$25 Dash Cameras.

Transcend DrivePro 230 Dash Camera

Dash Cameras

We’ve all seen them. The  dash camera videos shared on Facebook of people driving poorly. Accidents caught on dash cameras that could have been avoided if only someone had been paying more attention. When it comes to accidents involving “big trucks” blame falls on the truck driver almost instantly. However, many times it is the fault of the other party. They cut off the truck, or drift into it’s lane. Without clear evidence, the conclusion becomes one person’s word against the other.

We here at Mercer want to help you protect you and your equipment, and your driving record. Therefore we are offering a forward facing dash camera at the Reduced Cost of $25. The camera when used properly will provide a constant looping video of you driving down the road. Dash camera footage has been used numerous times to show “the other party” at fault. With dash camera footage we have been able to provide clear evidence for our contractors.

If you are interested in buying a dash camera for $25 just stop by the Mercer Transportation Company Store during regular store hours.


USE PROTECTION

No, boys and girls, we are not going to have 9th grade health class today. What we are going to talk about is protecting yourself, and Mercer, or any other motor carrier, when stopped on the roadway or the shoulder. All commercial motor vehicles are required to carry warning devices for stopped vehicles. The requirement can be found in 49CFR393.95(f). Units must carry either 3 bidirectional emergency reflective triangles, 6 fusees or 3 liquid-burning flares. Most hazmat carriers, including Mercer, require the triangles because of prohibitions in the use of fusees or flares with certain types of hazmat cargo.

When should triangles be placed? That is covered by 49CFR392.22(b)(1) which reads, …..”whenever a commercial motor vehicle is stopped upon the travelled portion or the shoulder of a highway for any cause other than necessary traffic stops, the driver shall, as soon as possible, but in any event within 10 minutes, place the warning devices required by 393.95………..” Specific placement depending upon specific circumstances is included in the parts immediately following the requirement.

It is important for all drivers to understand that triangles are not just required for accident scenes. If the truck is stopped on the roadway, or the shoulder, due to a flat tire, mechanical breakdown, being lost, nap, or whatever, the triangles must be placed within 10 minutes. It is important that the driver places the triangles immediately, even before he or she raises the hood, gets on the cell phone, or opens a map.

If another vehicle rear-ends the stopped unit, and the triangles are not out, the waters of liability for the accident are muddied considerably. The time period that the unit was stopped, if under ten minutes, is often difficult, if not impossible, to prove. What will be factual is that the triangles were not out in an apparent violation of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Usually serious or fatal injuries are involved, and the plaintiff demands are enormous. Even a successful legal defense is incredibly expensive.

The way to avoid these unwanted or unintended consequences is to use protection. Have your triangles in an easy to reach location and put them out immediately when required. Be safe.


FMCSA MAKES CHANGES IN CSA 2010 METHODOLOGY

As has been anticipated since late spring, the FMCSA has made a number of changes in what violations are scored and how violations are scored. This is the result of listening to drivers, trucking companies, trade organizations and other industry stakeholders. Specifically, these methodology changes by the FMCSA include 31 new violation codes not in the previous methodology, 300 violations removed, 260 weight severity changes, 88 violation description changes and 335 violation code changes.

Some of these changes will make it better for drivers. Some, frankly, will be tougher. In cargo securement, for example, former 1 point violations now carry 5 points. Speeding violations, however, are now tiered based upon the number of miles over the limit, instead of everything being 5 points. Under the new methodology, it is 1 point for 1-5 miles over, 4 points for 6-10 over, 7 points for 11-14 over, 10 points for 15 or more miles over, and 10 points for any speeding in a construction zone. In addition, 18 of the possible 21 intervention thresholds, depending on carrier type, have been modified. It is important to note that any point violation is x3 for the first six months, x2 for the next six months, and x1 for the remainder of the three years it stays on a drivers record. Motor carriers have these points for two years.

These new items just showed up on my Vigillo program the first of the week and I am in the process of digesting all of the changes. My gut feeling, based upon my road surveys, is that the speeding point changes will be beneficial, since most of our drivers tend to run about 2-3 mph under or over the posted speed limit, generally under. It will also require the officer to write the actual speed on the report, so drivers will no longer get burned for 15 points (5×3) on a speeding warning with no speed indicated. That’s the good part.

The bad part is that any speeding in a construction zone could end up being a deal breaker here. Construction zone accidents are a major problem in this country and excessive speed in posted zones is one of the main contributing factors. The new methodology reflects that. Cargo securement changes also appear to be tougher. The bar for flatbed carriers is pretty high. It just got higher.

Next week, the FMCSA will release individual CSA 2010 carrier scores to motor carriers. This is a significant piece of the CSA 2010 puzzle. Using the private Vigillo program, since December I have been able to see where Mercer drivers ranked in relation to each other. We have not been able to apply that to the overall industry picture, however. Once we can do that, it will be clearer as to how many total points a Mercer driver can accumulate before he or she is no longer a Mercer driver. I am currently in the process of revising Mercer’s Safety Policy to reflect that, in addition to our PSP (pre-employment screening) standards for the Recruiting Department.

We can go on and on about this, but I know that a number of our drivers are feeling totally overwhelmed by the whole process. Basically, to survive in Mercer’s fleet remember four things: 1) Tire and brake condition must be legal, including adjustment, at all times; 2) Log legal, no excuses; 3) Don’t speed, ever; 4) Secure the load properly with more than enough securement and protection. No straps with cuts, no missing the extra strap or chain in front, lever binders wired closed. These are the things, as a fleet, we have problems with more than anything else.

If you get those four things right every day, CSA 2010 will not be a problem for you. The laws they are enforcing have always been there. Total, absolute compliance has not. CSA 2010 is designed to shine the spotlight on non-compliant motor carriers and drivers more than ever before. The game has changed.


Safe and Efficient Transportation Act Update

Here’s a quick link to click on https://mercertownblog.wordpress.com/2009/10/20/safe-and-efficient-transportation-act-of-2009/.

Now that you are caught up on the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act, and what it means, check this link out:  http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/bipartisan-senate-bill-gives-states-option-to-raise-interstate-weight-limits-100035029.html.

Looks like they are going to get away with passing this bill, and if you read that first link…you know how I feel about it.  Please share your concerns in the comment section.


YOU CANNOT FLY

The observation deck of the Empire State Building is more than a thousand feet above street level. I think if there was ever a time that I could learn to fly, it would be if I fell from it. I don’t know if I could figure it out, but I do know that I would be flapping my arms the whole way down! Maybe in five or six hundred feet it might just work.

I also know that none of us can figure out how to fly in thirteen feet, six inches (top of a load), or five feet (trailer deck height), or four feet (rear tractor deck) or even two or three feet (tractor steps). Unfortunately, we get a lot of drivers hurt each year trying to do just that. The results of these low-flying escapades include concussions, broken arms, shoulders, legs, feet and ribs, lacerations and death. The health as well as the financial consequences to a driver can be disastrous.

How do they happen? Most of the time the root cause can be traced to one of three things: Inattention, being in a hurry, and/or improper equipment. We’ve had drivers on top of loads forget how close they were to the edge and just step off. Some drivers do not notice loose or slippery items on loads until it is too late. Folks in too big of a hurry do silly things like jumping out of the cab, or off of the trailer deck or tractor rear deck. People in a hurry forget the basic rule of three point contact when climbing or descending from loads or vehicles. Improper equipment accidents are often the result of wearing flip-flops instead of appropriate footwear when securing and tarping loads. Improper equipment accidents are also caused by a driver’s failure to use a ladder on tall loads, or the failure to use harnesses or platforms at customer facilities.

Protecting yourself from these kinds of injuries is not rocket science. It is common sense. It is attention to detail. It is taking your time and doing things right. You make your own luck in this business. Or not. Remember, you cannot fly. Be safe.


WHY SAFETY GLASSES ARE A MUST!

Dear Jason,

Just a quick note to tell you about what a great agency the Stockton office is. As you are aware I was injured while loading a shipment for their office and had had Andrea to call them and ask for some help. Kay dropped what she was doing and immediately came to my location, drove us to an urgent care and then sat with us until I was treated (10 stitches) and then drove us back to the truck. She called us the next morning to check on us and make sure we were OK. This office didn’t have to help at all, much less give their time to run us to the needed facilities for treatment. It just proves what a great group of people that they are. If there is any way to honor them for helping out please let me know what I might be able to do to facilitate this. You should also know that Jason in night dispatch made sure we were all OK and even called his wife at home to start the claims process so there wouldn’t be any delay in being covered when the bills come in. I have only been with Mercer a year but with agents such as the Stockton office and corporate personnel such as Jason and my coordinator Allan Hoyle, I hope to stay here for many more years to come!

On to a final note about this incident, had I NOT been wearing safety type glasses while trying to tie down the smoke tarp (the bungee/tarp strap had slipped loose and shot upwards twords my eye) I am certain I would have lost either my eye or at the very least the ability to see out of it. All it takes is just one time to ruin your day and possibly your career. Safety is not something to laugh about and I am living proof as to how it might just save you. I hope others can and will learn from this. Please feel free to publish both the letter and the attatched photos.

Tim A. Lester

#10677


INDIANA MOVE OVER, SLOW DOWN LAW UPDATED

Effective July 1, there are two important changes to Indiana’s Move Over Law. First, motorists must reduce their vehicle’s speed to at least 10 mph under the posted speed limit if they are unable to move safely to an adjacent lane. Secondly, the updated law now also includes utility service vehicles. Under the updated law, Indiana emergency vehicles include:
Police vehicles
Ambulances
Fire trucks and rescue equipment
Highway incident-response vehicles
Highway maintenance vehicles
Utility service vehicles
Vehicle recovery equipment, including tow trucks.

Violations result in fines and suspension of license for up to two years if you cause damage to emergency equipment, injury or death to an emergency worker.

Look for other states to enact similar laws. It is important that all drivers exercise extreme caution when passing any vehicle stopped on the shoulder for any reason. Move over if possible. If not, slow it down.
Drive smart, be safe.


CSA 2010 THOUGHTS

Here we go again, more CSA 2010! As most of you know, the FMCSA has pushed back the launch date (when CSA actually replaces SafeStat) until late November or early December. As most of you also know, it really doesn’t matter because everything is still counting. They are tweeking it somewhat as the result of feedback from drivers, carriers and industry groups. This is an enormous undertaking. From the interaction I’ve had with many of the FMCSA folks involved in this over the past several years, I know that they want to get it right. They are charged with keeping commercial vehicles safe and they take that mission very seriously. CSA has its drawbacks, they are aware of them, and some changes will be made.

One big change is that it appears that the points for speeding will be revised. Warnings will still count, but the officer may have to note the speed (many don’t currently) and the severity points may vary, say from 1-4 mph over, 5-9 mph over, 10-14 mph over and 15+ over, or something like that. It isn’t out yet, but that appears to be where they are headed. There is one caveat, however. Even if these revisions go into effect, they will not be retroactive. Warnings for speeding currently cost you and Mercer 15 points (5×3). We are stuck with what we have now. Don’t speed, 15 points is a big hit which cannot be successfully protested.

Here are some facts about Mercer’s fleet. Of our DOT writeups, 42% are driver controllable. Of these, 12% are speeding and 30% are observable defects. Basically, that means that an officer either saw the truck speeding, or saw something wrong with the truck and/or driver. An observable defect on our fleet is generally a driver not wearing a seatbelt, a light (generally a headlight) not working, a 4″strap with cuts in it, not enough straps or chains (particularly missing the extra one on the front bundle or within the first five feet), and/or dark window tint. These things, more than anything else, get us pulled over on the roadside.

Now, here’s what that means: When you look at the above, and apply CSA points to them, a whopping 82% of the CSA points assessed are driver controllable. Of these points, 15% are speeding, and 68% are observable defects. Observable defects are a big deal and are almost always preventable by the driver. I understand that headlights and other lights burn out, but the other things require drivers to simply get them right. That is the CSA standard carriers and drivers are all required to meet.

As far as where Mercer units get inspected, here are the top six, in most to least order: California, Texas, New Mexico, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina. The two states most likely to issue warnings for speeding are Indiana and Tennessee. If you are trucking in these states, be prepared. We don’t need excuses, we need clean inspections. We don’t need speeding violations or log problems.

CSA 2010 requires absolute obedience to speed limits. It requires absolute attention to detail. We can’t just say we are the best……..CSA 2010 requires us to prove it day after day, every driver, every trip. Be smart. Be safe.


PRE-TRIP INSPECTIONS

A Mercer driver sent this to me today.  Just goes to show, that you should always be observant, and always do pre-trip inspections.  Any driver could have easily taken off and had a really bad morning.  Little things like this make us the best!  Go Mercer!


ODDS AND ENDS

There are several loose ends that I wanted to mention before the long holiday weekend. These are in no particular order, but each is worth mentioning here:

IMTA Safety Award. Yesterday it was my honor to receive on our drivers’ behalf the Indiana Motor Truck Association Fleet Safety Award. We won the truckload 5-10 million mile category for the best accident record in Indiana in 2009. Mercer also won that award in 2007. Our drivers are the best. Each of you should be proud of a job well done.

Novita Side Eyes blind spot detector. I am looking for a couple more volunteers to test this device. It consists of  sensors mounted on each side of the cab below the doors and small LED lights mounted on the mirrors which illuminate when something is in the blind spot. Mercer has purchased five of these systems for testing. One is already mounted on #7098, Matt Stone. We have three more commitments, but one may not be available and one spot is still open. For now, we prefer Volvos, and also will limit it to folks that have been here more than a year. The only model we cannot do it on at this time is Internationals. It must be installed at the Novita facility in Brentwood (Nashville),TN. It takes about a half day.  They can handle the truck and trailer. Give me a call if you have some interest. Other than the time for installation, it costs the driver nothing. And yes, you can keep it.

Speedco Inspections. Effective immediately Speedco facilities are no longer Mercer inspection stations. As soon as we got them going, they decided that they wanted to only use their inspection forms/stickers. Great folks, but that was not the deal going in and simply doesn’t work for Uncle Lennie. We use our forms and our stickers. Those locations are in the process of being replaced.

CVSA inspection blitz. Don’t forget that the annual 72-hour inspection marathon is Tuesday, June 8 through Thursday, June 10. WE NEED CLEAN INSPECTIONS.  If you are going to truck during that period I STRONGLY SUGGEST that you have a shop check your rig out in advance, particularly the brakes and all air lines. ABS lights need to work. Don’t forget to have washer fluid in the windshield washer tank. I’m not likely to listen to excuses for log or load securement problems during those three days. It is not in any driver’s best interest to exceed any posted speed limit by any amount for any reason.

Finally, it’s important that we all take time this weekend to remember what Memorial Day is all about. It’s not about the sale at Best Buy, or buying a new mattress or a new car.  It’s about honoring those who served and sacrificed so we can  continue to have the rights we enjoy.  Please take time to remember that. To all of our drivers, employees and anyone else reading this…….if you served in the Armed Forces, thankyou, thankyou and thankyou.  America on a bad day is head and shoulders above anyplace else.