Transporting both hazardous and non-hazardous materials can be a hazardous task for commercial drivers. Keep reading to learn about electronic logging devices, driver safety tips, and more, and be sure to reach out to HTS Environmental Services for complete assistance. We’re available for complete waste management solutions, optimizing your services to create a better outcome for your company and the planet at large.
When it comes to electronic logging devices (ELDs), ELDs are meant to create safer working conditions for drivers, while making tracking records of duty status (RODS) data easier and more accurate. ELDs do this by capturing data related to a vehicle’s engine, effectively tracking when the vehicle is stalled or moving. In addition, due to the new ELD mandate, understanding ELD devices is essential for accurate reporting and safety. As a driver, it is vital to be able to edit and correct reports, make annotations and report ELD malfunctions, all while remaining aware of traffic and road conditions.
Additionally, because of some of the complexities associated with RODS, ELDs will likely save drivers from common violations due to improper logging, as well as time. But, because the California ELD mandate is still in its beginning stages, many drivers remain confused about how it will affect them and how soon they may have to make adjustments. For drivers, it is of utmost importance to ensure their ELD is working properly and to maintain compliance with their hours of service. Hours of Service violations, known as “HOS” violations, are commonly seen throughout the transportation industry. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) can charge tens of thousands of dollars for each violation, resulting in enormous costs for the motor carrier. Additionally, violating HOS can be extremely dangerous, since they were enacted to limit the number of continuous driving hours and provide the operators with sufficient rest.
To learn more about the ELD mandate, click here. For a checklist regarding ELDs and what drivers and administrative staff must be able to do, click here. These resources can be extremely useful in preparing safe practices while working with ELDs.
For commercial drivers, creating a healthy work/life balance can make it hard to prioritize safety, resulting in a higher risk of being involved in an accident. Because of this, being consistently safe throughout years of driving can be an incredibly difficult task, particularly due to the long days and irregular sleep schedules a driver might have. Getting enough rest is essential to maintain road safety and to stay alert during the long hours of driving. To stay awake AND aware longer, here are some safety tips for drivers:
- Keep your cab under cool temperatures: driving in warmer conditions could make you sleepy.
- Avoid eating foods that are heavy in carbohydrates: eating carb-heavy foods can make you crash and feel more tired than usual.
- Avoid drinking too much caffeine: drinking too much caffeine will eventually make you crash, and again, make you feel more tired than usual.
- Take a break and go for a walk: a quick walk can help you clear your mind and fatigue.
- Know when you’re tired and pull over: know your body, once you start blinking too much or find yourself rubbing your eyes too often, it’s time to pull over and take a break.
- Avoid driving after midnight and early in the morning: your body’s biological clock triggers sleep during this time, try to avoid driving during these hours.
- Take a nap: taking a power nap before a long drive, or pulling over to catch up on sleep, may be helpful in keeping you alert and awake.
- Don’t rush: simply put, no situation is worth speeding or driving erratically.
Don’t drive distracted
Driving while distracted can be incredibly dangerous, especially for drivers hauling heavy machinery filled with literal tons of hazardous waste. In 2017, vehicle accidents cost companies a whopping $57 billion. And, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, transportation incidents are still the most frequent fatal occupational injury, resulting in 2,077 deaths in 2017. Furthermore, of the 2,077 reported deaths, 840 of them were by heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers. And, because texting is one of the worst driving distractions, with the odds of being involved in a near-crash or crash increasing by 23 times, it’s never worth the risk to text and drive. For the same reason, creating a culture focused around safety is essential to any business involving transportation.
To direct the culture of drivers towards an appreciation for safety, first assess what your needs are. Identify which drivers will be needed for longer hauls, and schedule their week with sufficient time to rest. Second, try developing a safety program that encourages safe driving and proper training. A safety program that focuses on driver accountability and expectations will likely help them maintain safe practices while driving. Finally, always advocate for safety initiatives to motivate employees positively. Research shows that a company that focuses on improving its safety culture decreases the frequency and number of incidents during any process. It’s no mystery why it’s essential to a company focused on transportation.
Concluding safety tips for drivers
- Be well rested and stay alert
- Know the safe braking distance for your vehicle
- Scan ahead (about 15 seconds are recommended) for work zones and other dangers
- Avoid braking and accelerating too hard/fast
- Stay attentive to blind spots
- Minimize instances of driving distracted
- Buckle up!