My 2018 new Cascadia is equipped with a suite of safety components from Detroit Assurance. The lane departure warning system has exposed bad habits.  Reaching for things can become a habit. LDW shows a driver that the truck moves when you reach for something. Message received. Anything that I need, mostly my water bottle or coffee cup is put in its proper place. I don’t have to take my eyes off the road to use it. 

The collision mitigation system is an investment. It is not just because it will react when a driver does not. It is a constant reminder for a driver to maintain a safe following distance. I keep my system set at 3.6 seconds. I try keep my following distance at 7 seconds. Whenever I hear a driver complain about the system going off, I can’t help but think that it is trying to tell them something. Depending on the driver, I will say something. I will try not to tell the driver that they are doing something wrong. I simply tell him what the system is doing and why. 

Safety starts everyday before you even start your truck. It starts with your pre trip inspection. Invest the time. 15 minutes now can save you hours down the road. It seems rare these days to see someone  open the hood on a newer truck. Discovering a simple thing like a loose clamp can save you hours down the road. That doesn’t even include the cost of a road call. Fixing a truck along the side of the road – even with your triangles out – makes me nervous.

Invest the time to inspect your tires. All tires matter. Steer tires matter more. I start and end my tire inspection with my steers. It is a logistics thing. I start with my driver side steer, with the hood open. Having the hood open definitely gives my aged eyes more light to see defects. My inspection ends with the passenger side tire, just before I shut the hood. Drive tires aren’t cheap either.  Having one come apart would be expensive. An upset driver, is probably not as good a driver as a happy driver.

We switch trailers a couple of times per week, sometimes twice a day. That means constantly checking. While we have a good maintenance program, things happen. Invest the time to check anything that could go wrong, or put you out of service. An underinflated tire could separate down the road and cause a wreck. Invest the time to check brake pads and adjustments. Today’s self adjusting brakes make life a lot easier. It still does not hurt to invest the time to check. Remember, lights, brakes, and tires lead the way in equipment out of service violations.

Invest the time to do a walk around every time that you stop. Never think of safety as a cost. Think of it as a continuous investment.

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Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

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