Archive for September, 2009


Changes in Driver’s Log Investigations

Sometimes things go in reverse without any notice of the change. In November, 2008 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration FMCSA rescinded a policy that stood for years concerning where Global Positioning Systems GPS could be used when it came to auditing a carrier’s driver’s logs. As a result carriers are now required to keep GPS history for six months and release it to inspectors upon request.

Since January 2009, a number of carriers have been audited and GPS records have been requested as part of those audits. As a result, many of these carriers received large fines and suffered an overall increase in their SafeStat scores (see: ).

The bottom line is that DOT auditors can now request GPS records at any time during an audit and compare them to the actual driver’s record of duty status (FMCSR 395.8). Carriers using GPS systems should be using these records to audit their driver’s logs to ensure compliance.

Need help? Leave me a comment, or send me an email (, and I would be happy to share with you what I have been doing with our fleet’s driver’s logs.

Down The Road – Mike


Commercial (for) Drivers

In my driver training session last week in Alabama I discussed some current driver issues with fifteen commercial drivers. These were all professional drivers who take their job very seriously. It’s their livelihood. Not to say that they don’t like to poke fun at each other on a regular basis, but these are very hard working individuals. Some were heavy haul drivers that carry huge construction machinery, some drive fuel tankers and some operated float tractor trailers and smaller type trucks. They spend many days and nights on the road to support their families.

 The training topic that I was presenting was on Speed and Space Management.  But, as happens many times, the participants brought up some important topics of their own. One of those topics was a recent roadside inspection where the driver came out smelling like a rose and had no violations (our company pays a $200 incentive for this), and another was the fact that this group of drivers had one of the best accident-free records in our company.

 It is always important to acknowledge the good things that go on in your organization and to do it frequently. Drivers that pass a commercial driving certification and carry a CDL are hard working professionals that provide vital services to us all.

 STATS – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that large truck crash fatalities declined 9.7 percent in the U.S. from 2007 to 2008. The overall number fell by 593 to 4229 traffic fatalities related to large trucks. This compared to 37,261 fatalities for all vehicles in 2008.

Down the Road – Mike


Brake the Pattern

Now that college football is in full swing let’s talk about Football Fields. By the way, Hook’em Horns! A football field is 100 yards of green grass, in one form or another. I can remember in High School (yep, way back when) when our team went to the playoffs and got to play on Astro Turf for the first time. It was a great experience.

The thing was that the turf we played on was like green carpet with a very thin pad underneath it. Can you say rug burn? Now, it seems that some new stadiums are going back to natural turf.

The length of two football fields is about what you need to stop a vehicle if you are traveling 65 miles per hour (300 feet x 2 = 600). Actually, you will need roughly 500 feet. Here’s how it “brakes” down.

From the time you see a concern ahead of you, until your brain says, look out! there went ¾ of a second or 60 feet, to the time your brain tells your foot to hit the brakes, another ¾ second and 60 feet, to the time it takes your vehicle to stop, another 5 seconds and 400 feet, you get where I’m going here? Boom!

Tailgating or following to close to the vehicle in front of you is a major cause of accidents. How often do you see this in your daily commute? A line of cars backed up and when you get to the front of the line there’s two or three cars that have rear ended one another. I see it just about every day here in Houston.

So help keep traffic moving and your insurance costs down by adding some space between you and the vehicle in front. At 65 mph the vehicle in front of you should be at least 7 seconds ahead. If you travel greater than 65 mph add another second.

Try this experiment today. While traveling on the freeway find a marker in front of you (a sign or bridge will work) and watch the vehicle in front of you as it passes that mark and count 1001, 1002, 1003, etc. If you are traveling 65 mph you should be able to get to 1007 before you pass the same marker.

A couple of helpful tips for leaving yourself an out in traffic:
1) When you come to a complete stop in traffic you should be able to see where the vehicle’s rear tires in front of you meet the pavement. If you can’t see the pavement, you’re too close.
2) When you brake use an imaginary car between you and the car in front of you. Like that car has an invisible shield in back of it. If you never come closer than a car’s length to another vehicle in traffic you are much less likely to rear end someone, or be rear ended, because you have that cushion to maneuver.

Down The Road – Mike

Stopped in traffic with room to maneuver.

Stopped in traffic with room to maneuver.

If you can't see the pavement below the rear tires, you're too close.

If you can't see the pavement below the rear tires, you're too close.


Day One Blog – Off the Road

OK – My first blog and I am already pressed for time, so hear goes. I was driving home yesterday and just about got run off the road. Maybe it was “just race’n” as they say in NASCAR, but it reminded me that it’s my responsibilty to watch out for others on the road.

I did everything I could to get the women’s attention, blew my horn, tried to make eye contact, that didn’t work she never bothered to look to her right or she’d have seen me. By now I’m fully in the emergency lane and trying to stay off the retainer wall, as she drives comfortably down the road in the lane that was mine at one time. Finally she goes by and I ease back onto I-59 from the emergency lane.

So, what is the best way to respond to distracted drivers? Well, once you spot one try to maintain a safe distance from them. Slow down, let them go around you by gradually decreasing your speed or move to the right if conditions allow and let the distracted driver pass.

Try to establish eye contact as this may help make them aware of your presence. No hand gestures please, unless it’s a friendly wave. You are just trying to wake them up.

If all else fails you may need to pull over in a safe place and just let them go by you.

Down The Road – Mike

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