National Sleep Awareness Week 2013

March 3-10 is National Sleep Awareness Week. This week-long campaign sponsored by the National Sleep Foundation calls attention to the many health benefits that come from proper sleep. The impact of a good night’s rest on your ability to function throughout the day is critical. That is never truer than when you get behind the wheel.

In a poll completed by the National Sleep Foundation regarding drowsy driving, 60 percent of participants had driven while feeling sleepy and 37 percent had actually fallen asleep while driving in the past year. If you are feeling sleepy, please find a safe place to stop your vehicle. There is no need to put yourself or others in danger.

Here are a few signs that a driver should stop and rest per the National Sleep Foundation:

  • Heavy eyelids, frequent blinking or difficulty focusing
  • Yawning repeatedly or rubbing your eyes
  • Trouble keeping your head up
  • Drifting from your lane, tailgating, or hitting a shoulder rumble strip

For more information regarding National Sleep Awareness Week, go to www.sleepfoundation.org.

Seat Belt Safety

Seat belts can provide proven safety and protection. According to the CDC, when lap/shoulder seat belts are used, the risk of a fatal injury to a front-seat passenger is reduced by 45 percent. The risk of a moderate-to-critical injury is also reduced by 50 percent. Seat belts come standard in any vehicle and there are seat belt laws in 49 states in the county. So why would someone make the conscious choice NOT to buckle up? Here are a few of the most common reasons:

  1. I don’t want to wrinkle my clothes.
  2. I have air bags, so it is not necessary.
  3. It’s uncomfortable.
  4. I am afraid I will be trapped if there is an accident and my car is on fire.
  5. I am good driver.

In reference to number one, if you are truly committed to safety, your last concern is wrinkled clothes. Regarding number two, air bags are technically supplemental or secondary restraint systems which defer to the seat belt as primary. As for number three, seat belts are not meant to fit loosely for comfort as they are for safety. Number four is based on the false belief that it’s safer not to wear a seat belt in case of a scenario that accounts for less than one-tenth of one percent of all accidents. Most passengers who are ejected from vehicles or thrown through a windshield do not survive. And lastly, number five attaches itself to the stubborn belief that if you are a good driver, you won’t get in an accident in the first place. If only we could control all of the motoring public. Unfortunately, we can only control our own individual actions.

Since accidents will happen, the focus should be on prevention. Buckling your seat belt can mean the difference between minor scrapes and paralysis or death. When it is presented in that way, we all should be able to suffer a few wrinkles in our clothes.

Avoiding Cargo Theft

Cargo theft continues to be a problem for the trucking industry. There is some good news though. The number of cargo theft incidents dropped slightly in 2012 compared to 2011 as reported by FreightWatch International. Despite this improvement, law enforcement officials state that reported cargo theft produces an annual loss of approximately $35 billion in the U.S.

The crime of cargo theft involves a wide array of strategies and scenarios. Electronics, food, apparel and metals are the most popular loads stolen, accounting for 54 percent of total thefts. Often times, it can be as simple as opportunity and being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Many instances of cargo theft, however, are orchestrated with more sophistication.

Regardless of how a criminal operates, driver execution is critical. Drivers must diligently maintain ownership of the tractor and trailer by following standard procedure every time. This isn’t just for the safety of the cargo but for the driver as well.

Where a driver parks and how he or she behaves plays a large role in that. Drivers should use their surroundings to their advantage by backing trailers up against fences or buildings to prevent anyone from gaining access. Parking in well-lit, heavier traffic areas near buildings and fuel islands is a safer choice as well. Long-term parking at rest stops or highway shoulders should not be an option nor should taking a load home or leaving it unattended for the weekend.

While no fleet is immune to cargo theft, being a vigilant driver in all practices can make the difference.

Be Safe on Ice: Walk like a penguin

While it is most ideal to not have to walk on ice, sometimes it is unavoidable. One of the best examples of how to do it comes from the animal kingdom — most notably the penguin.

If you've ever seen a penguin walk, they sort of waddle with their feet pointed outward, creating as much friction with the ice as possible.

When walking on ice, try to keep this in mind:

  • Spreading your feet out slightly while walking on ice increases your center of gravity.
  • Bend slightly and walk flat-footed with your center of gravity directly over your feet as much as possible.
  • Extend your arms to your sides to maintain balance.
  • Beware if you are carrying a heavy bag or other load – your sense of balance will be off.
  • And just like on the road, black ice can be in a parking lot, too. Just because it doesn't look like ice, if the conditions are right it could very well be slippery.

Sure you may look silly walking, but it sure beats a sore back-side (or something worse) from hitting the pavement.

Warning Ahead: It’s deer season

We currently are in deer hunting season, which runs from October through December. All drivers need to be aware and informed of the potential safety hazards that can arise. As there is a dramatic increase in the movement of the deer population during this time, there is also a greater risk of hitting a deer.

As a driver, it is important to exercise caution, slow down and stay alert in areas of known deer population. Scan the side of the road for wildlife and use high-beam headlights at night when there is not oncoming traffic. Deer tend to travel in groups so if you see one deer, slow down and watch for more. If you see a deer cross your path, ease off the throttle and brace for impact.

Please remember, always put your safety first.

Winter Weather: Better safe than sorry

Although winter is not officially here yet, cold weather definitely is. As you prepare for changing weather conditions, here are some things to remember:

Be ready: Get your vehicle winter-ready with a maintenance check-up.  Don’t wait for winter to have your battery, belts, hoses, radiator, oil, lights, brakes, tires, exhaust system, heater/defroster, wipers and ignition system checked.  It is Werner policy to conduct an adequate Pre-trip inspection, protect yourself and others by ensuring you are ready for the road.

Carry supplies: In the unfortunate event that you end up stuck, spun out, wrecked, or just sitting in a backup it is important to have a winter survival kit in your vehicle.  Having essential supplies is critical.  Some recommended items include:  water, non-perishable foods, extra blankets, tow rope or chain, flashlight and batteries, extra clothing and footwear, shovel and first aid kit.

Stay alert, slow down and stay in control: These are three key elements of safe winter driving.  Drive according to highway and weather conditions. Keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you to avoid situations where you may have to brake suddenly on a slippery surface. Remember, following too closely is one of the top CSA violations in the industry and is easily spotted by law enforcement. Do yourself a favor and slow down and back off in city traffic as well as on the highways. Practicing this simple step regardless of the road conditions will help you avoid issues with CSA and keep safely driving.

Ensure visibility: Clear snow and ice from all windows, lights and mirrors.  After starting your vehicle, wait for the fog to clear from the interior windows so you will have good visibility all around.

Be prepared: Weather conditions can be unpredictable, placing extra demands on your vehicle and your driving skills. Ensure you are well prepared for winter roads and always adjust your driving speed to existing conditions. Pay attention to traffic signals and be prepared to stop in the event the light changes. This is another top CSA violation in the industry, disobeying traffic control device. Keep your record and your conscience clean and be prepared to stop. Allow for more time when you are traveling in inclement weather.

Talk to people: Make sure your CB radio is on and talk to the drivers around you. If you are a new driver, try to find a seasoned driver who isn’t talking a lot of big talk. We’re all a little nervous out there, especially when you think about what we’re really dealing with. You want to find a seasoned driver with a healthy respect for physics to help talk you through it.

Watch your head

While sticking to approved truck routes will keep you out of the below predicament, it never hurts to keep your eyes out for low clearance situations.

Copyright 2017 Werner Enterprises

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