What would you do? By David Cousins
George hooked to a trailer in the yard. He noticed on his pre-trip inspection that there was a red dot showing on one of the safety links. He sent his EDVIR showing that the trailer was safe to continue. Later in the day he noticed that many of the safety links had turned, but he was not concerned. Later in the day another driver flagged him down, indicating that there was a problem with his trailer wheels. He pulled over and found that most of the wheel studs were missing. There were only 2 left holding the wheels on. Fortunately, he did not lose the wheels before stopping.
George should have immediately called maintenance and had the wheels retorqued. His EDVIR should have indicated that the trailer had a major defect and was out of service. Defect code 22.3M.
The safety links are splined to the wheel nut, so that if the nut turns, the safety link will move and show the red dot. This indicates that the nut is coming loose and needs to be retorqued.
It’s late at night, and you’ve been parked for a few hours now at a truck stop. As you pour another cup of coffee and watch your hours tick away, you think that you were lucky to have gotten this far. You’ve only been driving professionally for a few years and getting here took everything you had to keep it on the road. The weather and road conditions were getting worse by the mile. Visibility was poor, the ice was beginning to build up, and you saw more than a few vehicles in the ditch. But you made it here safe and used your Right to Decide to discontinue your trip. As you watch another hour go by, you notice the highway seems more active. The plows and sanders went by earlier, but you’re not sure if resuming your trip is the right call. A couple of trucks depart the lot that you’re in, one of them a Bison truck. You’re on a hot load and dispatch has asked to keep them updated. You’re only a couple of hours away from destination, but you keep remembering how bad it was getting here. You don’t want to let anyone down, and you’re still trying to show everyone that you can be counted on…WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
- Sure, I’m not 100 per cent comfortable, but other trucks are going, I should go too.
- Everyone will be impressed if I just push through and make delivery! No matter the conditions, I’ll show everyone I can handle it.
- I’ll put chains on and drive super slow all the way, this delivery is important.
- I’ll make my decision based on MY OWN UNIQUE CIRCUMSTANCES and stay right where I am until I am certain it is safe to drive.
The answer is D!
Bison’s Right to Decide gives Drivers the power to temporarily discontinue their trip. This decision is based on each Driver’s own unique circumstances and how those factors will affect their ability to continue safely. There are many variables when it comes to deciding whether to continue or not, and just because others are going doesn’t mean you should. Factors such as weight, equipment condition, how many hours are left in the day, and your own personal fitness to drive are important to consider. If YOU feel YOU cannot continue driving safely, find an appropriate safe-haven and use YOUR Right-to-Decide. Do not proceed until you are certain it is safe to do so. Don’t let outside influences and internal pressures to perform affect safe decision making. Bison Transport will support your decision making 100 per cent of the time when it is being used for the right reasons. Remember, on-time deliveries are important, but nothing is more important than your safety.
George, a Bison Driver, is live loading a 44,000 lb. load of oranges on his reefer trailer in Lindsay, CA. At 15:00, once the trailer is loaded, George slides his axles to the California-required wheelbase setting of 40 ft. from the kingpin to the center of the rear axle. He checks his suspension air gauge and sees that it is sitting at about 61 PSI. He knows that typically that would put his drive axle weight at 34,000 lbs. Unfortunately, there is no scale at the shipper, and the nearest CAT Scale is 8 miles south, but George’s plan has him heading northwest. He thinks that his axle weights should be OK based on his suspension gauge. He decides to head northwest and plans to weigh at the next truck stop. He reaches the next truck stop at 16:00, but finds that the scale is not working. He decides to carry on. He is not worried as he is sure that his axle weights will be legal, based only on his suspension air gauge. The next day as he crosses the Cottonwood scale, the “Report” light comes on. He finds that his steer weight is 12,400 lbs., drive axles are 34,100 lbs., and the trailer axles are at 34,620 lbs. As a result of being 1140 lbs. over the maximum allowable 80,000 lbs. GVW, he is ticketed and placed out of service until the weights can be legalized.
What would you do?
- I would have gone to the CAT scale 8 miles south, and asked dispatch for a route-point in order to get paid for the extra miles. I would have been able to return to the customer and still have the load reworked that day if necessary.
- After finding that the truck stop scale an hour northwest of the customer was not functioning, I wouldn’t have been so sure of a gauge not designed to determine axle weights, and I would have again stopped at the next truck stop and weighed my axles there.
- I would have done what George did. I have always found that the suspension gauge is fairly accurate and I have always been able to load 44,000 lbs. in a reefer.
Consider the costs involved in George’s decision to carry on. He had been placed out of service 300 miles from the shipper. Bison would have had to hire a cartage company to travel to the scale, and remove 28 cases of oranges from George’s trailer, or leave them behind at the scale in order to get the weights legal.
In some situations like this, the scale officer might allow a Driver to return to the shipper, which in this case would have been an extra 600 miles. Additionally, this could have had an even larger impact, as the time added to George’s trip could have caused a customer service failure, which could have caused the loss of a customer.
All of this could have been avoided if George had simply chosen answer #1 above (that’s what you chose, right?), and driven 16 miles out of his way to ensure that his weights were legal. Answer #2 could also have had the same negative result as what George did, as he could have been stopped at any time by a D.O.T. officer with a portable scale. Never rely on air suspension gauges to determine your axle weights; always follow Bison policy and scale at the closest available scale before continuing, or contact your fleet team for assistance.