safety bulletin

Drivers are required to ensure their vehicles are in top working order every day of the year by completing pre- and post-trip inspections and reporting any concerns to their management for remediation. But from Tuesday, May 16 – Thursday, May 18, 2023, drivers should take extra precautions.

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You may know the saying, “April showers bring May flowers”, but these same wet conditions also create a variety of dangerous road hazards for professional drivers. In fact, flooding is now ranked as the second deadliest weather hazard in the U.S. each year, according to the National Weather Service. (Excessive heat is currently listed as the Number 1 deadliest U.S. weather hazard).

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You’re due at your destination in an hour, but traffic has slowed to a crawl. You just got cut off — twice. You’re already feeling worn out. And now rain clouds are gathering overhead. As a truck driver, you face these types of situations all the time. The more prepared you are to handle them, the healthier you’ll be.

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You climb in and out of your cab constantly. You may even be required to climb into the trailer or on top of a flatbed to secure the load you are transporting. This is done so often, that you probably don’t think of the risk involved. But move too fast or carelessly, and you could end up out of service with a serious injury.

Trips, slips, and falls cause around 100,000 work-related injuries a year for professional drivers. They also keep workers off the job for an average of 24 days, according to National Safety Council data. Wintertime is an especially dangerous time for falls due to weather hazards like snow, sleet and ice that impact the central and northern regions of the U.S.

You can avoid trips, slips, and falls by following a few basic steps:

1. Use the three points of contact rule. The three points of contact rule will give you the most stability every time you enter and exit your truck, reducing your risk of a slip, trip or fall. Three points means that you should have two hands and one foot — or two feet and one hand — in contact with your truck at all times. When you climb up or down, grab onto fixed items, such as door handles, the door frame, steps or your steering wheel. Don’t rely on tires or wheel hubs to climb out.

2. Don’t climb and carry. Avoid the temptation to hold anything — a coffee cup, smartphone or logbook — in your free hand when you enter and exit the truck. Doing so will prevent you from effectively using the Three Points of Contact Rule. Always place your items into the cab before attempting to enter your truck.

3. Move slowly and deliberately. While jumping out of your cab may save time, you must never do it. Jumping puts extra strain on your back and joints, which can cause you pain and create injuries over the long term. Jumping also puts you at risk for ankle, shoulder and knee injuries that may occur if you fall awkwardly.

4. Look before you leave the cab. Make sure your vehicle’s handles and steps are clear of ice, snow and other hazards. Park in well-lit areas and on level surfaces so you can climb out of your truck safely. Look for objects blocking your path and move them out of the way.

5. Wear proper footwear. Choose non-slip footwear. Waterproof work boots with textured treads are always a good option.

6. Pay attention. Focus on climbing up and down the stairs only. Don’t look at your phone or other objects. Avoid distractions.

January 2023

Last year, more than 100 million people hit the nation’s highways between Dec. 23 and Jan. 2, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA). Experts predict that this year’s holiday traffic patterns will be just as active.

But for professional truck drivers, crowded roads aren’t the only potential holiday headache. So too are jam-packed parking areas.

Right now, a lack of available truck parking nationwide ranks as the No. 1 industry concern among truckers, according to the American Transportation Research Institute’s annual survey. And with the holidays bringing more truck traffic due to increased package deliveries and returns, it could be harder than ever to find a safe place to park.

These five tips can help you survive the holiday season, find safe parking, and protect yourself, your vehicle, and your cargo.

1. Plan Ahead

“Good dispatch at the beginning of the day will save you time throughout the entire day,” says Chuck Pagesy, Director of Safety at Penske. Look at your route at the start of the day, and identify safe parking areas close to your destination. Start your route early if possible—truck stops can reach capacity as early as 7 p.m. Consider reserving a parking spot in advance.

2. Watch Your Hours of Service (HOS)

If you wait until the last minute to find parking, you could run out of hours. Keep an eye on your HOS throughout the day to reduce the risk of a potential violation.

3. Choose Wisely

Always park in well-lit areas. If possible, choose a spot you can pull in and out of easily without needing to back up. Avoid spots where other trucks are parked at odd angles or over the painted lines. Try not to park at the end of a row, which is where collisions are more likely.

4. Know Where Not To Park

Do not park on the shoulder of the highway or on offramps and onramps.

5. Lock It Up

Lock all doors and hide valuables such as wallets and smartphones. Close all windows. Consider using window shades. Make sure your cargo is secure. Dash cams may also help deter thieves.

Bonus Tip:

If you have a breakdown or need to pull over for any reason this holiday season, remember to wear a high-visibility safety vest. This will increase the chances you’ll be seen by oncoming drivers.

December 2022

What do you get when you add up the early sunsets of autumn with the end of Daylight Saving time? A lot more hours of driving in the dark.

Nighttime driving creates many additional hazards for professional truck drivers. While only 25% of all driving in the U.S. happens at night, half of all fatal crashes occur after dark, says the National Safety Council (NSC).

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What hazards will this winter bring to commercial motor vehicle drivers? While nobody knows for sure how bad each winter may be, the Farmer’s Almanac indicates that the winter of 2022-23 will include plenty of snow, rain and mush, along with record-breaking cold in parts of the U.S.

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If you haven’t checked all the components of your truck’s brake system recently, now is the time to get it done.

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As an estimated 480,000 school buses return to U.S. roads over the next few weeks, it’s time for professional drivers to brush up on their own lesson plan: How to drive with care during back-to-school season. Remember these 7 words that can help you avoid an accident and potentially save a life.

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You may think distracted driving and DUIs cause the largest amount of traffic accidents each year—and you'd be right. But did you know that speeding is #3 on the list?

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Are you ready for the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance's (CVSA) International Roadcheck 2022? The annual 72-hour roadside inspection blitz includes more than 40,000 commercial motor vehicle (CMV) inspections across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. This year’s event will run from May 17 – 19.

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Accidents happen! According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA's) most recent Traffic Safety Facts report, about 538,000 large trucks were involved in police-reported crashes in 2019. Those accidents led to 159,000 injuries and more than 5,000 deaths.

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Spring marks the start of road construction season, and with more road work projects planned nationwide, professional drivers can expect to navigate more than their fair share of work zones in 2022.

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More than 70% of the nation's roads sit in regions that see over 5 inches of snowfall each year. That means there's a good chance you'll encounter slippery and downright dangerous driving conditions over the next three months.

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Did you know November is deer mating season? That means drivers run a high risk for collisions with deer and other wildlife. Data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows that animal-vehicle collisions are two times more likely in November than in any other month of the year.

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At 2 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7, Daylight Saving Time will end. And while we'll all gain an extra hour of sleep, we'll also lose an hour of daytime driving.

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It's almost back-to-school time! Here are answers to seven of the most common questions professional drivers have when it comes to safe driving during the school year.

1. When must I stop for school buses?

You must stop on an undivided roadway whenever a bus has its yellow or red lights flashing or has its stop arm extended. You also must stop on a divided roadway if you're heading in the same direction as the school bus. Passing a stopped school bus is against the law in all 50 states.

2. How far should I stop behind a school bus?

Stop at least 20 feet behind the bus. This gives children the room they need to move to, from and around the school bus.

3. Do I have to slow down in a school zone even if the start of school is delayed?

If yellow traffic signals are flashing in a school zone, you must obey school zone laws no matter what. Drive the posted school zone speed limit. Obey traffic officers and crossing guards. Stop for children and pedestrians no matter where they cross – whether it's at a posted crosswalk or in the middle of a school zone.

​4. What times of day have the most school bus traffic?

Expect heavier than normal traffic in cities and neighborhoods. Plan for congestion at key school opening and closing times, usually early in the morning and mid-afternoon. Use extra caution before dawn or in inclement weather, times when visibility is worse.

​5. Are school zones the only areas I should worry about?

No. Remember to keep all crosswalks clear. Also, children are unpredictable. They may walk or run across the street from between two parked cars. They may ride a bicycle, scooter or skateboard on the side of the road or in the street. Stay alert and distraction free. Avoid turning the radio, texting, talking on the phone, eating or doing anything other than driving.

​6. How can I avoid school bus traffic?

Look at GPS data prior to your route. Avoid neighborhoods. Choose highways and interstates instead.

​7. What other safety tips should I take this school season?

Watch for an increase in the number of student drivers on the road. Look for bus stops and other areas where children might gather. And be patient. Never honk your horn at a bus or a child trying to cross the street; it could cause an accident.

August 2021

Drug and alcohol violations bring serious penalties for holders of Commercial Driver's Licenses (CDLs) and Commercial Learner's Permits (CLPs). A positive test will keep you off the road until you complete substance abuse counseling and receive a negative test. It may even cost you your job altogether.

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After spending most of 2020 indoors, people are heading outside again. According to TripAdvisor's 2021 Summer Travel Index, two-thirds of Americans plan to travel between June 1 and Aug. 31, and 43% of them expect to drive to their destination.

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