Blown off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge?

Driver blown off the Chesapeake Bay Bridge

Another Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tragedy Unfolds

The drive yesterday noon on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge was described as blustery at best. Bridge officials had declared a Level 1 wind advisory, with winds over 40 mph.

The driver, 47, of Greenville, N.C., with about twenty years of experience, was at the 15 mile marker in the southbound lane ear the Eastern Shore side, when it is believed a gust of wind resulted in his tractor-trailer leaving the bridge.

Dangerous Winds

I’ve written on the dangers of wind when pulling vans. There are several things to keep in mind about the wind:

  1. Basic wind speed is an average. As an average, that means at times the actual wind speeds will be higher.
  2. The wind gust factor is about 1.5. So a 40 mile wind, like yesterday on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, with winds gusting over 47 mph, could really result in winds over 53 MPH or greater. This is likely enough, if the conditions are right, to overturn a tractor pulling a lightly loaded van.
  3. Wind is totally unpredictable and variable. As the earth turns the sun heats the surface and creates a force that results in “wind” as warm air rises and cold air sinks.

Who’s in Charge Here?

It’s up to the driver to make the determination he or she can safely negotiate a windy stretch of road, bridge, or ridge. Some highways have windsocks for drivers. Usually weather reports will indicate the day’s forecast for wind gusts. Encourage drivers to check them and take note . . .

Although rescued from the water by a U.S. Navy helicopter, the driver died enroute to a hospital. Water temperature was estimated to be about 47 degrees F. at the time.

About thirty minutes after the crash, Chesapeake Bay Bridge officials hiked restrictions to Level 2, requiring tractor-trailers to be loaded with more than 30,000 pounds of cargo. Since its construction, this was the seventh truck to have gone off of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, with only one survivor to date.

Thank you for reading this.

The Age of Digital Transformation (Infographic)

Key findings from the fourth annual Logicalis Global CIO Survey.

What You Don’t Know, May Disrupt Your Business . . . if Not Kill It

Key findings from the fourth annual Logicalis Global CIO Survey, based on a survey of 708 CIOs worldwide include “shadow IT” departments and, of course, data security.

Jeanne Wenzel Ross,  Director of the MIT Center for Information Systems Research, says technology by itself is no big deal, and technology, per se, offers no advantages to the user.

That’s because technology is readily accessible to anyone. Hence the growth of Shadow and Stealth IT within organizations, as the infographic points out.

To make technology work for you, says Dr. Ross, it needs to be integrated into all areas of the business. This integration falls under the concept of “enterprise architecture,” or how you will merge technology with your strategy, across the business.

The alternative is each department doing its own thing (silos), with the hope of having IT wire it all together.

Resource: 10 Digital Transformation book recommendations for IT and Business Leaders

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.

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.

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.





Alert: A Disturbing Dashcam

kingpin_pullerMalicious Mischief

malicious mischief in criminal law, the crime of damaging another’s property. It requires a deliberate disregard of the other’s property rights, so cannot be committed accidentally.

If you have taken a professional truck driving course, you might have talked about it. If you have driven a tractor-trailer, then you probably have heard about it. But few truck drivers have actually seen it happen . . .

Until now.

We are talking about someone intentionally and deliberately releasing the trailer kingpin, so the unaware driver drops his trailer somewhere up the road. The trailer may drop immediately when the driver pulls forward. The trailer may drop on the first turn. The trailer may drop miles up the road.

As there is no predictability when and where the trailer will drop, this is a highly dangerous and even sometimes deadly criminal act.

detached trailer









Damage will occur to the landing gear. Damage can occur to the parking lot. A tow truck is required to lift the trailer so it can be hooked-up again. In some instances, the trailer kingpin can catch the tractor’s lightbar and rip that off. Damage can run into thousands of dollars.

Careers have ended due to this sort of malicious mischief. Many companies have a policy requiring automatic termination of employment of a driver who drops a trailer. It’s always the driver’s responsibility that the trailer remains attached until properly unhooked. Truck drivers can be criminally charged for dropped trailers . . .

Police probe a case of reckless driving

A case of reckless and negligent driving has been opened after a trailer disconnected from the truck and went over a motorcyclist on the corners of Herschell and Maydon roads in Durban yesterday afternoon.
Matthew Zenda (23) sustained a fracture in the right leg and injuries to the left leg and a scar on the fore head. He is in a serious but stable condition.
The truck driver will have to wait for the investigation to be over to know his fate.


What do the regulations say?

§ 392.7: Equipment, inspection and use.
(a) No commercial motor vehicle shall be driven unless the driver is satisfied that the following parts and accessories are in good working order, nor shall any driver fail to use or make use of such parts and accessories when and as needed:
Service brakes, including trailer brake connections. Parking (hand) brake. Steering mechanism. Lighting devices and reflectors. Tires. Horn. Windshield wiper or wipers. Rear-vision mirror or mirrors. Coupling devices. Wheels and rims. Emergency equipment.

This section is somewhat controversial among safety personnel and drivers. Drivers will argue the wording of the regulation implies they are not required to inspect these items each time before they drive, as long as they are “satisfied.”

A contra-argument is that these items are listed specifically for a reason. Each item is considered a critical item, essential for safe operations.

A much stronger argument, in my opinion, is that the federal regulations are the minimal safety requirements, and cannot cover every possible situation and driver. As such, more specific instruction is required via detailed policy and procedures.

While having detailed policy and procedures is a step skipped by many start-ups and smaller operations, having them in place:

  • Ensures safer operations,
  • Sets a minimum level of safety,
  • Will reduce insurance premiums in the long run, if enforced.

Tip: It’s a fact: larger operations pay less (per unit) for insurance. One reason is that they have many more safety controls in place.



Each time a driver leaves an unattended tractor-trailer, they need to visually check the king-pin release before driving.

Some drivers also set the trailer brakes and do a tug-test or two. One retired Teamster said he would always set the trailer brakes and then backed into the trailer.

Thank you for reading this.

John Taratuta

Periodic Inspection Training (PIT)

cropped-mast1.jpgThe Michigan Trucking Association offers Periodic Inspection Training (PIT) classes each quarter. This is a two day class held in Lansing, MI.

What are Periodic Inspections?

Every commercial motor vehicle shall be inspected as required by this section. The inspection shall include, at a minimum, the parts and accessories set forth in Appendix G of this subchapter. §396.17 Periodic inspection

Part 396.17 refers to the the annual or “Periodic inspection” that must be done on every truck, trailer, and converter dolly if so equipped that is used in business (commerce).

Inspectors must be qualified. Are your Part 396.17 inspectors properly qualified? Most are not.

Inspector Qualifications


(a) Motor carriers and intermodal equipment providers must ensure that individuals performing annual inspections under § 396.17(d) or (e) are qualified as follows:

(1) Understand the inspection criteria set forth in part 393 and appendix G of this subchapter and can identify defective components;

(2) Are knowledgeable of and have mastered the methods, procedures, tools and equipment used when performing an inspection; and

(3) Are capable of performing an inspection by reason of experience, training, or both as follows:

(i) Successfully completed a Federal-or State-sponsored training program or have a certificate from a State or Canadian Province that qualifies the individuals to perform commercial motor vehicle safety inspections, or

(ii) Have a combination of training or experience totaling at least 1 year. Such training or experience may consist of:

(A) Participation in a commercial motor vehicle manufacturer-sponsored training program or similar commercial training program designed to train students in commercial motor vehicle operation and maintenance;

(B) Experience as a mechanic or inspector in a motor carrier or intermodal equipment maintenance program;

(C) Experience as a mechanic or inspector in commercial motor vehicle maintenance at a commercial garage, fleet leasing company, or similar facility; or

(D) Experience as a commercial motor vehicle inspector for a State, Provincial or Federal government.

(b) Motor carriers and intermodal equipment providers must retain evidence of that individual’s qualifications under this section. They must retain this evidence for the period during which that individual is performing annual motor vehicle inspections for the motor carrier or intermodal equipment provider, and for one year thereafter. However, motor carriers and intermodal equipment providers do not have to maintain documentation of inspector qualifications for those inspections performed either as part of a State periodic inspection program or at the roadside as part of a random roadside inspection program.

Options for Qualification

There are two and only options listed above in 396.19:

  1. Training, or
  2. Training and experience

There are few training courses available in the U.S. like the PIT classes at the Michigan Trucking Association.

Being a truck mechanic does not qualify one to do periodic inspections, even if holding a state license. This training is essential.


Michigan Trucking Association
1131 Centennial Way, Lansing, MI

Next class is April 6-7th, 2016 and it’s full.

Thank you for reading this.

Alert: I-35 Truck Crashes on the Rise

I-35 Truck Crash -- About 120 truck crashes happened in 2015

A big-rig crash on I-35 . . .

Austin, Texas is not only the fastest growing city in the U.S., averaging about 2.9% growth, but growing congestion and inattentive drivers are contributing to several truck crashes each week on I-35.

On Thursday (Feb. 18, 2016), an out of control tractor-trailer hit the center guard rail and was rear-ended. The truck driver was hospitalized with serious injuries. When it was over, another rig and five cars were involved in the crash— mostly from damage from debris at the crash scene. Both directions of I-35 were shut down for several hours.

KXAN Investigates

KXAN-NBC investigated why so many truck crashes in Austin on I-35 are happening.

And the main reasons for so many crashes?

  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Drivers not paying attention.

Sen. Kirk Warson, D-Austin would like to see through-truck traffic take SH-130 to bypass much of the city. He would reduce SH-130 tolls for trucks during peak traffic times. A truck and trailer pay about $10 to run SH-130.


KXAN found most I-35 truck crashes happen between 12 PM and 3 PM.

Austin, TX Truck Crashes

Data from American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) shows Austin, TX ranks No. 16 for traffic congestion.

I-35 Peak traffic speeds

Traffic on I-35 slows to a crawl in late afternoons, according to this chart provided by ATRI. Even if trucks took the toll-road at that time, it is doubtful fewer truck crashes would result, in my opinion. Traffic is at a crawl by 6 PM.

Is Aggressive Driving to Blame?

It’s a fact. Most collisions are preventable.

The National Safety Council (NSC), defines a preventable collision as one in which the driver failed to do everything that they reasonably could have done to avoid it.

The next video is 58 seconds long and was viewed over 8 million times. Watch as a car attempts an unsafe lane change.

It may be possible that the vantage point from the camera is much better than from the driver’s seat — especially if the driver is sitting low.

Two vehicles attempted to occupy the same space at the same time. Fortunately for both, no one was injured.

But could this collision have been prevented?

Applying the Preventability Standard

The American Trucking Association (ATA), uses the following standard to determine the preventability in a crash . . .

“Was the vehicle driven in such a way to make due allowance for the conditions of the road, weather, and traffic and to also assure that the mistakes of other drivers did not involve the driver in a collision?”

This is not a legal standard to determine collision fault. This standard is simply to determine if proper driving precautions were taken to avoid a collision.

In this video one can only speculate if the truck driver is driving defensively or not. Because of that element of doubt, and without any further mitigating facts, I would be inclined to believe the truck driver could have started slowing down a little sooner— not only pulled off his lane onto the left-shoulder, and possibly no collision would have resulted.

The concepts of preventability and defensive driving are essential to the operation of a fleet safety program.
A fleet safety supervisor must diligently work to create awareness of not only the importance of preventability, but also the fleet and defensive driving procedures involved. Providing adequate training as well as holding drivers accountable for preventable accidents will not only reduce the vehicle accident frequency but improve the fleet operations and the company’s bottom line. Hartford Insurance and  National Association of Wholesale Distributors

Thank you for reading this.

More  . . . Beware The Indy Ramps


IFTA ALERT: CT to Truckers: Send More Money . . .

IFTA decals

Hartford, CT— Hundreds of trucking companies should expect to receive a notice in the mail for additional money for their IFTA registrations.

Notices will be sent out by Xerox State & Local Solutions, a contractor for the DMV, to trucking companies in 13 states. Payment is due within 30 days.

The fees are due to an under-billing error made by Xerox, and span the years from 2008 and 2014 according to the Facebook page of the Register Citizen.

Earlier this year another glitch by the Connecticut DMV resulted in a number of citizens having their registrations suspended. The DMV apologized for that error.

Connecticut has earned a reputation as being the toughest state on truckers with the most violations per inspection and the fewest “clean inspections” in North America (only 15% versus 39.5% nationally according to an Overdive investigation).

What is IFTA?

International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) is a way for vehicle operators to pay their base state for all the fuel taxes owed to those jurisdictions where they operate (states or provinces). The base state then distributes the taxes to the others on their behalf.

This means if you are not buying fuel in a state or province, but instead consuming fuel from another state or province, you will owe the difference in fuel taxes. Best practice is to keep fuel purchases and fuel consumption equal in each state or province for each calendar quarter of the year. This is not always easy or possible to do.

IFTA auditors check that carriers accurately report the miles traveled and fuel purchased in all jurisdictions in order to verify or reconcile the fuel taxes owed for those operations. About 3% of motor carriers with IFTA decals are audited each year. Specific records must be kept for each trip.

If your company trucks do not have IFTA decals on the cab, then these undercharge fees will not apply to your company.

Thank you for reading this.


Alert: Storm Kayla Ramps Up


Crazy Winds and Snowfall

Storm Kayla is the 11th named snowstorm of this winter. Sustained winds will ramp up on Tuesday, February 2, 2016 with heavy snowfall in Kayla’s path. Visibility is expected to be zero at times, even without the additional snowfall.

Heavy snow is expected from New Mexico, across Colorado and southern Wyoming, into parts of Nebraska, western Kansas and New Mexico.


Drivers should think twice about venturing out. Wind is unpredictable and wind gusts are an X-factor, especially if pulling an empty trailer. If roads are slick, a trailer can slide off. Even if traction is good, a sudden gust of wind can tip a tractor-trailer over.

Rollovers are one of the leading causes of fatal truck driving crashes.


Plan your routes carefully if operating in one of the storm’s danger areas. It can takes weeks of work to make-up for even a $1,000 deductible. A lost life can never be repaired.

This storm will affect about 18 million people and millions of drivers. Don’t become a statistic.

Travel across the region will become very difficult, if not impossible, by Tuesday evening. Plan ahead now. Postpone unnecessarily travel.  National Weather Service


Tips for Storm Kayla

• Don’t wait until the road is shut down. You could become trapped and become a hazard to other drivers and vehicles.

• If you have to have chains to drive, then you probably shouldn’t be out on the road at all.

• Drifting snow can pack and form ice on the road. Ice on the road is not good.

• If visibility in Storm Kayla is as bad as it is expected to be, it is possible to lose sight of the edge of the road and end up in the ditch. Worse yet, you may follow the vehicle ahead of you into the ditch.

• Nobody who ever was in a crash expected to be in one. About 25% of crashes are due to bad weather conditions. If you crash, you may given a ticket. If others are hurt, you will be legally liable.

• Stand down when you still have the chance. Nobody will be coming out to save you.

• 49 CFR § 392.14 says:

Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated. Whenever compliance with the foregoing provisions of this rule increases hazard to passengers, the commercial motor vehicle may be operated to the nearest point at which the safety of passengers is assured.


Thank you for reading this.


Alert: Nipigon River Bridge Failure Impacts Major Canadian Truck Artery

Artery severed

Every day approximately 1,300 trucks cross the Nipigon River Bridge carrying an estimated $100 million worth of goods, according to the Ontario Trucking Association. On Sunday bolts holding the bridge deck sheared resulting in the bridge heaving upwards. The bridge was shut down.

Engineers brought in concrete ballast to balance the bridge and the bridge has been partially reopened in one lane. There is an approximate 20 minute wait for a commercial vehicle to wait their turn to cross and certain restrictions may apply.

An alternative route through the U.S. will add on at least three hours drive time to a trip.

There is talk of possibly using an alternative logging route.

If your trucks are running on the Trans-Canada Highway, expect possible delays.

Thank you for reading this.
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15 Rigs Blown Over . . .

Rigs Blown Over

15 Rigs Blown Over

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

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

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

Caltrans Info @CaltransDist7

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