Commercial Trucking Tips: Avoiding Common Parking Lot Accidents

When you drive trucks for a living, you are constantly aware of the ways that other drivers on the road contribute to possible hazards that you will have to cope with. It’s just part of the territory, and developing a good sense of the pitfalls that come with the open road is just part of the job. What many truck drivers lose sight of, even the experienced ones, is how common parking lot accidents can be and how much extra time and trouble they can cause. It’s easy to overlook the dangers of parking lots, too, because the speeds are lower and traffic tends to be lighter than it is on the road. That shouldn’t lull you into letting your guard down, though. Instead, follow through with these tips for avoiding common parking lot accidents so that you can make sure your vigilance on the road has total follow-through.

Parking Lot Accidents Are Widespread

The first step toward grappling with the dangers in parking lots is realizing just how common parking lot accidents can be. Recent research has found that two-thirds of all trucking accidents involve a collision with a stationary object in a parking lot. That is an incredible number, and it doesn’t even include the number of accidents that involve slow-moving vehicles, pedestrians, or slips and falls when the driver is loading and unloading. On the one hand, these numbers show just how important it is to maintain vigilance in parking lots. On the other hand, they also speak to what a great job most drivers do with vigilance on the roadways. To get a better idea about how to put a stop to parking lot accidents, it helps to look at common accident types.

Basic Types of Parking Lot Accidents

Once you understand the types of accidents, it becomes easier to understand how a few basic trucking tips can help you prevent them all. That’s because the various types of accidents you might encounter all have a few common root causes that you can address with time and patience. Here are the types of accidents you might encounter in a parking lot:

  • Collisions with stationary or even fixed objects
  • Vehicle collisions
  • Intersection crashes
  • Slipping and falling
  • Liftgate injuries
  • Entry and exit injuries

What’s important to realize is that while there are several kinds of parking lot accidents, they can be easily grouped into those involving the truck and those involving only the driver.

Avoiding Accidents Involving the Vehicle

When you are looking to make sure you are safer on the road, your attention and diligence are the main attributes you need to work on. Avoiding distractions is about more than just making sure you have a clear view, though. It also means making sure you have a clear mind. A large number of parking lot accidents happen because drivers are working on other pieces of their job while driving. Whether it’s calling ahead to provide your next 30-minute delivery notification, prepping paperwork, or attempting to rebalance your priorities as you consider the rest of the day’s deliveries, you need to make sure you are putting it aside until you are actually done driving the truck. Otherwise, you are engaging with distractions instead of focusing on the road.

It is not easy to avoid these distractions, because your schedule is likely to be tight and delivery times stacked on top of one another, but if you have an accident, it will do more than delay your next delivery. It could throw your entire schedule for the day off, and it could also lead to consequences with your employer if the accident is determined to be your fault; OR EVEN WORSE. That’s why it is important to make sure you focus on the drive through the ENTIRE drive, even in parking lots at the end of the trip.

Trucking Tips for Avoiding Injuries Outside the Vehicle

The other major accident type, accidents that involve the driver but not the truck, can be harder to prevent. That’s because sometimes, these accidents are due to mechanical failures or to the state of the facilities you are unloading at. In those cases, it is important to have a combination of diligence to avoid any foreseeable accidents and great insurance coverage for when you can’t possibly foresee the accident.

That means you will need to find a carrier who offers you all the coverage your trucking business needs. The coverage needs to include vehicle collision coverage, but they also need to include:

  • Cargo liability coverage
  • Workers compensation and other employee coverage
  • Vehicle damage coverage

Only by making sure you have complete protection from an insurance provider like Western Truck Insurance Services at  www.TruckInsure.com  can you be sure your business is protected in the case of accidents of any kind, from the loading dock to the open road and back again, and considering all the possible pitfalls in between.

How to Avoid Collisions with Deer

Collisions with deer result in billions of dollars in vehicle damage and almost 200 fatalities every year. While there is always a risk of coming into contact with these animals, autumn can be an especially dangerous time, as it is deer mating season and there are more of them around. Drivers should be aware how to avoid collisions with deer in order to be better prepared on the road.

Smaller vehicles definitely take the brunt of damage when they come into contact with large animals. However, deer collisions can result in loss of revenue for large commercial trucking companies as well. Not only is there damage to the fleet vehicles, but also to the loads that are being transported. Situations in which the driver swerves to avoid hitting the animals can be especially dangerous, as the size of the truck can result in flipping of the rig or collision with other vehicles.

Stay Alert in High Risk Areas

Although deer sightings can occur anywhere, there are certain areas that tend to have a higher incidence of animal presence. In order to avoid collisions with deer, staying extra alert in these situations is important. The following circumstances call for increased vigilance:

  • Signs – areas with higher animal populations typically have signs along the road, warning drivers of their presence. Keep speeds at a minimum and scan the area regularly.
  • Mating season – the mating season for deer is at the beginning of fall in many areas of the country. The season for moose and elk is during September and October, and horses tend to mate more in the spring and summer.
  • Less-populated states – states and regions that have fewer people tend to have heavier animal populations, and extra care should be taken
  • Past sightings – drivers who spend a lot of time on the road may notice a pattern of areas in which there are more deer or other large animals
  • Higher activity times – deer tend to be out more during the early morning and early evening hours, and these are often the times it is harder for drivers to see
  • Be aware of the pack – deer typically travel with others. If one is crossing, keep in mind there are probably others behind and drive with caution.

General Safety Precautions

Staying alert in situations in which more deer may be around is a good start to avoiding deer collisions. However, there are other tips that all drivers can follow in order to stay safe on the road.

When driving on a multi-lane road, staying in the center lane is the best place to steer clear of hitting an animal. This allows for a larger space for deer, and gives the driver more time to respond in the event a deer does run onto the road.

Drivers should refrain from swerving. This results in a loss of control and an increased chance of collision with another vehicle. Because deer are unpredictable, swerving can even cause the driver to end up in their changed path.

Drivers should make use of their horn if a deer is sighted. A long blast can frighten the animal and keep them off the road. Hood whistles and other deer scaring alerts have been shown to be ineffective in keeping accidents to a minimum.

To help avoid collisions with deer, drivers should not rely on their headlights. They should not be in overdrive, nor should they be flashed to warn deer. Light can actually temporarily paralyze the deer, in which case they wouldn’t move off the road in time. Also, if the driver needs to stop, applying the brakes slowly and smoothly is the best method.

Although it does not necessarily prevent a collision, wearing seatbelts at all times is important. If the brakes are used forcefully to stop, the safety belt will help prevent injuries. In the unfortunate event of an accident with a large animal, seatbelt use can prevent much more serious effects such as flying through the windshield.

In the Event of a Collision

While following the above guidelines can greatly cut down on the chances of collision, there are times when impact cannot be avoided. If this occurs, there are certain steps drivers should take.

  1. When it is safe, drivers should pull over to the side of the road, allowing other vehicles to move by.
  2. Passengers should remain in the vehicle with the hazard lights on until it is safe.
  3. If the deer is alive, leave it alone. It could be injured and confused, making it dangerous to approach.
  4. Police should be contacted as well as ambulance services if there are injuries to the driver or passengers. Alert them to the presence of the deer in the case of it being a hazard in the road.
  5. Commercial truck drivers should contact their supervisor to report the accident, and drivers of personal vehicles should call their insurance company.

What is the ELD Mandate?

Truck drivers and other commercial motor carriers need to be aware of the ELD mandate, which all commercial fleets must implement by December 18, 2017. Some drivers may be asking, what is the ELD mandate? ELD stands for Electronic Logging Device, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration passed a rule that requires commercial vehicles to use these devices to electronically record a driver’s duty status.

Prior to the mandate, truck drivers used paper logbooks to record their hours of service. Not only does an ELD reduce the time it takes to fill out the paperwork, it also provides a number of other benefits to drivers as well as fleet and safety managers.

ELD System Functions

Tracking compliance in regard to hours of service is just one of the functions of an ELD system. Some of the others include:

  • Report on driver behavior – this includes information about idling, hard braking, and speeding
  • Map integration and rerouting – helps truckers avoid construction and navigate areas of high traffic
  • Automation of IFTA – makes it easier for companies to report fuel use under the International Fuel Tax Agreement
  • Streamlines DVIR – drivers must record and turn in driver vehicle inspection reports on a daily basis

ELD Benefits

The ELD mandate is expected to result in a number of benefits for both drivers and management. The initial goal of the system was to cut down on the amount of paperwork and increase accuracy. By doing so, it reduces the hassle of having to fill in a paper log every day; saving everyone time.

Dispatchers are able to keep up with a driver’s status in real time, and there is increased communication with those on the road. This helps them plan for the trip more efficiently and make sure everyone is in compliance in regard to the hours of service. Drivers themselves are also able to make better time because their routes are more streamlined thanks to the rerouting function.

For many companies, an ELD system will lead to increased revenue over time. This is especially true for businesses that integrate ELDs with other telematic equipment throughout their fleets. The data gained from these systems can help in the following ways:

  • They can show how to reduce the costs of operations and fuel
  • Show how to proactively maintain fleet equipment
  • Demonstrate how to create more uptime
  • Increase utilization rates

Integrating ELD systems can also improve customer satisfaction. With the optimized routing of trucks, materials and supplies are delivered quicker and with fewer delays.

Improved safety is also a benefit of using ELDs. Commercial trucking companies have a lot of liability, and overtired drivers have always been an issue. Because an ELD keeps track of the hours of service, drivers cannot fudge the time they are on the road. This keeps them more alert and able to stay safer, reducing the number of accidents. In fact, studies have shown that drivers who are well rested log around 10 percent more miles every week and are less likely to quit the job compared to those who work on limited sleep.

The rule surrounding ELDs include articles that prevent drivers from harassment. If drivers feel they have a valid case, the mandate has a provision for drivers to file a complaint with the regulatory board.

Exemptions to the Mandate

While most commercial trucks are required to have ELDs installed by December 18 of 2017, there are exceptions to the rule. Small businesses that have vehicles that are older than 2000 are not required to comply with the new rules. Companies with driveaway-towaway functions are also exempted as long as the shipments include the driven vehicles. For example, the ELD rules do not apply to businesses that deliver new motor coaches, and similar vehicles, to the dealers direct from the manufacturers.

Companies that do not have  long-distance operations,  are not subject to the log book rules, may not need to install ELDs. This is because records that are limited to fewer than eight days every 30 days are part of the exceptions.

ELDs and Tired Drivers

Although the use of ELDs have shown to reduce accidents due to less driver fatigue, the mandate is not enough to prevent tired drivers from being on the road. Companies are strongly encouraged to analyze the data they collect from the ELDs. Comparing different schedules and driving behavior can go far to determine which drivers are the safest on the road.

Some data scrutiny has shown that consistency is important. Drivers who start at the same time every day, no matter what that time is, are at a lower risk on the road. Those who drive irregular shifts tend to have more accidents.

Surprisingly, data has shown that short-haul drivers typically are at higher risk than drivers who drive longer hauls. The theory is drivers with longer drives have more opportunities to take a break and even a short nap if needed.