Posted on November 21, 2018
Most people associate work-related back pain with jobs that require a lot of bending or heavy lifting. However, prolonged sitting can also be the source of back pain, something which many truck drivers know all too well. Truck drivers are often seated for hours on end, in a position that readily puts strain on back muscles and ligaments. If the issue remains unaddressed, this pain can spread into their necks and even their legs.
Preventing Back Pain
The best method of dealing with drivers’ back pain is to prevent it altogether. There are several methods to help keep drivers’ backs in better condition, to help mitigate the onset of back and neck pain:
- Exercise whenever possible. When drivers reach a rest stop or stop driving for the day, they should work out and stretch to reinvigorate muscles after a long period of disuse. Stretching is particularly important to help relieve tense muscles after sitting in one position for several hours.
- Invest in seat support. Truck drivers have many expenses and often try to keep costs down by limiting luxury purchases for their cab. However, ergonomic seat cushions are well worth the price tag. They provide support and correct drivers’ posture to prevent the pain associated with slouching into the seat.
- Focus on posture. While it’s not feasible to think about good posture every second of a long drive, there are some things drivers can do to prevent back pain, by changing some basic driving behavior. For example, many drivers carry their phones or wallets in their back pocket. Removing these before sitting down can improve posture and reduce muscle strain. And changing seat position, moving the height or angle of the seat, each and every hour, can reduce both muscle fatigue and mental fatigue.
Managing Back Pain
Once drivers strain their muscles, they should rapidly take steps to manage the pain before it becomes an injury. Some tips include:
- Ice the area. Applying an ice pack to sore muscles for around 20 minutes can help numb the pain, reduce the damage, and decrease swelling.
- Alternate cold with heat therapy. So long as the area is no longer numb and the swelling is gone, drivers can also use heat as a means to manage back pain. Heat can relieve pain and spasms as well as help warm up muscles before stretching.
- Take breaks. Pushing through pain is rarely worth it. Drivers who ignore their back pain in favor of reaching their destination faster risk increasing the pain and causing lasting damage.
When drivers take steps to prevent and manage back pain, they reduce the likelihood of an injury. Left unchecked, drivers could experience lasting health complications that keep them out of work. To learn more ways to reduce and manage trucking risk, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.
Posted on October 22, 2018
Truck drivers and fleets are aware of the importance of CSA scores. While FMCSA can’t suspend a CDL license due to CSA scores, they can target drivers for interventions and levy heavy fines against them. This is why it’s critical for both owner-operators and company drivers to keep their CSA scores low. Drivers can follow these 5 steps to improve their CSA scores.
- Harness the power of electronic logging devices (ELDs). One of the most common violations roadside inspectors see are “form and manner” violations. These types of violations include outdated logs, hence the usefulness of an ELD. While FMCSA regulations required all motor carriers to upgrade their vehicles to include an ELD in December of 2017, some can continue to use an automatic on-board recording device (AOBRD) through 2019. While the technology has a temporary grandfather clause, it’s worth the peace of mind to make the change to an ELD.
- Focus on the brakes. With Brake Safety Week in the recent past, many carriers are feeling the sting of brake violations. Given the importance of braking for truck safety, it’s surprising how often drivers overlook them during pre-trip inspections. While checking brakes is harder and messier than other aspects of pre-trip inspections, brake violations add up quickly.
- Perform thorough pre-trip inspections. Brakes aren’t the only element that drivers need to inspect before hitting the road. In addition to problems with brakes, the most common violations relate to lights and tires. A broken light alone carries a 6-point penalty. Problems with tires carry an 8-point penalty. Several light and tire violations can rack up CSA points and hurt a carrier’s safety rating in one roadside inspection alone. Performing a complete pre-trip inspection can help drivers and carriers avoid these hefty penalties.
- Challenge violations. Fleets and drivers aren’t without recourse following a violation. They have two years to challenge the violation, which can result in a smaller penalty or a dismissal of the charge. Even if the charge isn’t dismissed, reducing the severity means reducing the point value assigned to it. It’s always worth the effort to challenge violations.
- Drive healthy. Failing to produce a valid medical certificate carries a relatively small fine of one point. However, driving while ill is one of the most serious violations and carries a 10-point penalty. Fleet managers need to make sure drivers have valid and up to date medical cards certifying their health and fitness to drive as well as monitor any health concerns.
Implementing regular training on driver safety can go a long way toward avoiding these violations. Companies that put a focus on driver safety can implement proactive measures to improve safety and reduce risk. Contact Interstate Motor Carriers to learn more about managing your fleet’s safety and risk needs.
Posted on September 17, 2018
As Hurricane Florence continues its trek across the east coast, truck drivers are reminded now more than ever that hurricane season is still in full force. Although this summer has been relatively quiet concerning hurricanes, Florence made up for the calm with Category 4 winds and torrential rainfall. Weather events of this magnitude require that truck drivers need to take extra precautions to ensure their personal safety, and the safety of their trucks and cargo.
7 Steps to Prepare Truck Drivers For Sever Weather Events
Weather events like Hurricane Florence will have long-lasting effects on truckers, from closed roads, to flooded terminals, the impact of these events can dramatically impact drivers and fleets. The following steps can help truck drivers manage changes in their routine and stay safe during the storm:
- Cancel or reroute all deliveries that cross through the path of the storm.
- Allow for extra time to reach locations, and plan multiple alternate routes.
- Pay close attention to National Weather Service announcements (every two hours as the storm approaches). Many locals may believe the storm won’t be as significant the news portrays. Inaction can result in tragedy. Heed all local weather advisories and evacuation notices.
- Move all vehicles that won’t be used to higher ground in areas affected by the storm. The location should be free of trees, power lines, or any other objects that could impact the vehicle.
- Fill all vehicle fuel tanks prior to the storm, as power may be interrupted in many locations and cause delays in fuel deliveries. This can lead to closed fuel stations, long lines and increased prices at the pump in areas affected by the path of the storm.
- Perform a thorough pre-trip inspection to ensure tires, windshield wipers, and all lights are operational. Drivers do not want to be caught in bad weather when they discover a problem with their vehicle they could’ve addressed before they started driving.
- As always, slow down, increase driving distance, brake slowly, and make sure headlights are on during inclement weather.
Important Changes to HOS Rules for Hurricane Florence
Truck drivers in the most affected areas trying to evacuate don’t need to worry about violating hours of service (HOS) regulations. Both the Governor of North Carolina and South Carolina issued executive orders waiving HOS rules as well as Size & Weight requirements for truck drivers as they prepare for Hurricane Florence. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also issued a Regional Emergency Declaration for Delaware, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia exempting drivers from Parts 390-399 of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). Restrictions do apply, so drivers should be sure to familiarize themselves with the Emergency Declaration.
A truck driver’s number one priority during a hurricane should be his or her safety. To learn more ways to reduce your risks, contact the experts at Interstate Motor Carriers.
Posted on August 07, 2018
Many within the transportation industry scoffed at the notion of autonomous vehicles, and they weren’t alone. The idea of self-driving vehicles seemed like science fiction at best and dangerous at worst, yet the technology is here and already in use. Budweiser shipped over 50,000 cans of beer in a self-driving truck, and Uber, Waymo, Tesla and Embark are all running live pilots with autonomous trucks. While the technology isn’t 100% ready for the public at large, it’s rapidly becoming a reality. High tech tools and futuristic technology are dominating recent transportation publication headlines with solutions like these, which are all available today:
Telematics and GPS Fleet Tracking Systems
Simply said, telematics encompasses the software and devices that power the electronic features found in all vehicles including trucks. GPS is one of the key applications in telematics, and includes:
- Navigation, fuel monitoring and route planning
- Driver behavior applications including braking, fast acceleration and speeding
- Complex route planning and arrival/departure alerts
- Automated tracking and analytics productivity reports
- Trailer tracking and historical routing
- Idle and start/stop driving reports
ELDs and Trucking Software Applications
ELDs provide the wireless tools and technology to ensure that truckers and fleets maintain compliance with the FMCSA ELD mandate.
Self-driving Trucks and Platooning
As mentioned previously, self-driving truck testing is well underway. Platooning is also being tested by manufacturers including Daimler. Platooning extends self-driving technology by wirelessly tethering trucks together, allowing them to operate in a tighter highway formation (convoy) than would be possible with human drivers at the wheel.
Tesla is the big name when it comes to electric vehicles, and Tesla Semi, the automaker’s electric truck division has been accumulating many reservations over the last few months. Tesla is expected to produce all electric trucks in 2019. But they aren’t alone, as many major manufacturers are actively working on completely electric trucks. Volvo has announced two new fully-electric trucks designed to take the place of urban delivery and refuse collection vehicles. Both will be available in the European market in 2019.
What to Expect in the Coming Years
As if the list above insufficiently represents the dramatic changes happening in the trucking industry, there are some seemingly imminent and impressive technologies expected to impact truckers and fleets in the near future. These include:
Heads up displays (HUDs) are nothing new for vehicles, but augmented reality is about to take them to the next level. BMW is working on a HUD that can superimpose real-life objects from the road onto a truck’s HUD to allow drivers to navigate obstacles with greater ease.
Trucks require ongoing maintenance and recalibration to perform at their optimum level. However, new technology will allow software to make these calibrations without ever pulling into a repair shop.
Trucking companies need to prepare for these dramatic changes, and Interstate Motor Carriers can help. Contact us to learn how we can help protect you today and in the future.
Posted on June 28, 2018
School is out for the summer! The long winter has finally ended and kids & teens across the country are free from school days. For the trucking industry summer means the opposite of freedom, for this is the busy season. There are many variables to be concerned with whilst driving in the summer, especially as a trucker. Below we have listed some of the most important tips and precautions to prepare for this season:
- Be Properly Equipped – Summer driving means heat, sun glare, and longer days. Be sure to pack a hat, sun glasses, extra water, and plenty of snacks. Did we mention you should pack water? Hydration is key to staying focused and healthy during the summer months!
- Be Aware of the Extra Drivers – With summer in full swing, teenagers and college drivers will be on the roads more than any other season. In addition to students, families will be hitting the road for vacation making road congestion a big concern. Make sure you are aware of your surroundings by always checking your mirrors and properly signaling before changing lanes.
- Construction is Being Done – Be wary of road work! The summer is when most construction is typically going to be done, especially on roads. Be conscious of all signs as you drive, and respond accordingly. Slow down and be prepared to stop when driving through construction zones.
Of course, these are only a few conditions that drivers must be aware of while driving in the summer. We urge you to stay safe, healthy and cautious this summer (and every season)!
Posted on July 10, 2017
Summer heat can be more than uncomfortable—it can be a threat to your health, especially for older adults and children. Whatever your age, don’t let the summer heat get the best of you.
Heat exhaustion occurs when a person cannot sweat enough to cool the body, usually the result of not drinking enough fluids during hot weather. It generally develops when a person is playing, working, or exercising outside in extreme heat. Symptoms include:
- Dizziness, weakness, nausea, headache and vomiting
- Blurry vision
- Body temperature rising to 101°F
- Sweaty skin
- Feeling hot and thirsty
- Difficulty speaking
A person suffering from heat exhaustion must move to a cool place and drink plenty of water.
Heat stroke is the result of untreated heat exhaustion. Symptoms include:
- Unawareness of heat and thirst
- Body temperature rising rapidly to above 101°F
- Confusion or delirium
- Loss of consciousness or seizure
Heat stroke is a serious medical emergency that must be treated quickly by a trained professional. Until help arrives, cool the person down by placing ice on the neck, armpits and groin. If the person is awake and able to swallow, give him or her fluids.
Tips for Staying Cool
Below are some tips for staying safe in the heat:
- Drink plenty of water—In hot weather, drink enough to quench your thirst. The average adult needs eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day—more during heat spells.
- Dress for the weather—When outside, wear lightweight clothing made of natural fabrics and a well-ventilated hat.
- Stay inside if possible—Do errands and outside chores early or late in the day.
- Eat light—Replace heavy or hot meals with lighter, refreshing foods.
- Think cool! Take a cool shower or apply a cold compress to your pulse points. Or, try spending time indoors at an air-conditioned mall or movie theater.
Posted on March 10, 2017
Being a truck driver can pave the way for an unhealthy life style. It may seem like sleeping less or stopping at fast food restaurants is an efficient lifestyle for someone who essentially live on the road, but this is not the case.
Getting adequate sleep is the first step in becoming a healthier trucker, being a fatigued driver puts you and others on the road in danger. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night is imperative for a healthy lifestyle, but sleeping well is not enough to remain healthy. The next tip to becoming healthier on the road is to stretch and exercise daily. As a driver you are sitting and focusing on the road for more than half of your waking hours, try to stretch at every stop to prevent your muscles from becoming stiff and achy. It may seem impossible to exercise daily when you’re on the job, but exercising doesn’t have to mean lifting weights for two hours. Try walking 30-45 minutes once a day at rest stops, maybe try walking for 10 minutes at four different stops!
As you are beginning to create a healthier body on the outside it is important remember that cliché saying’ “you are what you eat”. Staying alert and focused is a huge part of a truck driver’s job and by fueling your body with healthy food you are help your body to do so! Try packing a cooler with fruits and vegetables, if this isn’t an option try shopping smart at gas stations by buying nuts or head to the fridge and look for some fruits and vegetables there! Fueling your body so that it works the best that it can means drinking more water and less caffeine, try to not drink caffeine an hour or two before bed time to ensure the first step of a good night’s sleep.
Although these are all essential ways to stay physically healthy on the road it is extremely important to stay mentally healthy as well. Listen to your favorite music while you drive, chat with family and friends as you’re walking at those rest stops, and put some time aside to do something for yourself (read, relax, play a game). Taking care of yourself is especially important on the road because the alternative could mean you are putting people’s lives in danger. Start one step at a time so you can be the healthiest person, driver, and self that you possibly can.
Posted on December 27, 2016
Digital security is a growing concern for the trucking industry, which is not surprising, considering it is gaining importance for most businesses in the country. Cyber security is a cost of doing business in the U.S. as there are cyber hackers waiting to attack at any time.
Many truckers now conduct both professional and personal business from their truck cab making their truck a target. It’s important for truckers to recognize that they need to consider cost-effective risk management practices that will protect them from cyber attacks.
Most truckers are aware of the need for and may have put into place protection for their hardware systems, including separate safety systems to shield their entertainment/information systems and vehicle-based technology. But software-based security systems have been slower to be adopted.
Here are some best practices that truckers may want to consider when it comes to digital security.
- Security-based design procedures
- Frequency and severity analysis
- Audit and monitoring policies
- Detection of vulnerabilities through self-testing
Many automotive manufacturers are now integrating security systems into the design of the vehicle and add-on features that include technology. As computers and cloud solutions become standard in vehicle systems used for everything from navigation to safety monitoring, cyber security is an issue rising to the top.
The issue of digital security in the trucking industry is a serious one. It is possible for cyber hackers to do almost anything to your vehicle, including controlling steering, brakes and lights. Right now cyber attackers are mostly pranksters, but in the future hackers may become more serious and could access financial information (such as credit card numbers) that are stored on computers in the trucks.
Vulnerable systems in a truck include adaptive cruise control, parking assist and pre-crash braking, as well as telematics. Truck manufacturers, government and industry groups need to take cyber security threats seriously and develop security systems. to protect truckers and the public. To learn more about protecting your transportation business, contact us.
Posted on December 20, 2016
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is cracking down on drivers by holding them accountable to audit requirements instigated in 2013 under “Operation Quick Strike.” The initial phase of Operation Quick Strike targeted bus and motorcoach companies and was successful at shutting down companies it found to be out of compliance. Today’s model is a performance-based program that is being rolled out to trucking companies, including fleets, and focuses more on current problems rather than following up on prior out-of-compliance ratings.
Here are some of the changes in the way the FMCSA is doing audits.
- Audits include a broader range of fleet personnel, including accounting, sales, and drivers as well as checking social media.
- Ranking in the unsafe driving, hours of service compliance or crash indicator basic must be 90 or higher, a change from a rating of 85.
- The FMCSA has added a “Part C” to the audit, reserved for the auditor’s notes, the method of operation of the audit and other details of the audit not listed in Parts A or B. Parts A and B are routinely released to the driver, but drivers need to request Part C, citing the Freedom of Information Act.
- Unsafe Driving criteria are being added to the audit for the first time. This includes speeding ticket information, following too close, or other minor driving violations will be used in the new rating system.
- E-logs will also be included in the audit. An explosion of information and data. E-logs will be used to request other documents that support the audit.
- While not currently included in the audit, the FMCSA is considering including a “Safety Fitness Determination” criteria in the future.
If a driver is deemed “high-risk”, they will be rated “Conditional.” Under the new criteria, the FMCSA has increased the investigation, intervention and “out-of-service” orders. And, since shippers and brokers have access to a driver’s rating, a Conditional designation could have a major financial impact on a trucking company. For more on transportation news and risk management, contact us.
Posted on December 13, 2016
You are finally off the traffic-congested roadway and safely parked at a truck stop. But you may not be as safe as you think. A large percentage of truck-trailer accidents occur at truck stops which should be the safest place to park. Drivers can never let their guard down when behind the wheel. Trucking accidents are expensive to both the employer and to the driver. Below are a few tips to help reduce a trucking accident/incident at a truck stop:
- Pre-plan your route so you know you will be stopping at a location with plenty of room and that is well lit. Choose your stops, don’t let them choose you.
- Never underestimate the usefulness of a rest area. Not only do rest areas offer easy access, but they are setup to allow trucks to pull through a parking spot versus the higher risk of backing into a spot. Statistics indicate that more accidents happen in truck stops than rest areas.
- Avoid parking on the end of a row. Not only is there traffic crossing next to you but most people park on the end because they are tired and after a long day the end is the closest spot. Avoiding the end of a parking lot helps you avoid drivers who are parking when they are tired. Removing yourself from high traffic areas can only help.
- Avoid a spot that will force you to back out when you leave. Choose a spot you can either pull through (the best option) or back into (second best option).
- Avoiding parking in a location where the trucks across from you will be required to back out of their spots. Being behind a vehicle that will be blindly backing toward you is a recipe for disaster.
- If the truck next to you looks close, is over the line, or parked odd (for example the cab is angled to the trailer for some reason) then move on to a new spot. If you have to take that spot don’t be afraid to write down the name and DOT number on the truck. You may be glad you did when you wake up in the morning.
- Park with your tractor and trailer straight. It reduces the area others have to hit while backing.
- Use your four-ways when pulling through the lot and backing up. People in truck stops, or even other parking lots, are usually tired or distracted. Four-ways activate peripheral vision and increase the chance of someone seeing you. And if required use your horn gently when needed to tell someone “Hey, I’m here”.