On the Road After Dark: Safe-Driving Tips for Truckers

With the sun setting comes additional risks for truckers driving at night. Visibility is reduced, making it more challenging to see the road, other vehicles, and obstacles. Depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision can all be compromised in the dark. The glare of headlights from an oncoming vehicle can also temporarily blind a driver. In addition, as we age, we have greater difficulty seeing at night. A 50-year-old driver may need twice as much light to see as well as a 30-year-old.

Asleep at the Wheel

Fatigue is another risk that could impair a driver’s performance at night. According to the National Sleep Foundation, 60% of adults have driven while tired, and another 37% have fallen asleep at the wheel. Of those, 13% say they fall asleep while driving at least once a month, and 4% say they have caused a crash by falling asleep while driving. The reasons are many – shift work, lack of quality sleep, long work hours, and sleep disorders. Tired drivers may have slower reaction times, impaired judgment, and difficulty staying awake behind the wheel.

Weather Conditions, Road Construction

Nighttime can bring weather conditions that necessitate caution and patience behind the wheel. When temperatures fluctuate, particularly in the winter, you are more likely to encounter ice, fog, and invisible potholes. This can result in dangerous driving conditions with reduced visibility. When wet and windy, there is a higher risk of flooding, debris, and fallen trees on the road, and it is more difficult to see from a distance.

Road maintenance and construction frequently occur at night, when the roads are less traveled. A road closure can cause drivers stress and anxiety, especially if they don’t know another route.

Wildlife, Impaired Driving, and Speeding

In rural areas, you have an increased risk of wildlife on the road at night, which is difficult to see and avoid. More impaired drivers are out at night after an evening with friends at a restaurant or bar. This increases the risk of accidents for truck drivers who share the road with them. In addition, fewer people are on the road at night, so it’s tempting for drivers to increase their speed, which significantly increases the risk from the aforementioned elements.

Driver Preparedness

A well-informed road user is a safer one. Truckers should be aware of potential hazards to be well-prepared and make modifications as needed.

  • Consider your planned route and probable road hazards, and be prepared to change your driving style.
  • Maintain attention by minimizing driver fatigue, scheduling rest stops, and avoiding all driver distractions, including the use of mobile phones. Adjust your sleep schedule to remain awake and alert during your night driving shift.
  • Take a break every few hours to get out, walk around, and get some fresh air. This will help you remain alert while also preventing leg cramps and a condition known as road hypnosis.
  • Remain hydrated to help stay alert – drink plenty of water.
  • Be aware of other drivers and use your low beams if there is oncoming traffic or you are following another car. Use high beams and fog lights when safe and appropriate.
  • Avoid wearing tinted sunglasses at night, but they might be helpful during twilight and dawn while the sun is still out.
  • Allow time for your eyes to adjust from day to night. The human eye naturally adjusts to darkness, but it might take up to 30 minutes for your eyes to fully adjust, so drivers should limit their speed during this transition period.
  • Be aware of visual changes. Our vision naturally changes with age, affecting visibility in low-light settings like twilight and morning.
  • Get frequent eye exams for problems such as macular degeneration, cataracts, and glaucoma.
  • Make sure your windshield, side windows, and mirrors are clean.
  • Ensure your lights are working and clean for maximum visibility.
  • Always obey traffic laws and regulations and stick to routes designated for commercial vehicles.
  • Maintain an appropriate speed and distance from other cars.
  • Maintain your lane and watch for pedestrians, wildlife, and debris on the road, which may be difficult to see with reduced visibility.
  • Dimming your dash lights and setting your GPS to night mode will help improve your night vision.
  • Use technology such as dashcams, blind-spot monitors and mirrors, lane departure warnings, and safe-braking systems to improve your awareness and response times.
  • To improve your night vision, avoid looking straight at oncoming traffic’s headlights.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is an insurance brokerage specializing in commercial truck insurance. We know this stuff and want to make sure you do, too. Our clients appreciate our dedication to finding competitive rates and offering unparalleled service beyond excellent insurance options. They also value how our state-of-the-art automation provides lightning-fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, insurance certificates, and coverage changes. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) International Roadcheck Event

Once a year, a three-day event initiative supports driver and vehicle safety through commercial vehicle inspections. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) conducts the International Roadcheck Event. It is where certified inspectors look for areas of compliance, enforce infractions and help educate the thousands of truckers operating around the globe. Further, they hold this event to ensure driver and vehicle safety and regulatory compliance. 


Inspectors evaluate almost 15 buses or trucks every minute in North America during this 72-hour event. Since it started in 1988, this massive inspection initiative has done much to educate commercial vehicle operators and the general public about the value of safe vehicle operations.

Targeted Inspections

Every year, the CVSA establishes a date for the inspection to establish driver and vehicle safety. The organization uses roving patrols by utilizing weight and inspection stations across significant interstates and highways. Additionally, they do this by setting up temporary inspection sites. 

The International Roadcheck occurs throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. While several issues are on the radar, the CVSA will select an area of emphasis each year. Also, primary focus areas include lighting violations and Hours of Service violations.

For the year 2022, the focus is on wheel ends. The CVSA published data that reveals that nearly one-quarter of the out-of-service violations discovered during the annual road check event involve wheel-end components. As a trend amongst International Roadcheck violations, wheel-end components rank as a top 10 item. Multiple factors could explain why a problem could happen with a wheel end component, but there is no need to delay getting the problem repaired with physical damage truck insurance. It could help avoid the consequences of a violation.

Inspection Procedures

The components of the wheel check include the following areas. Proactively addressing possible concerns can increase the chances of passing a Level I or Level V inspection.

  1. Look for debris between tires.
  2. Check for the contact between tires or any part of the vehicle.
  3. Analyze for proper inflation and tread groove depth.
  4. Check inner wheel seal, tire, and valve stem for leaks.
  5. Search for cuts and bulges, improper repairs, and exposed cords or fabric.
  6.  Identify markings that exclude use on a steering axle.
  7. Check for regrooved tires on the steering axle.

Inspection Types

Under a Level I Inspection, a 37-step process occurs. Likewise, it determines compliance with vehicle mechanical fitness and driver operating compliance. An inspector has the liberty to conduct a Level II Walker-Around Driver/Vehicle Inspection, a Level III Driver/Credential/Administrative Inspection, or a Level V Vehicle-Only Inspection. The goal is to ensure that every vehicle on the roadway is properly working. It supports both the driver’s safety who is operating the vehicle and all the other motorists traveling down the road.

Level I

In a Level I inspection, drivers can expect an examination of their driver’s license, Medical Examiner’s Certificate, and applicable Skill Performance Evaluation (SPE) Certificate. The search will look for alcohol or drugs, review the service hours and record of duty status and look for seat belt usage. The vehicle inspection will include inspection reports, cargo securement, coupling devices, brake systems, fuel systems, and lighting devices. Passenger carrying vehicles also get inspected for searing, emergency exits, electrical systems, and cables in the engine and battery compartments. This list isn’t comprehensive but provides an idea of how thorough a Level I inspection could be.

Level V

A level V inspection focuses on the vehicle. This inspection doesn’t require a driver to be present and includes the detailed inspection standards of a Level I inspection.

Inspection Results

The North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria is a pass-fail standard for the International Roadcheck inspections. Additionally, critical violations can render a vehicle, cargo, or driver out-of-service. It stays that way until the operator or the owners correct or repairs the issue. Each year, the CVSA issues the items and detail that could cause an out-of-service violation. Four results might generally happen if a driver must go through Level I or a Level V inspection. 

Passing Inspection with No Violation

If an inspector doesn’t find any violation, they will apply the special CVSA decal to the vehicle. It marks the successful inspection passing and does not require re-inspection for three months. Also, it is how long the decal remains valid. Vehicles bearing this decal do not have to stop during a Roadcheck Inspection Event.

Minor Violations Are Found

An inspection can reveal minor violations that won’t jeopardize receiving a decal. So long as they are not a part of the critical service category, the inspectors note these violations on the inspection report and issue a decal. However, they withhold a decal if the violation is on the rear impact guard.

Critical Violations Are Found

Should an inspector identify a critical vehicle inspection item violation, the inspector notes it on the report before the vehicle can continue on its way. These vehicles are not eligible for a CVSA decal and could be subject to another inspection. Thus, inspectors determine that the driver and vehicle safety is insufficient to allow the truck to continue operating. 

Out-of-Service Violations Are Found

If the North American Standard Out-of-Service Criteria identifies a violation, the inspector declares the vehicle out of service. It requires any identified violations to the vehicle. Then, the vehicle would need repair and go through the re-inspection process. 

Proactive Efforts

Though normal wear and tear can cause maintenance issues, commercial vehicles may experience damage from accidents involving other vehicles or incidents with weather or stationary objects. With physical damage truck insurance, you can seek the repairs necessary to avoid getting caught with a violation during an inspection.

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. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more!

Prepare Your Fleet for Winter Driving

Though each season of the year will task a fleet in different ways, winter is the one that sends owners scurrying to make sure each truck is ready to ride out the storms. Even semi’s that spend the majority of their miles in warmer states can be unpleasantly surprised by weather that is not common. For instance, in Atlanta, Georgia, a January storm in 2014 turned roads into sheets of ice, causing thousands of people to be stranded at work, on the roads and even at school.

Prepare for the Unexpected

The rule of thumb, when you are responsible for the safety of your drivers, the delivery of goods and the overall expenses of the fleet is to prepare for the unexpected. This means getting those vehicles ready for the winter truck driving before they are caught in the cold. Failing to do so means leaving your entire fleet vulnerable during the most damaging weather season. Taking time to make sure each vehicle in the fleet is winterized can make all the difference to your drivers, customers and especially to your bottom line.

Fleet Winterizing Checklist

Keeping a winterizing checklist on hand is a great way to make sure you do not miss any steps when making sure your vehicles are prepared for whatever winter might bring. Here are 7 checklist Items that should be performed on every fleet vehicle.

  1. Winter fuel – Diesel fuel and cold are typically not mentioned in the same sentence without some frustration. This is because diesel fuel is known to gel in very cold weather due to the hydrocarbon, Paraffin, found in the fuel. Educating drivers about the need to use a winter-blend fuel and having them add anti-gel additives when they are fueling can go a long way to ensuring the semi truck winter start, even in the cold winter weather.
  2. Battery testing–Because batteries drain more quickly in cold weather, each vehicle in the fleet should be tested to make sure the battery is strong. This should not be a one-time test, but should be done periodically throughout the winter to ensure that the battery is still able to maintain its charge level. Any battery that is more than 3 years old should be tested more frequently or replaced.
  3. Don’t forget the coolant – A truck’s cooling system is not just for the summer months. This system, containing coolant, controls the boiling and freezing points as well as offering some protection from corrosion. Checking the inhibitor levels and coolant concentration is a must before cold weather sets in. Older style coolants were known to drop in level pretty quickly, but there are newer coolants available today that can stay in the truck’s system for up to 600,000 miles.
  4. Check the engine heater – Weather the vehicles in your fleet use external, internal or coolant engine heaters, they should be checked as part of a winterization routine as well. This type of heater makes starting a diesel engine in the winter much easier, as they preheat either the coolant or the engine block. Easier starting saves wear on the engine, lowers emissions, and can even increase fuel economy, not to mention the fact that some also provide heat to your driver more quickly.
  5. What about the trailer – Drivers know that winter is as hard on the trailer as it is on the tractor. One frequent trailer problem is frozen brakes that simply refuse to release. Making sure to properly lubricate moving parts during the winter is one of the ways to make sure those brakes work properly when needed. Another way is to make sure all of the air is released from the brakes before stopping for an extended period of time.
  6. Check the electrical system for corrosion – Both tractors and trailers have a 7-terminal receptacle for the electrical trailer cable plug. These are standard throughout North America. This plug is critical as it controls all the lights, signals and antilock devices on the trailer. As such, keeping them clean is always important. It may take a bit more time and effort in the winter, as many chemicals such as magnesium chloride and salt are coming off the road. Prolonged exposure to such chemicals can corrode the contacts and cause the loss of lights, ABS equipment and power. Even more unsettling is the fact that any moisture that makes it into a plug or socket can slowly make its way into the wiring system causing expensive problems later on.
  7. Protect your drivers – Every fleet owner knows that trucks only make money when paired with good drivers. Making sure your valuable drivers have all the equipment they need for winter trucking safety. Such items include emergency flares, a tool kit, bottled water and non-perishable emergency food, waterproof gloves and a working cell phone.

Taking time to properly inspect and prepare each vehicle in your fleet can help to ensure that the wheels keep turning, no matter what mother nature surprises you with.

Is Your Rig Ready for Winter? 7 Ways to Prepare for Plummeting Temperatures

It’s getting chilly out there. Is your truck ready? Take some time today to prep your truck for the cooler, potentially freezing, temperatures that are surely ahead. A little preparation today can save you from a whole lot of trouble later.

When Temperatures Drop, Coolant’s a Must

Anti-freeze, or coolant, provides vital protection to your truck during freezing weather. Getting your coolant system in order is one of the most important winter maintenance preps you’ll do all year. Check for leaks and low coolant levels at every PM. Use high quality coolant, obtained from a reputable source. This is one area where you don’t want to compromise on quality.

Don’t Get Stuck in the Snow- Check Your Chains

Are your chains ready to go should you need them? Many drivers take their chains off the truck and put them into storage during warm summer months, but now that the temperatures are dropping, it’s time to bring them back. Before loading them up, give them a quick check to make sure you have everything you need and that all parts are in good repair.

It’s also prime time to brush up on chain laws. Many drivers prefer to sit and wait when chain whether hits, but some states require that you carry them, needed or not. Knowing the laws in the states where you travel most can save you from expensive tickets and violations.

If you do use chains, remove them as soon as they aren’t needed. Chains that are left on too long can rip up your tires and cause road damage. Remember, chains are intended to get you out of trouble, not into it. If it is too snowy to continue, stop and wait for the weather to clear.

Are Your Tires Ready for Winter?

Tire pressure drops in cold weather. It’s time to check pressure on all your tires again. It is often most effective to check your tire pressure during your pre-trip inspection, before you do any driving. Valve caps help to ensure that ice doesn’t form in the valve core, leading to a slow pressure leak. If you’re missing any caps, replace them.

Tire pressure isn’t the only tire check you should do this winter. If you regularly drive in icy, snowy areas, consider special tires with tread designed for winter driving.

Scrape Less- Add Some De-Icer to Windshield Fluid

Check your washer fluid levels and add de-icer if needed. This will help to defrost your windshield and will keep your fluid jug from freezing solid and bursting. While you’re at it, check your windshield wipers too.

It’s Hard Being a Battery in the Winter

Cold temperatures make it more difficult for your battery to charge, often resulting in lower battery levels. Cleaning, checking, and testing the battery should be a regular part of your PM (preventative maintenance) program. If your battery is over three years old, you may want to replace it this winter.

If your truck has an APU, you can expect reduced service life from your batteries, especially during cold weather. The APU is constantly pulling power from the battery which can drain battery life.

Stock Your Truck, Just in Case

Do you have cold weather essentials on hand, just in case? You should have a heavy coat, a blanket, and some food on hand in your truck. Although we hope you’re never stranded out in the cold, you’ll be happy to have a few emergency supplies on hand. These supplies could very well save your life some day.

Is your truck ready for winter? What are your favorite ways to prepare for dropping temperatures?