How to Avoid Common Trucking Accident Causes

Trucking accidents are more severe than those involving passenger vehicles only. This is due to the large size and weight of tractor-trailers. As a semi-truck driver, you play a key role in keeping roads safe. Being aware of the most common causes of truck accidents and how to prevent them can help you be a safer driver.

1. Fatigue

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), driver fatigue was a factor in 13% of commercial vehicle accidents. Driving while you are too tired can result in a loss of focus, increasing the risk of a crash.

Tip – Get Enough Rest

During your required breaks, make sure you are getting enough rest. Sleeping in a semi-truck can take some getting used to, but over time you will find what works best for you.

If you are too tired to drive safely, stop and take a short nap. Safety is essential and if you know you are too exhausted to be able to focus on the road, you should communicate this with your dispatcher.

2. Distracted Driving

When you are driving, you should be giving your full attention to what is going on around you. Anything that distracts you from that increases your risk of getting in an accident. It takes time to react to changes in road conditions, and distracted driving can cause you to not notice a hazard until it is too late to avoid it.

Tip – Don’t Drive Distracted

Never text while you are behind the wheel. This is dangerous for passenger vehicles as well but is even more of a concern in such a large vehicle.

Phone calls are also a distraction, even if you are using Bluetooth or another hands-free method of talking on the phone. Even though you can keep your eyes on the road, your focus is split and this can increase the risk of an accident.

3. Speeding

When you are going too fast, you don’t have as much time to react to hazards. Speeding in a semi-truck can also make it more likely that you will lose control of the vehicle during sharp curves and can damage your tires.

Tip – Slow Down

Keep in mind that the posted speed limit may be too fast in a large tractor-trailer. Always adapt your speed to the road conditions. It’s better to slow down and take a little more time to get to your destination safely rather than driving recklessly.

4. Passenger Vehicle Driver Errors

There’s only so much you can control on the road and sometimes other drivers are not as cautious as they should be. A trucking accident is not always due to an error on the part of the commercial driver. Passenger vehicles can also make mistakes or drive recklessly and cause accidents with semi-trucks.

Tip – Drive Defensively

Unfortunately, you can’t change the way others on the road drive. The best you can do to avoid an accident when possible is to drive defensively. Follow the other tips above, stay aware of your surroundings, and be ready to adapt to changing conditions.

Drive With DSW

If you are interested in working with a trucking company that values your hard work, DSW is currently hiring over-the-road (OTR) and regional drivers.

 

FMCSA Regulations to Know

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulates the trucking industry. As a commercial driver, you will need to be aware of and follow all guidelines from this organization. Your motor carrier should keep you informed about relevant FMCSA regulations and assist you in staying compliant.

Some regulations truckers need to know:

Drug and Alcohol Testing

You must pass a drug test before you can start driving a commercial vehicle. You will also need to undergo random drug and alcohol testing and there are other circumstances when the FMCSA requires tests as well.

Failing or refusing a drug test will result in you being immediately removed from safety-sensitive duties.

Hours of Service (HOS)

Hours of service (HOS) regulations govern how long truckers can drive at a time before they must rest. These guidelines help prevent truck driver fatigue.

Key HOS rules to remember:

  • The maximum driving time is 11 hours before you must take 10 consecutive hours off-duty. If there are unforeseeable adverse driving conditions that make it impossible for you to park for your 10-hour break, you may extend your maximum driving time to 13 hours.
  • There is a maximum on-duty time of 14 hours before you must take your 10-hour break. Driving time occurs within this window.
  • After 8 consecutive hours of driving, you need to take a 30-minute break.
  • There is a maximum driving time of 60 hours in a seven-day timeframe or a maximum of 70 hours in an eight-day timeframe. A 34-hour break resets this.

Keep in mind that these are the most basic guidelines, and there are other rules you will need to know. It’s important to plan your trips with HOS regulations in mind.

The FMCSA has an educational tool on its website that can help you better understand how HOS works. Keep in mind that this is not meant to screen for compliance.

Inspections

The FMCSA requires drivers to check that their vehicles are in good working order before driving. To do this, you must complete a pre-trip inspection each day before you hit the road. This is to ensure the vehicle is safe to operate. If there are any issues, you need to let your dispatcher know and address them promptly.

You may also be stopped for a Department of Transportation (DOT) inspection during your trip. Completing pre-trip inspections helps ensure that every part of your truck is functional in case you are subject to one of these inspections.

Understanding FMCSA Regulations

It’s important to keep in mind that the regulations in this article are just a brief overview of what you should know as a trucker. If there is anything you are not sure about, you should ask your supervisor. Your motor carrier’s compliance team should support you in understanding and following all trucking rules and regulations.

Become an Over-the-Road or Regional Driver

At DSW, we strive to work as hard for our drivers as they work for us. We currently have openings for over-the-road (OTR) and regional routes.

To learn more about driving with DSW, contact us today.

How to Improve Semi-Truck Fuel Economy

Fuel is one of the biggest expenses for a trucking business. Semi-trucks average around 5.6 miles per gallon (MPG). For reference, the average fuel efficiency of a passenger vehicle in 2019 was 24.9 MPG according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The difference in fuel economy shouldn’t be too surprising since tractor-trailers have a lot more weight than other vehicles on the road. However, there are some things you can do as a driver to help improve your semi-truck’s fuel economy. Even a small difference can translate into significant savings considering how many miles a long-haul trucker travels – often more than 100,000 miles each year.

Some tips for your improving your fuel efficiency:

Slow Down

Speeding in a semi-truck is dangerous and in addition to the safety risk, it also reduces your fuel efficiency The exact drop based on your speed will vary depending on your particular truck. Studies have demonstrated that vehicles traveling 75 MPH burn up to 27% more fuel than those traveling at 65 MPH. Other data indicates that there is a 0.1 MPG drop for every 1 MPH over 55 MPH.

Avoid Idling

It’s best to keep idling to a minimum to avoid wasting diesel. If you are going to be parked for more than five minutes, turn the engine off. At DSW, all of our trucks are equipped with auxiliary power units (APUs), so you can still keep the cab at a comfortable temperature for sleep and use your electronic devices without idling. It’s also worth noting that idling your truck when you are not in it is dangerous and is also illegal in many jurisdictions.

Use Cruise Control

Aggressive acceleration and braking both negatively affect your semi-truck’s fuel efficiency. Using cruise control keeps your speed steady and helps you avoid these two issues. It also makes it easy to ensure you stay at a safe speed at all times.

However, there are some circumstances when cruise control is not safe. If the weather is bad or the roads are slippery, you should control your speed manually. The same goes for winding roads with lots of curves. In any situation where road conditions can change rapidly, it’s best to avoid cruise control.

Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations require you to perform a pre-trip inspection each day before you start driving. During this time, make sure all of your tires are inflated properly. According to the EPA, this can improve the mileage of passenger vehicles by an average of 0.6%.  There isn’t as much data for semi-trucks specifically, but it is still a beneficial practice. Beyond fuel efficiency, proper tire inflation can prevent blowouts and reduce your risk of getting in an accident.

Other Maintenance

In addition to checking your tires, you should also address any other maintenance issues promptly. This ensures your truck is running at its best. Depending on the repair, it may not have a large impact on fuel economy. However, there are several other benefits, including staying compliant with FMCSA regulations.

Become a DSW Driver

At DSW, 90% of our trucks are less than four years old and we ensure our drivers have access to up-to-date technology. We aim to work as hard for our drivers as they work for us.

To learn more about open positions with our Tucson trucking company, contact us today.

4 Dangers of Speeding in a Semi-Truck

Safety is essential for truck drivers and helps protect you and everyone else on the road. Unfortunately, truckers sometimes feel pressure to maximize efficiency at all costs. While making deliveries on time is definitely important, driving safely is the most important responsibility you have as a commercial driver. This includes not driving too fast, as speeding in a semi-truck is even more dangerous than speeding in a standard passenger vehicle.

At the end of the day, speeding actually isn’t more efficient. You reduce your fuel economy, increase the chances of a costly mechanical issue, and, most importantly, put yourself and others at risk.

Here are some of the dangers of speeding in a tractor-trailer:

1. Increased Stopping Distance

It already takes a longer distance for a semi-truck to safely stop compared to a passenger vehicle. On average, a fully-loaded tractor-trailer has a stopping distance of 200 yards or two football fields at 65 MPH in ideal conditions. This is almost twice the stopping distance of a standard passenger vehicle traveling at the same speed. This data comes from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

If you are going faster than 65 mph, the distance it takes to bring your truck to a stop increases even further. This reduces the chance that you will see a hazard in time to stop.

2. Less Time to React

In addition to the physical stopping distance, you should also keep in mind that it takes time to notice a hazard and react to it. Your reaction time doesn’t change based on your speed, but the distance you will travel while you are still trying to react does, on top of the already increased stopping distance.

3. Difficulty Controlling the Truck on Curves

Curves and turns require care even when you are traveling at a reasonable speed. If you are going too fast, the situation can quickly become hazardous. This is true for passenger vehicles, but the risk is even greater for semi-trucks.

Tractor-trailers can be prone to jackknife. This is when the trailer swings into a V shape relative to the cab. A rollover can also occur if you take a curve at too high of a speed. Both of these issues can cause serious and even fatal accidents.

4. Tire Issues

Semi-truck tires generally have a maximum safe speed. This is typically around 75 mph. Going any faster than this increases the risk of a blow-out or of the tires separating. The risk increases if your tires aren’t filled properly or if it’s during the summer.

What is a Safe Speed?

You may think that you are safe as long as you are going under the posted speed limit, but this is not always the case. It is essential to adapt your speed to the road conditions. Adverse weather conditions can obscure your visibility and moisture on the road increases the risk of hydroplaning. In these situations, a speed that would be safe during ideal conditions may be hazardous.

In many areas, law enforcement can cite you for speeding if your speed was inappropriate for the road conditions, even if it was lower than the posted speed limit. It’s better to be safe than sorry and to use your best judgment to determine a safe speed.

Drive With DSW

At DSW, we support our drivers and prioritize safety in every aspect of our operation. Our management is made up of former drivers and we know what life on the open road is like. You will have access to 24/7 support and we offer competitive pay.

To learn more about our regional and over-the-road opportunities, contact us today.

Avoiding Truck Driver Fatigue

Safe trucking is essential to protect yourself, your cargo, and others on the road. One aspect of this is staying alert at all times. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving contributed to causing over 90,000 crashes in 2017.

Data from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) indicates that truck driver fatigue is a factor in 13% of commercial vehicle accidents. Beyond the large safety risk, a lack of sleep can negatively affect your health. Luckily, there are several steps you can take as a trucker to avoid fatigue while on the road.
Some tips include:

Get Enough Sleep

  • Make sure you get enough sleep every night (or day, if you drive at night). It’s essential for your health and safety. Hours of service regulations are designed to give you enough time off-duty to rest up, but sometimes it’s difficult to get the sleep you need if you’re not used to sleeping in a semi-truck.
  • Create a bedtime routine and repeat it every time you go to bed.
  • Invest in a high-quality mattress for your truck, and add any items that make you feel more comfortable.

Don’t Rely on Caffeine or Other Tricks to Stay Alert

There’s nothing wrong with a cup of coffee here and there, but you shouldn’t be relying on caffeine as a replacement for sleep. If you are feeling drowsy, caffeine is not a long-term solution and if you drink coffee every day, the effect it has will be minimal. Too much caffeine can make it harder for you to sleep, especially if you have it later in the day.

Tricks to Stay Alert That Don’t Work:

  • Rolling down the windows 
  • Turning up your music
  • Stimulant drugs

These can give you a false sense of security and increase your risk of getting in an accident. The only way to truly resolve fatigue is by sleeping.

It should go without saying that using stimulant drugs to try to get around your body’s need to sleep is not only dangerous, but also illegal. You could lose your job and your commercial license, and it’s not worth the risk. 

Take a Nap if You Need One

If you are feeling drowsy, the best thing you can do is to find a place to safely park your truck and take a nap. It is recommended that you nap for at least 10 minutes, but no more than 45 minutes. After you sleep, take 10 minutes to fully wake up before hitting the road again. 

Even a short nap can be more effective than caffeine. However, remember that napping by itself won’t replace your need to sleep for a longer length of time.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

Your overall health can affect the quality of your sleep and how tired you feel throughout the day. Skipping meals, eating overly heavy foods, or not getting enough nutrients can all result in increased drowsiness. Making a commitment to your health can have many positive effects, including increased safety.

A Supportive Trucking Company

At DSW, we work hard to support our drivers. Our management is made up of former truckers, so we know what life on the open road is like.

To learn more about our openings for over-the-road and regional drivers, contact us today.

Summer Driving Tips for Truckers

Safe trucking is essential during every season, and to be fully prepared it’s important to know what to expect at different times of the year. Summer driving is easier than winter driving in most parts of the country.

However, there are unique considerations to keep in mind. The following tips can help you drive safely and beat the heat during the summer months.

Stay Hydrated

Drinking enough water is beneficial year-round and can have a significant positive impact on your health. During the summer, it is especially important to stay hydrated since your body loses water more quickly when it’s hot. Always keep water in your truck and take sips regularly throughout the day.

Wear Sunscreen

When you’re outdoors, you may remember sunscreen more easily since you can feel the heat of the sun. However, ultraviolet (UV) rays come through your truck’s windshield all day while you are driving. Even if you don’t get hot thanks to your air conditioning, you can still end up with a sunburn.

Apply sunscreen to any skin that will be exposed while you’re driving. Wear long sleeves to minimize your UV exposure, and sunglasses to protect your eyes and help you see clearly.

Check Your Truck Carefully

You should be completing a pre-trip inspection before you start driving each day, no matter what season it is. 

During summer, you should be extra aware of the following:

  • Tire Blowouts

Tire blowouts are more common when temperatures are high, so make sure your tires are properly filled.

  • Coolant Levels

Make sure to check your coolant levels. Hot engines and summer heat can make for a nasty combination.

  • Brakes

Check your brakes. High temperatures can cause of a loss of friction between parts of your braking system. 

Expect More Traffic

During the summer, families with children on break may hit the road for a vacation. When possible, try to plan your route to avoid major tourist spots. However, you should expect more traffic overall, whether you are in these locations or not. Additionally, some families may rent recreational vehicles (RVs) or trailers, and if they are not used to driving these, it can create a safety risk. Give these types of vehicles a bit more space, and always drive defensively.

Plan for Adverse Weather

Many truckers associate winter with bad weather and assume summer isn’t as bad by comparison. While you won’t need to worry about snowstorms, there are still many adverse weather events that are common to summertime.

There is an increased chance of hazardous weather:

  • Thunderstorms
  • Tornados
  • Hurricanes.
  • Dust storms
  • Monsoon rainstorms and microbursts

Check the weather in any locations you’re driving through. If you have doubts about your ability to drive safely, wait it out. It’s better to be slightly delayed than to create safety hazards for yourself and other drivers.

Drive a Modern Semi-Truck

At DSW, 90% of our semi-trucks are under 4 years old and our fleet has modern equipment to help you stay comfortable every month of the year. We work hard to ensure our drivers get miles, get paid, and get home regularly.

To apply for a regional or long-haul trucking job, contact us today.

Meal Prep for Truck Drivers

As a truck driver, planning what to eat can be a little more complicated than it is for those working in an office every day. In many cases, grabbing a quick bite at a truck stop can seem like the most convenient option. While an occasional meal out isn’t a big deal, the cost can quickly add up and it can be difficult to find healthy choices. Meal prep for truck drivers does take a bit of planning, but there are many ways to make it work for you and even if you keep just a few meals on hand, you can save money and improve your health.

Some tips for meal prepping as a trucker:

Start Small

Preparing meals for weeks in advance can be an overwhelming task if you’ve never done it before. Rather than trying to be fully stocked with three meals and snacks for every day you’ll be on the road, it can be helpful to start with a more manageable goal. You could try focusing on one meal at first or start with one week’s worth of meals rather than prepping for your entire haul.

Consider the Space in Your Cab

Meal preppers who are eating at home can often freeze or refrigerate large amounts of food. As a truck driver, you are more limited due to the amount of space in your trucker’s fridge or cooler. To work around this, it is helpful to have containers that stack easily. You should also consider if there are any non-refrigerated meals or snacks you can prepare and keep elsewhere in your truck.

In addition to working around the limitations of storage space, you also will have to prepare your food on the road. It’s usually feasible to have a small microwave and if you have pre-made meals in a container, heating them up is fairly simple. If there are other types of dishes that you know you love, you may want to add one or two other small appliances. For example, you could get a single-serving blender to make pre-measured smoothies each morning. An air fryer is also compact and can help you get your food crispier than you would in a microwave.

Make a Variety of Foods

Eating the same thing every day can get boring. Meal prep will usually include several portions of the same meal, but you can add variety by making different types of meals with unique and interesting flavors. In many cases, you can use the same protein in a few different ways, or create options to mix and match the sauce, protein, and grain for your meals.

Meal Prep Ideas for Truckers

To get you started, here are some ideas for meals and snacks you can take on your next haul:

  • Muffins
  • Homemade granola bars
  • Hard-boiled eggs
  • Breakfast burritos
  • Soup
  • Salads in a jar
  • Tacos
  • Pre-sliced veggies
  • Lettuce wraps

Keep in mind that almost any meal can be separated into pre-portioned containers and reheated on the road, so your options are nearly limitless.

Drive For a Trucker-Friendly Company

If you are looking for a company that supports you, consider a career with DSW. We are currently hiring regional and over-the-road truckers. Our vehicles are equipped with auxiliary power units (APUs) and inverters so you can take the appliances you need for meal prep on the road.

To learn more about our openings for truck drivers, contact us today.

Semi-Truck Parking Tips

After a day (or night) on the road as a trucker, it’s time to find a place to park and rest. This can sometimes be challenging, especially if you are trying to park at the same time as many other drivers. A lack of available semi-truck parking spots is more than just a nuisance. It can be a safety concern and may also cause issues with hours of service (HOS) compliance. Although the availability of spots can vary, there are some tips you can use to make it easier to find a spot and to park safely.

Tips for Finding Semi-Truck Parking

Plan Your Trip

Trip planning can help you be more efficient and you should consider parking when you plan your route. Having a few different truck stops listed can make it easy to change course if the first parking lot is full. It’s also important to leave enough driving time to move to the next location if this becomes necessary. When planning for your haul, you may also be able to see when the stop is busiest using a smartphone application for truckers and can also see how safe the area is.

Consider Stopping Earlier

Semi-truck parking areas usually start to fill up around 4 pm or 5 pm as drivers stop for the night. If possible, consider starting your day a little earlier so you can park before this. Some truckers even prefer driving at night and sleeping during the day. You don’t have to completely alter your schedule to find parking, though. Even a difference of an hour or two may help you beat the rush and get a spot.

Look for Smaller Truck Stops

The big-name truck stops often fill up most quickly, whereas mom-and-pop locations may have more spots open even during busier times. When planning your trip, you may want to look for some of these smaller options, especially if you are going to be near a large city.

Tips for Parking Safely

Back Into The Spot or Pull Through

Whenever possible, back your semi-truck into a spot or pull through. Backing out of a spot to get back on the road takes more time and accidents are more likely when backing out.

Avoid Parking Near the Entrance

Although it is tempting to grab the first available spot you see, it’s best to avoid parking near the truck stop’s entrance or at the end of a row when possible. These areas have the most traffic and you increase your risk of an accident by parking there.

Be Patient

Rushing through anything with a semi-truck can be a recipe for disaster. Even if you’re stressed, it’s important to slow down and take your time when parking your vehicle. Remember to get out and look (GOAL) to check for any hazards that you might not see from inside the truck.

Drive With DSW

If you are looking for a regional or long-haul trucking job, DSW is currently hiring. Our truckers have access to over 30 terminals across the country and we also have a driver-friendly fuel purchasing program. It is our goal to work as hard for you as you do for us.

To learn more about our available truck driving jobs, contact us today.

Loading Dock Safety and Efficiency Tips

As a long-haul trucker, most of your time on the job will be spent driving. However, this is not the only responsibility you will have. When you reach your final destination, you will likely be dropping the freight off at a loading dock. Even if you are not the person who actually loads/unloads the truck, it is important to know how to stay safe and be efficient at each stop.

Some tips truckers should keep in mind for loading dock safety and efficiency:

Be Prepared Before You Stop

In most cases you have either a set appointment time or a drop-off window at the loading dock. Be sure to arrive during this time and if you are going to be late, let your dispatcher and the receiver know. You should also call ahead if you think you will arrive more than 15 minutes early to determine whether they can fit you in ahead of time. Another aspect of preparation is having all necessary paperwork easily accessible ready to go. No one likes to wait around at a loading dock and taking these steps before you arrive can help make the process more efficient.

Practice Good Communication

Although trucking is often a more independent job, communication is essential to set yourself up for success. Throughout your career, you will need to know how to effectively communicate with a variety of individuals and this includes workers at loading docks. Each drop-off will be different and it’s important not to make assumptions based on what other receivers have done in the past. If you have any questions, it’s better to take the time to ask rather than potentially putting your safety and that of others at risk.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Staying alert and aware of what is around you is a good tip to follow in general, but it can be especially important at a loading dock. There should be signs giving you instructions or marking off areas you can and cannot enter with your semi-truck. Loading docks often have multiple individuals and vehicles moving around, so you keep an eye out and drive carefully.

Know What Your Responsibilities Are

It is important to be aware of what responsibilities you will have at the loading dock. Every individual involved in the drop-off has a unique role in maintaining a safe environment and getting the job done.  You should always make sure you are doing everything that is expected of you, rather than assuming someone else is taking care of it. On the other hand, taking on responsibilities that you are not trained for can be dangerous. For example, you should never use equipment that you need special certification to handle and which you were not taught how to use ahead of time. When in doubt, check with someone and do not do anything you are not comfortable with.

A Supportive Truck Driving Company

If you want to work for a motor carrier that supports you, DSW is hiring for over-the-road and regional routes. We are a family-focused company, and it is our goal to help you get miles, get paid, and get home regularly.

To learn more about our available trucking jobs, contact us today.

Benefits of Husband and Wife Trucking Teams

Team truck driving can be a great way to make more money while also having company on the road. Some drivers prefer to be paired with someone they don’t know yet. However, if your spouse also has their commercial driver’s license (CDL), they could be a great driving partner. Husband and wife trucking teams are fairly common in the industry and there are many benefits to this arrangement.

Some benefits of driving with your spouse include:

Potential to Earn More Money

This is an advantage for any trucking team, not just couples. When there are two people driving, the truck can keep moving and you can get more miles. This translates into a bigger paycheck, and team drivers are in high demand.

It’s Easier to Manage Potential Conflicts

Spending weeks at a time in close quarters with another person has the potential to lead to conflicts. Even the best teams occasionally have minor disagreements. This is also true of marriages, and couples usually are more experienced than the average trucking team at working through these situations. It takes time to build trust and understanding, and married trucking teams have the advantage of a strong foundation.

Spend Time Together

Life on the road can get lonely but working as a husband and wife team can help. You get to spend more time with your spouse while you both earn money. During your downtime, you may be able to sightsee or try other new activities together, depending on your schedule. Not only do you get to see more of the country, but you also get to share this experience with someone you love.

Better Health

In many cases, husband and wife trucking teams can hold each other accountable when it comes to staying healthy. You can work together to make sure you are getting enough exercise and eating well. Additionally, having a companion may reduce your stress, which is beneficial for your physical and mental health.

Is Husband and Wife Trucking Always a Good Choice?

While there are many benefits to trucking with your spouse, no two couples are exactly alike and this may not be the best choice for everyone. To be successful, it’s important that you feel confident in separating work from your personal life. This is essential so professional concerns don’t start to affect your marriage. It is a good idea to have a conversation about team trucking before you start this career path. Be honest about your concerns and be sure that both of you are equally interested in trucking together.  Finally, you should consider whether you plan to start a family soon, as this can impact whether team trucking will make sense for you.

Now Hiring Team Drivers

DSW is currently hiring teams for over-the-road trucking. If you are not going to be driving with someone you already know, we can pair you with another trucker based on your personality and goals. We are a family-friendly company and support our drivers.

To learn more about becoming a husband and wife trucking team with DSW, contact us today