DOT Safe Driving. It's not just for big rigs.
Pickup trucks have many uses in retail operations, from towing spreaders, tender trailers or anhydrous tanks to delivering bulk bags or pallets of product.
Any vehicle with a gross vehicle weight of 10,001 pounds or more and used by a business is a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) subject to DOT and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). But these regulations and the safe driving practices that apply to pickup trucks used for deliveries can be easily overlooked or taken for granted.
Texting Can Be Costly – Don’t Allow It!
The use of cell phones and tablets makes the potential for distracted driving especially high among ag retail employees who are delivering and applying products. The risk increases when location or agronomy managers send an address or a pin on a map that the driver must access.
However, for DOT drivers, texting while driving can result in driver disqualification. Employers who allow or require drivers to use a hand-held communications device for texting while driving can be fined up to $11,000. Drivers who use such devices can pay penalties up to $2,750.
Follow Three Tips to Avoid Distracted Driving:
Have the route and instructions in hand before leaving for a delivery.
Pull off the roadway and stop in a safe location if it is necessary to make or answer a phone call, email or text.
Do not multitask while driving. Adjust mirrors, pick the music, eat a sandwich, make a phone call or read an email before or after the delivery, not while driving.
Pre-trip Preparation is Key for Safe Driving
Do a pre-trip vehicle inspection. Before the trip, check lights, lug nuts, tires and any mechanical aspect of the vehicle such as brakes that might cause an issue while making a delivery.
Equip CMVs with safety equipment. DOT requires these items in all CMVs: spare fuses, first aid kit, mounted, portable fire extinguisher, roadside emergency warning devices and high visibility vest. Ensure they are working properly and easily accessible.
Secure the load, even on short trips. Secure the load to prevent cargo from leaking, spilling, blowing off or falling off the vehicle and to ensure cargo doesn’t come through the back of the cab and injure the driver or slide off a flatbed into the roadway.
Do a pre-trip inspection of towed equipment. Check tires for proper inflation and visible signs of wear. Make sure all lug nuts are in place and tight. Be sure the towed vehicle has a slow-moving vehicle sign or properly working lights on the back.
Double check hitches, safety chains and hooks. Make sure receiver hitches and hitch inserts are free from cracks, broken welds, loose bolts and wear. Hitch pins and ball hitches must be the correct size for both the vehicle and the towed equipment. Always use a lynch pin to keep drawbar pins and hitches from coming unhooked. Safety chains and hooks should be rated for the load being hauled. Finally, be sure the safety closures on chains are working properly so they don’t dislodge on rough roads or come unhooked from the vehicle.
Read our DOT Safe Driving Whitepaper to help ensure every driver is prepared to be as safe as possible on the road.
This safety and compliance reminder brought to you by ResponsibleAg – working to help keep employees, customers and communities safe since 2014.
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