Tired Trucking: How to Combat Driver Fatigue

With the rise of e-commerce platforms like Amazon and a huge shift in how we as a society shop for and ship items, the trucking industry has seen a huge boom in activity in recent years. More than 15 million commercial trucks drive along American highways, transporting more than 70% of all goods in the U.S. While this may be a good sign of consumer confidence, it also shows the built-in rise of risk behind the wheel.

According to a survey conducted by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), the main reason behind commercial truck crashes are fatigued and overworked drivers. Given the nature of the size of vehicle, these crashes ultimately result in serious injury and even death. While it’s important for truck drivers and the transportation companies they work for to invest in Commercial Truck Insurance as a safe precaution, it’s even more important to understand how driver fatigue can be avoided. Here are some ways to combat it:

Get Enough Sleep

This may seem like a simple idea, but more often than not truck drivers find themselves climbing behind the wheel without the proper amount of sleep. It’s important to get a full night’s sleep every night and try to avoid driving when you’re feeling drowsy. Drowsiness may impair the response time of a driver and increase the chances of being involved in a crash.

Have a Healthy Diet

Long hauls on highways may make it hard to maintain a healthy and consistent diet, but it’s a vital component to driver health overall. Going to bed on an empty stomach, skipping meals, or eating foods that don’t contain adequate nutritional value can all lead to interrupted sleep. Not being well-rested due to lack of nutrition and lack of refueling can impair awareness and reaction time.

Stop for a Nap

Even though driver’s like to stick to a schedule, if it gets to a point where you find yourself constantly sleepy behind the wheel, especially during the day, it would help to pull over and nap for a short period of time. A quick stop to recharge or even just rest your eyes without falling asleep for 30-45 minutes will rejuvenate drivers in the middle of a long haul.

Be Aware of Drowsiness

Keep paying attention to indicators of drowsiness such as frequent yawning, heavy eyes blurred vision, and hearing issues. Being awake for 18 hours is relative to having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent, the legal level of intoxication. Be sure to recognize when it’s getting too hard to keep your attention focused, as this indicates drowsiness beyond a good limit.

Don’t Use Tricks to Stay Awake

From slapping yourself in the face to rolling the window down to let cold air in to chewing sunflower seeds, there are many different tricks that people have used to stay awake. These actually give you a false sense of security, making you feel like your gaming sleepiness. What they’re doing is actually making things potentially worse as you’re exerting more effort to stay awake when it’s easier and more sensical to pull over and rest.

What’s more, while caffeine may be good to get the day started, depending on caffeine to keep you awake will lead to insomnia, headaches and nervousness, a powerful combination that can lead to mistakes behind the wheel.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates and coverage changes.

The Biggest Problems Facing the Trucking Industry Today

No matter the type of business, no matter the economy, there are high times and tough times for each major industry. And with the advent of smarter and more efficient technology many industries are seeing the speed of change pose new issues.

One major industry feeling the pressure of too much change, too fast, is the trucking industry. From driver shortages to more tech-based opponents, traditional trucking companies are having to change course. One step to protecting the overall future of the industry is to invest in truck insurance, and another is to invest in the actual future: drivers. Here are some ways in which the trucking industry is feeling some pain today.

1. Driver Shortage

Even with an average pay of around $80,000, many news outlets are reporting that the trucking industry is seeing a huge challenge meeting it employment needs. A driver shortage is causing trucking companies to find new ways to attract tomorrow’s drivers. This has been a concern for years in the industry and with companies like Tesla and Uber testing out self-driving trucks, traditional truck drivers are feeling like they’re being replaced.

According to ATRI research, nearly 57 percent of the trucking workforce is at least 45 years old. If this continues, the shortage will reach more than 175,000 drivers by 2026.

2. Hours of Service

Flexible hours or service rules are now more emphasized by companies for their drivers. Many of those who hold stake in the industry believe that drivers should split their hours of operation, while some stress eight hours of straight driving. Employees could get an opportunity to rest when tired and adjust their schedules to avoid everything from traffic congestion to health risks.

3. Cash Flow

Trucking fleets may see a wait time as long as 60 to 90 days to get paid by brokers and shippers. With an extended cycle, a fleet’s cash flow can be drained and growth could be limited. Accounts receivable financing turns fleets’ invoices into cash in under a day, which results in building their working capital.

4. Driver Health

Truck drivers face a number of health obstacles, especially the longer they’re behind the wheel. These drivers are twice as likely as other workers in any industry to be obese, have diabetes and not have any type of health insurance. The job is demanding, and with such stress put on it, drivers are seeing a rapid decline in health, another component of making the job less enticing to new crops of drivers. There are new initiatives in place, like Rolling Strong, which aim to invest in drivers’ health and wellness with better fitness.

5. Safety

Accidents and fatalities behind the wheel happen and have always posed a risk for drivers. But beyond these risks, drivers face overall safety at their truck stops or where ever they park their trucks. There is new sensing technology that has come out that helps trucks avoid collisions and helps reduce the number of accidents, with numbers expected to reduce in the coming years.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and \ transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates and coverage changes.

How Truck Drivers Can Stay Safe in the Summer Heat

Now that the sweltering months of summer have arrived, many truck drivers find themselves facing some unique safety challenges behind-the-wheel. Fortunately, there are a few simple tips all truck drivers can follow to keep themselves and other motorists safer this summer.

Save Yourself From Sunburn

Exposure to UVA and UVB rays is a risk for truck drivers year-round, but this is especially true during the summer months, when truck drivers are less likely to be wearing protective layers that would otherwise limit their exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. While driving during daylight hours, make sure you apply (and re-apply) a quality sunscreen at least every few hours. Wearing sunglasses and/or a hat with a brim while driving can also protect your eyes from sun damage while allowing you to avoid dangerous glare and other obstructions.

Keep Your Truck Maintained

When was the last time you had the tire pressure checked on your truck? If it’s been more than a week or two, be sure to have this done; this is an important maintenance task year-round, but especially during the hotter months of summer, when truck tires are more susceptible to blow-outs. The same goes for checking and servicing your brakes, as hotter temperatures can make it easier for your brakes to overheat and create a major safety hazard while driving.

Load Up on Hydrating Fluids

Drinking plenty of water while behind the wheel is one of the best decisions you can make to avoid dehydration and the side effects (such as fatigue) that can come along with it. While it may be tempting to choose an iced coffee, soda, or other caffeinated beverage over plain water, it’s important to stay well hydrated during the sweltering months of summer. To make sure you’re drinking enough water, consider investing in a quality insulated water bottle that you make an effort to fill up at least a few times a day during your travels.

Be Alert on Crowded Roadways

Highways and roadways tend to be more crowded during the summer months, especially as children are out of school and families are taking more vacations and road trips. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to stay alert on the road, especially during times of heavy traffic. Above all else, try to maintain your patience and remember your safety training when navigating busy roads.

Summer time can be a more dangerous time for truck drivers—and for a number of reasons. By following these practical safety tips and making sure you’re protected by the right commercial truck insurance, however, you can keep yourself and other motorists safe. Reach out to the Western Truck insurance team today for more information.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is much more than a commercial truck insurance agency. With roots dating back to 1954, we have provided our clients with unparalleled service for truck insurance quotes, customer service, coverage charges, insurance certificates, and more. We are committed to providing our clients with the service to keep their costs to the minimum and their opportunities to the maximum. For more information about our products and services, give us a call at (800) 937-8785 to speak with one of our experts.

The 5 Essentials of Health and Wellness for Truck Drivers

Are you taking time for your health? When working long hours on the road and rushing to that next drop it is easy to let the little things, like healthy eating and exercise, slide. Perhaps this is the reason (or at least a contributing factor) that truckers have an average life expectancy several years shorter than the general population. Healthy habits are possible, even on the road and taking the time for your health will pay off with better productivity, better health, and a longer life expectancy.

What can you do to make positive changes for better health? We’ve got 5 essentials for health and wellness just for truckers. Today, we’ll give you a quick overview of the 5 essentials. In coming weeks, we’ll dive into each one a little deeper, giving you actionable changes you can make. A healthier you awaits!

Health Essentials on the Road

We’re not going to tell you to spend hours at the gym or to stock your fridge with veggies… we know that those regular health tips just don’t cut it when you’re living in a sleeper, crisscrossing the country, and driving all day long. These essentials are designed for truckers… things you can actually do to make positive changes for yourself, even on the road. We’ll introduce them here, but come back… we will be delving into each one in depth in the coming weeks.

  • Sleep… Sleep… Sleep- Fatigue is a big problem for drivers and a major cause of accidents. After being awake for 17 hours you’re twice as likely to have an accident. After 24 hours you’re 7 times more likely. The FMCSA is making efforts to reduce fatigue with their HOS rules, but there are many things you can do on your own as well. Hours on the road certainly impact your ability to sleep, but there are many factors that contribute to fatigue which are under your control. Getting the sleep you need will have positive impacts for your safety on the road and your overall health.
  • Eat Right (Even on the Road)- Fast food can seem like the only option (and let’s face it… some days it is), but you can eat right even on the road. Making little changes to your diet can have a big impact on your health. Learn how much food you need, how to make healthier choices when eating out, and strategies for maximizing your diet. You might drive a truck, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat poorly.
  • Driving Is Not a Form of Exercise- Get up and move. I know this is easier said than done when you spend 10+ hours a day behind the wheel, but daily exercise is important for everyone. Staying active can lower your chance of getting heart disease, stroke, some cancers, and type 2 diabetes, all big problems for truck drivers. Get up and move. Even a little exercise is better than none.
  • Stop Smoking- Smoking is a notorious bad habit for those in the trucking industry. One study found that 67% of long haul drivers smoked. This can have serious negative health consequences. What can you do? How do you stop smoking while on the road? We’ve got some ideas for you.
  • Foster Healthy Relationships- The road can be lonely. How do you foster relationships with family and friends when you never see them? We often think of our physical needs when we talk about health and wellness, but those emotional and mental needs are important too.

Join us as we explore the 5 Essentials of Health and Wellness for Truck Drivers. You might drive a truck, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be healthy. Commit to a healthier lifestyle today.

Teens and Big Trucks: Should They Be Allowed to Drive?

Should teens be able to drive big trucks? Right now you can’t drive a rental car until 25, but you can start driving 80,000 pound trucks at 21 interstate and intrastate(in most states) at 18. If a new law passes, younger drivers may soon be able to drive heavy trucks across state borders. Proposed regulation wants to change the age limit for interstate trucking to 18, with some provisional conditions. What do you think? Will this new regulation help get more drivers on the road or is the safety risk much too great?

The Risks of Younger Drivers

Younger drivers are notorious for getting into accidents. Drivers aged 16-19 have the highest annual crash rate and that’s just behind the wheel of a car, not a heavy truck. In states where 18 year olds are allowed to drive 80,000 pound trucks, younger drivers are 4-6 times more likely then 21+ drivers to get in an accident. Safety experts worry this plan could lead to disaster on the road.

While younger drivers are more likely to get in an accident, they are already on road and driving big trucks. In most states current regulation only keeps them from crossing borders, not from driving. Proponents of the law argue that the regulation changes make sense. Right now teens can drive hundreds of miles around a state, but can’t drive 10 miles across a border.

The Benefits of Younger Drivers

There is a need for more drivers and allowing younger drivers to drive interstate could lower recruiting costs and increase the number of applicants available. With transportation costs on the rise, some hope that younger drivers could help slow the rising prices in transportation (contract costs increased 3-5% this year). The law would potentially give fresh out high school graduates more job opportunities.

The Proposed Regulation

The proposed regulation would allow the FMCSA to create a 6 year pilot program allowing younger drivers to cross state lines. The regulation would allow states to enter into agreements with each other allowing the younger drivers. States would be free to place limits on these drivers (like limiting types of cargo, limiting routes, creating hours they can drive, etc.).

The regulation has passed the Senate, but still needs approval from the House of Representatives.

What do you think about this proposed regulation? Should we allow more teen drivers on the road?

 

CARB Compliance Issues- A Deeper Look at Low Rolling Resistance Tires

If you drive a box type trailer in California (including dry van and refrigerated van trailers) you likely are aware of the low rolling resistance tire regulations that are currently being phased in. What you might not know however is how these tires work and how using them impacts you. Keep reading for all the details, including tips for maximizing your tire investment.

What Are Low Rolling Resistance Tires?

Low rolling resistance (LRR) tires are a special type of tire designed to improve fuel efficiency by reducing the rolling resistance. They are required for certain trailers and tractors as part of California’s Heavy Duty Vehicle Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Regulation. As tires move on the road, this resistance turns energy exerted by a vehicle into heat, not forward movement, and can result in a great deal of energy waste. For heavy trucks it is estimated that up to 15-30% of fuel consumption is used to overcoming rolling resistance. LRR tires cut down on this resistance saving money in fuel costs and cutting down on greenhouse gasses.

While required for some tractors and trailers in California, LRR tires can be used anywhere in the country to cut down on fuel expenses.

How Much of an Impact Do LRR Tires Make?

LRR tires can make a big impact on your fuel efficiency. Some studies indicate that making the change to LRR tires could save (each year):

  • 500 Gallons in Fuel
  • 08 metric tons of CO2
  • $1,900 in Fuel Costs
  • 3% Reduction in Fuel Costs

LRR tires may wear out more quickly than standard tires. The full impact you’ll experience will vary depending on the type of tire you choose, whether you have single wide or double tires, and even how your tires are inflated. LRR tires may be more expensive (between $0 and $50 per tire), but most estimates suggest that the increase in fuel efficiency will offset the increase in tire price.

Other Methods for Improving Your Fuel Efficiency

Do you want to get the most bang for your fuel investment? LRR tires can cut down on your fuel bill, but there are other steps you can take to maximize your tire investment and to increase your fuel efficiency when using LRR tires. Here are a few tips:

  • Inflate Properly- Making sure your tires are properly inflated can make a big difference in your fuel efficiency. For example if your recommended inflation is 35 psi, but your actual inflation is only 28 psi, your rolling resistance will be increased by 12.5%.
  • Use LRR Tires for All Tires- Although incremental fuel efficiency increases can be obtained by using LRR tires on just the tractor or trailer, you’ll see the best results when you use LRR tires for all tire positions.
  • Choose SmartWay Approved Tires- SmartWay approved tires are verified by the EPA to meet specific fuel efficiency requirements. See a list of approved LRR tires here.

Are you using LRR tires? Have you noticed an impact on your fuel bill?