Tagged: trucking

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Five things lorry drivers wish car drivers would do

They spend more hours behind the wheel than any car driver and have seen more than their fair share of near-misses, spills and accidents.

And now lorry drivers are lifting the lid on the driving that causes most problems on the roads, as well as grumbles about the things that peeve them most.

And from a safety point of view, they say car drivers may be driving dangerously and not even know what they are doing wrong.

Jamie Wright from J.M Trucking Ltd in Cleethorpes

We spoke to Jamie Wright, lorry driver and instructor at JM Trucking Ltd in Grimsby, one of North East Lincolnshire’s top training companies, about the top frustrations for our HGV drivers.

1) People pulling out at junctions at last minute

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One of the main issues truckers face is that drivers fail to understand the difference between behind behind the wheel or a lorry and a car.

When people pull out of junctions late, it makes it very difficult for the driver of the lorry to slow down in time. Due to the weight of the lorry, even though they are breaking, the momentum of the load is pushing the vehicle forward, meaning the driver almost becomes a passenger.

Jamie says: “Most people don’t understand the logics of how a truck stops. In an ideal world we would put car drivers in trucks to see how it actually works. There should be more training and courses for the car drivers.”

And of course this also counts with people driving onto roundabouts at speed ahead of lorries, like the infamous angry Audi driver incident near Immingham[1]

2) Pulling in too quickly after an overtake

Drivers try to squeeze past a lorry as the dual carriageway ends. A top complaint from drivers

The lorry driver is faced with a similar situation when someone pulls in quickly after overtaking them.

It causes them to have to break sharply, causing problems for the lorry and drivers behind, which are often more lorries. It also makes it difficult for the lorry to get back up to speed, because they are losing momentum due to the weight of the vehicle. When in that situation, people should make sure there is plenty of room ahead, and pull in when they are well beyond the lorry.

Jamie says: “We can’t just stand on the breaks. Not many people understand how much longer it takes to gain or lose speed.” The highway code provides more information about how to safely overtake larger vehicles.

3) People not indicating at roundabouts

An accident between a car and lorry on the A180 roundabout in Grimsby

If a lorry goes to pull out because a car has not indicated which way they are going, it becomes hard for the lorry to then stop again, as they have the weight of their load pushing them forwards. And as seen in the recejt Angry Audi driver footage, lorry drivers can also have problems when cars arrive quickly at roundabouts and speed through when lorries are trying to pull out.

Jamie says: “You’re dealing with something up to 44 metres long and they’re trying to pull out and if car drivers are not indicating they can’t get out.” So the issue is that lorries cannot risk guessing where a person is going, meaning they can’t pull out. This backs up traffic and could cause a hazard on the road.

4) Double parking on small roads

A lorry trying to navigate down a residential street packed with parked cars

Trucks often struggle to navigate down these small streets, which means they can’t get their deliveries in because people have parked poorly on both sides of the road.

Jamie says: “The car drivers are the first people to complain. We’ve rung the council because of poor parking because it’s stopping us from working. We can’t get deliveries in and out and they’re stopping fire engines and things like that. I don’t think people see the broader picture.”

5) People speeding past on small country lanes

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This is another issue of safety, not only for the lorry drivers, but for the cars that are overtaking and that may be on-coming on the other side of the road.

It is an issue that really gets on lorry driver’s nerves because this behaviour can be very dangerous. Lives are being put in danger because people are getting impatient. And often it is difficult to see past the lorry, making overtakes dangerous.

Jamie says: “Car drivers on narrow roads compromise everyone’s safety trying to overtake trucks all the time. They’ve upped the speed limits to 50 and most drivers are using it at 50 to stop people from challenging their own lives.”

And things that also annoy the drivers

1) The cost

Jamie Wright from J.M Trucking Ltd at Ewans European Transport yard in Wilton Rd, Cleethorpes (Image: Duncan Young)

The cost of upkeep for a lorry driver’s licence is excessive. There is a huge difference between a lorry licence and a standard driving licence, which people may not realise.

Drivers are having to pay to maintain their licence every five years, so they can continue doing their job. This, along with constant stress placed on the drivers, has led to a drop in the numbers of people applying for trucking jobs.

Jamie said it takes four separate test to get your license and he spends around 35 hours in the classroom teaching his trainee drivers.

2) Red tape

Lorry driving is a heavily regulated profession and it takes a lot to pass your tests and get your license. Even though this is the case, lorry drivers often get blamed when it comes to incidents on the roads.

Jamie said: “Lorry drivers are so regulated for what they do, whereas car drivers just pass their test and that’s it. I know guys who have said they can’t do it anymore because it’s probably one of the most regulated industries where you can get fined and lose your license quicker than any car driver.

“We’ve all got schedules to make, but it seems to be, from the perspectives I get from a lot of people, is that we’re always to blame and it’s not always the case.”

3) Parking

Parking is a significant issue that lorry drivers face on a daily, and nightly, basis. Not only can it be difficult to find a parking space, it can also be very costly and dangerous.

Jamie said that if you work locally, then you can find a parking spot at a service station for around £10 to £15. However, if a driver is working closer to London, then a parking space could set them back £30 to £35.

This means that some drivers resort to parking in lay-bys, which is not a safe situation to be in, as it leaves them vulnerable to theft and damage to their lorries.

Jamie says: “When they’re out on the road, they’re getting charged £30 to stay in service stations and a lot of people can’t afford that, so they’re parking in lay-bys and putting their own safety at risk.”

References

  1. ^ angry Audi driver incident near Immingham (www.grimsbytelegraph.co.uk)
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After national competition, FedEx driver keeps delivering on tricky WV route

KENNY KEMP | Gazette-Mail

FedEx Ground truck driver Franklin Vance delivers a package to Sally Beauty shop on Kanawha Boulevard. Vance recently competed in the National Truck Driving Championships, an annual competition that emphasizes safety for commercial truck drivers.

KENNY KEMP | Gazette-Mail

FedEx Ground truck driver Franklin Vance pulls out a package for delivery. Vance has represented West Virginia in the National Truck Driving Championships’ step van category for two years in a row.

KENNY KEMP | Gazette-Mail

FedEx Ground truck driver Franklin Vance drives away in his 26-foot delivery truck. Vance’s daily route, which starts in Institute and ends in Sissonville, averages 85 stops and roughly 250 deliveries, he said.

Franklin Vance’s delivery route isn’t easy, and he’ll be the first to tell you so.

“When I’m off it takes four guys to cover my route,” Vance, a FedEx Ground truck driver, said in between deliveries at the Patrick Street Plaza shopping center in Charleston. “I average 50 to 60 miles a day on my route, but I’m in and out of all these tight alleys, with vehicles, trees and everything else to dodge.”

The arduous route may have helped propel Vance to his position as one of the best commercial truck drivers in the state.

Raised in Mingo County and living in Chapmanville, Vance represented West Virginia for the second year in a row at the National Truck Driving Championships, an annual championship held to see who is the best (and safest) commercial truck driver in the land.

The championships, held Aug. 9-12 in Orlando, Florida, feature nine different vehicle classes drivers can compete in, with Vance competing in the step van category. The winners are determined by who can accumulate the most points in the three competition categories: a written exam, a pre-trip inspection and the driving skills challenge.

Vance finished 27th out of the 50-man field he competed in. In 2016, he finished 15th.

Even if he didn’t reach the summit of the national championships, Vance still finished first among step van drivers in West Virginia’s state truck driving championships, held June 17 in Buckhannon.

The driving portion, Vance said, is his strength. Competitors have to maneuver around obstacles, go safely around a tight curb and run over small pieces of tape to demonstrate accuracy.

Vance said competitors in his class were in a P700 step van for this year’s competition, meaning he had to adjust his habits from the larger and heavier P1000 step van he delivers with.

“That hurt me because I’m used to having the longer truck to back up, so I have to make sure I’m not stopping way too soon,” he said. “Your tail swing, turn radius and everything else is different [from the P1000].”

Despite the adjustment, Vance said he easily gathered the necessary practice reps from all the delivery miles under his belt.

“When I’m out here every day, I can put the course out here in reality,” he said.

The written exam was a different story.

“It kind of whipped my butt,” he said.

The written exam focuses on trucking rules, regulations and history. A good portion of this year’s exam focused on handling hazardous materials, Vance said.

“You have to read the whole book on the rules to make sure you don’t miss anything,” he said.

The pre-trip portion, which tests if drivers can spot defects or issues with their trucks before starting a route, fell somewhere in the middle for Vance. Competitors need a careful eye for it, as organizers have hidden fake bags of marijuana and fake pistols in trucks in previous competitions, Vance said. Those violations are crucial to spot, he said, because they carry harsh penalties in real life too.

FedEx as a whole has had a large presence in the competition, with 173 drivers representing its subsidiaries in 2017 and all 50 states featuring a FedEx representative, according to a news release. Vance’s employer, Robert Young Trucking, is a contracted service provider for FedEx Ground.

FedEx goes all in for the competition, according to Vance, and FedEx’s website says an initiative called “the Chairman’s Challenge” encourages its drivers “to demonstrate their skills and professionalism while promoting the importance of safe driving at all FedEx companies.”

Vance said he has been driving his notorious route for FedEx Ground for four years and has accumulated roughly 400,000 miles with the company.

Vance’s route starts in Institute, goes through Dunbar and Charleston before ending in Sissonville. He averages roughly 85 stops and 250 package deliveries per workday, with the possibilities ranging from a quick one-package drop at Sally Beauty to hauling a deep freezer up to a third-floor apartment.

The top priority for any truck driver is to keep people safe, Vance said, which he does by “looking everywhere all the time.” Participating in the championships enhances that reputation, which may sway more customers to use FedEx, he added.

Vance acquired his passion for truck driving from his father, Robert Vance, and has nine professional years of experience under his belt. During that time, the industry has changed as consumers clamor for products to be delivered straight to their home, according to Vance.

“The industry just keeps growing, and everybody is ordering online,” he said. “[Deliveries] are shifting from businesses to residential customers.”

Even if the industry shift means more tricky residential deliveries — Vance recalls recently delivering a stair stepper up a hill to a house without a driveway — he said he’s up for the challenge.

“I enjoy it,” Vance said. “There are days where I’m not too happy, but for the most part I have fun.”

Reach Max Garland at [email protected], 304-348-4886 or follow @MaxGarlandTypes on Twitter.

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Driving force: Fargoan becomes first female president of ND trucking industry organization

But there’s no denying her drive for the trucking industry, both through her work with an insurance company as well as her recent rise to become the first female president of a state organization that represents the industry.

Dixon became president of the North Dakota Motor Carriers Association in late May following several years of serving on the board and various other organizations.

The group has been around since 1934 and aims to support the trucking industry—a major effort in a state like North Dakota where it says one in nine jobs are related to trucking.

Arik Spencer said her ascent is “notable historically” in the typically male-dominated trucking industry. But Spencer, the executive vice president of the association, said Dixon got there because of her background and hard work, not her gender.

“I think it’s exciting that they can look to Melissa as an example of a strong female leader in the trucking industry who’s eminently qualified,” he said.

Dixon didn’t set out to shatter a trucker version of a glass ceiling—she said she never thinks about “being a woman in a man’s world,” even if that’s how some might see it.

“Not that I don’t feel about myself as a woman, because I most certainly do, but I’ve always been blessed with a strong desire and ability to move myself forward, so I think that it is important to many people that this is the situation,” she said.

Family legacy

Dixon doesn’t have a commercial driver’s license, though she has driven a truck and several large motorhomes in the past.

Even if she’s not behind the wheel, her passion for the industry started at a young age. Her grandfather, George Dixon, was inducted into the North Dakota Highway Hall of Honor in 1975 for founding the Good Roads Association in the early 1940s. James Dixon, her father, founded Fargo’s Dixon Insurance Inc., 3101 39th St. S., in 1953.

She fondly remembers going to the office as a little girl to see her dad’s work catering to the trucking industry. But she certainly didn’t plan to go into insurance. She said she dreamed about being a veterinarian, or a lawyer, or maybe a veterinarian-lawyer.

“And then, life happens,” she said.

After spending nine years in Alaska, where she worked with National Car Rental and Alaska Airlines, Dixon was asked to temporarily come home and start a sister organization of Dixon Insurance to handle licensing and registration. She agreed, and within a year, she was ready to leave after founding Interstate Truck Licensing.

But her dad asked her to stay for another couple years, and Dixon decided to become an Interstate Commerce Commission practitioner to work on more interesting things in her job.

Around the same time, she said she grew fascinated with the rapid changes in trucking as a result of deregulation and multi-state compacts.

“I came to love the industry,” she said.

Dixon has been with Dixon Insurance ever since and now serves as president. She said her time in the industry has made her passionate about educating truckers and the general public for the benefit of everyone.

“She really is a big promoter of the trucking industry and the transportation industry,” said Mark Wolter, immediate past president of the Motor Carriers Association.

Dixon is well-versed in the important issues facing trucking, Wolter said, and also brings a “passion” for the work that should suit her well for the remainder of her two-year term as president.

“She’s, to me, the ideal, perfect candidate,” he said.

Dixon said she has several goals, including a primary objective of getting the association’s message out so the general public can understand the importance of the industry—and the need to be safe around trucks.

More than 70 percent of truck accidents are caused by a car or non-semi, she said, but many drivers don’t understand the large blind spots that truck drivers must operate through on crowded highways and city streets.

Dixon said she’d like to help people see these vehicles as the “backbone” of modern life because of their vital role in delivering goods and products across the nation.

“We shouldn’t look at them with disdain when we’re on the highway,” she said. “We should look at them with appreciation.”