Truck Driver Health Tips
The truck driver shortage is starting to get the recognition it needs. There are many factors that influence this shortage, from changes to drug screens, to retiring drivers, to younger workers entering other industries.
One area that is often overlooked when it comes to driver retention is driver health. Drivers face conditions that make it difficult to maintain healthy habits but can be pulled off the road if certain health issues arise. There are things drivers and trucking companies can do to help reduce this risk though.
Biggest Driver Health Concerns
One-third of drivers aren’t qualified to drive due to health issues. With driver shortages already hurting the industry, driver health is an issue that needs to be addressed.
The biggest health concerns for drivers are blood pressure, being overweight, and diabetes. This isn’t surprising as more than 10% of Americans have Type 2 Diabetes, and 75% are overweight or obese. These issues are increased for drivers as they spend so much of their time sitting behind the wheel.
Nutrition is the number one reason for these health issues. Part of spending their time on the road means drivers have difficulty maintaining nutrition. The trucking industry can combat some of these issues by promoting healthy eating, improved rest, hydration, movement, and stress reduction.
Promoting Healthier Eating
Beyond the obvious health issues associated with poor nutrition, this can also affect reaction times and decision-making skills. Poor quality foods negatively affect brain health and drain energy. You want your drivers to be alert and ready on the road.
Creating healthy eating habits can take time. Drivers should start with small changes, finding alternatives to their biggest problem foods first. Planning ahead also helps manage nutrition. Drivers can determine the best options for food on their routes to reduce poor food choices.
Companies can help by offering healthier options when drivers are in-house. Providing information on healthier options will also help combat some of the health issues involved with poor nutrition.
Sleep is when your body recharges and repairs itself, meaning lack of sleep is harmful to your physical and mental health. Beyond that, fatigued driving can lead to increased accidents.
Drivers can combat this by taking steps to get rest. A good place to start is by reducing caffeine and sugar, which will also help improve nutrition. Creating as much routine around their schedules will also help them rest better.
It’s essential to make sure drivers get enough sleep before getting on the road. Make sure they are following hours of service regulations while on the road as well. Explain the importance of proper rest so they know you are looking out for their best interest as well as yours.
Hydration is an important part of driver health. Poor hydration can lead to health issues such as high blood pressure, asthma, arthritis, and many other problems including being overweight. If you are thirsty, you may believe you are hungry which leads to overeating.
Reducing caffeine intake can help. Often when we drink caffeinated drinks, they can dehydrate us further. Drivers can make simple swaps to take in better-quality hydration options on the road, but water is always the best option.
Trucking companies should encourage drivers to keep water on hand when on long trips, so they maintain hydration. For those who don’t like water, encourage better alternatives such as real juices and flavored waters.
Body posture and movement are also important to health. Both can affect digestion, joint health, and bone health. Poor posture and lack of movement can lead to chronic pain issues.
An easy way for drivers to improve this is to take walks. This is an easy way to get moving without adding extra stress for drivers. Walking has the added benefit of helping with some of the stress of the job.
Encourage drivers to take time to move around. Even if it’s walking around their vehicle on a break, it is a start they can grow from.
Stress can lead to angry or aggressive driving which is more likely to involve truck drivers in an accident. Stress also affects the immune system and prolonged stress can cause heart issues. Unfortunately, we know drivers must deal with a lot of stress.
Positive thinking can go a long way towards reducing stress. Taking time to focus on the positive will help create habits of redirecting during times of high stress. Getting out and moving around for a while can also help reduce stress levels.
It is in everyone’s best interest for you to encourage your drivers to take time for stress-reduction activities. You can also help with stress by promoting better communication within your company.
Making Driver Health Part of Safety Training
While it is up to drivers to make the changes that are needed for better health, there are things you can do to promote driver health throughout your company. Encourage drivers to understand the importance of health and why they would want to be healthier. Understanding why will help them to form better habits.
Provide training on the importance of health and how bad health can negatively affect their work. Encourage small changes to help them build better habits. Wherever you can, provide healthier options for drivers to see the benefit.
Promoting health is a good way to help drivers feel safe with your company. Safety and health go hand-in-hand, so incorporate training on healthy habits with your safety training. Make driver health part of your safety culture.
Developing a Culture of Safety
To retain quality drivers, you want to make safety an essential part of your company culture. Providing the tools needed to promote safety and health are easy with Infinit-I Workforce Solutions. Our online training management platform allows you to provide training year-round without disrupting schedules.
Schedule a demo today to learn how easy it is to provide the training you need to develop a culture of safety.
A Threat to Accident Prevention
While your company looks for methods of accident prevention for your drivers, some less honest people look to take advantage of trucking companies for a big payout. These scammers like to stage accidents in the hopes of settling or getting large sums during a lawsuit.
This threat means safety managers need to have more diligence when it comes to accident prevention methods. Safety for your drivers and your company when it comes to scammers requires diligence. You need to understand the threats they will face so you can put a plan in place.
The Case that Started an Investigation
While staged accidents aren’t anything new, a case from 2017 has come back into focus as one woman involved in a conspiracy to commit fraud recently pled guilty. This makes her the 28th person convicted in an ongoing federal investigation into a ring of scammers in New Orleans.
Aisha Thompson and five co-conspirators staged an accident in New Orleans September 2017. Ms. Thompson, who was not at the scene when the staged accident occurred, joined family members and friends in filing a false police report.
The false report claimed a different driver than who originally sideswiped a truck owned by Averitt Express. It also claimed Thompson was in the vehicle during the accident. Along with the false report, Thompson made claims she had suffered a back injury during the crash.
Thompson, her co-conspirators, and her attorney shared a $30,000 settlement from Averitt’s insurance company. In March of 2020, she finally admitted to the FBI that she was not in the vehicle and that they had staged the accident.
Staged Accidents and Insurance Fraud
Federal investigators estimate one hundred accidents were staged in the New Orleans area, with attorneys and medical personnel participating in the scam. To date, 40 defendants have been charged, including one attorney who represented 77 plaintiffs in falsified court claims related to 31 staged accidents.
The attorney, Danny Keating, paid conspirators to set up the accidents, then split the insurance payouts with those involved. Indictments have referenced three attorneys as part of the staged accidents.
Another of the cases in New Orleans involved two vehicles targeting a Triple G Express truck. The truck’s dash cam proved the incident was a scam and the passengers were forced to withdraw their claim once the video showed them intentionally colliding with the truck.
These staged accidents are a threat to accident prevention as it is difficult for drivers to prepare for an intentional crash. These scams often involve entire teams, including medical and legal personnel working with fake victims and fake witnesses to defraud trucking companies and insurance companies.
Types of Staged Accidents
Many believe these staged accidents are a consequence of increased verdicts awarding $1 million or more in lawsuits. These larger payouts have increased 1,054% since 2011. The success of plaintiff attorneys in winning huge verdicts has put a bullseye on trucking companies for staged accident scammers.
These cases share similarities. There will be multiple people in the vehicle, and often staged witnesses. Allegations of a crash with the commercial vehicle with minimal damage to the claimant’s vehicle and little to no damage to the truck.
There are a couple of methods scammers use to stage an accident:
- T-Bone Scam: The scammer waits for a commercial vehicle to move through an intersection, then accelerates to make impact with the truck. They usually work with accomplices who act as witnesses to claim the truck ran a traffic light or stop sign.
- Sideswipe Scam: The scammer will wait until the truck driver is switching lanes, then accelerates to collide with the truck. They may also drive into the truck’s lane to sideswipe the vehicle, then blame the accident on the driver.
- Swoop and Stop Scam: This involves scammers in multiple vehicles. One vehicle will suddenly pull in front of the truck and stop, while other vehicles box the truck in to prevent the driver from moving to avoid the accident.
The last is less common as the potential for serious injury is greater with this method. The threat of staged accidents means drivers need to be even more vigilant on the road though.
How do You Protect Your Drivers and Your Company?
Most trucking companies have started using dash cams in all their vehicles to help reduce the chance of fraudulent claims. These cameras show what happens leading up to the accident so drivers can show intent on the part of a scammer.
The driver should also take pictures immediately at the scene of an accident. Thorough training on what to do at the scene is also helpful to reduce fraudulent claims. Making this training part of your safety management program can prepare drivers on what to look for and what information to record.
A good safety training solution will also help drivers be more vigilant, so they reduce the threat of a staged accident. Arm your drivers with accident prevention knowledge with Infinit-I Workforce Solutions. Request a demo to find out more about the training solutions that can help you protect your drivers and your company.
How to Successfully Complete a DataQ Appeal
The idea of wading through the FMCSA DataQ system to correct your safety records may sound daunting, but with a little guidance and knowledge it’s not as complicated as it seems. You just need to understand how the system works. More importantly, you need to understand how the system can work for you.
Christopher Turner, Director of Enforcement Data and Judicial Outreach for CVSA provided a very informative walk-through on how to monitor and change safety data to help carriers protect themselves from incorrect information.
Your safety record is an important aspect of your company reputation. Parts of this record can be accessed by potential clients, insurance companies, competitors, potential employees, and the public. It’s vital to your success to keep the record straight. Understanding what the DataQ system is and how to navigate it will help do just that.
Understanding the DataQ System
The FMCSA provides the DataQ system to maintain safety data provided by agencies and carriers. The system allows carriers, drivers, or federal and state agencies to file changes and concerns on the safety data provided.
The DOT uses the data in the system to evaluate current programs and develop new federal transportation policies. While the system was created to support safety enforcement programs, it gives trucking companies and their drivers a good picture of the current state of the industry.
The data collected can also affect CSA scores, so it’s important to make sure everything is accurate. For instance, if an incident is incorrectly assigned to your company or a duplicate record is assigned, this can damage your scores. You can correct this incorrect information with a request for data review.
Supporting Your Request for Data Review
As you go through the request, you will want to make sure you are as accurate as possible with the information you provide. Double check report numbers and the state. Make sure you have the right dates and times.
Discrepancies in the basic report information can delay your request. Being unclear in your description of the event for review can also cause delays. Make sure you are concise and stick to the facts. Confusion could result in an unsuccessful request.
You will also be able to attach supplemental information. This can include pictures, accident reports, or witness statements that are relevant to your request. If you have supplemental records that can provide compelling evidence, make use of it.
Keep in mind that the person reviewing your request may ask for further information to help them make a decision. Make sure all relevant documentation is available to send. You only get one opportunity to appeal a decision, so you need to make everything count.
Preparing for Disputes
In 2021 so far there have been over 69,000 crashes involving large trucks and buses. In those crashes there were 1,800+ fatalities and more than 32,000 injuries. With so many accidents, it’s not surprising that reports could get mixed up. That’s why it is so important to check your safety reports.
The first step in preparing for a disputed DataQ is at the scene of the incident. You want to make sure drivers are fully prepared for what to do and say at the scene. Your driver needs to collect as much data as possible in case you need to complete a request for data review.
You need to be clear on the type of info you want to make changes on. Is it a crash, an inspection, registration, etc.? This includes the reason for the changes, such as an incorrect violation or a report assigned to the wrong carrier.
Have all relevant information available to help complete the request. Report specifics such as number and codes will help your request process smoothly. Keep in mind that the original officer may be consulted, so make sure all information is correct.
Improving Your Safety Data
Requests for data review are useful to help improve your safety data. You can dispute inspection related data up to 3 years from the inspection date, and crash data up to 5 years. With a good understanding of how to navigate the DataQ system works, your chances of correcting the record are high.
You can also improve your safety data with proper training. A good orientation process, recurring training, and follow-up after incidents shows your company’s dedication to keeping the roads safe. This training should include what to do at the scene of an accident or inspection.
Combining training with policies your drivers can understand and follow reduces your chances of nuclear verdicts in case of a claim. This will help towards improving your safety data. The less claims you have against your company, the better your chances of correcting records.
Keeping drivers up to date on changes in regulations will help them maintain needed documentation and procedures. Provide checklists where necessary to ensure proper maintenance and inspection procedures. Taking the time to check on the safety of the vehicle before hitting the road will reduce incidents.
Protect Your Reputation
The tools available to help you monitor and improve your safety data help protect your company’s reputation. High CSA scores can scare clients and insurance companies away. Protecting your reputation starts with proper training though.
You want training solutions that provide simple assigning, tracking, and reporting tools so you can ensure drivers are ready to meet regulations and reduce on-the-road incidents. Infinit-I Workforce Solutions provides the tools you need with easy access for your drivers.
Reduce accidents, save money, and increase productivity with our trusted training management solutions. Request a free demo to learn how Infinit-I Workforce can work for you.
Good News for Driver Recruitment
After months of stalling from the U.S. House of Representatives, a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill barely passed on November 6, 2021. This bill could help with driver recruitment along with providing funds for infrastructure.
The infrastructure bill deals with several issues, but most importantly to the transportation industry, this bill provides $110 billion for roads, highways, and bridges. There is also money set aside for public transit and infrastructure for electric vehicles. This includes grant programs to encourage investment in alternative fuels.
This bill included a program that many in the trucking industry hope will help with the current driver shortage. An apprenticeship program was approved for commercial drivers under 21 to train in interstate hauling.
Recruiting Younger Drivers
Many are excited by this apprenticeship program that trucking associations, including American Trucking Association (ATA), have been pushing for. As current drivers are aging and retiring, the trucking industry needs a way to reach younger drivers.
Previous laws made it difficult to recruit younger drivers because they could not get their CDL until after they turned 21. By that time potential drivers have already entered other industries. With this apprenticeship program, younger drivers can enter the trucking industry more immediately.
Training Younger Drivers
The apprenticeship program would require trucking companies to require probationary hours for under 21 drivers and have them ride with an experienced driver when completing interstate hauls.
During this probationary time, the company is required to ensure proper training in all safety and equipment handling. Training hours will include classroom and driving time and requires more training that traditional CDL training.
As trucking companies look to participate in this apprenticeship program, they may want to consider providing CDL and ELDT training as part of their recruitment process. Using materials such as Infinit-I Workforce Solution’s FMCSA registered ELDT training can help companies take fuller advantage of the apprenticeship program as a driver recruitment tool.
As this is a new program, it will take some time to see how this will affect the trucking industry. It will be important moving forward to pay attention to all regulations and rulings that occur. Training will be important throughout the process though.
Developing a Safety Conscious Workforce
This apprenticeship is meant to ensure younger drivers learn to be safe drivers. If you plan to take advantage of this program, it is also a good time to make sure all your drivers are more safety conscious.
Whether it is orientation, ongoing training, or corrective action training, Infinit-I Workforce Solutions has an easy-to-use online training platform that will help you nurture a safety culture for your company.
Want to see how Infinit-I can help you make safety part of your driver recruitment process? Request a free demo of the platform to get started.
The Challenges of Being a Safety Manager
As the safety manager for your company, you have many difficulties you face daily. You balance the needs of the company, the needs of the worker, and the policies to limit litigation and regulatory fees. You are the protector in the workplace.
On top of that, it’s your job to keep up with the abundance of paperwork that is required to keep everything afloat. While the job is rewarding, it’s still difficult to face these challenges without real help.
While every person and every industry have unique challenges, there are some that affect anyone in charge of safety. So, what are the top 5 challenges you will face? More importantly, how do you deal with these challenges to make your job easier?
Perceptions of the Safety Manager Job
Sometimes new training or policy changes are needed to ensure everyone is protected and able to do their jobs. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to make others see the need for these changes. You will hit resistance from some people who don’t understand you are helping them.
Until you step into the shoes of the safety manager, there is no way to understand what the job entails. It’s easier for people to go on the defensive when required to make changes than to embrace those changes. Reluctance comes from a belief that you are making the job more difficult.
How do you face this challenge? To reduce friction, explain the reason for any changes. Let them feel involved in the process. If the people you are trying to protect understand protection is your motive, it is easier to reach out to them and get positive results.
Proactive Versus Reactive in the Workplace
Another big challenge you will face as a safety manager is getting people to change things before it becomes a problem. Part of your job is to look for weak areas in the safety protocol. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” doesn’t always work when you’re in charge of keeping everyone safe.
When you mess with how someone has done something for 10, 15, or 20 years, it is easy to get their backs up. You know it’s all about reducing incidents and overall costs. They can take it as questioning their performance or abilities.
How do you face this challenge? This is another place where discussion is key. Make sure employees know the regulations faced and the dangers of not meeting those. Show them how changes will even make their lives easier in the long run.
Keeping Up with Safety Standards, and the Changes
To understand the proper training needed in the workplace, you must keep up with federal, state, and local safety standards for your industry. This includes any changes made to the regulations. With so many regulatory bodies out there, this can prove tricky.
Part of your job is to ensure that workplace standards and policies meet regulations from multiple sources, and that employees understand these standards. This proves tricky when it can be difficult for you to keep up with it yourself.
How do you face this challenge? The easiest way to deal with safety standard changes is to use tools to help you keep up with needed training changes. As the safety manager, you should get notifications of all changes coming through the different regulatory boards. Set up solutions that keep your team informed of these changes.
Paperwork, Lots of It
Safety regulations, training, and workplace incidents means plenty of paperwork for the safety manager. You keep up with incident reports. You also keep up with all required certification and compliance documentation for every employee.
Sometimes it may seem like you are drowning in a sea of paperwork. On top of this, you must make sure documentation is accessible when needed. Add to this the need to track new and updated certification needs, and this proves a serious challenge.
How do you face this challenge? The easiest way to deal with the paperwork challenge goes back to the training tools. Make sure you have solutions in place that can help you track documentation for individual employees without the need to search through files. Using tools like Infinit-I cloud-based solutions helps keep you in compliance and on top of the paperwork.
Money Versus Safety
Probably the biggest challenge you face is the question of money versus safety. As a safety manager, you don’t bring in new profits for the company. In fact, some of the needed changes require spending money to get into compliance or reduce risks.
Despite some of these changes saving money over time, such as reducing litigation costs, this puts you in the difficult position of arguing your case each time money is spent in the name of safety. You know it’s necessary. They know it cuts into profits.
How do you face this challenge? Dealing with the tug-of-war between money and safety is a two-step process. The first step is research to find the most cost-effective way to deal with needed changes. The second step is providing clear proof to the people in charge of making it happen that the changes are needed.
Finding Solutions to Meet Everyone’s Needs
The solutions to the challenges may sound simple, but we all know that’s not the case. Many of these solutions take time to get people on the same page. Others are easier to get started.
How do you face the challenge? The first step is requesting a free demo of Infinit-I Workforce safety manager solutions.
$1 Trillion Dollar Infrastructure Bill
The 1 Trillion Dollar Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021 were passed in the Senate last week. Members support the bill on either party line. Before being approved by the President, the infrastructure bill will be sent to the House of Representatives for another vote.
This bill is commonly referenced as the Highway Infrastructure Bill but includes many projects that extend beyond the scope of the transportation industry. This act carries a hefty 1 trillion dollar act price tag and will add billions of dollars to the nation’s deficit.
The bill garnered majority support in the Senate last week, a 69-30 vote in favor of the bill. The portions of the bill related to highway infrastructure are listed below.
- $110B Maintain and Improve Roads and Bridges
- $66B Modernize Railways
- $40B Modernize Public Transit
- $11B for Safety Program for Crash Reduction
The rest of the bill includes investments in cybersecurity, broadband internet, electric vehicles, environmental remediation, improving the electrical grid, energy production, and airport upgrades.
Although the bill is supported in majority by both parties, there were hours of painstaking negotiations before the final presentation was submitted. Below, you will find a few proposals that did not cut.
In its creation, almost $20B was to be used to improve the state of Veterans Affairs hospitals. These hospitals are less than modern and notoriously slow to serve. These hospitals, in their current underfunded state, serve over 9 million U.S. Veterans.
The bill originally contained several proposals to help those still displaced in the workforce due to the pandemic. Approximately $100B was to be dedicated to workforce development for dislocated workers and high school students.
Biden’s original proposal included a $400B investment in the care of aging and disabled Americans by expanding Medicaid. This section would have allowed easier access to federally funded long-term and in-home care.
The apprenticeship program for drivers under 21 years old. IT would work much like a typical learner’s permit, requiring an experienced driver be present in the passenger seat at all times of operation. It also requires specific safety specifications such as monitoring systems, governing systems, and video cameras.
If passed, the FMCSA will work with the Transportation Research Board to perform an in-depth driver compensation analysis. This study should compare how different types of compensation (CPM, hourly, salary, etc.) affect driver safety and retention.
The legislation asks the DOT and Labor Department to arrange a task force for owner-operators. Their duty will be reviewing lease contracts and the impact on maintenance, emissions, and driver pay rates.
The DOT is also asked to focus on automatic emergency braking, trailer underride guard requirements, and crash causation.
This bill will increase the national deficit by billions of dollars over the next several years. There were plans to pay for this bill with tax increases for corporations and individuals earning over $400,000 annually. New tax laws would have considered non-U.S. investments and made it difficult for corporations to filter money through international tax havens. These provisions were voted out in the negotiations.
Instead, the government will reclaim monies originally allocated for Covid relief from states who voluntarily end their programs early. States can choose to terminate the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, the Paycheck Protection Program, and the Education Stabilization Fund and return their allocations to the federal government to support the infrastructure bill. States can also choose to end the increased unemployment supplements in hopes of increasing the workforce.
The bill includes a pilot program that will test whether a road usage fee is appropriate. Highway drivers will be charged a per-mile fee that will support the Highway Trust Fund in the long-term. There are other user-based revenue models to be included.
Programs for Carriers
The bill directs the entire trucking industry towards green operations with sections regarding climate change and emissions. The SMART Program encourages clean energy through new technology. SMART stands for Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation Grant. Grants will be issued to begin projects on driverless vehicles, smart grids, and any data and solutions “supporting efficient goods movement.”
The bill creates an Electric Vehicle Working Group. Trucking leaders and manufacturers will work together to ramp up the production of electronic trucks and parts. Grants will be available for electronic charging and alternative fuels such as hydrogen, propane, etc.
Industry Leaders Weigh In
In a recent interview with CNBC, “The sooner it gets to the President’s desk, the better.” said Pete Buttigieg, U.S. secretary of Transportation. “The whole country, this whole economy is linked in terms of air and rail, water, roads, everything fits together. And frankly, everything needs more work.”
“We are on the cusp of an infrastructure decade that I truly believe will transform America.”
- President Joe Biden
Our longtime friend Ellen Voie is the CEO of Women in Trucking. Ellen is a proponent for inclusion and diversity in the industry and focuses on the needs of women in trucking. She has supported the portion of the bill which encourages more women to join the industry. The bill calls for additional FMCSA support for women in trucking.
Currently, only 6.6% of truckers are women. Ellen states the bill is a significant step toward growing the presence of women in the industry and enduring they can grow within in. Ellen was a special guest on a recent Boot Camp event for Infinit-I Workforce.
While both parties heavily support the bill, many politicians stand in firm opposition. In a Facebook post about the bill, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee cleared any doubt about his political stance:
“I’m still trying to figure out why 19 Senate Republicans thought we needed to spend $1.2 trillion on a Democrat wish list “infrastructure” bill that spends only about a fifth of its budget on what most people would consider infrastructure.”
In support of the bill, Congressman Matt Cartwright states, “More jobs, better roads, expanded passenger rail. These are some of the many benefits that Pennsylvanians will reap from this infrastructure bill.”
Front Line Opinions
Will this bill have any impact on truck drivers? Short answer: No, not immediately. Truck drivers face bigger problems every day that are not specifically mentioned in the bill. The bill will mostly benefit motor carriers in a long-term way.
The infrastructure bill pushes political agendas such as clean energy and cyber security, which are not considered an immediate need to truck drivers themselves. These will be will be in the works for years. Even with a $1 Trillion dollar act price tag, few solutions for short-term problems such as parking and accommodations.
Gerald states, “Once again Congress fails to address the most important issue… Inadequate Truck Parking… Congress created this mess and they now refuse to address it.”
Doug Oldham is not too impressed with the infrastructure bill either, commenting, “What we need is better road[s] and bridges, fix old ones, build truck only lanes, build new bypasses around over loaded routes, build new truck stops.”
The two opinions above were pulled from the comments section of TruckingInfo.com blog about the infrastructure bill.
Infinit-I hopes that you learned something about the $1 Trillion Dollar Infrastructure Act: What’s in it, what’s not, and how you will pay for it in this article. Please feel free to read more about business news and trucking industry specific articles in our growing database.
Building Your Team Against a Nuclear Verdict
You have likely heard the term safety culture from experts in the transportation industry, as well as from advisors, insurers, lawyers, and others. What is a safety culture though, and why is it so important to the transportation industry?
Safety culture is more than analyzing data and getting drivers to slow down. It is more than quarterly safety meetings and monthly training. A culture is a way of life, a shared set of beliefs between a group of people.
A culture of safety can make or break a trucking company these days, especially when it comes to a potential nuclear verdict in the courtroom. It starts from the top and involves making every person in the company a part of your team to combat potential threats.
When an Accident Makes it to Trial
With trucking accidents, it is not a matter of if, but when. How you train drivers along with how you handle the aftermath of an accident can play a big real in whether you end up in court.
The truth is, by the time a case makes it to trial, plaintiff attorneys have already gathered a large amount of data. They don’t really need answers from you because they likely already have them from discovery.
Discovery is the phase of investigation where an attorney decides to drop a case, settle out of court, or go to trial. During this phase you might be called in for a deposition to answer questions during this time, and the testimony you give can be used in court.
This phase of a potential lawsuit sets the tone for the case as a whole. Your existing safety culture is a significant factor in determining the outcome of a case. So, how do you build a strong safety culture to protect against a potential nuclear verdict?
Building a Solid Safety Culture
A solid safety culture starts with having the right team around you. It’s important that you do not wait until you have an accident before you gather these people around you. You need to put your team in place to help prevent threats, and deal with them if they arise.
Your Risk Manager
You will need a dedicated risk/safety person who is familiar with all industry regulations. Find someone who is safety conscious and always looking for ways to improve. This person needs to take pride in their work and in your company to be effective.
They also need to have the right temperament to handle drivers, the motoring public, and lawyers. Your risk manager will likely be your company witness in the courtroom. They will explain your safety record and steps taken throughout to the jury.
This person needs to be confident, poised, and calm so they come across well during trial. You will also benefit from a risk manager who is comfortable with silence as this is a tactic used by plaintiff attorneys. Many court cases have been lost because a witness said the wrong thing out of nervousness.
When it comes to insurance carriers, you want someone who is prompt, thorough, and able to ask the right questions. You want to make sure they are familiar with trucking procedures, accidents, and litigation so they can provide the best support for your company.
To help avoid a nuclear verdict, it is best to report accidents to your insurer as soon as possible. It is difficult to defend lawsuits when the accident was filed late. You also need to make sure they have all the pertinent information so they can adequately assess the situation.
Your attorney also needs a thorough working knowledge of the trucking industry. If you get sued, a plaintiff attorney is going after more than just damages. If they can, they will go after your company.
You need someone who understands your industry and can make it relatable to the jury. Hire an attorney who can easily interpret regulations and can understand the nuances of your policies and procedures.
During trial, your attorney will need to explain all these things to the jury. Some regulations such as driver fitness and hours-of-service are difficult for the public to understand. Your potential for a nuclear verdict depends largely on your attorney’s ability to simplify the industry and regulations so it makes sense.
Drivers are actually your first defense against a nuclear verdict. You want to hire drivers who are willing to be part of your safety culture. They need to understand every person in the company has a role to play in maintaining that safety culture.
While driver shortages continue, it can be tempting to hire any driver you can get in the door. This will cost you more in the long run though and can destroy even a strong safety culture.
Reevaluate your hiring processes to target drivers who are safety conscious and willing to fit in with your company dynamic. Look for drivers you can build a long-term relationship with. Drivers who are the right fit will stay longer, and the longer a driver stays with your company, the more confidence you will have in their performance.
Building a Strong Training Program for a Strong Safety Culture
While your team is important, the quality of your training program is just as vital to the strength of your safety culture and with preventing nuclear verdicts. You need a training platform that specializes in trucking topics. Awareness training is a process that should be consistent and frequent, but not take up too much time.
The average American adult has an attention span no longer than 20 minutes. For the best engagement with learning material though, studies have found that training videos should last an average of 6 minutes to get the best results. More than this, and it is difficult for learner to retain new information.
An in-person training program can also cause issues, as it is difficult to get everyone together to complete the training. It can also be difficult to ensure the training is pertinent to everyone coming in to complete the courses.
That’s where an online training management system comes in play. Online training provides convenience for your drivers and makes it easier to get everyone to complete the training they need. Drivers can access the training from anywhere, and the short, 5-7-minute videos ensure they are able to retain important safety information.
Avoid Costly Verdicts
Are you looking to upgrade your training program? The Infinit-I Workforce Solutions platform has everything you need:
- Mobile accessibility
- Short, targeted training
- Industry-specific topics
- Reporting tools to safeguard against nuclear verdicts
Request a demo today. In just 20 minutes, we will show you how to transform your safety program so you can have the strongest protection available against threats.
USA Truck’s Award-Winning Solution
Congratulations to USA Truck, which is enjoying the spotlight for its 2021 Innovator of the Year award! Commercial Carrier Journal named USA Truck the winner in recognition of their powerful new load planning software. It empowers their drivers to choose their loads.
USA Truck used driver feedback to identify actual pain points throughout their fleet. They analyzed their own drivers’ top concerns and created a high-visibility load board. Drivers have access to all the available loads and can pick and choose what works best for them.
Their solution is to accommodate the needs of their employees. Their innovative software gives truck drivers more control over their workflow. By listening to their fleet, USA Truck is experiencing higher retention rates and satisfaction throughout the company.
“When Technology and solutions are born of practical approaches to long-standing challenges, we all win.” James Reed, President, and CEO, USA Trucks
The Long-Standing Challenges
USA Trucks gathered data from their internal workforce to find the actual problems faced by their employees. They asked they listened, they solved. The feedback, while specific to USA Truck’s fleet, is common in the trucking industry.
Late Getting Home
This is perhaps the biggest annoyance that truck drivers face and often results from miscommunication. It begins even before the truck driver is hired on at your company. Recruiters dole out your home time policy during the application phase. A lot of truck drivers decide which company to work for based on that policy.
The problem is that policy and reality do not always align. If a truck driver is promised to go over the road for two weeks and go home for two days, they expect to be the rule. However, long wait times, HOS gaffes, and freight surpluses can make that difficult to achieve, especially for forced dispatch companies.
USA Trucks uses their new technology to let their truck drivers pick loads themselves. This way, their home time is based on their availability and not because they were forced to stay out. The freedom to choose your workload creates an accountability scenario where blame cannot be placed on the company.
Time Between Loads
Extended periods of downtime lead to frustration for any employee. Truck drivers earn money for moving, so sitting still is not only boring, it cuts into their paycheck. If we apply this scenario to an office setting, you can see how detrimental it is to morale.
Let’s say your boss comes to you on Friday at noon. You’ve just finished a massive project and are waiting for your next assignment. Instead of directing you, your boss says, “Thanks for finishing that on time. I won’t have a new assignment for you until Monday morning. However, you can’t go home. I need you to sit at your desk over the weekend, just in case something comes up. Oh, and since you aren’t working, I am not going to pay you either.”
Ridiculous? Sure. I’m sure you wouldn’t continue your employment if that were your work environment. But truckers face this all too often. Poorly planned loads lead to overlooked drivers. They will likely have to spend the weekend parked at a truck stop without getting paid, which may or may not be safe.
USA Trucks Drive Your Plan allows company drivers and owner-operators to view all available loads in their area. This amount of visibility lets them preplan for an entire week and plan their own home time. There is also a built-in tool that helps drivers easily calculate their hours of service and whether or not they are available for specific loads.
Barriers to Communication
Let’s face it: Sometimes, it is a challenge to get in touch with your dispatcher. And sometimes, it is difficult for those dispatchers to give every driver the perfect load, especially during a driver shortage.
Out of all the loads in the U.S, a dispatcher must assign one that begins in the vicinity of the driver’s last delivery and ends in their domicile. Ideally, their assignments would have been planned a week ahead of time.
In trucking, however, that is not always the case. If a driver with upcoming home time waits for a load, the dispatcher finds themselves in a precarious situation. And the longer a driver sits waiting for a load; the higher tensions can go. Communication is critical in these situations.
USA Trucks has virtually eliminated this scenario with its technological solution. With the power in the drivers’ hands, they can keep their home time as a top priority when planning their week. This has led to a considerable reduction in turnover and an increased level of employee satisfaction.
To Our Partner in Safety – USA Truck
From all of us at Infinit-I, we want to give our sincerest congratulations to our partners in safety – USA Truck. You have found a truly modern way to connect and empower your entire fleet. The companies like you, the ones who care, are the ones who will carry the trucking industry into the future.
Enjoy your success! We couldn’t be more impressed with your concern and dedication to your fleet.
Top 5 Dangerous US Highways
There are hundreds of television shows, movies, and songs that boast the life of truck drivers. These forms of entertainment always portray the freedom of the open road and just how cool it is to be a trucker. Jerry Reed made it look pretty fun in Smokey and the Bandit. His big smile, hearty laugh, and his best pal Fred made life on the open road look easy.
In 2007, America got an inside look at how dangerous truck driving is. Ice Road Truckers showed, for the first time, the grit and guts it takes to drive a big rig. The show follows truckers haul freight over frozen lakes where roads are unavailable. Viewers become entranced by the sound of popping ice and howling wind. You might even find yourself holding your breath as not to upset the ice on tv.
These are both unique examples of the trucking experience; one glamourous and one treacherous. The average trucker has never helped a fugitive with a carload of beer travel across the country, avoiding the police. Nor have they attempted to drive across a sheet of ice that waves and pops, threatening to swallow them up with one wrong move.
When your office is the interstate, and your coworkers are the general public, the job can be hazardous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), truck driver fatalities increased 48% from 2009-2019.
Top 5 Dangerous US Highways for Truckers
Freight Waves recently released an infographic about the most dangerous highways for truck drivers, and the numbers are staggering. Between 2010 and 2016, there were 1,700 truck-related fatalities on just five highways in the U.S.:
5 – Oklahoma – State Route 9 with 17 deaths per 100 miles.
4 – Arizona – U.S. Highway 93 with 45 deaths per 100 miles.
3 – Colorado – U.S. Highway 160 with 20 deaths per 100 miles.
2 – Texas – Interstate 10 with 77 deaths per 100 miles.
1 – California – Interstate 5 with 96 deaths per 100 miles.
It is unclear if these highways have one major commonality that causes these accidents. Across these southern states, there are many variants to population, speed limit, weather, and altitude. What do you think of the top 5 dangerous US highways for truckers and do you think we are missing any?
Some may consider combining lengthy rural stretches that suddenly meet with big city traffic to be the main factor. Others view highway obsolescence to be a major cause. This is especially true through well-established cities. Over the years, highways have been re-routed, expanded, and manipulated to accommodate a growing population. Overcomplicated add-ons such as additional bridges, passes, and access roads can make these roads confusing. Navigating these built-up access points that weren’t planned initially can be difficult.
These five highways are major freight corridors, meaning truck drivers must travel these roads often. Below, you’ll find some of the most common situations that can lead to devastating accidents.
Top 5 Risky Situations for Truckers
Complacency (Road Blindness)
Road blindness is an interesting phenomenon in which a driver arrives safely but cannot recall the drive. You can easily forget to pay attention to your surroundings while driving, even for a short distance. Maybe a fantastic song comes on the radio, or you are deep in thought about something important. Or maybe you have driven a particular road hundreds of times. Your brain goes into a sort of auto-pilot, going through the motions but you are not actively present.
The danger arrives when something out of the ordinary happens. Let’s say you are about 10 miles from your nighttime parking spot. There’s no other traffic on the road, so you begin making a mental list of things you need to do after you park.
First, you’ll eat. Next, take a shower. Then head back to the truck, tidy up, watch a movie, and go to sleep. You’re deep in thought about how great it will feel to drift off to sleep when you’re driving through blown-out tire shreds on the highway. They didn’t just appear. But you were so entranced in thought; you didn’t even notice until it was too late.
No one loves stop-and-go traffic, especially when you get paid by the mile. Traffic jams and congestion require every bit of a truck drivers’ attention. In addition to their rig, they must be aware of surrounding drivers.
Truckers have the upper hand in a traffic jam. The height of the cab allows them to see further and with more clarity than passenger cars. But they also have to pay attention to the cars behind them, making sure to give timely visual cues to following vehicles.
Always check the side view for lane changers and drivers cutting in front of others. The longer a traffic jam lasts, the more agitated other drivers become. A commuter driver who tries to “beat the traffic” at a standstill has little regard for the safety of others.
Construction zones are a nightmare for most drivers, especially truckers. It is challenging to navigate a 53-foot trailer through narrow lanes, flashing lights, bottlenecks, and stop-and-go traffic. Add to that the presence of construction workers performing tasks 10 feet from your rig as you drive. Then throw in a few rubberneck drivers, zippy lane changers, and texting drivers, and you have a recipe for disaster.
“Confusion, frustration, merging/distracted four-wheelers, speed limit changes, narrow lanes, and hundreds of attorneys are hoping you make a mistake. Work zones are dangerous; it’s that simple.”
Mark Rhea, Industry Expert and former president of Lisa Motor Lines
In 2019, work zone crashes accounted for 842 fatalities. Of those deaths, 34% were truck drivers. The most common causes of work zone crashes are improper following distance, distraction, failure to “lean and look,” speeding, and ignoring blind spots.
In April, we hosted Maria Robertson of ATSSA and Dan O’Brien of Fundamental Underwriters to discuss the danger of construction areas. For more information about National Work zone Awareness Week, check out our webinar here.
Drowsy driving can be as dangerous as drunk driving when comparing how each affects the driver. Driving while fatigued can lessen your ability to pay attention, slow down reactions, and make it hard to make quick decisions.
According to the CDC, commercial drivers are more likely to drive tired. The number one thing a truck driver can do to prevent fatigue is planned every day. Find a parking spot as part of your trip plan. You can use services like truckpark.com to reserve safe and secure parking spots.
Most people know when and where they will fall asleep for the night. They can make adjustments in their schedule to allow for more rest if necessary. Truckers do not have that luxury. Read more about truck parking nightmares here.
Every drunk driver holds a higher potential to cause accidents, injuries, and death. Driving an 80,000 semi-truck while intoxicated, however, is far worse. Drunk truck drivers disregard company policies, the law, their safety, and the general public’s wellbeing. Operating a tractor-trailer without a sober mind can lead to mayhem and destruction due to the tractor-trailer’s size, weight, and velocity.
A big truck accident involving a drunk trucker is fodder for billboard attorneys. Trucking accidents influenced by alcohol or drugs are almost a guaranteed win for prosecutors. Minimizing the impact of impaired accidents begins with the hiring process. Most drunk drivers who were killed in an accident are repeat offenders. According to NHSTA, drivers involved in fatal accidents are four times more likely to have already been convicted of drinking and driving.
Top 5 Things That Keep Truckers Safe
Infinit-I is one of the trucking industry’s most powerful tools to prepare truck drivers for the dangers of highway travel. If your goal is empowering your fleet to become the safest and most efficient fleet, Infinit-I has all the tools to make it happen. We offer industry-specific training to prepare your drivers specifically for the safe operation, including:
Route Management: This video goes over scenarios drivers find themselves in when delivering a load. It discusses proper pre-trip planning, determining the best highways, jotting down notes to refer to while driving, and GPS mistakes. It also discusses taking breaks, rush-hour traffic, fuel stops, route management issues, and communication with the dispatcher and the customer.
Distracted Driving Awareness – Hands-Free Device Allowed – Mobile phone usage in CMVs is a hot topic for drivers and carriers because of the dangers they create. It’s essential for drivers to know their company’s policy on this topic and follow the rules carefully. In this video, learn the laws, what is considered distracted driving, the definition of mobile phone usage, associated risks, how to comply with the rules, and proper utilization of hands-free devices while operating a CMV.
Intersections: Expect the Unexpected – Intersections are dangerous places. Drivers pass through many intersections each day and may not be as alert as they should be. As professionals, drivers are responsible for their safety and the safety of others on the road. This video reviews how to safely negotiate intersections.
7 Deadly Errors Cars Make Around Large Vehicles – One fundamental way to improve your skills as a defensive driver is to anticipate the mistakes other drivers will make around you. This video discusses the seven deadly errors small vehicles make around commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and gives defensive driving tips for CMV drivers.
Under Construction: Trucking In Work Zones
- When driving through work zones, drivers should remember that special caution is needed to avoid preventable accidents. This video discusses how road conditions, time of day, and lighting contribute to unique problems that can cause accidents in work zones.
- As drivers pass through potentially hazardous work zones, it is crucial they use caution to avoid preventable accidents. This video discusses the importance of maintaining proper speed, avoiding convoying, and expecting the unexpected.
Download the Infinit-I Workforce Solutions Training Catalog here to see our 850+ video library.
Infinit-I hopes that you learned something from our Top 5 Dangerous US Highways article and please feel free to read more about the top concerns in 2021 which is Truckers Parking Nightmare article.
Please check your trucking route and plan accordingly when you venture onto the Top 5 Dangerous US Highways on your next trip.