How Drivers Can Impact Tire Cost & Tire Safety
Next to fuel, tires have been and will continue to be the #1 maintenance issue facing fleets today.
Drivers can have an enormous impact on your tire expenses and their safety during a pre-trip inspection and while they are on the road. During the pre and post trip inspection, it is important for drivers to visually inspect tires for any sign of irregular wear, cuts, snags, and punctures; and report that information to the maintenance department either directly or through a DVIR. But what about checking the tire air pressures during the walk-around inspection? It does take time to check the air pressure on 6 to18 tires and how does the driver know that the pressure gauge he’s using is even accurate? After checking the air pressure, it is also possible that a valve core can stick causing the tire to lose air. The driver, of course, would need to know what the recommended air pressure is for steer, drive, and trailer tires.
Many fleets have different specs for air pressure depending on wheel position. Even if the driver completes these checks, what if he (or she) finds that the inside dual drive tires are all 10 PSI too low. If the driver is on the road, will they actually take the vehicle to a truck stop to get air? The driver does not own the vehicle so why should he care if the tire is 10 PSI underinflated. This is exactly why it is so important to educate your drivers upon hire and during employment about tire maintenance and safety. Most drivers have no idea that the tires on a tractor/trailer unit may have cost over $7,500. During new driver orientation and safety meetings, drivers need to hear about tires and how they can influence:
- Safety of operating the CMV
- tire removal mileage
- fuel economy
- tire related roadside service calls
Drivers must fully understand that their jobs depend on helping their employer do everything in their power to get the most out of their $6000 tire investment. If the driver understands that there is a direct correlation between running tires underinflated and fuel economy he/she could save the company close to $1000 per year in fuel alone. There’s more that the driver can do: If the driver, in a pre/post trip inspection can identify a possible vehicle alignment condition based on steer tire irregular wear, that tractor could be fixed and the tires saved from early removal. And his driving habits matter as well - if the driver does not accelerate
aggressively and makes smooth turns, tires will last a lot longer as the tread rubber will not be scrubbed off as quickly. Striking curbs is also a leading cause of ending a tires life prematurely. Many fleets today recognize the role the driver can play in maximizing their tire budget. Most have some sort of incentive program for those drivers who can generate the most miles on their tires and can consistently get the best fuel economy by keeping their tires properly inflated ALL the time. Having a program to educate drivers on these issues can save your company in a very short time.
Measuring Tire Tread Depth?
Tread depths need to be checked and recorded because DOT has a legal limit -4/32” for steer tires and 2/32” of rubber for drive and trailer tires. That means that if any spot in the major grooves of a street tire are found to be 4/32” or less, that tire must be removed from service.
However, it can either be retreaded or moved to the trailer and run down to 2/32" minimum before entering the retreading process. Drive tires would be required to be removed from service or retreaded when any major groove reaches 2/32” of rubber to be safe. Most fleets have found over the
years that running the tire down to 2/32”.
The last tip about measuring tread depth: never measure in the decoupling groove which is found in many steer tire designs to reduce irregular wear. This outside decoupling groove is sometimes known as a PDG groove (Pressure Distribution Groove) and they may be very deep or may be very shallow–but it is not the same depth as the major tire grooves.
Next Week November 1-8 is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week
The National Sleep Foundation has launched Drowsy Driving Prevention week as an educational campaign designed to save lives by increasing awareness of the dangers of driving while sleepy. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving causes at least 100,000 police-reported crashes and kills more than 1,550 Americans each year. It is curious that all states have laws in place to enforce drunken driving but few have laws to cite a driver who has fallen asleep causing an accident. Only the state of New Jersey explicitly defines drowsy driving as recklessness under a vehicular homicide statute. Known as "Maggie's Law," New Jersey's drowsy driving law has served to raise awareness of the consequences of fatigue behind the wheel and has spurred significant action in other states. There are now at least 8 states with 12 pending bills
that address fatigued driving in various ways.
WARNING SIGNS OF DROWSINESS AND FATIGUE
- can't remember the last few miles driven
- have wandering or disconnected thoughts
- experience difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open
- have trouble keeping your head up
- drift from lanes or hit a rumble strip
- yawn repeatedly
- tailgate or miss traffic signs
- find yourself jerking your vehicle back into lane….
If you said yes to any of the above, then you may be suffering from drowsiness or fatigue. Continuing to drive in this condition puts you at serious risk of being involved in a fatigue-related crash.
You should pull over in a safe place and get some rest before resuming your trip.
Sleep / Take naps:
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO STAY ALERT WHILE DRIVING:
Your best bet is to get enough sleep every day. If you must stay up late, afternoon naps are a great way to get more sleep. If you feel drowsy while driving, a 15-minute nap can be very effective. Make sure to pull over in a safe place.
Avoid caffeine during the last half of your workday as it may contribute to sleeping problems. You can gain short-term alertness by drinking coffee or other caffeine sources if driving, but it usually takes 30 minutes to take affect and wears off after a few hours.
You should stop every 100 miles or 2 hours. Switch drivers if you can.
AC MAX – Recirculation:
Do not operate the vehicle for extended periods of time with the AC on MAX or Recirculation. Under these conditions the level of C02 in the vehicle is increased contributing to drowsy driving.
If you have been drinking, please don't drive! In addition to being illegal, alcohol makes you sleepy and amplifies your fatigue.
If you are planning a long trip, AAA offers the following tips for avoiding fatigue:
- Prepare for your trip by getting a good night's sleep the night before. Plan to drive during the time that you are normally awake, and stay overnight rather than traveling straight through.
- Avoid driving during the body's "down time". According to AAA, this is generally in the mid-afternoon and between midnight and 6:00 a.m.
- If you have passengers, talk to them. It will help to keep you alert, and they will also be able to tell if you are showing signs of getting sleepy.
- Schedule a break every 2 hours or every 100 miles. Take a nap, stretch, take a walk and get some exercise before resuming your trip.
- Stop sooner if you show any danger signs of sleepiness.
"TRICKS" THAT DO NOT WORK
Opening the window, turning on the air conditioning, or playing loud music are not effective in keeping drivers alert for any extended period of time.
Time to Fall Back... Daylight Saving Time Changes Sunday!
Daylight savings time will "fall back" at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, November 1st.
Make sure that all of your drivers are aware that the change to daylight savings will occur. Caution route drivers especially that the amount of daylight will change according to their stops with the change. An intersection or street can present different challenges to drivers with one hour change in the position of the sun. One hour of time difference can present unique changes to a driver who is on a route.
How does a driver log Daylight Savings Time?
There are no "official" guidelines for logging when the time changes. What most drivers do is simply drop a line down to the remarks section of the log to indicate the time change. So at 02:00 AM, Sunday morning, drop a line down and write something like, "Daylight saving." It should not affect drivers' hours because they still must comply with the 11-, 14- (or 10-, 15-), and 60/70-hour rules. These rules are not dependent on what the clock reads; rather they depend on how much time the person actually worked/drove.
When you "gain" an hour in the fall, your log for that day should include 25 hours of activity, because you repeat the hour from 1:00 a.m. - 2:00 a.m. The log needs to show what you did for that hour, so enter a note indicating your activity and any changes in duty status. That hour must be included when calculating compliance.
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