Situational Awareness

Written by: on December 5th, 2017

The end of the year is a busy time for everyone. There is more traffic from holiday travelers and weather can be challenging.

While the season is often referred to as the “giving season,” we know it’s also the “taking season.” Cargo thefts tend to increase close to a holiday or major retail event, like Black Friday for example. From now until New Years, it is the peak season for cargo theft activity. According to CargoNet, tractor theft was down 17 percent from 2016 and reported thefts totaled $17.2 million, down from $35.1 million from the previous year. Below are some tips to keep you, and your cargo safe:

Pay attention to your surroundings

Whether you are waiting on a load at a customer or stopping for fuel after you’re loaded, take note of your surroundings. Look around and make eye contact with people you might pass. There is a difference between direct eye contact and just looking in a general direction. Making eye contact typically is registered as a feeling of unease or heightened awareness; plus, you have better ability to recognize who you make eye contact with later. Avoid walking with your head down, texting or paying attention to your cellphone. Criminals target individuals that are engrossed or distracted by another activity because they are less likely to report/recognize them later on. Always exercise ‘extra’ caution at night. Be alert, be aware and be cautious.

Choose safe parking

Whenever possible, park in well-lit areas and back up the trailer to a wall or pole (after you get out and look of course). Another suggestion is to park your tractor in the same direction as others around you. Make sure you are using your anti-theft devices and never leave your truck unlocked and unattended. When you are in the truck stop avoid discussing what cargo you have in your trailer or what your next load will be. Use this time to do a mid-trip inspection to ensure your equipment is safe and untampered. Parking where a thief can see a camera is also a good deterrent.

Don’t stop immediately

Especially in high risk areas do not stop immediately after leaving a customer. The recommended distance before stopping is between 150-200 miles. Arrive at the shipper well rested, showered and ready to go. Typically, driving for a while after picking up deters groups or individuals from pursuing anything because it’s not worth the time. Do you notice blacked out SUVS or cars in truck parking only areas? Is there a vehicle that you’ve noticed following you? Does something just feel off about the situation you are in? If you ever feel unsafe contact your fleet supervisor. Your safety is the number one priority and there is nothing wrong with erring on the side of caution. Don’t be afraid to trust your instinct.

Don’t forget, cargo at rest is cargo at risk!

Home for the holidays

Written by: on November 16th, 2017

The holiday season is almost here. That wonderful time of year where families gather around the dinner table and enjoy each other’s company without a single argument.

Yeah, that made me chuckle too.

We all have that one relative, whether it’s a cousin, uncle, parent or grandparent that knows just what buttons to push. While the motive might be intentional or accidental, we all leave a little stressed out, angry and strongly considering getting “sick” around Christmas to avoid a repeat of what just happened.

Not every family is like the Cleavers and that’s OK! Families come in a variety of shapes and sizes. We’ve found some helpful tips to help you avoid the annual drama. If they don’t work, take the pie and run!

Focus on the positives. Let’s be realistic. The holidays tend to make everyone a little crazy.  There will never be a perfect holiday or a perfect family. Try to create moments that are special to you. The less you stress about everyone else’s wants or expectations, the more you’re able to focus on the people that matter.

Plan your exit strategy in advance. There are a variety of reasons that some families stay apart the majority of the year. Even if you adore your parents, staying at their house after years on your own can try a relationship. There is nothing wrong with making sure you have a way out to help you keep your sanity. Whether it’s volunteering to go run an errand, take out the trash or needing to leave to “go let the dog out,” don’t forget to take care of yourself. Go take that breather and then explain to grandma one more time why you don’t have any kids yet.

Find some down time for yourself. Even though the holidays will most likely be hectic, find some quiet time for yourself so you can re-energize. Or, if you are having the in-laws at your house and cannot use an exit strategy, finding the quiet time for yourself can be a lifesaver. This “catch your breath” time can come at any point during the day. Let yourself clean up by yourself, do those few dishes that can’t go in the dishwasher, go watch a movie with your kids or grandkids, or do anything else that will allow you the time to regroup and get your energy back.

Whatever your traditions may be, we hope you have a happy and safe holiday!

 

Winter Weather Ahead

Written by: on October 27th, 2017


Winter storm warnings and advisories are already being issued for many parts of the country. While snow and ice might be pretty to look at, driving in it is a whole different story. Wintry weather conditions can be tricky for even the most experienced driver and can change in an instant. Driving in these conditions should be taken seriously and approached as safely as possible. If you have new drivers in your household make sure they know the basics of winter driving before heading out on the road. Below are some tips that we all can benefit from.

Prepare for the worst
Everyone should have some basic items in their vehicle in case they find themselves stranded. Try to have at least a few of the following items: flashlight, extra batteries, blanket, water and/or Gatorade, food items such as granola bars, peanut butter, or raisins, extra jacket/coat, tire chains, jumper cables, gloves and/or shovel. An external charger for your phone would also be handy to have as well in case your vehicle will not start.

Stay up to date with conditions around you
In today’s world, there is no shortage of information. News and weather updates are just one click away. Take advantage of that by utilizing online resources to help you stay informed. Sites like wunderground.com, weather.gov or weather.com are informative and reliable. Users can download the app and make the notifications more specific to a location. They also allow you view current weather conditions easily and quickly. You can also purchase a NOAA weather radio for around $20-$40.

Check your equipment
Pre-trip inspections are a great way to make sure your equipment/car is good condition. In unfavorable weather conditions we encourage you to complete a pre, mid and post trip inspection. This will help you catch any potential issues and address them before they become a problem. Professional drivers should have a full set of tire chains in good condition. Diesel fuel will start gelling at around 32 degrees. At 10-15 degrees, it will start to gel and clog the tank and fuel filters. Make sure you are using appropriate fuel additives to prevent this from happening. For the general motoring public, you should make sure your windshield wipers are in good condition, check your lights and scrape any ice/snow off before traveling and check your tires.

Remember, ice and snow decrease the traction of your tires which makes sudden stops and even turns more difficult. Never speed on ice and increase your following distance. Black ice is transparent and often looks like the road is just wet. When temperatures are near freezing, be extra cautious and on the lookout for black ice.