safetybulletin

Summertime doesn’t just make the temperature soar. Other drivers on the road get short-tempered in hot weather, too, increasing the risk for dangerous and aggressive driving behaviors.

The best way to keep your cool is to avoid aggressive driving at all costs by being a defensive driver. And while safe driving should happen all year long, it will be especially important from July 7 – 13 during the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s (CVSA) annual Operation Safe Driver Week. This year, law enforcement personnel in the U.S., Canada and Mexico will be on the lookout for reckless, careless or otherwise dangerous driving. What does that mean?

Reckless driving is driving with willful or blatant disregard for the safety of people or property.

Careless or dangerous driving is driving without reasonable consideration for other motorists or people on the road or otherwise driving in an unsafe manner placing yourself and others at risk of injury.

Whenever law enforcement personnel see the signs of reckless, careless or dangerous driving, they’ll pull you over. Last year, a total of 5,756 warnings and 4,494 citations were issued during Operation Safe Driver Week.

Don’t run the risk of a citation or accident. Avoid these top 5 dangerous driving behaviors:

1. Speeding: Always drive at or below the posted speed limit. Slow down even further during storms or while driving on rain-soaked roads.

Speeding was a factor in 26% of all traffic fatalities in 2018, killing 9,378 people. (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, NHTSA)

2. Distracted driving: Avoid anything that takes your eyes off the road or hands off the steering wheel, even for a second! This includes talking or texting on a phone, using dispatch devices, eating, reading, adjusting the radio, or looking at passing billboards, buildings or people.

Distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2019. (NHTSA)

3. Drunk or drugged driving: Never operate any vehicle, including CMV’s, while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or other banned substances. When you get caught, you will be disqualified from driving.

Drunk driving claims the lives of 1 person every 52 minutes. (NHTSA)

4. Following too closely: Maintain a following distance of one second for each 10 feet of vehicle length. Add a second if you’re driving over 40 mph.

Rear-end crashes account for 29% of all crashes. (NHTSA)

5. Not wearing a seat belt: Federal law requires CMV drivers to always wear seat belts. They remain one of the cheapest, easiest ways to protect yourself behind the wheel.

Seat belts saved 14,955 lives in 2017 alone. (NHTSA)

A few other risky driving behaviors to avoid: Changing lanes frequently, not using turn signals while changing lanes, disobeying traffic signs, cutting off other motorists and falling asleep while driving.

You leave your truck for the night and return the next morning. In between, anything could happen. How do you know your vehicle is still in tip-top shape? You won’t unless you conduct a thorough pre-trip inspection.

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More than 40% of truck drivers now live in a state that has legalized the use of marijuana, according to an American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) report. However, federal law still prohibits the use of marijuana by CMV drivers who engage in interstate travel.

That means when it comes to the use of cannabis products, professional drivers must say no.

Unfortunately, not everyone is getting the message. The number of positive tests for recreational marijuana among truck drivers increased by 31% over the past year. That’s according to data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) Drug and Alcohol (D&A) Clearinghouse pulled by Fleet Owner in June.

Clearing the confusion

Make no mistake, marijuana is a serious safety threat. Cannabis products significantly impair a truck driver’s judgment, motor coordination and reaction time. Studies have found a direct relationship between the blood concentration of THC (the primary psychoactive component of marijuana) and impaired driving.

As a result, truck drivers must avoid all types of marijuana and CBD products for recreational or medical reasons.

Making roads safer

The FMCSA’s D&A Clearinghouse is designed to improve public safety on the roadway by helping to ensure any CDL drivers that violate the FMCSA D&A policy are kept off the road. The Clearinghouse is a secure online database that provides real-time, historical data of any FMCSA D&A policy violations.

Companies that employ CDL truck drivers must query the database at the time of employment and at least once every 12 months to see whether a driver’s status has changed. Drivers who test positive for alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines or other prohibited controlled substances without a proper medical prescription must complete the FMCSA’s Return-to-Duty process before returning to any safety-sensitive job functions. The process includes meeting with a Department of Transportation-approved substance abuse professional (SAP) and undergoing Return-to-Duty testing and subsequent follow-up drug tests as determined by the SAP.

CDL drivers who want to view their records must register and create an account with the Clearinghouse using the link below. Drivers must also use the Clearinghouse to give employers additional electronic consent to view any records found. Refusal to provide consent will prohibit the driver from performing any safety-sensitive functions. Employers, testing facilities and SAPs are required to report any FMCSA D&A policy violations to the FMCSA Clearinghouse. Drivers will receive notification by mail or email every time their record is modified.

To register, visit clearinghouse.fmsca.dot.gov/register. You’ll need your CDL number, birthdate, full name and Social Security number.

Do you yawn often or feel drowsy when driving during daylight hours? Do you snore while sleeping? Do you have frequent headaches? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA.

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When you press the brake pedal on your truck, you expect an instant response. Yet any number of issues can cause your vehicle’s braking systems to fail, increasing your risk of a serious accident while putting you and your cargo in danger. That’s why maintaining your truck’s braking system is so important and a major part of your Pre-Trip Inspection.

To ensure brake safety every day of the year, here are 10 tips to help ensure your brake linings and pads are ready for the road:

1. Inspect all the parts of the brake linings and pads that you can see during pre- and post-trip inspections.

2. Check for signs of missing or damaged brake lining, such as grooves in the drum from rivet contact.

3. Look at the shoe-to-drum clearance and ensure that there is adequate lining on the shoe.

4. Try to find any signs of leaks from the hub or other components that may contaminate the lining or pad surface.

5. Look for any missing lining blocks.

6. Scan for visible cracks or voids in the lining block.

7. Check for any exposed rivets or lining blocks that look loose on the shoe.

8. On disc brakes, pay close attention to the condition of the rotor. Look for either metal-to-metal contact or heavily rusted rotors across the entire friction surface on either side.

9. Make any repairs in accordance with the brake manufacturer’s requirements and guidelines.

10. Note any brake lining or pad-related issues in your driver vehicle inspection reports and report them to the motor carrier.

In addition, always check for these brake-related items during pre- and post-trip inspections:

  • Any missing, non-functioning, loose or cracked parts
  • Audible air leaks coming from around the brake components and lines
  • Slack adjusters that are different lengths
  • Air pressure below 90-100 psi
  • Rust holes or broken springs in the brake housing section of the parking brake
  • Malfunctioning ABS warning lamps

Remember, a properly conducted pre-trip inspection will go a long way toward passing a brake inspection — and keeping you and those around you safe.