Archive for the ‘Safety’ Category

December 22nd, 2014

The holidays may be the most challenging time of year for professional truck drivers. The weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day bring a tremendous influx of drivers to the nation’s highways. Add this to stress-inducing weather conditions and a higher potential for traffic mishaps and suddenly the holidays seem a lot less happy.

Consider the following:

  • AAA estimates that over 93 million drivers will make trips of 50 miles or more from their homes during the holiday season, an increase of 54 percent over the rest of the year.
  • The Department of Transportation predicts that the significant drop in gas prices and an improving economy will result in an estimated 91 percent of all Americans who travel over the holidays to do so by car.

As Con-way Truckload drivers, you are already well versed in the basic rules of road safety. But the holiday season requires some extra rules and reminders:

  • Before setting out, make sure a mechanic has checked your vehicle and that everything is operating properly.
  • Be sure to check road conditions and weather forecasts along your route before you leave.
  • Stay alert. Keep an eye out for driving that is erratic and watch for swerving and sudden lane changes.
  • Get a good night’s sleep and stay rested along the way by taking breaks as needed.
  • Make sure your truck is well supplied in case of an emergency. These supplies include water, non-perishable food, flashlight and extra batteries, warm clothing and a blanket, cell phone and charger. Don’t forget jumper cables, a fire extinguisher, flares and a first aid kit.
  • Pay attention for changes in the weather while on the road and adjust your driving accordingly. If driving in snow or ice is unavoidable, try to travel during daylight hours. Take the time to completely remove ice and snow from your vehicle that could hinder visibility.

Finally, patience is a virtue. All drivers are susceptible to irritating holiday traffic. It’s easy to become impatient, whether you’re traveling across the country or just across town. Drive defensively, not aggressively. Relax, and accept that weather conditions, increased volume of traffic and contentious drivers may lead to longer travel times. Remaining calm will help you to avoid making impulsive and potentially dangerous decisions.

It’s up to us, the professionals, to remain on high alert and do everything we can to ensure a safe and happy holiday season for all who share the road. Happy Holidays!


November 7th, 2014

As winter approaches, it’s key to have your truck ready for the upcoming colder temperatures. Here is a quick checklist and some tips to make sure you’ll be prepared and safe when the snow starts to fly.

1) Check the batteries — One weak battery can drain them all. Old or weak batteries should be replaced.

2) Empty the air tanks — The air compressor produces residual water, as will sudden drops in temperature. Some of this may get past your air dryer. When cold air hits it, it can cause the air valves to freeze up, affecting brakes and air suspension. Remove all drain plugs, drain all air tanks in the air system completely and allow time for them to dry. It’s not a bad idea to add some airline antifreeze as well.

3) Fuel filters and additives — Condensation occurs in fuel tanks when the weather changes, allowing water to collect in the fuel filters. Replace old filters and keep a few in the truck with you while on the road. Adding a fuel additive will also help prevent jelling when the really cold weather hits.

4) Check tires frequently — The importance of tire wear cannot be overstated. Be sure all tires are inflated to the correct pressure and keep track of tread wear.

5) Keep an emergency kit handy —  Hope for the best, but plan for the worst.

  • Keep a supply of non-perishable food items.
  • Pack a well-stocked medical kit.
  • Always have extra cold weather gear like blankets, gloves, hats, boots and sweaters.
  • Road flares are essential for flagging down help.
  • An extra radio with extra batteries is a good idea.
  • Cell phone and charger.
  • Carry extra coolant, washer fluid and engine oil.

6) Inspect hoses and belts — Anything that is worn or cracked should be replaced.

7) Electrical wiring — Inspect wiring for frays or other damage. Keep extra fuses on hand. Check periodically for loose or hanging wires that may collect ice and snow.

A little time spent now may save you a lot of time (and hassle) later. Be ready for whatever Mother Nature throws at you and prepare your truck and yourself for the road ahead.


August 18th, 2014

As Con-way Truckload’s Driver Advocate, I’m always looking for ways to keep drivers safer and healthier on the road. One of the best strategies for doing this is to simply listen. Our drivers are experienced professionals who understand the importance of working together to improve the job, so when they bring concerns, comments or ideas to me, I try to share the solutions and tips.

An issue that has been brought to my attention recently is tandem slide locking pins that won’t retract when the locking pin release arm is pulled. This is a safety issue that generally results from one of the pins binding on the slider rails. Drivers have reported injuries to their shoulders — especially damage to the rotator cuff —from trying to muscle the pins into position.


Some success has been reported from the practice of putting the truck in forward or reverse and sliding the trailer box slightly forward or backward in order to get the pins to retract. There is also the temptation to simply whack the pins with a hammer (strongly discouraged). The easiest and most effective solution is to use a lubricant on the pins and slider rails.

Lithium grease, also referred to as white lithium, is an inexpensive, easy-to-use and effective answer. It adheres well to metal, is non-corrosive, may be used under extremely heavy loads, has outstanding temperature tolerance and is resistant to moisture. It can be purchased in spray can form at any Wal-mart or automotive parts store for between $3.00 and $5.00. It stores easily, will not gum up or collect dirt and is very easy to apply. A quick shot to all four pins and a couple of pulls to work it in is all it takes.

Regular applications of white lithium will make the chore of adjusting trailer tandems easier, less work, less frustrating and reduce the risk of injury.

Stay tuned for more tips and if you have a comment or issue that you’d like me to look into, please give me a call.

-Tim Hicks