With apologies to George Gershwin and his musical “Porgy and Bess,” summertime driving may bring relief from a long, cold winter and a rainy, blustery spring, but it offers challenges of its own to fleets and professional drivers. So while snow, sleet and sludge may be in the past, at least for a few months, be prepared for these “dogs” in the dog days of summer.
Road construction: Summer brings out the orange barrels, flashing advisory signs and lane closures. PrePass has shared tips on safe trucking through work zones. Read the signs; keep your distance; obey the reduced speed limit sign; merge safely and early; signal others what’s ahead; watch out for workers; and be patient.
And here’s something new. Users of the PrePass MOTION app now receive work zone alerts. So, be alert… and thankful. Road construction means better highways are in the future.
Increased traffic: For families, summer means vacation road trips. That means kids and animals at roadsides and in travel center parking lots. Safe driving requires alertness to what is alongside the road, as well as on it.
The warm weather also brings out more cyclists and motorcyclists, plus younger drivers having their first “open road” experiences. Vacationers may drive too long into the summer sun. You are the professional. You must see and adjust for any upcoming safety hazards they may not. Read for more on driving awareness.
For example, ahead is a weigh station or truck inspection facility. By experience, you know to merge into the right-hand lane to enter the place, or because your bypass transponder has to be accurately read. You similarly know that commercial vehicles exiting the facility are not yet at highway speed. But the vacationing motorist may not know what to expect. Use your signals – flashers, if necessary – to keep everyone safe.
Tire problems: Summer heat can stress underinflated tires. Rough road patches and debris in work zones can threaten their integrity. Check your tires with a tire pressure gauge more often in summer. Stay on the road, not off to the side with a flat.
Heat and dehydration: Speaking of being off to the side of the road, your truck may be in excellent mechanical condition, but the deer which jumps in front of you doesn’t know that! So, be prepared for emergencies. In summer, that means keeping fresh water in your cab to guard against dehydration. A little sunblock won’t hurt, either. And in some climates, the summer nights can get chilly, so keep a jacket handy while you wait for the tow truck.
Winter is coming: What? We’re just starting summer! But if you haven’t done so, now is the time to capture what you learned from last winter. Where did you have operational issues – road closures, overflowing truck parking? Through your team, plan alternate routes, alternate stopping points. Then, double-check your plans in the bright light of summer. See this story for more on planning for safety.
Got that done? Great, and have a wonderful and safe summer!
Steve Vaughn is vice president of field operations for PrePass Safety Alliance, the provider of the truck weigh station bypass system PrePass, as well as toll payment and trucking data visualization technology. He previously served with the California Highway Patrol and is a past president of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.