Getting Enough Sleep?

Sleep-deprivation and fatigue-related accidents unfortunately are common among truckers. Long hours on the road, lack of exercise, and frequent eating contribute to tiredness, while the demands of the trucking life can make it hard to schedule a decent rest. The trucking business runs 24/7, every day of the year, with pressures and regulations that require you to maximize driving time. Good sleep habits can take a back seat to all this.

Yet even a moderate lack of sleep can slow reaction times, affect vision, and reduce your ability to be sharp on the road. It’s crucial to be as fully rested as you can be for your own safety, the safety of others, and the stability of your rig and cargo.

What can you do about it?

  1. Work out a sleep schedule that takes into account your routes, typical customers, sleep habits and log requirements. Yes, it can be a challenge, what with loads and deliveries and crowded rest stops. Your rest may have to be divided into multiple segments.
  2. Learn to sleep at any time of the day or night. For times when your schedule is just too crazy, this may be your best bet.
  3. Keep fit and eat healthily, to maximize your bunk time. Being in better physical shape will help you sleep deeper, fall asleep more easily and be more rested.
  4. Take cat naps when you can. A half-hour nap can jumpstart your day, and even closing your eyes briefly, while waiting for loading or unloading, can conserve energy.

Sleep Apnea Adds Danger to the Road

Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which people experience pauses in breathing while sleeping, resulting in fragmentary sleeping.

Untreated sleep apnea and the resulting excessive sleepiness is common among truck drivers and has lead to serious accidents. The first lawsuit for a highway death related to sleep apnea resulted in a $3 million settlement. A truck crashed into the back of a car in May 2010, and it turned out that the trucker had been diagnosed for sleep apnea but failed to get treatment.

Being obese or overweight is one of the leading causes of sleep apnea. A recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that transportation workers have the highest obesity rate—37.8 percent—of any U.S. industry. Life on the road is tough, and truck drivers face an uphill battle when it comes to health.

You can help prevent obstructive sleep apnea if you:

  • Avoid alcohol and medicines such as sleeping pills and sedatives right before bed. These can relax your throat muscles and slow your breathing.
  • Eat sensibly, exercise, and stay at a healthy weight.
  • Quit smoking. Nicotine relaxes the muscles that keep airways open. If you don’t smoke, those muscles are less likely to collapse at night and narrow the airways.
  • If you have sleep apnea, make use of prescribed treatments such as special mouthpieces.

Drowsy driving can be almost as dangerous as getting behind the wheel after too many beers. While most commercial truck drivers are professionals who would never drink on the job, they can easily overlook factors that put them at increased risk of a “sleepy” accident.

New Year’s Resolution: A Safety Checklist

Happy New Year!

Here is 2013, a new year, more daylight ahead, and winter driving to deal with. As you prepare for another year of trucking, now is a good time to assess the state of your preparations.

Maintenance checks and safety checks: now is the time to take stock and bring your work up to date. This also includes looking at the state of your insurance needs and coverage.

Have you added trucks to a fleet? Brought on kinds of business? Hired a driver? You’ll want to make sure that your insurance coverage is also up to speed.

Are your documents up to date? Make sure you have vehicle registrations, your current insurance policy declarations page (“dec page”), driver’s license numbers and basic driving histories of all drivers, including speeding tickets and VIN numbers (vehicle identification numbers) of each vehicle, and verify that your lines of authority are active and in good standing.

This is a good time to review your coverage with your insurance agent. Some issues to discuss could include:

  • Liability Insurance – this is the mandatory insurance which pays for any damage you cause with your truck. Driving without this insurance is an offense and could result in heavy penalties. Are all drivers and vehicles accurate on your policy?
  • Motor Truck General Liability Insurance – this coverage pays for injuries or property damage you cause through business activities when outside of your truck.
  • Bobtail/Deadhead Insurance – also known as non-trucking liability, this insurance is voluntary when you lease your truck to another carrier. It provides coverage for your truck when you’re not under a load and not under dispatch (i.e. when you’re having it serviced).
  • Motor Truck Cargo – this insurance covers the load you’re carrying. It isn’t mandatory but some shipping companies insist on it.
  • Physical Damage Coverage – also not a legal requirement, this insurance covers your truck against perils like collision, fire, theft, vandalism and flood damage. Are all of your units insured for the correct value? It is very important to review stated amounts (limits) for each truck insured.

Are you a long-haul driver? You’ll want to check with your insurance company about the radius of operation restriction for Primary Liability coverage and how they calculate it. An insurance agency may request copies of your IFTA statements to verify how far you are travelling. Keep current copies of the last four quarters in the event the company requests them.

Whether you need insurance as an owner-operator, motor carrier or private carrier, we can advise you and quickly get the coverage and the paperwork that you need.

Three reasons to consider changing your trucking insurance

Whether you operate a tractor trailer, haul materials with a dump truck or drive any size or type of truck for a living, you are aware of the complexities required to insure your vehicle. But is there enough incentive to consider changing your insurance company? Maybe, depending on how your company stacks up to the list below.

Your insurance agent needs to be attentive, thorough and ready to move quickly. If that isn’t your agent, look elsewhere.

The obvious reason for switching is usually not the right answer: lower premiums. By using due diligence and comparing similar coverage plans, you can probably save on your premium, but most likely you are paying a competitive premium.

What you might be missing is a company that saves you money in other ways. The first of which is

1. Speed. Or lack thereof. Has your current insurance company ever made you lose working days because it took them a long time to get you your required paperwork?  That delay alone can decrease what ends up in your bank account. Think about what a slow insurance agent could cost you in the event of a significant accident claim.

Your insurance agent needs to be attentive, thorough and ready to move quickly. If that isn’t your agent, look elsewhere.

2. A trucking insurance specialist. Be careful with this one. In the insurance business, many companies claim to be specialists at everything. Don’t buy it. Just because a company can fill out the paperwork does not mean that they are providing the best advice to your specific need.

Run this test: go to your insurance company’s website and look at what they list as their specialties. Do they include everything under the sun? Where is trucking insurance listed? First? Last? At all? You can quickly gather whether your insurance agency is actually a “specialist.”

What is the benefit of working with actual specialists? They ask the right questions and provide coverage that is exactly right for you. In the long run, they lower your risk and raise your peace of mind.  With all of the state, DOT and Federal Motor Carrier regulations (and they fines they impose) having an insurance agent who is a “specialist” is critical.

3. An insurance company that is in a different time zone than you. If you drive your truck for a living and you are based in Ohio, do you really think it is a good idea to work with an insurance company operating out of Texas or California? Insurance regulations differ from state to state. Asking someone in Sacramento what is best for your Cleveland company raises your risk for bad advice.

If you do look into changing your insurance agency, start within your own state. The odds that a local agency is up to date with your state’s ever-changing rules are much better. You will get the right kind of coverage for your area and not end up paying for additions that may not even apply to your region.

The Jones & Wenner Insurance Agency is an Ohio-based insurance agency that has specialized in trucking insurance for almost 40 years. To test our ability to work efficiently and effectively, contact me or any of our agents to find out if we are a good fit to insure your truck or fleet.