficult by managing the easy’ in the realm of motor vehicles?

One place to start is with written hiring standards. What is the minimum age and level of experience necessary for the job? How many tickets or collisions can a new driver have and still be eligible for the job? What kind of prior convictions should be disqualifying for the job? How far back should you look at their past driving history? Should any criminal convictions be disqualifying?

Answers to these questions will vary depending upon your operations. Certain driving jobs require a higher level of experience and higher standards.

Once you have your written hiring standards down, the next step is a road test. This is not always done or done correctly. “Yeah, we ride with them,” is not a road test. Coaching someone on the route is not a road test. A 100% pass rate is not a road test.

If the driver is a CDL driver, they need to take a pre-employment DOT drug screen and the results need to get back before that driver is put on the road.

Every DOT regulated driver should fill out a DOT application for employment.

A background investigation is also required. Any employment gaps should be looked at. Prior employment needs to be verified. The whole process needs to be documented.

A DOT regulated driver needs a medical certificate (DOT physical) from an approved medical examiner.

It’s a good idea to inform your new hire on how things are done at your organization by means of some sort of orientation. At a simple level, this might mean going over some basic policies and procedures:

  • Cell phones and electronic devices policy
  • Passenger policy
  • Drugs and Alcohol policy
  • Personal Use of Work Vehicles policy

Many insurance companies require written acknowledgments of these policies, signed by the employee. Don’t wait for your risk partner to nudge you in this direction . . .

Orientation might include a discussion of safety including defensive driving, load securement and what to do in the event of a collision. Do you have an employee manual? That, too, can be gone over in detail.

On the Road

Once the road, the driver paperwork does not end. A system needs to be in place to collect hours of service documentation (logs or time cards) and records of vehicle inspections or roadside inspections. 

A DOT accident file needs to be in place for DOT recordables.

Event recorders (as cameras) are now becoming standard equipment at larger fleets, because most of the time they can prove the commercial motor vehicle was not at fault.

Savvy companies have a preventable accident program in place. Each incident and collision is carefully looked at for preventability, not only during any probationary periods, but throughout the driver’s career at the organization.

Safety can be emphasized and reinforced with safety reward programs and safety incentives. 

It’s the little things that can make a big difference in safety. The little things make managing the difficult become easy . . .

Thank you for reading this.

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


Computer Driver On-board

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

Ottomoto’s target market is interstate trucking.

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


Risk Areas of Autonomous Trucks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading this.



Texas bus crash

Driver Loses Control

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

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

What is Hydroplaning?

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

tire patch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hydroplaning Countermeasures

• Listen for a sloshing sound from the wheel wells.

• Look for pools of water forming on the road.

Slow down when it starts to rain.

• Turn off the cruise control.

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

Drive smoothly: no sudden turns or braking.

• Keep tires properly inflated with plenty of tread.

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

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

Thank you for reading this.

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

Rest area

Take a Break, Maybe . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Wait . . . There’s More!

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

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

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

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

Take Action Today

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading this.

Fatal Road Crashes Involving Pot Double in WA

Marijuana fatalities double

A Significant Increase in Marijuana-Related Fatal Crashes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading this.

The Delivery Area Safety Inspection

Night loading at papermill

Identifying Hazards

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

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

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


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

Conformance to Job Safety Analysis (JSA)

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

A dock-lock system

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

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

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

Driver and Location Issues

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


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

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

Dock Incidents and Accidents are Rare . . . but Deadly

dock hazards

















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

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

Thank you for reading this.

Training Tip: Ask the Questions No One Dares to Ask

Ask the Questions No One Dares to AskQuestions? Anyone?

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

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

Tip: Merely presenting information does not constitute training.

What is Training?

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

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

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

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

How Do We Know When Training Has Been Achieved?

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

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

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

Some Training Tips

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

You can’t teach what you don’t know.

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

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

Thank you for reading this.

What Are Materials of Trade?


Materials of Trade

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

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

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

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

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

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

Never carry acetylene tanks in a cab or cargo van! 

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

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

Knowledge about MOT is important.

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

• general knowledge of MOTs regulations;

• quantity limitations;

• packaging requirements; and

• marking and labeling requirements.

Know the MOT quantity limits . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading this.

Clays Ferry Bridge Incident Report Released

Clays Ferry Incident

Clays Ferry Bridge Incident

The Known Unknowns

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

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

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

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

The Facts

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

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

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

What is Safety Culture?

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

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

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

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

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

Risk Maturity

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

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

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

Level One Risk Management

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

Level Two Risk Management

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

Level Three Risk Management

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

Level Four Risk Management

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

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

Thank you for reading this.

Driver Safety Rules

Rules of the road

The Rules of the Road

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

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

Driver Safety Rules

Drivers are responsible for complying with all rules, including:

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

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

Positive Rules are Better Than ‘Negative Rules’

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading this.


The Important Stuff . . .

roadside inspection

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

What is the Important Stuff?

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

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

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

Can You Hear Me Now?

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

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

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

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

What Organizations Can Do

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

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

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

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

Big-rig driver flees sceneFatal Hit and Run

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

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

Fight or Flight?

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

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

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

Driver Training and Preparation is Key

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading this.