Safety Talks 2004


Friday June 25, 2004

Buckle up! The life you save could be yours!

Summer is here and so are vacationers and construction zones. The vacationers ARE NOT paying attention to anything but the "Are we there yet??" being screamed from the back seat. Therefore, you must be the professional driver and go the extra mile in yielding the right of way. Be aware of the inconsiderate driver sneaking up on the right side in an attempt to cut you off at the lane closure. Let him in; you will feel better about yourself as a human being, your fender will stay attached to your truck, and the building road rage will calm.

And of course: remember, always buckle your seat belt -- it's the law


Thursday July 8, 2004

Slow Down, Save Lives, Save Fuel, Save Wear and Tear

It’s time to take a good look at how fast you are driving and why. Excessive speed is a factor in 31% of all fatal crashes killing an average of 1,000 people per month. This happens because of the physics of energy; increasing speed from 40 to 60 is a 50% increase in speed. The energy released in a crash more than doubles (1) as speed increases; the energy released continues to increase. This alone is reason enough to slow down, but there are other reasons to consider. According to ATA’s “The Maintenance Council” (2) , each reduction of a mile an hour equals a 0.1 mile per gallon gain. To put this in perspective look at the following chart based on $1.60 per gallon

Miles/Yr - 80,000  Speed - 70mph  MPG - 5.5   Gal Used - 14,545  Cost - $23,272

Miles/Yr - 80,000  Speed - 65mph  MPG - 6.0  Gal Used - 13,333  Cost - $21,333

Miles/Yr - 80,000  Speed - 60mph  MPG - 6.5  Gal Used - 12,307  Cost - $19,691

As you can see, cutting speed from 70 mph to 60 mph will save you approximately $3,581.00 per year in fuel cost. This does not include the savings from decreased tire and brake wear. Let’s do the right thing and have the best of both worlds- slow down, save lives --- and money.




Thursday July 15, 2004

Lane change crashes are very dangerous and very preventable. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 539,000 two-vehicle lane change crashes in 1999; this accounted for 9% of all police reported motor vehicle collisions. Large trucks accounted for 10% of these; that's approximately 1,036 per week. When a semi is involved in such a crash with a car, bad things happen. We can pin the car under the trailer and drag them along; we can run them over or bounce them off the car on the other side. If we catch the rear quarter panel, they will typically spin in front of you. We can avoid this situation by doing three things: first- eliminate blind spots. Install fender mounted spot mirrors and use them. Also, follow cars in your mirror as they go by to see where you have blind spots. Then, keep an eye on traffic approaching from the rear so that you know if a car is missing in the blind spot beside you. And most of all, remember if you aren't passing people, you won't need to change lanes. Solution - SLOW DOWN. Move a little slower than traffic and stay in your lane.


Monday July 26, 2004

Load Securement

There is a lot of talk about the new standards for load securement. So I will summarize the changes or points of discussion that pertain to us. First of all, anything that is over 5 feet long or weighs more than 1,100 pounds requires at least 2 straps. Anything over 10 feet requires a third strap and an additional strap is required for each additional 10 feet.

An example would be a plastic pipe 48 feet long. This would require a minimum of 6 straps; however, 3 twelve foot pipes placed end to end would require 3 each or 9 straps total.

Another factor when determining how many straps are necessary is weight. The capacity of the straps must equal one half of the weight of the load. If the straps do not have a legible rating on them then the capacity is as follows; 2 inch = 2,000 lbs, 3 inch= 3,000 lbs, 4 inch = 4,000 lbs. So if you have a 48,000 lb load you will need 12 two inch straps, 8 three inch straps or 6 four inch straps. More straps is never a problem. When hauling bag goods, the front and rear pallets need 2 straps and the middle pallets need 1 strap.

Also as a point of clarification 393.104fsub4 of the motor carrier safety regulations says:

“All tie-downs and other components of a cargo securement system used to secure loads on a trailer equipped with rub rails, must be located inboard the rub rails whenever practicable”. Remember chains connect to the stake pockets, not the rub rail.

The DOT report can be linked through our links page under DOT cargo standards.

Also see "stake pocket strap winch sets" under the shurco link.

See for the above links.



Friday July 30, 2004


 Breaking glass, deforming metal, and crushing plastic and fiberglass. It’s a sound I hope none of you ever have to hear. You can go a long way to distance yourself from the situations that breed crashes. Stay away from other vehicles- don’t ever tailgate and leave even more room coming into and going through construction zones. Be aware of stop lights; a rule of thumb is if you didn’t see it turn green you will probably see it turn red so be the reasonable man and prepare to stop. The last thing you want to do is find a car in the middle of an intersection when you are running a red light. Something else to think about : the police will soon make disregarding automatic signals a point of emphasis and that ticket is equal to reckless driving. One other thing to mention is run under accidents -these happen when drivers make U-turns slowly pulling across the road and someone hits them broadside potentially decapitating everyone in the front seat. For the record, there is nev! er a justification for making a U-turn. If you are on the interstate, go to the next interchange to turn around. If you are in town, go around the block.

Always buckle you seatbelt. It not only makes sense, it’s the law.


Thursday August 5, 2004


 Attention: in case you didn’t notice, schools are opening as early as this week. This means school busses, school crossings, and all the other activities associated with the opening of a new school year. Now is the time for you to be the professional driver; those 16 and 17 year old kids driving to school are thinking about everything but driving. Think about mothers taking the kids to school. They are trying to serve breakfast and help finish the art project -- how much do you think they are paying attention to you? As you drive your truck, you must pay very close attention to every one around you; they will do something stupid. You must always anticipate school busses before you pop over a rise in the road and find one stopped. You certainly don’t want to hit a school buss or run over a child as you illegally pass one that has stopped. The entire school year is a problem but the first month is the worst. No one has the routine down. So slow down! Pay attention! Have a safe school year.

Expediter Freight System, Inc. drivers - we will join in with Great West Casualty Co. to bring you Enforcer King Pin Locks. Normally through Great West, we can get them for you at $85.00. However, any Expediter Freight System, Inc. driver who orders one through this office by Aug.13, 2004 can get one for $50.00 and we will pay the other $35.00. Together we can protect our equipment and cargo.


Thursday August 13, 2004

Equipment Visibility

 Effective June 1, 2001, all commercial vehicles are required to have reflective tape covering 50% of the sides of the trailer. It must be evenly spaced front to back. The tape must show the top and width on the back of the trailer or bulkhead and run full across the back of the bed as well as the DOT bumper. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation credits reflective tape with preventing as many as 7800 crashes per year, thus preventing 191 and 350 fatalities and also preventing as many 5000 injuries per year. These regulations also pertain to tractors. You must have tape across the mud flaps and at the top and sides of the back of the tractor. These are minimum requirements; if you choose to run tape across the back of the cab that would be acceptable. If you need tape, most truck or trailer parts departments have it. There is also a link to sunflower sign for 3m conspicuity kits.  

It is important to be seen. It is also the law, so let's all look over our equipment and make sure it meets or exceeds the standards.

Please note tape placement on pictures at the following website, courtesy of Reliable Diesel Truck and Trailer Repair -


Thursday August 13, 2004

What have you done to promote safety lately ?

According to Peter Van Dyne of Liberty Mutual, trucking companies that require seat belt use have a 50% lower crash frequency. Do you buckle every time you drive? It’s the law, but you already knew that. Mr. Van Dyne also points out that trucking companies that set governors below 70 mph had a 35% lower crash frequency. Surely you would not exceed 70 mph since that is above the posted limit in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois and Michigan. Did you race someone to the gap and thus cut them off? Or did you back off and let them in? These are some things that you can do to improve the chances of the people around you getting home safely. Sure, that guy who cut you off is a jerk, but should you be the one to enforce the death sentence for the crime of being a jerk? Back off and hope like hell that someone else gives your kid the same break.

Another thing you can do is always check your turn signals and break lights every time you get out of the truck to confirm that they work. And then, use them. People are much more likely to work with you if they can see your intentions.


Thursday August 26, 2004

Tailgating is an inexcusable act that encourages road rage, causes crashes and
gives the trucking industry a bad name. When I read the news stories about the
horrible crash out side of Laramie, WY on August 19, 2004, I saw the initial
statements from the police saying that fog, wet roads, and speeding drivers
were factors. What I wondered, however, was how closely were the original
seven tractor trailers following each other. If drivers are playing “Convoy”,
they are begging for this exact situation. They throw away all opportunity to
react to changing conditions or to driving emergencies. Both of these
circumstances would have happened at Laramie. As the fog closed in, driving
conditions changed and as stated in the news stories, they changed fast. In a
situation like this, all it would take is one person who didn’t slow down in
unison and every one behind him is reacting to an emergency. I have no proof that
this is what happened at Laramie, but I do know that this type of thing
happens every day of the week and the potential exists every time drivers
throw reason out of their windows and become a “Convoy” hazard-- or menace.

You know that you should be at least six seconds behind the vehicle in front
of you. That is 484 feet at 55 mph. Your truck/trailer is approximately 65
feet long; that would be roughly 7.5 truck trailer lengths or a city block
behind the person in front of you. A rule of thumb-- if you can see the license plate, you are too close.


Thursday September 2, 2004

Have you ever been in a driving situation where you found your heart rate jump and for just a moment you could feel the perspiration under your arms? Maybe you could even feel some moisture on your forehead? You probably uttered a discouraging word. Most of the time, that is the end of it. But let’s face it. Any time you experience the above, you screwed up. I would estimate that over 90% of the time lack of attention or trying to push conditions is at play. Only luck or someone else paying attention saved you from a crash. These crashes are completely avoidable. We must adjust to changing conditions. It is obvious that we must be more diligent when it starts to rain or snow. But how often do you slow down and back off when traffic starts to build and you lose your six-second following distance? How often did you assume that the stoplight would stay green or that it would change from red to green before you got to it? There are dozens of dangerous situations that abound when you don’t act professionally that quickly disappear when you take responsibility for yourself and your equipment while on the road.



Thursday September 9, 2004

Some of you have already noticed that Expediter Freight System, Inc. is switching the lights on the back of our trailers to LED lights. There is a modest cost incurred in this update but we are sold on the improvement in safety. The LED lights have a life expectancy of 100,000 hours. Since there are 8760 hours in a year, there are over 11 years of continual use. We are trying to avoid having a brake light or turn signal out and contributing to a crash. Of course, you, the driver are still required by DOT regulations to check your lights at the start and end of each driving shift. We recommend checking the lights every time you get out of the truck. Remember just because the bulb should last 10 years doesn't mean a wire won't break somewhere.


The reason for the above discussion is to encourage you to look into changing the tail lights, brake lights, and turn signals on your tractor to LED lights. The advantage to you is that Led lights are not as susceptible to vibration and water damage. This means you won’t be replacing tractor taillights all the time and people behind can see your intentions when you bobtail.


Thursday September 16, 2004

Cell phones are a very critical part of our operation and when used correctly, they are a tool that we can not do without. But we must use them in a safe and prudent manner. If you are in traffic and the call can wait, put it off. If you must talk, get the information and get off the phone quickly. It goes without saying though that you should not be driving, talking, and writing at the same time. There is a way that cell phones can be of value that we have not yet taken advantage of; I am speaking of picture phones. If you have one and have a question about a load, you can send a picture directly to the office and we could all see the same thing. Jobsites are another place that picture phones could be of value. So if you are looking to replace your cell phone, consider the values of a picture phone.



Thursday September 22, 2004

Winter’s coming and you don’t want to be cold on the side of the road. It’s still warm, so now is the time to perform winter maintenance on your equipment. Make a check list that includes antifreeze, belts, air lines, air filters, tires, brakes and maxi canisters. You will need to drain the water out of your air systems and your fuel system. Remember to drain the air tanks on the trailer also. If you have an air dryer, it should be serviced; if you don’t have one, installing one would be money well spent. It doesn’t take much ice to stop a semi. A little time spent now could save a lot of cold, expensive time later.





Thursday September 30, 2004


I was on 465 the other day and three of our competitor’s trucks went by. The third truck was running about 120 feet behind the first truck. Even were there not a truck between them, the third truck did not have room to react. He could not see the first truck; his only indicator of a problem would be the smoke coming off the second truck’s tires as he locked up on his brakes. However, even this doesn’t help now, as all of our trucks have anti-lock brakes. But the smoke would mean the second truck was already slowing down and that it will be approximately 237 feet before his brakes take full effect. To put this into perspective, the second truck will impact the first halfway through his stop or at about 30 mph. Meanwhile, the third truck will be approximately 217 feet into the 237 feet of brake activation which makes a combined impact of 70mph. You can visualize the trauma that this alone will cause without taking into account any unfortunate cars in the general vicinity as the trailers jackknife and the loads begin flying. This is the sort of situation we want to avoid at all costs. If you are running with a friend, isn’t he the last one you want to put into a hospital or out of work anyway?


Buckle up – be safe, be legal.


The time and distance numbers were courtesy of Marvin Johnson and Associates and can be accessed through them. Contact information is available on their website at



Thursday October 07, 2004

 It’s fall.

Soon, we will have the pleasure of raking leaves. But first, they will change color on the trees. We all know what that means; people will be driving around looking at leaves. THEY WILL DO SOMETHING STUPID! If you are on a two lane road, expect it. They might stop; they might just slow down; they could make a turn in front of you. Remember, if you don’t look like a tree, they don’t see you. Give more distance than normal; be aware of the cars in front and behind; they may be tree looking too. There are some fantastic sceneries on the interstates. Keep your eyes open; people may be too busy looking at trees to see you.



Thursday October 15, 2004


A word about safety belts:

79% of passenger car drivers wear seat belts; 48% of truck drivers wear them. In 2002, 588 commercial drivers were killed. Half of them (almost 300 drivers) were not buckled. 171 drivers were ejected from the truck; of those, 80% (approximately 140) were not wearing safety belts. These statistics do not include the fatalities that would not occurred had the driver stayed in his seat and maintained or regained control after the initial impact or after running off of the road.

The DOT is launching a program in conjunction with law enforcement and inspection personnel to increase safety belt usage. (This means tickets will be issued!)

It‘s time to get the message. Safety Belt use: Smart, Safe and Required.


Statistics courtesy of Great West Casualty Company



Thursday October 21, 2004


In preparation for the Safety meeting November 6, 2004, I revisited the crash records since our last meeting. When I put the incidents on a spreadsheet and took out the incidents where we didn’t have to pay a claim or where someone else paid us, what I had left was a collection of every possible way to make contact with a non-moving object. One collision was with a car at a stop light where the driver was too close and lost track of the car. Every other collision was with a pole or an unattended vehicle. These are situations of not paying attention. After a pole is hit, I always hear that it was all scraped up and had been bumped before. That is not a justification for hitting it; instead, that says that you already noticed the pole and should have been on alert. You should have been paying closer attention. “Get out and look” is always the best policy; sometimes it is prudent to get out and look more than once if you are in a tight space. If someone is directing you, always ask yourself these questions: Does he have a good view? Does he know what to look for? Does he care? Most importantly, is he in fact paying attention? Remember when it is all said and done, you have the responsibility for your vehicle and the objects around it.


Buckle up - the life you save might be yours.



Thursday October 28, 2004


Construction zones are still a nuisance on the highways and will be so for at least another month. This is one place where we must pay particular attention to our surroundings. As you come to the construction zone, watch for drivers who will cut you off. Give them room; it takes a lot less time than filling out an accident report. Once in the construction zone, maintain a larger than normal following distance. This will give you space in case the vehicles in front of you stop suddenly or in case something blows or falls into the lane in front of you. As you leave the construction zone, remember that impatient drivers will race around you so you should be prepared to take evasive action so that you do not become involved in their accident. And remember, the speed zones are lower, the fines are higher, and the police enforcements are stricter in construction zones.


Always buckle your seatbelt - its the law.



Thursday November 04, 2004


The safety bonus program for 2004 - 2005 will reward drivers who have an entire year of safe operation. The program targets both accidents and a major cause of accidents -speeding and moving violations. To participate, drivers must satisfy the following requirements:


1. Attend both the 2004 and 2005 safety meetings.


2. Not be involved in a preventable accident for the year Oct. 1, 2004 through Oct. 1, 2005


3. Not be ticketed for a moving violation from Oct.1, 2004 through Oct.1, 2005


4. Drive a minimum of 30,000 miles during the same period


The pay out is such:


30,000 to 50,000 miles with no moving violations: $150.00

with one moving violation, the bonus will be reduced by $100.00

a preventable accident or more than one moving violation and you lose all bonus


50,000 to 75,000 miles with no out of service violation: $275.00

with one moving violation, bonus will be reduced by $150.00

a preventable accident or more than one moving violation and you lose all bonus


Over 75,000 miles with no moving violations: $400.00

with moving violation, the bonus will be reduced by $200.00

a preventable accident or more than one moving violation and you lose all bonus



Let’s have a year both accident and violation free.





Thursday November 11, 2004


Just because you get out of your truck does not mean you can let your guard down. Around a flat bed trailer, especially in a loading, unloading or construction site, is a very dangerous place. You must be aware of everything around you; the load on a trailer can fall or be knocked off; there are forklifts moving material around frequently with obstructed vision. There are possibly cranes moving overhead. All this adds up to a place where one can be hurt very badly. Never get between a forklift and a trailer. Watch that someone on the other side of the trailer isn’t cutting bands. Watch for something that could bump into the load and cause it to fall on you. And if material is moving overhead, you need to stay completely out of the area. You also need to watch where you are walking; there are ruts in construction sites, sharp banding and other hazards lying in wait.

Also, pay attention to where other people are before cutting bands or throwing straps or chains over a load. It is amazing how many people get hurt, including the driver himself, when they get hit by the hook of a strap on a load.




Thursday November 18, 2004


There is no such thing as a minor crash!


We sometimes fall into a pattern of thinking that it’s more or less okay to bump a car. We didn’t do much damage, every one drove away, and that's the last we hear of it. Right? Wrong! What happens instead is that we have just put ourselves in the position to pay for someone’s existing medical setbacks. Think of the first five people that come to mind: if they are over 40, then at least three of them have a back, neck, or head problem. The truck that bumps into the back of their car will possibly buy medical care for them for several years; their health insurance company will see to it. The point I’m making is that even little bumps can have big price tags. We must always be alert; if you drive a high nose tractor, you must stay aware of the cars in your front blind spot.


Always buckle your seat belt. It’s the law, makes good sense, and it’s company policy.



Thursday November 25, 2004

On November 9, 2004, at approximately eight o'clock, a small delivery truck failed to notice a school bus stopped on U.S. 52, just outside of Stockwell, IN. He ignored the law that says you must stop for the flashing red lights. He also failed to take advantage of the open lane beside the bus to avoid the crash. Ramming the back of the bus was the result of his miserably failing this driving test. Fortunately, he was driving a small truck and only two children had to be flown from the scene in a lifeline helicopter. What does this have to do with us? Stop for a moment and imagine the death and destruction that would have occurred were he driving a semi. School busses are everywhere. Pay attention: you don’t want to ever fail the school bus test.        


Remember always buckle your seat belt. It’s the smart thing to do.



Thursday December 02, 2004


You are a professional driver. But what does it mean to be professional? The dictionary defines professional as “one who is suitable for or has an assured competence in a particular field or occupation.” That means someone who knows the job and does it well.

So the question is, “Are you a professional”? In order to answer yes, you must drive within  the speed and condition limits, wear a seat belt, have a current log book, not tailgate, and be courteous to all people you meet in an office or on the road. I know that everyone working with Expediter Freight System, Inc. is professional most of the time. Let’s strive to be completely professional 100% of the time.   




Thursday December 10, 2004


Remember: winter driving requires more care and skill than summer driving. It’s dark at rush hour; salt dims headlights and cold air causes icing on bridges. We also experience more rain meaning more snow and ice on the roadways. The secret is to keep proper spacing. As we get into winter conditions, we need to expand following distances; we recommend taking the 6 second following distance rule and instead use an 8 second distance. That will give you more room in case of an emergency.


Also, buckle your seatbelt; winter is a bad time for an unexpected departure from the truck.





Thursday December 17, 2004


The weather is about to get cold and nasty and we need to be aware of the issues of personal safety. Drain all the air tanks on your tractor and trailer if you have an air dryer. This would be a good time to service it as well. If you don’t have an air dryer, drain your air tanks at least once every day. Don’t run your fuel as low in the tanks as you would in the summer; you never know when you will get stopped by an accident or a freak storm and need to sit with the truck running. Check the antifreeze to make sure that its freeze point is below the temperature minimums of the area you are traveling. Also, check heater hoses and engine belts. Prepare in advance for bad weather and reduce the chance of sitting on the side of a cold road.




Thursday January 6, 2005

I saw a billboard the other day that said "BAD DRIVERS NEXT 3000 MILES." If that doesn't sum up the current driving situation, I don't know what would. So with that in mind, we must be prepared to help those who drive around us. A good example: last week, I was in heavy traffic on I-65. Over a rise, a police car was on the right side of the road and a car was off the road on the left. Someone saw this and slammed on their brakes; as that got back to me, the cars were skidding to stops. Since I was being tailgated by the car behind me, I was giving some extra room in front. That allowed me to give him enough room to stop with out hitting me. Unfortunately, one of the three cars behind me did not extend the same courtesy because the third, fourth, and fifth cars behind me peeled out of the line and the third and fourth crashed in the median. The point here is that if you watch your spacing, you can avoid both hitting someone and also avoid being hit.



As we come through the first test of foul weather, this is a prudent time to restate the Expediter Freight System, Inc. position on unsafe driving conditions. There is NO load that is better off in the ditch than on a trailer. There is NO load that can justify an Expediter Freight System, Inc. driver or a member of the public being killed or injured. At the point where snow or fog creates an unsafe driving situation, get off the road. Pulling off onto the shoulder does not greatly reduce the danger; you need to get into an off road parking lot and wait it out.

And remember, seatbelts are necessary all the time.




Thursday January 13, 2005

We all know what happens if you get caught drinking and driving: you lose your job.

There are so many drunk-driving crashes that one in three people claim to know someone killed or injured by a drunk driver. According to the Federal Highway Administration, that is a comparable statistic to those who know someone killed or injured in accidents caused by people running stop lights. What would be the reasons for a professional driver to run a stop light? Perhaps his brakes were out of adjustment, causing an increase in stopping distance. Proper maintenance would solve that problem. Maybe the driver was speeding and did not have his vehicle under control. Or was it that he just wasn’t paying attention? All three of the above can easily be corrected by paying attention to driving and maintenance. The other reason for a driver to run a stop light is because he wanted to do it. Wouldn’t it be terrible to intentionally run a stop light and kill someone?  Some people would call that malice of forethought. Stoplights are to safely control traffic, so do your maintenance, pay attention, and be prepared to stop.


And as always, buckle your seatbelt.




Thursday January 20, 2005

We have all heard the statistics on how much a crash costs and we have a good idea of the cost of roadside repairs following an out of service violation. Well, here is something else to think about. If you are placed out of service in Ohio, you will be fined one hundred dollars per violation. But Pennsylvania is starting a new program (I expect other states to follow suit) to fine for every violation whether they are out of service or not. The fines range from $50.00 for a license plate light to $600.00 for out of service brakes. Pennsylvania is making the point that I have been trying to make for some time. Do maintenance and properly inspect your equipment. It is not only smart, it is cost effective.


This is a good time to check fire extinguishers; they must be charged and mounted. You must also have a set of triangle reflect