Driver-Facing Cameras in Trucking Operations: Yea or Nay?

The commercial trucking industry is in the middle of a major overhaul right now. From a massive labor shortage to the electric and autonomous truck markets developing at a fast pace, trucking isn’t the same as it has traditionally been, and is expected to continue in this way in the coming years.

One trend that is kicking up some controversy is the installation around installing driver-facing cameras in truck cabins. This issue has created issues around privacy and accountability and has even opened up new stipulations around commercial truck insurance.

Front-facing cameras, recording what’s going on surrounding the truck, have been used for years now, which has helped with security and legal issues, such as proving fault in something like an accident involving a commercial truck. But does this technology cross the line? How effective can it be?

Drivers as Assets

Technology is painting a picture of a driverless future as companies like TuSimple and Uber are already officially running their autonomous trucks on highways for long-haul projects. But until this becomes a full-scale reality, drivers are still the number one asset for the industry, especially for short-range projects, which will still see truckers in the driver’s seat even with self-driving trucks on the road.

And while truckers are valued in the industry and play a pivotal role in the entire freight industry when it comes to preventing a backlog, telling them cameras will be watching them may not be well-received. In an article from American Trucker, the consensus from those doing the driving aren’t on board for this addition to their operations. And with a shortage of 180,000 drivers expected by 2024, the industry can’t afford to lose any more favor.

Short-Term Effects

Installing driver-facing cameras that monitor drivers with the goals of monitoring performance and raising accountability may have short-term effects, such as causing them to drive more carefully or reducing their speed. But over time, drivers may forget the cameras are there or simply turn a blind eye, so to speak, when it comes to having their every move being watched.

On the other hand, for trucking operations, driver-facing cameras can be beneficial for a number of reasons. These recordings can be used as coaching tools to help with onboarding and adjusting performance expectations. And when it comes to accidents, driver-facing cameras can also help with proving fault or innocence when related to commercial truck insurance claims in incidents.

Other Considerations

Trucking companies can begin looking for feedback from driver recruiters and safety managers to highlight the pros and cons of having this kind of surveillance installed. Will it make the job easier or more stressful? What’re the long-term effects of how these cameras can help with performance?

Finally, the drivers themselves should also be considered in decision-making since it will be their jobs and reputations on the line. Surveyed drivers in the recruiting process can be asked if they would consider not taking a job if it included working under the watchful eye of a camera. Bottom line, discussions should continue and opinions should be expressed during planning and execution of this kind of change to the industry.

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 to Safely Load and Unload Truck Cargo to Prevent Injury

Transporting trucking loads comes with many risks. From highway accidents to lost or damaged goods, there are a number of unique liabilities that can present themselves at any moment during transportation. But what about before or between shipments, such as during loading and unloading freight from trucks?

Workers loading or unloading cargo are exposed to serious risk and danger when working on trucks. Heavy or awkward objects can present a problem and a hazard to the overall well-being of those who work on trucks, creating additional risks for working in the industry. But there are a number of ways in which these issues can be avoided to keep safety a top priority. Here are some tips to stay safe during loading and unloading cargo.

Understand Proper Lift and Load Techniques

It’s a good rule of thumb to brush up on lifting and loading techniques at regular intervals. Moving cargo is more than just picking up and putting down, and it pays to give employees a refresher on the right way to work with heavy objects. Using proper technique in the workplace can help to prevent and limit accidents and injuries, and keep liability low.

Companies should also invest in the right truck insurance that will help with protecting their reputation, finances, and overall business during times of liability claims. There are a number of truck insurance solutions that can help to keep businesses safe in the event of injury to employees and cargo with occupational insurance coverage as well as cargo insurance to supply the right coverage for both employees and cargo, respectively.

Be Aware of the Loading Zone

Employees working on loading and/or unloading trucks should be aware of their surroundings, first and foremost. If a truck is backing up, staff should move away from the loading zone as it is very hard for the driver to see behind them and could easily back into anyone in their way. Loaders and unloaders should wait until the truck has come to a full stop before getting into the work area.

Secure All Loads Properly

Before a load is pulled down, they should be checked to see if they are all secure. If they are not, it could lead to broken objects in the truck, creating a lot of safety hazards during unloading. Employees should make sure their loads are secure by using load bars, vertical support systems, and road straps.

Mind the Gaps

When loading and unloading occurs, it can be difficult to see exactly where it’s safe to step and move around. If there’s a gap or drop off point in any place, it’s more than likely to not be detected, creating a risk of falling and getting injured. All gaps need to be sought out and protected against before loading and unloading happens so all employees can work confidently and safely.

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.

What Are the Most Common Causes of Truck Breakdowns?

If you’re on a family trip and your car pops a tire, it may be unfortunate and a little stressful, but it’s a relatively easy fix. If the family van breaks down, again, very unfortunate, but a tow truck can come out. But what if it’s you’re truck that’s hauling loads of cargo and you’re in the middle of a desert highway? This is the situation all trucking professionals dread.

Sometimes, even the most seasoned truck driver may be stuck on the side of the road with a major issue. While some truck breakdowns may be caused by mechanical errors, many of the common reasons for trouble can be caught early and even prevented. Here are some ideas as to what could be causing unwanted breakdowns.

Tire Trouble

When it comes to physical issues with your truck, tires are typically considered to be the most important components of any vehicle. A simple flat really isn’t that simple and can sideline a truck for hours. Tires are the leading cause of truck problems for drivers, making up around 50 percent of all roadside failures. These failures are related to under inflation, low tread depth or misaligned axles. Always make sure to have each of your tires inspected thoroughly before you hit the road and look for those issues.

Electrical System

This mechanical part of a truck can cause some serious issues down the road—literally. This system is made up primarily of the starter motor, alternator and battery. If even just one of these components fails to function properly, your truck can’t continue on. Signs of a malfunctioning system include things like dead batteries, dim or flickering lights, unusual smells and clicking sounds when the engine starts up.

Refrigerated Trailers

These trailers are important for hauling temperature-controlled freight, such as food and medicine. When this kind of trailer breaks down, repairs are needed quickly so the load that is being hauled is not damaged, because this could turn into a major financial issue. To avoid this, it’s important to monitor the trailer during transit and look for any in-cab signals that indicate the unit is not working the way it should. To protect against loss, trucking professionals should also haul truck insurance.

Truck insurance can come in many forms including commercial truck roadside assistance, which can provide the right coverage when your semi is stuck on the side of the road for a myriad of reasons. Truck insurance will not only provide things like towing and roadside repair, but it can also provide financial protection in the event of a loss.

Brakes

Brake-related problems can lead to major accidents on the road and can involve passenger vehicles as well. A truck’s disc and drum brakes are exposed to consistent heat, pressure and friction, which means they wear down without the right maintenance.

Brake issues are usually related to things like air leaks, external corrosion and wear, and internal water contamination that causes airline freezing during the colder months.

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.

Safety Tips for Trucking in Traffic

Trucking professionals have enough to worry about when it comes to transporting their shipment from location to location. Schedules need to be strict and time is of the essence, but safety shouldn’t be compromised because of a hurried driver. Besides being hasty, there are a number of things to consider when it comes to keeping safety the focal point when driving around regular traffic on streets and highways.

A recent study showed that 2016 saw a 2% increase in fatal crashes involving trucks and buses, and the trend points to a continued gradual increase year-over-year. While truck drivers can’t do anything to make other drivers around them more responsible behind the wheel, they can take certain tips to heart when making sure they’re doing their part to keep things safe.

Investing in Truck Insurance

Truck insurance is a safeguard for trucking professionals who wants to ensure their protection for injuries or property damage sustained. Just like regular auto insurance, this kind of insurance is specifically designed to keep trucking professionals safe as well as the truck they’re driving, and can cover the cargo they’re hauling. This should be the first step for truck drivers looking to be more responsible on the road.

Keeping a Space Cushion

Professional drivers hauling big rigs should monitor something called the space cushion between their trucks and other vehicles around them. Where smaller vehicles on the road are able to shift in and out of traffic more freely, trucks with great size can’t. Drivers need to make sure they are not too close to objects, whether stationary or in motion. Consider tight turns, low bridges and small streets as well as other vehicles.

Trip Planning

Just like you’re prepping to set out on a family trip, it pays to plan ahead and look for things like weather conditions and terrain. This will help to anticipate flow of traffic along your route before you leave to make sure you are traveling down the safest and most efficient roads. Always make sure to plan for and add extra travel time for things like construction, detours, traffic congestion and inclement weather.

Safe Speed

Speed always place a factor for drivers looking to be safe on the road. A couple things large truck drivers have to consider is the fact that it takes longer to accelerate their truck and longer to slow their truck down to a stop. Always be sure to slow down in work zones, but don’t hang back so much that will bring traffic behind you to a screeching halt.

Turns and Road Curves

Tight turns become even tighter for truck drivers. Entrance and exit ramps, and turning down city streets always pose a high level of difficulty and risk of bumping into an object, including cars, pedestrians, and street lights. When you’re entering a curve in the road or negotiating a turn, a good rule of thumb is to slow down. This will help to avoid bumping into anything or anyone as well as turning the truck over on its side. Always allow for distance and speed of other vehicles when making a turn across traffic or into oncoming traffic path.

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.

Brake Safety Week: How to Make Sure Your Brakes are Maintained and Working

Braking systems are one of the most important components of any semi vehicle on the road. A matter of safety and security for not only the truck’s driver and the cargo they’re carrying, having a well-maintained brake system should keep everyone else on the road safe.

Brake failure is a common cause for accidents and fatalities that involve semi trucks, which will ultimately lead to lawsuits. Having truck insurance, like regular auto insurance, in place will help to provide legal help and liability protection in the event of an accident, but there should be a focus on overall preemptive safety beforehand. Here are some tips to keep in mind when evaluating and providing maintenance to your semi truck:

Replace Pads

Like everyday vehicles on the road, semi trucks have plenty of parts that need to be taken care of and, in time, replaced to uphold integrity on the road. Brake shoes have indicators built into the pads that display when replacement is a need. When a truck is taken in to have the pads replaced, make sure to replace the springs, pins and bushings for the brakes. Essentially, look at this maintenance as a full service job, making sure all components are new.

Slack Adjusters

These work to keep the brakes in alignment when they are in use. Trucks on the road have either manual or automatic slack adjusters, but both need to be greased to work efficiently and effectively. Automatic slack adjusters will keep the brakes in adjustment automatically, whereas manual adjusters require the driver to make the adjustments on their own.

Many operators regretfully forget to grease the slack adjusters, mostly because they are not regularly used. What happens when they go without maintenance for long enough is that they seize up and stop working, which can cause brake failure over time.

S Cams

The S cam is turned by a shaft that’s operated by the slack adjusters mentioned above. The S cams do their work by pushing the brake shoe into the drum to stop the truck. Obviously, they are extremely important given their nature. Make sure to check the bushings when getting maintenance done; bushings are part of the S cam, and need to be greased just like the slack adjusters.

Air Compressions

Check the application pressure and ensure that the gauge reads greater than 60 psi before getting the truck moving. The pressure should run between 100 psi and 125 psi, all working to stop the truck at a reasonable rate. The brakes should be serviced when the application pressure is consistently falling low and a truck should not be used if the pressure drops below 60 psi.

When Brakes Should Be Serviced

Make sure to set out a routine plan and schedule for evaluating and servicing your truck’s brakes for premium safety on the road. Distance traveled between service may vary depending on the truck, but no matter the size and condition of the truck, as well as the model and year, it’s important to have a routine maintenance done.

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.

More Than Just Posture – 3 Tips for Better Driver Ergonomics

Did you know that proper ergonomics is just as important of an aspect of truck driver health and safety as it is for those who work in offices? Each year, thousands of drivers are plagued by neck, back, and spinal issues associated with poor posture. Truck drivers are among the top professions to be out of work due to injuries, and ergonomic injuries are wholly avoidable by making only a few small changes

Most people don’t consider it, but the simplest way truckers can help prevent these types of ailments is by taking the same proactive steps designed for improved posture that are recommended for desk dwellers. Here are three vital ergonomic ideas to consider.

#1: Make Seat Adjustments

Similar to choosing the right type of desk chair, one of the easiest ways to ensure your cab is as safe as possible is to pay attention to seat adjustments before you even start the engine. Begin by making sure your feet can comfortably reach the gas pedal, clutch, and brake. Then adjust the seat’s backrest so that your arms are at a slight angle while you are holding the steering wheel. You’ll also want to raise the seat as high as you can while still being comfortable and tilt the seat cushion so that your thighs are fully supported without putting too much pressure on your knees.

#2: Remember Your Posture

Another vital thing to remember is your overall posture inside the truck. No matter how fatigued you become, don’t ever slouch while driving which can cause strain on your muscles and joints. This may take a bit of practice at first, but remembering to sit up straight can help prevent neck and back pain. It is also important to change your position in the seat slightly every half hour. While it isn’t always possible, try to take breaks when you can to get out of the vehicle and stretch.

#3: Maintain Good Habits When Outside the Truck

Keeping up with good health habits when you are off the road is also important. Exercises such as yoga or Pilates are excellent for strengthening your core area, which can help support your neck, back, and spine more efficiently when you are driving. And remember to correct your posture while sitting in a chair in your living room, hotel, or even at restaurants. Practice really does make perfect.

While truck drivers don’t spend their days in an office per se, a healthy and safe working environment is just as important. Protect your body by implementing the above ergonomic tips as soon as possible.

However, in addition to having these best practices in place, all truck drivers, whether they are full-time employees or independent contractors, should have truck insurance that provides coverage for injuries incurred on the job, whether it is Workers’ Compensation for full-time employees or Occupational Accident for independent contractors and owner-operators.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is much more than a commercial truck insurance agency. Since 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.

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.

Tips for Avoiding and Recovering from Skidding in a Big Rig

Though they are commonplace on the highways and byways of the United States, many drivers of non-commercial vehicles know little about the massive size, weight and power of 18-wheelers. Sadly, this lack of knowledge frequently means that these drivers make many mistakes around the big rigs, mistakes that may result in the loss of many lives.

Most of today’s semis have two drive axles and one steering axle. The trailer is attached fifth-wheel style and can move forward or backward over the back axles to help make sure weight is distributed evenly. Pulling only one trailer, a typical tractor-trailer weighs around 73,000 lbs. Due to the massive weight of the vehicle, normal driver reaction time and speed, a semi-truck can take up to 525 feet to fully stop. This comes as a surprise to many non-commercial drivers because normal cars and trucks can typically stop in less than 200 feet.

Knowing Your Rig

New truck drivers receive comprehensive training about driving, following distances, weather conditions and many other occurrences that may impact their driving. One of the most important parts of training is what drivers learn about skidding. In essence, a skid means that a semi’s wheels have lost grip of the road which means the driver has lost control of the semi.

Being familiar with your truck is critical to avoiding a skidding semi-truck. For instance, being familiar with the brake pedal in your vehicle can help you to apply the right amount of pressure instead of slamming on the breaks. Unfortunately, brakes that are hit with too much force frequently cause at least one set of tires to lock up and skid. And once the trailer enters a skid, it can be difficult, if not impossible to stop.

Knowing your vehicle also helps to understand stopping distances with reference to how much weight is on their trailer, what weather is doing and how heavy traffic is. One good rule of thumb for commercial drivers is that they should always overestimate how long it will take to stop. In cases where drivers underestimate this distance, a trailer may skid into a jackknife and may need to be towed back to safety.

Semi trucks today are built with an incredibly useful tool that is not available on cars.  The Jake Brake, also known as the engine brake, can help drivers slow an engine on a decline and even moderate slowing down to ensure the semi does not go into a skid.

Knowing Your Route

Making sure one is familiar with a route before starting the trip is another way to avoid a skid in a big rig. By taking time to review the types of roads along the route, the elevations of these roads and the times of day when traffic might be the heaviest, drivers can prepare in advance.

One recent news story told of a semi driver who was unfamiliar with a route and followed his GPS blindly up a remote mountain location. When the driver tried to turn around and descend the mountain, the truck began skidding toward a steep bank and got stuck in mud and snow.  Because the driver had no cell phone service, he left the truck and attempted to walk through the forest to find help. In the end, he ended up walking for three days before finding an interstate and flagging down help. Perhaps this situation could have been avoided had the driver taken time to familiarize himself with the route prior to starting his trip.

Prevention is Key

Keeping prevention at the forefront is key to overall trucker safety which then enhances the safety of all on the road. Unfortunately, part of prevention is that commercial drivers must always be vigilant and aware that other drivers on the road simply may not understand the perils that accompany big rig accidents. Many drivers today say their top complaint is that leaving a safe following distance in a semi is next to impossible.

Truckers also state that many drivers simply do not realize that they have a rather large blind spot behind the trailer and next to the driver’s door. Though a truck driver can use mirrors more effectively than most drivers on the road, they are not magic. If a car cannot see a trucker’s mirrors, then they should assume that a driver cannot see their car.

Have a Plan B

As with every well-laid plan, a commitment to avoid skidding does not always come to fruition. In the case drivers encounter a skidding semi-truck they should be prepared to take action quickly. Should the back wheel skid, drivers should be prepared to take their foot off the gas pedal and avoid breaking until the skidding has ceased. Should the front wheels skid, it is best to use the brake only lightly as drivers bring a truck to a full stop as soon as possible.  Finally, in the instance that a drive wheel skids due to slippery conditions a driver should engage the clutch and turn the steering wheel gently in the desired direction.

Though it is not possible to avoid all dangerous situations, semi drivers who are prepared and understand what might cause skidding can go a long way to avoid these situations.

Security Tips for Trucking Companies

The trucking industry is a prime target for theft and criminal enterprise. Thieves look for vulnerable trucks where cargo can easily be stolen. Fortunately, drivers can take measures to protect valuable cargo. Low-tech measures, such as king pin locks, glad hand locks or fuel-line shut-offs might slow the bad guys down, but aren’t always enough to protect a truck.

Security Starts With Awareness

Tight security for truckers starts before drivers ever get into the cab. Training employees about security issues can help them be more aware and understand why certain procedures are so important. Here are some tips to help your company implement solutions to cargo theft

  1. Use technology to route shipments. GPS tracking systems can now send a security alarm to the company if a truck goes off its route. Factor in security when routing. Avoid hot spots where cargo theft is higher.
  2. Have drivers maintain regular contact with dispatch.
  3. Keep cargo moving, because it’s more likely that a load will be stolen when it’s unattended. Teams are recommended to help keep cargo on the road and to give drivers another person to lean on when tired or losing focus. If a team isn’t a possibility, drive in tandem with another truck.
  4. Never leave trucks unattended or allow drivers to take a load home. Emphasize that drivers should always stop in well-lit places or a secure yard.
  5. When parking, put trucks tail to tail to prevent rear trailers from being opened with goods on board. Alternatives to parking tail to tail include parking against a building or another object that doesn’t allow the door to be opened.
  6. Offer specialized training against cargo theft. Teach drivers what to look for and how to drive with increased awareness.
  7. Make sure drivers know to be careful about what they say. Don’t talk about the cargo in the truck or give out route information, especially on the CB.
  8. Ensure all drivers follow delivery and pickup protocols. Make sure drivers request ID from personnel who unload trucks. Audit protocols periodically.
  9. Check for dishonest employees. Run background checks on all employees who have access to shipping and routing information. Watch for employees who are loose with standards and don’t allow security breaches to go unnoticed.
  10. Use low-tech measures. Drivers should take the keys with them when the truck is unattended and doors need to be locked. Before walking away from a trailer, check locks. It’s easy to be talking to someone at a rest station and forget.
  11. Be suspicious of people who claim you hit their car. This is a ruse that thieves use to get people to stop.
  12. Work with other trucking companies to get information about potential issues in your community and industry. Alliances can really increase the safety of cargo and drivers because you work together to prevent theft.
  13. Many thefts occur close to pickup points and terminals. Be extra careful after picking up a load. Give drivers time to get away from the pickup point before stopping.

When All Else Fails

Fleet owners should have a plan in case a driver is hijacked. Giving the load over to a thief is generally preferred than getting hurt or worse to protect the freight. Instead of fighting, teach drivers to be a good witness to give law enforcement a better chance at apprehending the criminals.

Observe everything. Don’t just look at what is happening but pay attention to sounds and what is being said. Notice details. Keep a business card with company information and contact phone numbers in your wallet or on your person. Notify the authorities immediately.

Cybersecurity Issues

It doesn’t matter whether your company is small or large, cyber threats are a growing problem in today’s business industry. Hackers aren’t only trying to steal information or data. Some just want to create chaos by disrupting the infrastructure of an important industry. Cyber security for fleets has to be a priority. Here are some tips to help your company create and maintain a plan that prevents security issues:

  • Train employees to generate strong passwords and to recognize phishing emails
  • Have a way to encrypt emails which contain secure information
  • Use best practices for security protocol
  • Use comprehensive antivirus and malware programs
  • Update software and operating systems for security patches
  • Limit password attempts
  • Be proactive in maintaining your website and OS
  • Backup your software
  • Have a disaster recovery plan in place
  • Review your IT department and update as necessary

Audit Your Security Infrastructure

Don’t be afraid to check drivers and other employees to ensure that they are operating securely. You may find gaps in your plan by conducting audits. Talk to others in the trucking industry to find out how their businesses are operating safely. Make safety and security part of your regular risk management plan to prevent theft or hacking.

How Long Can Truckers Drive Before Taking a Break?

Regulations are in place for all commercial truck drivers to ensure they are not being overworked. A tired or worn out trucker is a danger to his or herself and everyone else on the road. The main restrictions on drivers are the hours they can drive and mandatory breaks. These rules are set by the United States Department of Transportation.

Duty Periods

The DOT breaks the time a driver is working into work and duty periods.  A work period is like a work week, whereas a duty period is like a work day. Because drivers do not always work conventional hours, DOT regulations are based on the actual hours worked and not specific hours during the day. So, for example, a work week could start at 5:00 pm on a Tuesday or 3:00 am on a Saturday and can be different for every trucker.

There is a seven-day work period for truck drivers. Drivers can work seven days in a row but must have a break of at least 34 hours in a row before starting a new seven day work period. To understand this better, consider this schedule:

  • Bert ends his seven day work period on Sunday at 6:00 pm. Following the 34 hour rule, his start up time would be 4:00 am on Tuesday.

The work period runs from the start time and date to that date and time the next week. For example:

  • If a driver begins the work period at 6:00 am on Sunday, then it ends at 6:00 am the next Sunday.

To begin a new work period, a trucker must have ten hours off work. The total number of hours that can be worked in a work period is 60.

Each duty period lasts 14 hours, which is known as the 14-hour rule. Drivers can drive for up to 11 hours during the duty period. However, after driving for eight hours, the driver must take a break of at least 30 minutes. Breaks of any kind count against the 14 hours duty period time. Here’s an example of a daily schedule that follows this rule:

  • Bert starts his work day at 6:00 am.
  • Bert takes a 30 minute break after eight hours at 2:00 pm.
  • He then drives from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
  • He takes another break to eat dinner from 4:00 pm until 5:30 pm.
  • Bert only has one more hour that he can drive, so he drives from 5:30 pm until 6:30 pm, at which time he reaches his destination.
  • Bert may then work unloading the truck or doing other non-driving duties until 8:00 pm when his 14 hour period is over.

So, the driver can drive for 11 of the 14 hours and do other things, such as getting fuel, for the other three hours. At the 14 hour limit, though, the driver can no longer drive and must take 10 hours off before starting a new duty period.

Exceptions

As with most things, there are exceptions to the basic rules. If a driver is starting and ending at the same location for a one day assignment, then the driver may work 16 hours. The actually driving time, though, is still limited to 11 hours. If there is a lay-over, then this exception cannot be used. This can only be used once in a period and requires a 34 hour break before it can be used again.

Bad weather can slow a truck down, so this can also cause an exception to be allowed. If road conditions are bad, a driver can take up to two extra driving hours during his or her duty period. The 14-hour duty period limit, though, still stands. This exception can only be taken when the extra driving hours are needed to reach a safe place to stop and get off the road.

Penalties

If a driver does not comply with DOT rules on breaks and work hours, there are penalties that will be assessed. These include:

  • Revocation of driving privileges until a rest break is complete
  • Fines at the state and federal levels
  • Reduction in carrier’s safety rating

A carrier may face even stiffer penalties at the federal level, especially if it is found to have knowingly made drivers break the law.

Possible Changes

It can be tough for drivers to maintain the hour and break requirements, especially when under pressure to get loads to their destinations on time. Many find the 14-hour rule to be especially difficult when break times are included against it.

Because of this, some lawmakers think there is a need for changes in the DOT hours of service. A bill, called the REST Act, is currently being proposed to change the ruling on breaks counting against the 14-hour limit. The act seeks to give drivers up to a three consecutive hour break period that does not count towards their 14 hours. The Act also aims to use this new three hour break to eliminate the 30 minute break requirement.

Regardless of whether changes occur or not, DOT is strict about the hours a trucker can drive. This is to help prevent them from driving when tired or otherwise unable to pay proper attention to the roadway, thus keeping everyone on the road safer.