Safety Talks 2005


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 reflectors.


Thursday January 27, 2005

There is a quirk in the requirements when it comes to strapping down items that are over 5 feet long. If the item is not against the bulkhead, you are required to have an extra strap or chain in the first 10 feet. Section 393.110 b requires one tie-down for the first 5 feet, a second tie-down if the item goes over 5 feet, and a third tie-down if the length of the item exceeds 10 feet; beyond these straps, one is required for each additional ten feet or part thereof.

If you are carrying a bar that is 36 feet long, you need to have at least 5 tie-downs as shown below:

load: 36 feet long

first tie-down in first 5 feet

second tie-down before 10 feet

third tie-down between 10 and 20 feet

fourth tie-down between 20 and 30 feet

fifth tie-down between 26 and 36 feet


Thursday February 24, 2005

Guess what? March is next week. Soon, tulips, daffodils, and DOT inspectors will be popping up everywhere. The question is, are you ready? Have you adjusted your brakes, checked your lights, and checked your tires? After a winter of driving, have you looked for cracks in the frames, suspension, springs, and windshields? Now the most important question yet: have you repaired or replaced the problem? Compliance with DOT regulations makes for safe equipment and our goal is to be the safest fleet on the road.

Remember, a safe trip starts with a seatbelt.



Thursday March 3, 2005

It is official our state flower, the ever beautiful orange highway cone flower, and it is starting to bloom. The lane closings started today on 465. Soon lanes will be closing all over our market area. Construction zones pose the biggest single threat to highway safety. Remember you have to keep track of the cars around you coming into construction zones. Give room and yield right of way. Never race someone to the lane closing; even if you win the race, when you wreck, you lose. And let’s face it, letting a couple of cars in front of you will only cost a few seconds and the accident report could take an hour, that is, assuming your truck is still drivable. Also, remember that construction zones have lower speed limits and double fines. This is the state’s way of reminding you how dangerous construction zones are to you and the people working on the road.

Safety first - buckle your seatbelt before moving the vehicle.



Thursday March 10, 2005

We talk a lot about the safety issues on the highway such as: following distance, speed, and driving conditions. Highway safety is of paramount importance but we also must pay attention and practice safety when driving off road and even when we are parked. Last year, most of our incidents happened at speeds under 10 mph. What we need to learn from this is to get out and look when traveling through a tight area, such as a gate or turning by a post. Always get out and look before backing up. Mirrors can't see the ten feet behind the trailer and that is the space you will be moving into. Your personal safety should never be overlooked. Be aware of forklifts, moving around you - assume that the forklift drivers don't see you. Also, watch for material moving overhead and avoid those areas.

Safety is important all the time and starts with a buckled seat belt.



Thursday March 24, 2005

Around our vehicles is a personal space that we must maintain. If someone
invades this area, we feel uncomfortable. This is where most road rage
comes into play. As someone's space is invaded, they have a tendency to become tense and if the tension continues to increase, some people snap. Obviously people feel more threatened by a semi than by a compact car. Therefore, it is in our interest
to help create space; first, it gives us more room to maneuver in an
emergency. Secondly, by helping reduce tension, drivers might not become distressed and cause an emergency. Space in front of us can be created by driving slightly slower than traffic. Driving one mile an hour slower than the traffic around you will buy you space at the rate of 88 feet per minute.

Always buckle your seat belt.



Thursday March 17, 2005

When hauling oversize loads, we must abide by special rules and regulations. One must first remember that all permits have general provisions that govern operation while utilizing the permit. These provisions will restrict your times of travel and roads that you may operate on as well as dictate lighting and signage requirements. You must have a copy of the general provisions and be able to produce it for an inspecting officer. You should have received copies of these provisions for the states of Indiana and Ohio. In the state of Ohio, you must disregard prepass signals and you must stop at all open weigh stations. If you have any questions about how to flag a load or about the paperwork, please call the office before leaving the shipper.

As always, have your seatbelt buckled.



Thursday March 31, 2005

One of the most important issues of safety is how we respond to the people we come in contact with. Any time that we are able to smile and keep those around us smiling, we find everything is more easily accomplished. On the other hand, negativity also effects those around us and can carry over to the next time we or our associates come in contact with those people. We need to respect the old adage, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." You can never be sure of the relationship between the person you are talking to and the person you are talking about. Stay neutral when others are talking; you never seem like the better person if you join in on the bad mouthing. 

Remember, smart people buckle their seat belt.


Thursday April 6, 2005

We have all seen policemen on the side of the road writing tickets to drivers that they have pulled over. Approaching these policemen (or other emergency vehicles) requires the use of certain driving etiquette. First, slow down. If you are on a multiple lane road or if no one is coming toward you, move over while passing. This is not only the safest way to pass, it is also the legal way. And of course, take note of all of the policemen pulling over cars. Stay within the speed limit so that you're not the one on the side of the road with an officers' undivided attention.

Stay legal - always buckle your seat belt.


Thursday April 14, 2005

Warm weather is finally here. Maintence concerns have also arrived. The last thing you want is to be on the side of the road with an overheated truck. One must check the engine coolant make sure that there is a high enough mixture. Also, make sure that your radiator is clean. There is nothing worse than being stopped by 10 pounds of cottonwood or dandelion seeds. The other important thing to pay attention to is tire pressure; as the temperature fluctuated over the winter, the pressure went up and down in your tires. By now, many of them will have different pressure across duals with will lead to tire failure and increased fuel consumption. A little maintenance now will solve a lot of problems later.

Seat belts: buckle up, arrive alive.



Thursday April 21, 2005

When driving in rain, two major problems occur; stopping distance is increased and visibility is decreased. Everyone knows that one should slow down in this situation. Another thing we often forget is the effect the spray coming off of the tires has on those around us. Not only are your brake lights difficult to see, it is not uncommon for cars to be completely blind when passing our tandem axles. Typically, the spray is heavy enough coming off the tires that a car's windshield wipers cannot keep up. The car is often completely blind when it is around a truck in the rain. It is also difficult for you to see cars passing . Because of this dangerous situation, you must avoid changing lanes and sudden hard braking. This means you MUST leave more space between you and the vehicles in front of you.

In rain, as in sunshine, it is important to keep your seatbelt buckled.



Friday April 29, 2005

Safety is an attitude. This attitude is reflected in everything we do. If we don't do our paperwork completely and neatly, we may also be careless in the way we check our safety equipment in the truck or in the way we check our brakes and lights. Officers in a road side inspection feel this way as well and will inspect accordingly. There is also a compliance issue. We must have documented on every log pre and post trip inspections, each stop of over seven minutes, and law enforcement activity. The DOT requires that the bill of lading or manifest numbers be written on the log. You must also perform a post trip inspection and fill out the inspection sheet with the log. Maintenance logs are to be filled out as work is done and turned in at the end of every month. This keeps you up to date on what work has been done to the truck and what still must be done.

Safety begins with a buckled seat belt.



Friday May 06, 2005

Now that construction season is underway, you will be encountering construction zones. This is a good time to revisit the issues and procedures associated with these dangerous zones. First of all, this is an area where you must pay attention; cars will cut you off as you enter and whip around you as you exit. You are aware of this, so prepare for it instead of being shocked when it happens. In these zones, you must maintain following distance. You are in a confined space and must leave room between you and the car in front so that you have someplace to go if something happens to avoid being hit by the car tailgating you. Leave enough space for you and for the car behind you to stop without hitting you. This space also gives you a better view of the potential hazards moving around the construction site. The last thing to remember is that the police patrol the construction zones and that the fines for traffic violations are higher in construction zones.


Seatbelts are required everywhere you drive. Buckle up - the life you save may be your own..



Friday May 13, 2005

Summer’s heat is coming soon and when it does, road rage season will be in full swing. The extreme heat of summer does not bring out the best in people. So we, as the professionals, must do what we can do to keep the world around us calm. The two most important things we can do are: (1) stay in our lane - a semi whipping in and out of traffic is not only unsettling, it is also very dangerous; (2) this one is more obvious - don’t tailgate. Looking in the mirror and only being able to see a truck bumper over the top of a car seat will bring out the defensive instincts in even the calmest parent. Leaving a little extra room in front of us will cost very little time but will reduce a tremendous amount of stress on you and the cars around you.


Buckle up.




Friday May 20, 2005

We all know a person who can see a tarp strap on the shoulder of the road a quarter-mile away. This guy is always pulling off the road to pick up the stuff he sees. This is not a good idea. Every time he pulls off and back onto the road, he opens himself up for a rear end collision. You must only pull off onto the shoulder of the road for emergencies. Tarp straps are not worth the fuel you use to stop and start; they're also not worth the risk of causing an accident.

For routine tire and load checks, get off the road to a parking lot so that you're not standing on the white line waiting to be hit by a unobservant driver. Keep yourself out of harm's way; drive on the road, park in parking lots.


Seat belts: they make a difference in a crash.



Friday May 27, 2005

Summer is finally here; for some reason, we all get the temptation to drive a little faster. Remember that we are still confined to the speed limits. Remember also that the posted speed limits are the fastest safe speed under ideal conditions. Heavy traffic, fog, and rain are not ideal conditions.


Construction zones are special areas that have inherent safety issues. The speed limits are reduced in these areas and the fines doubled. In construction zones, please slow down and pay very close attention to the cars in front and behind you. Also, pay attention to the movements on the construction side of the barricades.

Speed is a major factor in both frequency and severity of crashes. In other words, slow down and we will all get home tonight.


Seatbelts: Click it or Ticket.




Friday June 3, 2005

Trucking safety involves two factors. The first is being the driver: complete
with his skills, attitude, and fatigue factors. The second and most important
safety factor is the maintenance  preformed on the equipment. Our friends at
the DOT are having an inspection blitz called ROADCHECK 2005 scheduled for
June 7th, 8th, & 9th
. The reason this is advertised is because they want safe
trucks; not the chance to write a bunch of tickets. Let’s take this
opportunity to give our equipment a real close inspection and make ALL of the
repairs that we’ve been putting off.  

Seatbelts are required by DOT. Buckle up avoid the ticket.



Friday June 10, 2005

Summertime sunshine: it’s a wonderful thing. It also causes a blinding glare
off car and building windows masking brake lights and turn signals. Knowing
this, we must remember to keep sufficient distance to compensate both for our
lack of vision and for those around us who don’t realize that they can’t see.
The other area of concern is losing cars in the glare when making turns or
changing lanes. Try to look from different angles and check back often as you
make the turn in order to give yourself time to avoid a crash with someone who
was lost in the glare. Summer, as with all seasons, has its special hazards,
so stay alert and drive safely; somebody's life depends on it.

Always buckle your seat belt.



Friday June 17, 2005

Although the April showers have passed, we still have to be aware of
heavy downpours. I am sure we have all been caught in the torrential
rains we get in the Midwest. These heavy rains can reduce visibility
and cause flooding on the roads. During these heavy rains, we must
remember to slow down. Our ability to see ahead of us is impaired. Also impaired
is our braking time and stopping distance. Under ideal conditions, it
can take 400 ft for a loaded truck to stop; as it rains harder,
visibility decreases as stopping distance increases. We must be
aware of the cars around us that also have reduced visibility.
Remember your safe zones and blind spots and don't assume the other
driver will get out of your way.  


And always remember to BUCKLE UP!



Friday July 1, 2005

Now that school is out, you will face new challenges such as kids chasing
balls and pets into the street and bicycles and joggers in the road. Thousands
of kids are in drivers ed or have brand new drivers licenses. You must raise
your attention level anytime you are driving where kids could be, not just
where you know that they are. It’s the kids you didn’t see that present the
worst situation when they appear in the road. Kids are still present when it’s
dark too, they’re just much harder to see. Please be alert and be aware kids
are everywhere.

Safety is an attitude. It encompasses many facets of operation. Of course,
safety involves safe driving, obeying the speed limits, using care entering
and exiting the truck, and paying attention to fork lifts and anything moving
overhead at loading sites. Safety also involves proper maintenance of your
equipment. We must also do the paper work and turn it in promptly in the
correct time frame to satisfy all of the legal requirements. Log sheets must
be complete to within fifteen minutes of a duty change, and maintenance
reports should be filled out as the work is preformed. All you have to do is
send them weekly with your freight bills. Since the quarter just ended and we
must file tax reports, this would be a good time to get your logs, fuel
receipts, and maintenance reports to the office.

Driving safety begins with a buckled seatbelt.



Friday July 15, 2005

The left lane on 465 is a no-trucks allowed route. There are signs that confirm this all around 465, yet, it is common to see a truck or two or three jump into the left lane. This occurs after a car refused to be bullied and generally results in someone being tailgated in the high speed lane. The image here is not what we want for the trucking industry. It’s easy to see why people have a bad impression after experiencing this. Another fact to keep in mind is this: if a truck is in the left lane and is involved in an accident, he is at fault. This is due to the fact that he was not allowed to be there in the first place. The final thought about a truck in the far left lane: either he is speeding or over-driving traffic flow; he wouldn’t need to be there otherwise. Stay professional - drive at the speeds and in the lanes where you belong.

Driving safety begins with a buckled seatbelt.



Friday July 15, 2005

Yesterday, a friend of mine called from his cell phone and said a semi passed
him “at about 80 miles per hour.” His problem was that the truck got caught in
traffic and was “running about six inches off of his bumper”. I told him to
get out of the way and try to get a truck number and company to file a
complaint. After I hung up the phone, the questions, “at what point does
tailgating become assault with a deadly weapon” and “if the vehicle made
contact, would it become assault and battery”?  I don’t want to be forced to
find the answer to this question. We are professionals and as professionals,
we know to keep our distance and not to overdrive traffic flow.

Always buckle that seat belt.



Friday August 05, 2005

Expect the unexpected.

This morning, a fifteen passenger van turned the wrong way onto US-36 and
shortly thereafter, hit a semi head-on. The van was in the wrong, but if you
are in that situation where will your eyes and attention be? Will you be
putting in a cd, adjusting the squelch on your CB, looking down to watch a car
pass you, or will you be looking down the road and see someone making a fatal
error? If you see this situation developing, here is how you should you
respond. First protect yourself: get off the road and stop if possible.
Secondly, do what you can to protect others. Use the emergency flashers and
try to get the attention of the traffic behind you as well as the car going
the wrong way. Then, as soon as possible, dial 911 or channel 9 on the CB and
report the situation. The key to avoiding this type of incident is to always
be alert and attentive.

Remember, seatbelts save lives when the worst happens.



Friday August 12, 2005

As early as next week, school will be back in session. This means that school busses will be back on their routes. You must now pay attention and look for kids standing at the side of the road and for school busses stopped in the road. When we are in towns, we expect it; however, remember that the school busses also stop on state highways. Remember also that if there isn’t a median, you must stop if the bus is on the opposite side of the road. Therefore, you must be aware of the possibility of a bus or a child being in the road. If there are hills, in the road you must assume that traffic is stopped on the other side. Expect the unexpected, and everyone can survive the school year.


Always buckle your seat belt. Also, the safety meeting is October 29th.



Friday August 26, 2005

Tailgating is an inexcusable act that encourages road rage, causes crashes, and
gives the trucking industry a bad name. No one likes to see in his rearview mirror the sight of a huge semi right behind him. Accidents are just waiting to happen when situations like this occur.

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; this equates to 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.

Do your best to give enough space between yourself and the driver in front of you.

Section 393.110b of the DOT regulations state that anything not against a bulkhead that is over 5 feet long or over 1,100 pounds must have 2 tie-downs. The inspectors always assume that there is clearance between the bulkhead and the load. Therefore, we must put the second strap on the front pallet of cement and bricks as well as lumber and steel. If the load is split on the trailer, the front pallets on the back half must also have the second strap. The inspectors are getting serious about this; you must put at least 2 tie-downs on the front pallets on any load section. If you are hauling lumber or steel, put a couple of extra straps or chains on the load. No one will put you out of service for too many tie-downs.

And, as always, remember to buckle your safety belt.



Friday September 02, 2005

The DOT has issued the final draft of the revised hours-of-service regulations. One change will affect us: as of October 1, 2005, in order to count sleeper berth, you must log eight or more continuous hours in the sleeper berth followed by either sleeper berth or off duty time that together total at least ten hours. In summary, the changes are: (1) the sleeper time has to be a minimum of 8 hours and (2) the balance of the ten hours can be either off duty or sleeper time.


Always buckle that seatbelt.





Friday September 16, 2005


Safety begins before the truck moves. The pre-trip inspection is the first step for a safe trip. If you are serious about being safe on the job, you will look carefully at the tires, airlines, lights, safety equipment, and the load tie-downs. The pre-trip inspection is also the time to determine if you need to adjust the brakes. The logbook must also be started and your time logged beginning with the pre-trip inspection before you move. The extra five minutes before you start your journey could make the difference between problems and a safe and pleasant day.


There are still times when for one reason or another, you will need to pull off the road. This may be to look at the map or to make a quick repair. As innocent as this may seem, it is dangerous when you slow down in a traffic lane to stop and dangerous again when pulling back into the traffic lane at a slow speed. Also, while you are parked, there is the possibility that someone is not paying attention or perhaps has fallen asleep and could run off the road and hit you. The other problem with pulling onto the side of the road is that it is illegal and police are writing tickets. The better course of action is to leave the road and pull into a truck stop or a parking lot when you need to stop.


Always put on the seatbelt before you put it in gear.



Friday September 23, 2005

I recently noticed that eight of our last ten accidents involved stationary objects. These are the most preventable crashes that exist. Nothing moved; we merely drove over or backed into something that was there before we were. The insurance company uses the GOAL program. This stands for GET OUT AND LOOK. I know we are big time semi drivers and sometimes we think it looks lame to get out and walk to the back of the truck to have a look around. What really is lame though is when you back into a car or a post. Remember stationary objects are not going to get out of your way. You are responsible for identifying these objects and avoiding them.


Always put on the seatbelt before you put it in gear.


Safety meeting October 29, 2005.




Friday September 30, 2005

Last night in a driving rain, I could see the emergency vehicles tending to yet another truck that had rolled over exiting 465 toward I-69. Turns, exit ramps, and even some curves on the highway are treacherous to large vehicles. That statement includes flatbed equipment. Four trucks operating for us have rolled over. This is an issue that we must take seriously. Roll-over is the worst case scenario, but other things can happen when you take turns too fast; the most common is shifting loads. This can break straps allowing part of the load to come off the trailer. A sudden shift can also damage the equipment. Show respect for the size of the equipment you are operating and slow down when making a turn or an exit.


A seat belt could save your life in a roll over. Buckle up every time you drive.


Driver Safety Meeting October 29th.