The Future of the Professional Driver

 

The Future of the Professional Driver

I was looking up the top 50 trucking companies and reviewed a few of the well-known companies CSA scores from the FMCSA website. I was surprised and disappointed with what I saw. Many of these carriers advertise on the backs of their trailers, “ We hire only safe and professional drivers”.  If you saw their CSA scores I would think that the owners would be embarrassed to display those signs. Perhaps the owners are not aware of their scores.

The first thing I noticed was that many were near the 60% intervention score. The other common factor involved “Subject to Placardable HM Threshold “

I found some violations that were commonly high among most of the carriers.

Driver Fitness were:

  • 383.23(a)(2) Operating a CMV without a CDL
  • 383.51(a) Driving a CMV (CDL) while disqualified
  • 391.11(b)(4) Driver lacking physical qualification(s)
  • 391.41(a) Driver not in possession of medical certificate
  • 391.45(b) Expired medical examiner’s certificate

 

Fatigued Driving:

  • 395.3(a)(2) Requiring or permitting driver to drive after 14 hours on duty
  • 395.3(a)(1) Requiring or permitting driver to drive more than 11 hours
  • 395.3(b) 60/70- hour rule violation
  • 395.8 Log violation (general/form and manner)
  • 395.15(b) Onboard recording device information requirements not met
  • 395.15(c) Onboard recording device improper form and manner
  • 395.15(f) Onboard recording device failure and driver failure to reconstruct duty status
  • 395.15(g) On-board recording device information not available

 

Unsafe Driving:

  • 392.16 Failing to use seat belt while operating CMV
  • 392.2C Failure to obey traffic control device
  • 392.2FC Following too close
  • 392.2LC Improper lane change
  • 392.2T Improper turns
  • 392.2-SLLS2 State/Local Laws – Speeding 6-10 miles per hour over the speed limit
  • 392.2Y Failure to yield right of way
  • 392.6 Scheduling run to necessitate speeding
  • 392.60(a) Unauthorized passenger on board CMV
  • 392.71(a) Using or equipping a CMV with radar detector
  • 397.13 Smoking within 25 feet of HM vehicle

 

Vehicle Maintenance:

  • 392.22(b) Failing/improper placement of warning devices
  • 392.7(a) Driver failing to conduct pre-trip inspection
  • 393.11 No/defective lighting devices/reflective devices/projected
  • 393.19 Inoperative/defective hazard warning lamp
  • 393.207(b) Adjustable axle locking pin missing/disengaged
  • 393.25(e) Lamp not steady burning
  • 393.25(f) Stop lamp violations
  • 393.45 Brake tubing and hose adequacy
  • 393.45(a)(4) Failing to secure brake hose/tubing against mechanical damage
  • 393.47(e) Clamp/Roto-Chamber type brake(s) out of adjustment
  • 393.53(b) Automatic brake adjuster CMV manufactured on or after 10/20/1994— air brake

 

These are only a few of the various few of the 670 violations that can be given to a carrier through CSA. All these violations can be avoided with a proper pre-trip and driving skills.

These avoidable violations, if left un-addressed can put a company into expensive fines, intervention and possibly suspension of their dot licensing. All of these can be avoided with proper driver training and updating. I would like to question the violators and verify if the drivers were reckless, or just unknowledgeable of  how to prevent these violations.

As I continued looking through the CSA scores I noticed a great number of small carriers ( 50 power units or less) were fairing better  than the carriers with more than 500 power units. This I believe is because the larger the carrier, the harder it is to monitor, educate and train drivers. Smaller carriers can better control  the safety and compliance of their entire fleet.

These scores are showing me there is a great  need for companies to restructure their safety policies and training. Corporate staff is going to require additional education to better train and educate drivers on a practical level. No longer will reciting the rules and regulations at drivers meetings( if the company has them at all), be sufficient to create safe and compliant drivers. Drivers I have talked to have said they asked their safety department for help and come away more confused about their issue.

 

Carrier Image

Customers can access a carriers CSA scores and violations history. If the CSA is a marketing tool like the CTPAT program, carriers are going to find it hard to get accounts. ABC carrier might be on the top 50 list but when the customer views their CSA and discovers they are flagged for intervention due to Driver Fatigue, they may reject the carrier’s bid. I believe many carriers are going to carry on until intervention strikes, and then they will cry the blues.

 

Prevention is the best medicine

Carriers should be on top of these and intervene with the drivers before the FMCSA intervenes with the company. Drivers CSA scores should be monitored regularly. Drivers should be made to explain themselves for each violation( re-trained if necessary) and reprimanded for each repeated violation.

Driver training should be implemented on a one to one basis if needed. If he is new to trucking he may be unknowledgeable and require further education. If he is a veteran driver,  he may have to be reminded or shown how to break old unsafe habits.

In the end it requires the carrier to step up and protect their scores and public image with training, and internal monitoring and enforcement.

 

Fleet Driver Trainers

Fleet driver trainers can be a great advantage to carriers of 50 drivers or more. These are experienced drivers that have excelled in their driving skills. They are fully knowledgeable about both  federal regulations  and company policies. Driver trainers are knowledgeable and practice defensive driving, full knowledge of log books, fleet smart practices,  vehicle pre-trips and preventative vehicle  maintenance.

At a company’s perspective, these driver trainers will be fully trained of all company driver policies. They will be the eyes and ears of the company, and the resource for drivers to help them become profitable and safer employees.

With a driver trainer as part of the driving fleet, drivers can access him on the road. As a driver trainer on the corporate site, he is available to drivers visiting the yard and free to do driver analyses and in-class instruction if required.

 

Out in the cold

Many drivers I have talked to feel left out in the cold when it comes to needing  readily available information or training. When and if they can contact the safety department, the personnel is too busy  to sit with them and discuss their issues, because of their responsibility to corporate issues.

When they do get information,  many drivers leave confused, or feeling they didn’t get the answers they were looking for.  A driver trainer helps immensely in this area because he has been there done that, and can better relate to the driver’s issues than someone who has been out of touch with the driving enviroment for a while.  The driver trainer can help the driver with other issues such as human resources  direction because he is a long term employee and can instruct the driver how to better comply with company policy.

 

Using your best resource for optimal results

It only makes sense to me if I were a company owner,  to use every  available resource  to build a company that is professional in the eyes of the federal regulators, customers, general public and of course my most profitable assets called drivers.

If you want professional drivers, does it not make sense to have them monitored and trained by professional drivers (Driver Trainers). It costs less than insurance hikes, repeated fines, lost customers, and the expense of driver turnover in the end?  The driver trainer would be the company’s  link to driver problems and opinions. The drivers feel more at ease with one of their own kind, so to speak, and more openly provide feedback. This useful information,  when given to the company allows them to better  analyze, restructure and adjust for optimum  operation.

 

Conclusion

The CSA scores  and  Canadian CVOR’s tell a story.  Apparently companies aren’t reading the book. If they are, perhaps they can’t see the plot. If they value their future, changes need to be made before they lose all their profits. I believe driver trainers, if implemented properly, can improve the quality of life for the trucking company and drivers.

 

 

Written by David Robson

Professional  Driver and Certified Fleet Driver Trainer

 

 

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International Drivers Local and Highway Splitting Time Off.

Going to and from the U.S. can be mind boggling with your hours of service.  Many drivers are trying to use the 16 hour rule to extend driving or on duty time. This rule can get you into trouble if your are an international driver.

Canadian drivers entering the U.S.

Canadian drivers entering the U.S. must be compliant with U.S. hours of service rules the minute you cross the border. It is recommended that because of the difference in split-sleeper berth rules and mandatory hours off to reset your duty status, that your enter the U.S. with 10 consecutive hours off.

It is recommended that Canadian drivers who drive mostly in the U.S. use only the U.S. hours of service.

American drivers to Canada

If you are an American driver entering Canada, continue to use the U.S. hours of service. If you use the U.S. hours of service in Canada you will always be compliant.

Trying to combine U.S. and Canadian hours of service.

The recommendation is to not attempt it. You will only cause confusion and possibly unjust violations by enforcement officers.

Your opinions are appreciated.

Driver shortage, who’s fault is it?

I recently acquired my Fleet Driver Training Certification, and completed a co-op at a reputable driving school to train drivers. As an experienced driver of 15 years and a qualified driver trainer, I believe we have more of a qualified trucking company shortage than we do a qualified driver shortage.

The driving schools (good ones), will teach the minimum and beyond, with what little time and funds are available to them for each student. After experiencing the full curriculum of the AZ driver training course I felt the drivers had enough training to pass their test but still fell short on safe driving practices, work place safety, and other applicable skills required to maintain safety and compliance. As you say ” Training must be excellent and ongoing.”

There seems to be no shortage of general and regulatory compliance or safety information to drivers by the schools and trucking companies ( safety meetings).Where I have experienced what I think is a deficiency is trucking company driver’s hiring orientation and on going training ( policies).

I have worked for many companies in search for the one most compatible for me. All the companies I worked for seem to have some common areas of deficiency that I believe would create better driver retention.

Applicant interviews should be more of a,.. what does the driver want and need to make him a happy employee? In turn the driver should be shown how the company operates and what is expected of him. This takes some time and thought on the recruiting personnel but would reduce the ” I wasn’t told that!” after the driver is hired. Anything less than a 1 hour interview to me is a one way information session.

Upon hiring the new driver, he should be assigned with a local driver for 1 to two weeks for assessment from a driver trainer. Just because he has done the work before, doesn’t mean he is up to industry or company standards.This may eliminate driver turnover as the driver gets to see how things really work with the company and has the trainer to get him up to speed on paper work and company policies. Assessment can also be made of driver/ company compatibility before the company invests time and money into the driver, and only have him leave months later.

After the driver is hired, the company should have a post hiring interview/ assessment before the probation period is up. The recruiting/safety personnel should discuss driver concerns, deficiencies, needs for improvement, praised for exceptional work and driver/ company compatibility. It is here the company can assess their own driver recruitment and training program from the performance and information they acquire from the new driver up to this point.

Ongoing training to me is highly deficient in today’s trucking industry at the company level. The company should have driver trainers available to deal with drivers on a one to one basis. These trainers should be populated in the company on a 1-trainer for every 20-30 drivers. This trainer should be an experienced driver in all company policies, safety and regulations. These driver trainers could inform the company of training issues to be addressed at company meetings  and request adjustments to meet drivers needs based on re-occurring issues from the drivers. The driver trainer should be able to give one on one instruction in driver education ( H.O.S. and regulations), in-cab instruction( safe driving practices) and yard work instruction( Pre-trip, vehicle maintenance, loading and load security).

This ongoing training would reduce crashes, roadside violations and driver stress.

Driver meetings have always made me think that companies have them only to comply with insurance company policies rather than benefit drivers. My experience is that these meetings review safety issues and promises of improvements that diminish minutes after the meeting is over. This is where driver trainers can benefit the companies. If there are driver issues to be corrected on a massive basis, a general instruction of the issues and regulations can be given at the meeting, and the driver trainer can work with individual drivers on that issue as needed after the meeting.

These driver meetings should be attended by drivers, safety personnel, mechanics and dispatchers so that issues concerning all departments that interact with drivers can interact.

Most companies try their best to accommodate the drivers.  I feel they fall short because they truly don’t know the issues facing drivers on a day to day basis. Perhaps this is due to a lack of communication between the company and driver. I feel that qualified driver trainers could help reduce driver turnover and increase company profits if done properly.

The big question is, are companies going to move forward to accommodate drivers with the ongoing training they need to reduce roadside violations, crash statistics and improve wage structures to justify the time they put into their job. Many drivers feel their input to driver issues go unheard, and therefore give up trying to improve their job performance feeling the company does not appreciate it. With the new CSA in the U.S., international Canadian carriers are going to find their profit margins slide due to higher driver roadside infractions now that it is more than O.O.S. and crash statistics affecting their MS150.

If companies don’t start working on improving their driver training and wage compensation we may have a trucking company shortage.

What is CSA

Driver Concerns and Myths

I have read the CSA manual and investigated many carrier scores in the CSA. I have found that the carriers have more to worry about than the drivers.

454 violations are applicable to the driver’s CSA while 670 violations are applicable to carriers.

I believe the CSA was created to force carriers to monitor their drivers more closely. Most of the violations are the driver not doing proper pre-trips and on- route inspections or not keeping their logbooks up to date. 

I also believe this is due to carriers not training their drivers or practicing forced distpatching of which both are federal violations in the CSA and FMCSA regulations.

Learning the CSA model should encourage drivers to become more educated with the FMCSA and use the regulations to stand up to their employers to be more compliant.

Being a more compliant driver will increase your confidence, create more job options and hopefully give your company a greater profit margin to move ahead with better pay and benefits.

Without drivers a company is nothing. Companies should wake up and treat their drivers like their existance depends on it. 

Will I lose my license with CSA?.
NO. You can only lose your license by obtaining too many demerit points on your license like it has always been.

Will I lose my job?.
You will only lose your job if the company or insurance company finds you to be a high risk driver.

Existing drivers cannot be terminated based on their scores. The company must follow their disciplinary policy to terminate existing drivers.

Can anyone see my CSA scores?
No. Only CSA approved officials can freely view your scores. You must give a signed consent form to allow others to view your scores. Trucking and insurance companies may create a policy that requires you to provide a consent form prior to hiring you. See What is Pre-Employment Screening.

Will I receive a warning letter?
No. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) does not, at this time, directly contact drivers with high DSMS percentile ranks; only motor carriers receive warning letters. DSMS is used only in conjunction with carrier investigations.

A driver could receive a Notice of Violation (NOV) or Notice of Claim (NOC) if the driver is found to have egregious violations during a carrier investigation. If a driver receives an NOV or NOC, FMCSA will contact the driver directly.

Do tickets or warnings received by drivers while operating personal vehicles impact their motor carrier’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) data or their Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP) record?
No. Tickets or warnings that drivers receive while operating their personal vehicles are State citations and do not count in SMS or PSP. SMS and PSP use only violations of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs), and those regulations apply only to people driving commercial motor vehicles. In measuring on-road safety performance, SMS and PSP use all safety-based violations documented at roadside inspections, as well as State-reported crashes.

What are the Intervention Thresholds for drivers?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does not address drivers the same way that it addresses motor carriers. While motor carriers are prioritized for intervention based on the Safety Measurement System, drivers are only investigated during a carrier investigation. Therefore, no Intervention Thresholds are in place for drivers.

What is the Pre-Employment Screening Program (PSP), who can access it, and how?
PSP is a new FMCSA program mandated by Congress that is designed to assist the motor carrier industry in assessing individual operators’ crash and serious safety violation history as a pre-employment condition. The program is voluntary and is not part of CSA.

Through NIC Technologies, motor carriers may request driver information for the purpose of pre-employment screening. The driver must provide written consent. Individual drivers may request their own driver information record at any time. The information will be retrieved from the Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS). MCMIS electronic profiles contain five years of crash data and three years of inspection data including co-driver safety and post-crash violations; however, MCMIS does not include conviction data. There is a fee for this service.

For carrier to enroll in PSP, visit http://www.psp.fmcsa.dot.gov/Pages/Enroll.aspx. For additional questions about PSP, visit the PSP Website’s FAQs page (http://www.psp.fmcsa.dot.gov/Pages/FAQ.aspx) or the PSP “Contact Us” page

Why is there no driver rating? Why aren’t drivers more accountable?
While the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) does not use the Safety Measurement System (SMS) or any other system to assign formal safety ratings to individual drivers, the agency recognizes that holding drivers accountable for safe driving behavior is an important part of the safety compliance and enforcement process. Safety Investigators (SIs) always systematically investigate drivers with egregious violations when investigating a motor carrier. Additionally, SIs use the Driver Safety Measurement System, an internal safety assessment tool, to review drivers with strong patterns of noncompliance. Any violations that are not corrected may result in a Notice of Violation or Notice of Claim for the driver.

What triggers an intervention?

Interventions are selected based on the following factors: Number of Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICs) percentiles above the threshold (Note: a high BASIC percentile indicates high noncompliance), BASICs alerted due to serious violations, commodity hauled (e.g., passengers, hazardous material), intervention history, and time since last intervention. A complaint or fatal crash could also trigger an investigation.

The Intervention Thresholds for carriers are organized by BASIC and are set based on the BASIC’s relationship to crash risk. Analysis conducted by FMCSA has shown that the strongest relationship to crash risk is found with high percentiles in the Unsafe Driving, Fatigued Driving, and Crash Indicator BASICs. Therefore, these higher risk BASICs have a lower percentile threshold for interventions than the other BASICs. Currently, the Intervention Thresholds are as follows:

Unsafe Driving, Fatigued Driving (Hours-of-Service ), Crash Indicator     65%
Driver Fitness, Controlled Substances/Alcohol, Vehicle Maintenance, Cargo-Related     80%

What is pre-inspection screening?

A pre-inspection screening, which takes less time than an actual safety inspection, may take many forms. It may include, but not necessarily be limited to, a cursory check of the vehicle. These cursory checks of a vehicle are commonly confused with a complete safety inspection. If a law enforcement officer conducts only a pre-inspection screening, then a safety inspection report will not be generated. It is also important to note that different enforcement jurisdictions may use different methods to select or screen a vehicle for a safety inspection.
There are strict criteria regarding what needs to be done for a roadside inspection report to be generated. If the pre-screening doesn’t meet those criteria, no report will be generated.
Keep in mind that an inspection usually takes a lot longer than a pre-screening and involves a much more intense scrutiny of the driver and/or the vehicle. A driver can request an inspection, but it is up to the roadside inspector to determine if he or she will give one or not.

 

Any comments are welcome. This information is directly from the CSA Manual and CSA website.

CSA- Roadside Inspections

CSA Roadside Inspections- What to expect and how to be prepared.


Rules and Regulations

There are no knew rules as far as being in violation. The only thing that has changed is how your roadside inspection is recorded in the FMSCA  [old Safe-stat now CSA”s Safety Measurement System (SMS) ]. No longer are you looked at when your company has an accident or O.O.S.(out of service) violation or a random audit. Now the carrier and driver roadside inspections are recorded at every inspection and updated every 30 days to evaluate a score (0-100) based on violation points given at roadside inspections as well as accidents and O.O.S. violations.

The value of these scores (1-100) is done by comparing you and your company with other drivers and companies of comparable characteristics. This will produce an average for the group you fall into and your scores are determined by comparing them with your group average.

THE SCORE CARD

Remember back in school your report card had your mark, then the class average and your parents always look at the class average and then your mark (score) to see how you  compared to the rest of the kids in your class (group). If your class average was 80% and you got 50% there was some explaining to do.

Welcome back to school. The only difference is your working with a golf score, lower is better since the score is based on violations (negative). A clean roadside inspection helps because the number of roadside inspections are calculated as well. So if you have 50 roadside inspections and only 2 have violations that’s 4%. If you only have 5 roadside inspections and 3 have violations that’s 60% roadside infractions. Lower is better. The more perfect roadside inspections you get the lower it keeps your score and makes you look like driver of the year. So practice your putting so you will get a hole in one at every inspection. ( Be the Tiger Woods of trucking, so to speak).

Roadside Inspection Tips

Brakes

Remember that pre-trip inspection we all slept through at the last driver’s meeting? Well wake up and learn it. Equipment violations carry a high severity number next to logbooks. Especially brakes. If you have a dedicated tractor you can probably get away with mark and measure once a week.

Every time you hook on to new equipment you should do a six pack on the brakes and then mark and measure. Write down the measurements and keep them handy for an inspector to prove you did check them should one of the automatic slack adjusters stopped working. If you have disc brakes you don’t need to measure them because the push-rod is not visible or accessible.

Lights

Carry spare lights  with you. Lights can usually be changed quickly providing they are accessible. Headlights, brake lights and turn signals carry a high severity point system as they are necessary for the safety of other motorists. I once had a side marker light go out and it cost me $65.00 to get it fixed. The light was only $5.00.

Load Security

Review your FMSCA violations in this area to become familiar with the requirements. FMSCA Part 393.100- 393-136.

Did you know that if your binder(flatbed) handle is not tied you have an insecure load ? If your folded up tarp is on your deck and not strapped you have an insecure load ? A mud flap hanging by one bolt can be an insecure load because it is missing over 50% of its fasteners. If you are new to load securement get together with your safety department or an experienced senior driver.

Logbooks

You knew this was coming didn’t you? Logbooks are going to the bulk of driver infractions and has been since it was introduced. For some reason we all can’t keep them up to date within the last change of duty status.

Over hours and falsification carry the highest severity weight. When your at a state inspection your logbook inspection can be more than just lines on a graph to a D.O.T. inspector.

Vehicle Inspection

  • – if you show a defect and it was corrected he will ask for a part or service receipt.
  • – he will also target the repaired item for inspection to make sure it is fixed.
  • – he will also look at your inspection times to be sure your inspection were within 24 hour intervals.

Time over Distance

  • – it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out your average trip speed.
  • – speeding fines can be issued if your average trip speed is to high or can become a falsification of logs.
  • – split sleeper and differed time off (Canadaians)  are going to be looked at since those are the most  misunderstood logbook regulations.
  • – clarity and neatness, if he can’t read it it will become an incomplete logbook violation.
  • – signature is required on every sheet to be a complete logbook.

Receipts

  • – the officer will ask you for receipts from the current trip, this also includes bills of lading and lumper fees.
  • – if you have traveled over 900 miles ( 300 gallons @ 6 mpg ) the officer is going to ask for fuel receipts.
  • – he may ask for toll receipts and if  he knows that the toll roads you took have no transponder, you best present receipts.
  • – if you crossed international borders  or were D.O.T. inspected along the way it better be logged in your book as they have  ways to get that information on the spot.

Attitude

Attitude will play an important role in your roadside inspection.

  • – do not argue with an officer, if you disagree with the roadside inspection notify your dispatch for instructions.
  • – comply with the officers request to surrender documents, even if you know they are not compliant.
  • – keep a clean and organized unit, this is a visible target criteria for inspection even with the best of carriers.
  • – be polite, he is only doing his job.

Education

Do your best by visiting government websites to educate yourself on the industry as it related to your profession. Driving schools are not suited to educate you on the whole industry because it is so varied it would take them a whole year to cover it all. Trucking companies are supposed to bring you up to speed with the specifics related to their objectives but fail to because they claim it is to expensive. That leaves the driver to fend for himself.


Driver Education Links

U.S.   Regulations

FMSCA

CSA


I hope this helped you to understand the CSA a little bit better so you know what to expect when you are pulled into a scale.

Until next time.    Be Safe.


CSA- Compliance, Safety, Accountability

As drivers we are the last informed about what the D.O.T. and transportation enforcement officials are up to. Yes the CSA 2010, now just CSA ( Compliance, Safety, Accountability) is a U.S. reality at the present time. It will soon become the North American standard. Canadian enforcement officials are still unaware of any of this if the officers were telling me the truth when they told me they have had no departmental training on the subject.

As U.S./Canada drivers you should know that the CSA applies to your operation in the U.S.  How they apply it to you while you are driving in the U.S. may not be detrimental at the point of inspection, but once you are in the system you will be monitored. You won’t be knocked out of service by your scores but you can receive monetary fines from them. If your company is audited by the U.S. D.O.T. they will have to answer to your bad scores and be made to exercise correctional actions against you which could be anything from training to termination. The companies insurance will probably prohibit insuring you before it gets that far. Still it is a record you carry for 3 years which now becomes a tool for your next employer to use for a hiring tool.

Watch this video, if it doesn’t load click HERE

 

Youtube video from Foley Services

So you may not see the affects directly at the moment as a Canadian driver because everything is good up until the moment of impact. So how does a driver protect himself for the future?

First lets get rid of the MYTHS.

Myth: CSA is dead!
Fact: CSA is alive and kicking. Though the FMCSA temporarily delayed portions of the program into 2011 and is periodically “tweaking” it, implementation is moving forward. There has been no indication from the agency that the program will be further delayed or suspended. In fact, beginning August 16, 2010, the FMCSA says carriers will be able to see their BASIC scores, a major step in the implementation process.

Myth: If a driver is overweight (has a high Body Mass Index) or has a large neck size, he or she could fail the new CSA Driver Fitness Standards and be pulled from the road.
Fact: There are no new fitness standards under CSA. One of the seven categories on which carriers and drivers will be judged, the “Driver Fitness BASIC,” simply tracks compliance with existing driver qualification rules. Of course, the FMCSA could adopt new qualification rules at any time, but that usually involves a lengthy rulemaking process. This myth may have formed because neck size and BMI relate to a person’s propensity to develop sleep apnea, a condition whose safety effects are currently under review. This myth may also relate to the fact that roadside violations for the vehicle being overweight (usually reported as a violation of §392.2W), were included in early versions of the CSA scoring process for the Cargo-Related BASIC.

Myth: If I collect too many CSA “points,” my CDL could be suspended.
Fact: The new scoring system for CSA relies on a severity rating (or “points” system) for each safety violation, but that has nothing to do with your license. The CSA scoring system and the CDL licensing system are separate systems. No matter how many severity points you collect, that in itself will not affect your CDL. Conversely, no matter how many points you accrue on your license, that in itself will not affect your CSA scores.

Myth: A moving violation will only appear in the CSA scoring system if it results in a conviction.
Fact: If a moving violation is noted on a roadside inspection report, then it will be used in the scoring system regardless of whether a ticket was issued.

Myth: The CSA program will mean a bunch of new safety rules and paperwork requirements.
Fact: CSA is used to track and enforce compliance with the existing regulations. If the current regulations don’t require it, neither will CSA.

Myth: The FMCSA has dropped the idea of scoring drivers.
Fact: The CSA model indicates that drivers will be individually scored in the seven BASICs, based on the past 36 months of data, and may be subject to certain types of intervention from the FMCSA if their scores are bad enough. Driver scores will only be available to enforcement personnel, however, and driver interventions will only take place during a carrier audit.

Myth: We’ll have a “fresh start” once CSA is turned on.
Fact: Once the CSA program is implemented, carriers and drivers will be scored based on data that is already on the books. Driver scores will be based on the past 36 months of data, and motor carrier scores will be based on the past 24 months of data.

Myth: All roadside tickets/warnings/convictions/violations of any kind will affect our CSA scores.
Fact: The CSA scoring system will use violations that are reported on roadside inspection reports by qualified officers. If it doesn’t get reported into the FMCSA’s data system (MCMIS) via a roadside inspection form, the violation will not affect your CSA scores.

Myth: Having access to CSA scoring information and the new Pre-employment Screening Program will mean that carriers will no longer have to get drivers’ driving records or perform background checks.
Fact: The CSA program will not affect carriers’ obligations under Part 391 for qualifying drivers. Motor carriers will still need to contact previous employers and obtain drivers’ driving records.

 

So how does a driver prepare for this ?

It is really quite simple, do your job safely and by the regulations. If you are diligent with your pre-trip inspection, time management, don’t rush, keep your log book up to date and learn your hours of service and Schedule 1 inspections, you shouldn’t have a problem.

 

Until next time, BE SAFE !

 

Due Diligence : Meaning and Neccessity

Due Diligence is a word you may get tired of hearing in the transportation industry. I know I do. Have you ever wondered what they mean when they say it ? Why is it imortant ? Well it conveys the use of common sense and forethough in everything we do to be safe and responsible for our actions and consequences.

According to the Legal Services Branch of Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, due diligence is defined as:
All reasonable care has been taken to avoid the prohibited act.

How do you show due diligence? Here’s a checklist you can use:

1.Do you have a health & safety policy, and specific rules and policies to govern health and safety at your workplace?
2.Do you give all employees adequate orientation training before they start any new job?
3.Do you provide initial and ongoing training to employees?
4.Do you appoint a competent person to supervise work?
5.Do you identify, monitor and control hazards in your workplace?
6.Do you communicate hazards and risks to your employees?
7.Do you hold regular Health & Safety Meetings?
8.Do you enforce your safety procedures?

As we move into the next decade the transportation industry is going to make some big changes. One I believe is in the procurement of driver responsibilty. If a driver commits an offense causing bodily injury the company he represents is on the hook. Our industry is trying to implement due diligence with the introduction of CSA 2010. This in my opinion allows employers to better qualify their drivers, and good drivers to better find quality companies.

I believe that if you are someone who takes pride in the quality of their work the CSA 2010 will make things better for you in the long run.

 Just remeber that with due diligence comes due success.

Keeping Safe with Space

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Keeping Safe with Space

Keeping safe with space is a good driving practice. Actually it should become one of a drivers good habits all year round. This will help to reduce or avoid emergency braking and evasive driving manoeuvres which create accidents.

Highway Driving

Now that there is talk of speed limiters for trucks we need to be a little more strategic and courteous because we are being forced to drive the same speed. I have noticed I am now implementing this practice even more-so now than before.

When you’re on the open road keep 2-3 truck lengths between trucks. That way if you your mind is off somewhere else you have some time to wake up and avoid a hard brake. I have seen a few times where 3 trucks at a time have rear ended each other on a hard brake because they were too close. If a car takes away that space just let off on the gas a bit to regain your space.

When you’re driving in city limits on a highway create space in front of you, especially when you approach interchanges. Cars like to slow down to ramp speed before they get on the ramp. When you see traffic coming onto the highway open up space in front of you to allow those race car drivers to get ahead of you. If you can’t get into the left lane, slow down a bit to more fluidly allow the entering traffic to merge with you. I always try to pick a spot in the entrance ramp traffic and adjust my speed to merge with the traffic coming off the ramp.

When you’re on cruise control adjust it to the average speed of the traffic in the lane you are in. I don,t use my cruise in congested traffic or highway city limits. That is just a waste of brakes and hard on the nerves.

Passing

Passing is one of the most dangerous manoeuvres on the roadway. I have seen cars and trucks make passing and lane changes that get my heart racing. One of my principles for passing someone is that if you can’t pass them in 60 seconds or less there is no need to pass. This will become a problem now with our Ontario speed limiter laws. Another problem I find is when a commercial vehicle starts to slow down, cars are quick to speed around us as if we are slowing down for no apparent reason. This causes panic braking and the increased risk of collision.

How I try to make my passing manoeuvres safer is to:
– first make sure I have the power to pass in less than 60 seconds.
– be sure you are not going to interrupt traffic flow.
– pick a spot in the flow of traffic in the passing lane to make your manoeuvre.
– create space between you and the vehicle ahead of you, so when you begin to pull out, you can avoid an incident if traffic suddenly slows down.
– after you pass look ahead for stopping traffic and merging vehicles before coming back to the right lane. No sense returning to your lane if it means having to slow down.
– when you return to your lane do it with lots of space between you and the vehicle you are getting in front of, just in case you have to suddenly slow down and he doesn’t run into you.

Sometime it is easier in heavy traffic to go with the flow and forget about passing because all lanes are going slow. If you properly pre-tripped yourself and you’re in heavy traffic make your lane changes 1 mile before your exit. That way you can just flow right onto the off ramp.

If someone is passing you and they are having a hard time of it and creating a back up in the passing lane, just let up on the gas pedal and let them in front of you. The time lost is insignificant and you make the roadway safer that way. Two trucks driving side by side for extended lengths of time is dangerous.

Conclusion:
Drive like a professional. Keep in mind the damage our trucks can do. Anticipate other drivers actions before they do. Keep enough space that you can safely adjust to traffic and weather conditions. Know your directions before you begin so you don’t become a hazard trying to find your way.

You can’t control traffic. Be a professional and control your space on the roadway as best you can. You may not always be on time but you will be less stressed and feel better.

Good Luck

Managing Your Time

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Time Management

When will you get there driver?

How many times has someone asked you this and you responded with “I don’t know!” I used to say that whenI first started driving until I learned the physics of the industry. Now I can tell them when I will be there give or take an hour.

I have learned that time can be wasted, unproductive, lost and can never be found or made up. If you lose an hour it can never be retrieved. It’s lost forever. Kind of like money. They say time is money. So why not manage your time as if is money.

Here is how I manage my time when trucking:

Pre-trip, get all your trip information before you start down the road from start to finish. You lose time when you have to stop to gather information and make phone calls.

Meals, if you can, stock ready made meals in the truck so you don’t have to waste time cruising the truckstops looking for a parking spot. It’s easier to regulate your eating habits if all you have to do is pull off the road and micro-wave frozen leftovers or prepared food. It’s probably healthier too.

Sleep, many drivers don’t get enough sleep and their health suffers because of it. I always aim for six hours sleep every night. If it truly is a rush job I cut back to four hours sleep.

Wasted Time, how many times have you met someone and just talked the day away and suddenly realize you are really short for time now. I know some drivers have more time to waste than they need, but again that is considered managing your idle time. Socializing is good stimulus and PR but don’t get carried away with it.

Travel time, this is time that most drivers can’t control. Accidents, traffic jams, weather, driving terrain, and other unexpected delays create a loss of time. Some of these can be predetermined and calculated for in our time management.

Now that we have discussed what factors affect time lets see if we can manage it using calculations as if we were trying to save or make money. As with money some things are constant and others are variable.

Time constants, these are what I have found to be consistant based on years of trip analyses.
Driving Time = 50 miles/ hour
Loading and Unloading = 2hours
Meals = 1 ½ hours
Sleep = 6 hours

Time Variables- these are times that may vary due to economy or seasons.
Border Crossings = 1-2 hours
Predictable bad weather = +2 hours
Rush hour driving = +1 hour

I think that basically covers it. Now you may have to alter this to specifically apply to the nature of your freight or type of work. I was doing flatbed when I did this and found it works well even with reefer most of the time. Once in a while my unload time goes up to six hours.

Lets say we get loaded in Toronto, Canada for a trip that is 450 miles in the away in the U.S.A. and it is 4 pm when we get loaded. When will we get there.

450 miles = 9 hours to drive
Toronto rush hour = + 1 hour
Border crossing = 2 hours
Dinner = 1 ½ hour
Sleep = 6 hours

This = 19 ½ hours for us to get to customer which is 11:30 a.m. the following day. If you had a 7 a.m. appointment you would have to give up 4 ½ hours of dinner and sleep. Are you willing to do that after having been up since 6 a.m. the previous day. I know I’m not.

Try this a few times and you will be surprised at how accurate this is, and you will soon be able to tell your dispatch when you’ll be there before you even put it in gear. I have used this formula for most of my driving career. I always get my sleep and am rarely on time for my appointments. Nor have I been fired from a trucking job.

Conclusion:
You can’t control the shippers, receivers, border patrol or traffic. You can control how you run to be the most productive. I have run against those drive till you drop drivers and found that the majority of the time I catch up or even pass them because they tired themselves out. You are at a higher risk of accidents if you run to beat the clock.

Manage your time, eat properly, get your rest, communicate with dispatch and customers, and your professionalism will overcome your ability to make all those impossible appointment times. If the trucking company complains or threatens you constantly, then it is time to find a more professional company to work for.

Good luck and be professional.

Healthy As A Horse

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Healthy, Physical or Mental.

Medical criteria for truck drivers has been an issue for years. Like police, military and emergency personal we not only need to be physically healthy but mentally healthy as well. Mental stress can affect physical health as well.

Medical Exams

We require regular Medical Exams to maintain our driver’s licence. These exams are no more than a social visit ( question period ) to a qualified assigned company doctor or your physician. I need glasses to read but obtained a 20/20 vision eye test at my physician. No blood or urine was taken. No x-rays, stress tests, or respiratory tests. I could have lied my way through my physical.

I don’t believe we need stricter criteria as it already exists. What we need is stricter exams given by our physicians. This may require some company coverage as the price would increase because of further medical examination practices. Our $75.00 fee now just pays the doctors time (½ hour). A proper test would take a lot longer and more money to the doctor. If we had to pay it I could see up to $500 if there is no coverage.

Medical Criteria (Mental)

Medical criteria determines when a driver’s health issue makes him a threat or hazard to the operation of a commercial vehicle. This also includes mental health. As noted from: Mental Disorders §391.41(b)(9) Many bus and truck drivers have documented that “nervous trouble” related to neurotic, personality, or emotional or adjustment problems is responsible for a significant fraction of their preventable accidents. The degree to which an individual is able to appreciate, evaluate and adequately respond to environmental strain and emotional stress is critical when assessing an individual’s mental alertness and flexibility to cope with the stresses of commercial motor vehicle driving.

When examining the driver, it should be kept in mind that individuals who live under chronic emotional upsets may have deeply ingrained maladaptive or erratic behavior patterns. Excessively antagonistic, instinctive, impulsive, openly aggressive, paranoid or severely depressed behavior greatly interfere with the driver’s ability to drive safely. Those individuals who are highly susceptible to frequent states of emotional instability (schizophrenia, affective psychoses, paranoia, anxiety or depressive neuroses) may warrant disqualification. Careful consideration should be given to the side effects and interactions of medications in the overall qualification determination.

(See Conference on Psychiatric Disorders and Commercial Drivers at: http://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/rulesregs/medreports.htm)

Mental Stress

A driver’s ability to handle and control stress can be the difference between a safe or unsafe driver. We all know how stressful this job can be for the new driver. Mental stress can lead to physical disorders as well.

Mood disorders:

Although mood changes are common in every day experience, when a mood disturbance is pervasive and causes impairment in social or occupational functioning, a mood disorder is diagnosed. Mood disorders include a variety of conditions that may lead to severe impairment and psychiatric disability. The two major groups of mood disorders am. the bipolar and the depressive disorders.

No current or past studies specifically address the implications of mood disorders for commercial driving. However, clinical experience suggests that, during a manic episode, the individual’s symptoms of grandiosity, impulsiveness, irritability, or aggressiveness create a high risk of danger. Also, many manic patients have delusions or hallucinations, which can affect their actions while they are driving.

Furthermore, concurrent use of alcohol and drugs, which commonly occurs during a manic episode, may also affect driving ability. Similarly, a severe depressive episode causes potential risks for driving. Reflexes and reaction time may be slowed and judgment may be impaired. Depressed patients may lack the drive and motivation necessary for task completion. Of even greater concern is the likelihood that a depressed driver may develop suicidal thoughts.’ Reports indicate that persons with suicidal tendencies have greater vehicle accident rates. Depressed patients may also develop hallucinations and delusions that could affect driving ability.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, pica, and rumination disorder of infancy. Because the latter two disorders occur during infancy and childhood, they are. irrelevant to the issue of commercial driving. The onset of anorexia and bulimia typically occurs when the patient is in the teens or twenties. Complications of these disorders may be severe and can potentially limit a person’s abiity to drive safely.

Paranoid Personality Disorder

The essential feature of paranoid personality disorder (PPD) is pervasive and extreme distrust of others indicated by the individual’s hostility toward and/or fear of others. The patient may also experience the following symptoms: unreasonable expectation of harm or exploitation by others; unreasonable questioning of the loyalty of friends and acquaintances; tendency to falsely perceive the remarks and behavior of others as threatening, provocative, or insulting; tendency to hold grudges and to be unforgiving of insults or slights by others; reluctance to confide in others; unreasonable questioning of the fidelity of one’s spouse or sexual partner; and tendency to feel slighted and to react quickly with aggression .

Antisocial Personality Disorder

The essential feature of antisocial personality disorder (APD) is a chronic failure to follow rules and satisfy the obligations needed to function as a member of a social system (family, school, place of employment). The individual behaves in a self-serving manner and is insensitive to others’ rights, needs, or desires when they conflict with his/her own desires. Impulsive, aggressive, and risk-taking behaviors are typical. Although not diagnosable until an individual is 18 years of age, the disorder begins in childhood and is longstanding. The behaviors exhibited in this disorder–diffuse aggression, impulsiveness, and disregard for norms and laws-contribute to unsafe driving. The antisocial person’s often inappropriate quest for excitement and risk-taking behavior adds to the danger.

The following diagnostic criteria are of special concern: (1) failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behavior (traffic laws and safe driving practices); (2) irritable, aggressive, pugnacious, assaultive behavior (overly aggressive driving); (3) recklessness regarding safety, e.g., driving while intoxicated or recurrent speeding.(61) Additionally, an associated concern is the increased risk of psychoactive substance abuse disorder (addressed separately in this report).

Affects of Stress on Health

Stress is relative in our industry caused by both external and internal factsors. These stresses can affect your health if stress levels are continously at an excelerated level. This stress level, and how we handle it can be related to mental and physical health. How you control these stress levels can directly affect your health. Long-term exposure to stress can lead to serious health problems.

Chronic stress disrupts nearly every system in your body. It can raise blood pressure, suppress the immune system, increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, contribute to infertility, and speed up the aging process. Long-term stress can even rewire the brain, leaving you more vulnerable to anxiety and depression. Stress can cause ; Heart disease, Digestive problems, Sleep problems, Depression, Obesity, Autoimmune diseases, and skin conditions, such as eczema.

Stress Related to Diet

As you know, because of a drivers hectic schedule our diets are anything but healthy. Some dietary habits can help to increase stress. Some contributing factors may be: too much coffee eating the wrong foods skipping meals mindless munching not enough water fast foods crash diets These unhealthy habits can affect our bodies in many ways.

The following are only some of them:

Blood Sugar Imbalances: When we don’t eat enough food, or don’t eat healthy enough food (too little protein and healthy carbohydrates, too much sugar, etc.) we can experience blood sugar fluctuations. These fluctuations can lead to mood swings, fatigue, poor concentration and other negative consequences in the short term, and greater health problems like hyperglycemia in the long run.

Caffeine Side Effects: Too much caffeine can lead to poor concentration and decreasef effectiveness, sleep disturbances, and increased levels of cortisol in the blood.

Poor nutrition can also lead to lowered immunity so you’re more susceptible to illnesses, both minor and major. As you can imagine, this can lead to other problems, including increased stress levels. Doctors and nutritionists have found that food has a direct affect on stress. Nearly 90% of those surveyed reported that their mental health had improved significantly with changes in diet they had made on their own.

Some better diet suggestions may include: always try to have 3 nutritous meals a day no matter how small, eat more fruit and nuts in place of sweets, replace pop and coffee with water and juices( not fruit drinks) eat yogurt fortified with probiotics, eat more salads with low fat dressings. As a truck driver if you put in a 1500-2500 amp 120 volt supply a refridgerator and microve and water kettle will be valuable in preparing healthy meals in your truck.

Supplements- The Extra Boost.

Dietary supplements are used in conjunction with a healthy diet to maximize your daily nutritional levels that are deficient in todays food supply. With the manufacturing processes, greenhouse grown produce, off shore produce and over farming of our soils has caused a nutrition deficiency in our diets. Supplements can be a combination or individual vitamins, minaerals, herbs, or other botanicals; amino acids; and other substances) or their constituents. Normally consumed as a drink, pill form, capsule or even a powder used in cooking.

I suggest a combination formula to leveate having to take many individual supplements at once. Before buying supplements you should see a qualified nutritionist to asses your health needs and mediacal history. Some supplements may affect your medication and a good nutritionist will account for this and recommend you review a suggested supplement program with your doctor. Tell your nutritionist of any food allergies as some supplements may cause your food allergy to flare. Proper supplements are simply food packed pills.

Exercise Your Stress,

Exercise helps release built-up tension in the body. Exercise can give you a venue for releasing emotional tension as well. Exercise releases endorphins and other “happy hormones” in your body, promoting a feeling of wellbeing. Exercise helps promote overall health and wellbeing, which can also lessen your experience of stress. Some forms of exercise allow you to be social, which can also be great for stress reduction.

Other forms of exercise can allow you to get into a meditative state. Exercise can also raise feelings of self-esteem and bring other benefits that improve life quality. Exercise for truckers can be doing sit-ups on your bunk, do push-ups off your side step or the edge of your bed. Leg squats can be done in a larger bunk. Get out and walk laps around the perimeter of your truck or the length of the customers yard.

Sleep Your Stress Away.

“We don’t take sleep seriously enough,” says Michael J. Sateia, MD, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Service at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. “It’s essential to life. If you disrupt the sleep cycle, you could face grave health repercussions throughout your body.” It’s not absolutely clear that sleep loss leads to bad health, but evidence is mounting. Decreased sleep is now associated with dozens of different illnesses and health problems. We live in a chronically overtired society.

In this country, half of us aren’t getting the seven to eight hours of sleep we need — and our health may be suffering for it. ” Some health problems resulting from lack of sleep are Heart disease. Not getting enough sleep may trigger the release of stress hormones and proteins that bump up the risk of heart attacks and strokes. One large study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2003 showed that women who slept less than five hours a night were 45% more likely to have heart problems than women who slept eight hours. Diabetes.

Blood Sugar. Being sleep-deprived can affect how your body processes blood sugar, and that could raise your risk of diabetes. One 1999 Lancet study of 11 healthy, young men found that after just six days of sleeping for four hours a night, their insulin and blood sugar levels were similar to those of people on the verge of diabetes.and cancer.

Cancer. Sleeping too little has been linked with an increased risk of breast and colon cancer. Why? Exposure to light at night can decrease levels of the hormone melatonin, which may protect against cancer. Some researchers think shift workers may be more likely to get breast cancer than other women because of their exposure to artificial light at night.

Obesity. Multiple studies show that chronic loss of sleep may increase the risk of obesity. One 2004 study showed that people who sleep five hours a night are 73% more likely to become obese than those who sleep seven to nine hours. Sleep loss may cause the hormones that control appetite to get out of balance.

Depression. Depression and sleep are closely linked. While depression can cause sleep loss, sleep loss can lead to depression. In fact, some researchers believe a cause of postpartum depression is sleep deprivation. Infection. Recent studies show that being well rested improves the body’s ability to fight off infection.

One 2002 JAMA study showed that men who were vaccinated for the flu after sleeping only four hours a night for six nights had less than half the flu-fighting antibodies of men who slept normally.

Accidents. You might not consider accidents a health risk. But there’s no denying a car crash can have a severe impact on your health. Lack of sleep may be the culprit in up to 20% of all serious auto accidents. I usually get 6 hours of sleep regularly every night. Sometimes I will cut back to 4 hours if I am in a real rush. Science has conclude that too much sleep is just as bad as too little sleep. The sleep professionals have concluded 6-8 hours sleep a night is healthy.

Conclusion

Our industry is never short of stress related factors. How you handle your stress will affect your job performance and health. Find and practice healthier habits to control your stress for a more enjoyable workplace, career and lifestyle.

Reducing stress requires some work, I find it helpful in my life to:

-set up a running schedule to allow you to maximize your driving time and get enough sleep to keep you from being tired( 6-8 hours sleep),

-once you find a sleep, eat and drive pattern, stick to it and enforce it with dispatch,

-eat healthy foods, reduce junk food snacking, try to eat on a schedule,

-Pre-trip your run by getting all the information before you start your trip so your not sitting figuring it out during your trip,

-keep dispatch and customers informed of your time schedule, learn to calculate travel time ( this is a proffesional trait).

Nothing is guarenteed, I rarely make my delivery times but I get the job done, just not on their schedule. I always get my sleep and two meals a day. This is only a job, it is not worth risking your health/life to accomadate impossible schedules. Good Luck.