Railway Crossing: 7 Steps for Safety
Approach with care: Warn others that you are slowing down. Turn on 4-way flashers.
Look and Listen: roll down windows and turn off the radio. Bend forward to see around mirrors and pillars.
Prepare to stop: slow down. If you must, stop at least 15 feet, but not more than 50 feet from the nearest rail.
If it won’t fit, don’t commit: Trains extend beyond the width of the rails at least 3 feet on each side. Remember your vehicle – and cargo – overhang.
Look again: before you move, look again in both directions.
Cross tracks with care: use the highest gear that lets you cross without shifting.
Keep going once you start: never stop on the tracks. Make sure there’s room before you move.
PARKING ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD IS PROHIBITED
- You are not to stop alongside the road or interstate (including on and off ramps) unless it is an actual emergency or you are instructed to by an authorized official. An actual emergency is defined as a situation that affects the safety of you, the public, your equipment or load.
- If you must stop alongside the road for a declared emergency, turn on your 4-ways and protect the scene by setting out your emergency reflective triangles. Proper placement of the triangles is found in the FMCSR pocketbook section 392.22(b). Do not hesitate in getting warning signals placed.
- Stopping to read/send a Qualcomm message, use a cell phone, check a map, get something to eat/drink, etc. are not emergencies and you may not park alongside the road. Find a rest area, truck stop, or other legal safe location for these activities.
- Do not ever drive or stop on a shoulder that slopes or that is not paved as it may give way and cause the equipment to overturn.
Sliding Tandem Axles
Keep the engine running and in neutral, set the brakes for the truck only and exit the cab. Check to make sure the tractor is properly coupled to the trailer.
Locate the tandem locking lever (usually in front of the trailer's wheels). Lift and pull the lever's handle until it slips into the slot on the lever guide to disengage the locking pins. Make sure all four pins are retracted.
Return to the cab and set the trailer brakes (red valve out). Release the truck brakes (yellow valve in). With the trailer brakes holding their wheels in place, pull or push the trailer back and forth on the slide to make the needed adjustments.
To move the tandems back, ease the truck forward in the lowest gear until the desired position is reached. To move the tandems forward, ease the truck into reverse gear until the desired position is reached.
Reset the truck's brakes and go back to the trailer. Release the locking lever and place it into the locked position. Return to the cab of the truck.
Release the truck brakes only. With trailer brakes set, gently tug or push against the trailer to seat the locking pins. Listen carefully; you should hear the pins lock into place. Set the truck brakes and exit the cab.
Inspect all 4 pins are extended through the holes of the tandem axle slides. Make sure the locking lever is locked and secured.
If the pins stick, or tandems won't slide, some spray lubricant and a rubber mallet will help. If a pin doesn't fully lock back into place, a long flat end screw driver may help.
Don’t Let Driving in Fog Leave You in a Daze
Fog can occur at any time. Fog on highways can be extremely dangerous. Fog is often unexpected, and visibility can deteriorate rapidly. You should watch for foggy conditions and be ready to reduce your speed. Do not assume that the fog will thin out after you enter it.
The best advice for driving in fog is, don’t. Preferably you should pull off the road into a rest area or truck stop until visibility is better. If you must drive, be sure to consider the following:
- Obey all fog-related warning signs.
- Slow down and increase your following distance before you enter fog. Make sure you can stop your vehicle within the distance you can see.
- Use low-beam headlights and fog lights for best visibility even in daytime, and be alert for other drivers who may have forgotten to turn on their lights.
- Do not use high beams as the light will actually reflect off the fog and reduce visibility.
- Use your windshield wipers and defrosters to keep your windshield as clear as possible.
- Turn on your 4-way flashers. This will give vehicles approaching you from behind a quicker opportunity to notice your vehicle.
- Watch for vehicles on the side of the roadway. Seeing taillights or headlights in front of you may not be a true indication of where the road is ahead of you. The vehicle may not be on the road at all.
- Use roadside highway reflectors as guides to determine how the road may curve ahead of you.
- Listen for traffic you cannot see.
- Avoid passing other vehicles.
- Don't stop along the side of the road, unless absolutely necessary.
Accidents like this nasty pile up are a driver’s worst nightmare.
BLT – Brakes, Lights, and Tires
These are the 3 items the DOT will rigorously check during level 1, 2, or 4 inspections.
Brakes account for one in five CSA violations. They are the most essential system on your truck. If they are not working properly the results can be disastrous.
Components include: Brake Hose & Tubing, Brake Chambers, Shoes & Linings, Drums, and Slack Adjusters. All must be checked visually and by doing the proper Air Brake test including tug tests, noting air pressure loss in one minute while brakes are applied, checking low pressure alarms, protection valves, and air pressure build up.
Lights account for one in six CSA violations. Lights are the #1 way of communicating with others on the road. Lights activate peripheral vision. They let others know when you are going to turn or stop. Without your lights you lose your primary ability to communicate. Check each switch individually, left turn, right turn, low beams, high beams, 4 ways, and brake lights (Helpful hint: to check brake lights put your tire thumper between the seat and the brake pedal, move the seat forward to insure pedal is depressed; pulling the trailer brake down is NO guarantee the brake lights will work when you press on the brake pedal).
Tires are the only part of the truck that touches the road. You only need to consider the effects of a tire blowout to realize how much is riding on them. 40 tons are supported and controlled by 18 wheels. Make sure they are up to the job. Listen for leaks; check pressure with a tire gauge; check tread depth; check for uneven/unusual wear, cuts, bulges, decay, or separation; valve stems not damaged and covered.
Don’t forget the wheels, rims, lug nuts, and hub seals.
Know Your Dimensions!
Not knowing can lead to fines, damages, and possibly a life.
- The standard length of a tractor (with sleeper berth) + a 53 foot trailer ranges from 72 to 75 feet in total length.
- The standard height of a trailer is 13’6” but because of air bag inflation or how the trailer is loaded the height can be as much as 13’10”.
- The standard width is 102” or 8’ 6”.
Bridge Laws (the length between the king pin and trailer tandems) vary from state to state. Generally the length can not be less than 37’ or more than 41’ (check the bridge law for each state you will travel through and set at the strictest allowance).
Axle weights must also be adhered to. Generally the weights on the steers should be no more than 12000 lbs, the drives no more than 34000 lbs and the tandems no more than 34000 lbs. Maximum weight should not exceed 80,000 lbs total gross.
Axle weights are NOT the same as Bridge Laws. They are two different sets of rules, and you must be in compliance with both sets of laws or you cannot pull the trailer.
Verify and re-check your route to avoid restricted roads, over and underpasses. Obey the signs when restrictions are in place. Never rely on a GPS to keep you out of trouble.
Close doesn’t count when it comes to being compliant.
Brake Safety Week: September 7-13, 2014
The annual CVSA Brake Safety Week is right around the corner. The week-long brake inspection campaign runs September 7-13, 2014
Commercial vehicle inspectors will be out in full force throughout the U.S. and Canada conducting Level 4 inspections. Defective or out-of-adjustment brakes will result in the vehicle being placed out of service.
In addition to brake inspections, CMV inspectors will also be checking:
• Driver License
• Low Air Warning Device
• Pushrod Travel (Adjustment)
• Brake Linings/Drums
• Air Loss Rate (If leak detected)
• Tractor Protection System
Have You Checked Your Credentials Lately?
Avoid unnecessary and costly fines.
An essential part of your pre-trip inspections is checking your permits in your permit book (current, neat and organized). Also is there a current insurance card, current registration, quick reference cards for elog and VIR.
Check your plate on your tractor is it unexpired (does it match the registration)? Is the annual inspection sticker present and unexpired? Are the IFTA stickers present on both sides of the tractor and unexpired? If required, is the NYHUT sticker present and unexpired?
How about the trailer….is the registration present and current? Is the annual inspection sticker present and unexpired? Is the plate unexpired (does it match the registration)?
Have you checked the expiration date of your CDL? How about your Medical Card? When renewing your Medical Card did you complete and submit a new Self Certification Form to your licensed state?
"The Superman Mentality"
This is the attitude that nothing bad can happen to us no matter how bad our behavior. It's like the person is immune to the negative consequences of his or her bad actions. When a person with this attitude actually receives negative consequences for one or more of their bad actions, it comes as a surprise.
But it shouldn't.
Actions have consequences. The consequences may not be immediate, but they come sometime. They may affect you personally; they may affect others. But they come.
When it comes to safe driving, a consistent investment in good behavior or actions can help keep negative consequences minimized in your life. Of course, accidents do happen even to the safest of drivers. But you can minimize the likelihood of those taking place by being cautious and not doing tasks too quickly.