Are you ready for Operation Airbrake?
Sept 15-21st, 2019 is Brake Safety Week. Be prepared for additional inspections.
The goal behind operation airbrake is to reduce the number of crashes created by faulty airbrakes and brake systems.
The vehicle portion of an inspection includes checking critical vehicle inspection items such as: brake systems; cargo securement; coupling devices; driveline/driveshaft; driver’s seat (missing); exhaust systems; frames; fuel systems; lighting devices (headlamps, tail lamps, stop lamps, turn signals and lamps/flags on projecting loads); steering mechanisms; suspensions; tires; van and open-top trailer bodies; wheels, rims and hubs; and windshield wipers.
The five most common vehicle violations detected by inspectors were for braking systems (4,578 or 28% of total out-of-service violations), tires and wheels (3,156 or 19.3%), brake adjustment (2,801 or 17.1%), cargo securement (1,991 or 12.2%) and lighting devices (1,875 or 11.5%).
The five most common Driver violations were for hours of service (1,179 or 37.2% of total out-of-service violations), wrong class license (714 or 22.5%), false logs (467 or 14.7%), “other” violations (351 or 11.1%) and suspended license (232 or 7.3%).
Are your nerves on end when you pull in for a DOT inspection or are you confident in your equipment, the maintenance of your equipment and your HOS…knowing you are coming out of there violation free?
Have confidence in your routine and random inspections by doing a proper pre-trip EACH and EVERY time you start your day and/or swap trailers.
Communicate with your maintenance department and fleet manager on equipment needs, repairs, leaks, and damage as well as Hours of Service.
How often do you do a full pre-trip? Are you checking all the lights, fluids, and hoses when you do a pre-trip?
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Depending on where you live in the lower 48, fall weather can bring hurricanes, floods, snow, ice etc and if you are an over the road truck driver, you need to be prepared for them all.
Preparation starts BEFORE you are even out on the road. You know once September hits, you just never know what kind of weather will be around the corner. The best way to prepare yourself is to stay tuned into the weather forecasts, local stations and keep your equipment in check.
A proper pre-trip is not only in place to prevent DOT CSA violations and equipment breakdowns but most importantly to protect you and others on the road.
Top drivers always do a complete pre-trip inspections. It helps to prevent added unforeseen delays and improves safety but reducing the risk of out-of-control circumstances due to poor vehicle maintenance and wear and tear on the truck and trailer.
When I think of fall, I think of leaves. Keep your eyes open for piles on the road and be sure to slow down, avoid sudden braking or swerving. Piles can hide other debris which can be dangerous. Plus, if it recently rained, they can cause hydroplaning or get you spinning. So, be cautious in slippery conditions. A good rule of thumb is if the road looks wet and there is very little spray coming off your tires, you are more likely to be on black ice. This is more common when the temperature is between 22 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
The more water coming off your tires, the less likely the roads are icy, but clearly still wet. Be cautious.
If visibility becomes poor, slow down, turn/keep your lights on, put your hazards on and pull off the road. DO NOT pull onto the shoulder. As other drivers come up on your tail, they may think you are slowing down and still on the road. They WILL run into you. Get completely off the road into safety.
“In the winter, drive your truck based on your skills. Don’t try to keep up with another truck if it is not safe for you,” Nathan, veteran OTR driver and current DTL recruiter.
Know how to chain. Chain to get yourself out of trouble, not into trouble. Make sure you have chains on your trucks at all times, especially if you run in areas subject to inclement weather. North Western states have the chain law into effect as of Sept 1st.
Always check your chains for damage and do NOT go further on your chains than absolutely necessary. A Decker Truck Line lease purchase driver reminds us to “make sure your chains fit before the snow flies”. Don’t put yourself in the, “wish I would’ve” category.
The faster and further you drive on chains, the more likely damage to the chain or tires may occur. Do NOT drive on dry pavement with chains.
Your Windshield should be free of ice, snow, rain and cracks. Inspect your windshield wiper fluids and windshield wipers when you do your pre-trip so you are not adding on to possible visibility issues.
Vehicles that have slowed down because of visibility can be very dangerous. Be sure to give yourself enough room to pass. If you cannot see far enough to determine if you have enough room, you do NOT have enough room. The risk is not worth it.
Also, this time of year it’s more likely to see farm equipment on the road. They are slowing moving and can also create visibility barriers. Pass with caution.
Do not drive in groups. You may not be allowing yourself enough time to react. If the vehicle in front of you spins out and wrecks, the likelihood of you doing the same increases with the number of vehicles traveling together. Suggested: ¼ mile distance between you and other vehicles when traveling this season.
Additional helpful tips and suggestions from some of our Decker drivers:
“The best winter survival skill is prevention. A full truck stop is still better than a ditch.”
“when you stop for the night wait ten minutes and then pull forward. Cause your warm tires will make a groove in the snow and you’ll get stuck”
“Don’t pull your trailer break, they’ll freeze up when you wake up”
“Biggest thing…You’re not Superman slow down”
“And watch the road if there isn’t spray off the tires it’s frozen”
“if your pulling a pass don’t slow down going up just going down, keep your RPMs up”
Written By: Jesse Butler
Jesse Butler is a driver recruiter for Decker Truck Line. She has worked within the trucking industry for over a decade. You can contact her at 406.203.4413.
Apply directly to Decker Truck Line at www.DriveDecker.com