Seasonal changes increases need for trucking safety practices

Fall is a season of change ­­— for both physical surroundings and how fleet owners evaluate their operations.

Don't drive your big rig truck too fast, it could cost you in the long run.

Big Rig drivers already face challenges on the road, but shorter days, unpredictable weather and increased traffic during fall can present even more danger to drivers and others they’re sharing lanes with. Ron Jessen, director of refined fuels marketing for CHS, shares best practices for keeping all vehicles safe on the road during this busy time of year.

Weather challenges

Fall brings wetter road conditions and the first couple of rainfalls of the season can be especially dangerous, as water pools on top of dust and oil that hasn’t been washed off the roads. Dirt, mud and crop debris from farmers exiting their fields also gather on rural roads which can become hazardous to fleet drivers. “Drivers should allow extra space for cars in front of them,” says Jessen. “Roads may appear manageable, but even a little slipperiness can impact a rig’s stopping distance.”

In late fall, the first snowfall and frost bring driving challenges that need to be re-learned every year. “Because it’s been many months since drivers have traveled in the snow and ice, drivers need to take it slow as they get used to winter driving again,” says Jessen.

Less daylight and longer hours can also lead to increased fatigue. “Farmers, truckers, and machine operators are all working in full-force in the fall and many work extended hours to get the job done. This, plus the decrease in daylight, can lead to fatigue, which is a leading cause of accidents,” says Jessen.

Visibility decreases

Due to the rotation of the Earth in mid-to late-fall, the sun is often low in the sky, making sun glare a pressing issue this time of year. Glare bouncing off a mirror or other shiny objects can leave drivers temporarily blinded, causing accidents or near misses. Road signs and stoplights can at times be nearly impossible to read. “Approach stoplights very carefully,” says Jessen. “And keep your windshield clean, both inside and out. Dust and streaks can get illuminated by the sun and make it even harder to see the road.”

Accidents are dangerous and can raise truck insurance costs.




Commercial Trucking and Alcohol-Drugs don’t mix

Please don’t operate a big rig under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The public is counting on you as a safe Trucker!

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More than 10,000 (of the more than 35,000 total) highway fatalities each year in the United States involve an alcohol impaired driver… and impairment by other drugs is a rising concern.

Although many drivers recognize the impairment potential of illicit drugs, they may not appreciate the potentially impairing effects of prescribed or OTC medications, especially in combination. Drivers should discuss their
transportation activities with their doctors before taking a medication and should clarify the impairing effects of any medical conditions they have.

Then, a driver’s medical conditions and medications need to be monitored. When a medication label warns against operating heavy machinery while using the medication, drivers need to understand that warning includes vehicles.

Ultimately, advocacy groups, industry, and the public need to work together to increase awareness of drug and alcohol impairment and its effects on safe driving. New laws should be enacted in response to the increase in drug use across the United States, and new research should be used to reexamine old conceptions, like the one that defines impairment as a BAC of 0.08 percent.

Finally, drivers need to communicate with their health care providers to fully understand the risks posed by medications they may be taking and by medical conditions with which they’ve been diagnosed.

When it comes to a Trucker and alcohol use, we know that impairment begins well before a person’s BAC reaches 0.08 percent, the  current limit in the United States at which a driver is presumed to be impaired. In fact, by the time BAC reaches that level, the risk of a fatal crash has more than doubled. That’s why we believe states should lower legal BAC levels to 0.05 percent—or even lower.

Although impairment from alcohol begins with the first drink, many drivers don’t realize that even low levels of alcohol can degrade skills and increase crash risk.

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