Understanding Hazmat Placards

Have you ever noticed the diamond shapes signage on the back or sides of trailers and wondered what they mean?  The US Department of Transportation requires trucks carrying hazardous materials to display these placards as a way to inform first responders of the contents in the case of a crash or other emergency.

There are 9 main classes of hazardous materials:

  1. Explosives
  2. Gases
  3. Flammable and Combustible Liquids
  4. Flammable Materials
  5. Oxidizer and Organic Peroxide
  6. Poisons
  7. Radioactive
  8. Corrosive
  9. Miscellaneous

In addition to numbers, the second most recognizable characteristic of these placards is color:

  • Orange – explosive materials such as dynamite, fireworks, or ammunition.
  • Red – flammable goods such as gasoline, isopropyl alcohol, paint, or acetone.
  • Green – nonflammable substances such as compressed or liquified gasses.
  • Yellow – oxidizers such as ammonium nitrate, potassium nitrate, halogens, or nitric acid.
  • White – poisonous and biohazardous substances such as dyes, acids, aerosols, or medical wastes.
  • Blue – dangerous when wet such as sodium, calcium, or potassium.
  • Red and White – dangerous when exposed to air such as aluminum or lithium alkyls or white phosphorous.
  • Red and White Stripes – flammable solids such as matches or magnesium.
  • Red and Yellow – organic peroxides such as methyl ethyl ketone peroxide or benzoyl peroxide.
  • Yellow and White – radioactive substances such that are commonly found in medical equipment.
  • White and Black – corrosive materials such as batteries, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, or sodium hydroxide.
  • White and Black Stripes – miscellaneous dangerous goods such as asbestos or dry ice.

These placards offer clear and easy to interpret information about the contents of transport carriers.  Carbon Express is extensively trained in the handling and transporting of hazardous materials, so there is no need to worry when traveling near and around trucks on the road.  We put safety first for our clients, our drivers, and the public.

Tips for Staying Healthy on the Road During the Pandemic

Commercial Truck Drivers are essential during the Covid-19 pandemic, and staying healthy and safe is a top priority.  Take a look at these safety precautions we’ve compiled to keep your chance for infection as low as possible.

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Keep your nose and mouth covered with a scarf or bandana if a facemask is unavailable during pickups and drop-offs.  While gloves aren’t recommended to wear all the time, it’s a good idea to put some on when pumping fuel and also when using the keypad to pay.  Try to avoid paying with cash.  And of course, wash your hands as often as possible.
  • It’s a good idea to limit your takeout.  Bring along a cooler with plenty of ice and pack your meals when you can.  If that’s not feasible, try to avoid eating inside a restaurant.  When stopping at a convenience store, try buying in bulk to limit the number of stops you have to make, thus limiting your contact with others.
  • When you stay the night in a hotel or motel, practice good hygiene after touching anything in the room, and try not to walk around with bare feet.  You might even consider bringing your own blankets, sheets, and pillowcases if you’re able.
  • Use your devices to check for updated information from the CDC and WHO.  Social Media sites are well known for spreading false information.  And use programs like FitToPass to keep yourself in good mental and physical health on the road.

Of course, keep your distance from others, avoid social gatherings, be safe, and follow expert advice.

How to Hire the BEST Commercial Transportation Company

Whether you need to move hazardous or bulk liquids, choosing the right company for your specific needs is vital.  The consequences of a poorly executed travel plan could be catastrophic for the trucking company, your business, and the environment.

Here are some things to consider as you make your decision:

  • Read reviews, and check to see if there are any complaints filed with the Better Business Bureau.  You want to be sure you’re choosing a company with a positive reputation for safety, professionalism, and overall services.  You need a company you can trust.
  • You’ll want to choose a company with a newer fleet.  The newer the fleet, the better the safety features and chances are the navigation equipment will be more up to date to give you the most information when planning your route.
  • It’s important to find a company with experienced drivers who are experts in their field.  A company with a high employee turnover might not value training and experience.

Give us a call at 973-328-0050 to discuss all of your transportation needs.  We take care of our fleet and our drivers so they can take care of you.

If the Trucks Stop, the Country Stops

In the midst of all the Covid-19 closures, there is one industry that is still operating at full capacity, if not more.  The commercial trucking industry is responsible for delivering consumables to keep us fed, materials to keep us clothed, heating fuel to keep us warm, and medical supplies to keep us healthy.  The trucking industry handles more cargo than trains, ships, and planes.  And even when we factor in those modes of transportation, the goods won’t get from rail yards, ports, and airports without the trucks.  If trucking stopped, the economy would as well.

Truckers are on the road night and day bringing everything you need to try to maintain your expected quality of life regardless of the current pandemic, bad weather, or traffic nightmares.  Each product in your home, your office, or your yard has likely seen the inside of a truck.  The things we take for granted are only possible because truck drivers delivered the goods you needed when you needed them.

If the trucking industry were to ever shut down, hospitals would begin to run out of supplies, gas stations would run out of fuel, and mail delivery would end, all within 24 hours.  Waste and refuse would begin to reach unsanitary levels.  There is no allowance for a pandemic in the trucking industry.

Our drivers are heroes.  They are soldiers fighting an enemy that can’t see and going out there every day.  I am in absolute awe of their bravery.

 

Important Tips for Beginning Drivers

Making a name for yourself as a professional and safe driver will make you more valuable to fleets over the course of your career as most fleets have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to unsafe driving habits.  For starters, always keep your eyes on the road and give yourself plenty of stopping distance.  Here are some other tips to remember as you start out:

Your CDL isn’t a free pass  While getting your CDL takes a lot of studying and hard work, it simply means you have the basic skills to operate a commercial vehicle safely.  Experience, judgement, patience, and maturity come with time.  Your experience and expertise will grow with each year.

Be in the right frame of mind  When you’re behind the wheel of someone else’s truck, hauling someone else’s cargo, it’s important to maintain a professional attitude at all times.  Consider yourself on the job from the moment you turn the key until you climb out at the end of the day.

Be safe, even when no one is looking  Most truckers enjoy the freedom they get out on the road.  With no one looking over your shoulder, it can be easy to slack off a bit.  Get your job done safely and on time.  And avoid all the little things we do in our own vehicles, such as speeding, rolling through stop signs, running yellow lights, etc.  You’re a professional at all times, no exceptions.

Even when no one is looking, you’re not really alone  Fleets can, and do, check up on drivers.  IF you’re handling things safely at all times, you’ll generally be left alone and may even get a second chance in the case of an accident.  However, if your truck is sending safety alerts, your headquarters knows about it.

Think a career in commercial trucking is for you?  Visit our website at www.CarbonExpress.com to fill out an application.  We look forward to hearing from you.

Increasing Parking to Increase Productivity

According to research done by the American Transportation Research Institute, nearly 50% of all truck drivers report using undesignated or unauthorized parking at least three times per week. This means that the vast majority of drivers have parked their company truck in an unauthorized spot on a regular basis. Therefore, it is imperative for the industry to actively seek out better solutions. On January 13, the Transportation Research Board held a meeting to discuss what can  be done to assuage the problem. Currently the trucks stop industry funds nearly 90% of parking solutions. Some proposed ideas include transferring some of the cost to other parts of the industry.

If more parking options were added, drivers could become more productive. For example, a driver might have to begin searching for parking earlier than anticipated which would cut into their drive time. A speaker at the conference stated that nearly half of drivers begin looking for parking over an hour earlier than their end time. This means, that if more legal options were added, truckers would not have to worry about parking and could utilize their time more efficiently.

Further, with project increases in freight volumes over the coming years, parking will become even more scarce. Even more drivers will be fighting for a limited commodity. Parking must be increased in order to increase productivity. Some solutions include creating larger rest areas, extending time limits on existing spaces, and improved locations for stopping areas. Another solution, that Carbon Express has implemented for years, is the use of hotel rooms for drivers. If companies are willing to put their drivers in hotels overnight, they could alleviate some stress and heighten their drivers’ morale and productivity.

The board is planning to collaborate with drivers themselves to learn more about the real-life details of the problem and how to create an effective solution. The goal is to make legal parking or alternative arrangements accessible whenever and wherever drivers need it to increase productivity.

Winter Driving Tips

Driving in bad weather is challenging for even the most experienced of drivers.  Snow and ice are especially due to the increased stop time required, poor visibility, and poor road traction.  Here are some tips to make sure you stay safe this season:

Stay Back – It may seem obvious, but leaving plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you can save you from a collision in poor road conditions and poor visibility.  In low visibility conditions, if you can see the taillights of the vehicle in front of you, you’re following too closely.

Know Your Limits – And the limits of your vehicle.  Knowing what your equipment can handle is a great way to stay safe.

Carry Cat Litter – Tires warmed from a drive can turn slush to ice once you’re parked.  Throw litter under your tires to help keep give you some extra traction.

Bring a Hammer & Putty Knife – Air tanks can freeze in extremely low temperatures.  Make sure there’s no snow or ice packed around your air tanks.  Any snow that melts from your engine heat can turn to ice from the cold metal.

Check Your Tires – Watch your tires often and make sure the wheels are turning.  In the event your brakes are frozen, check for a frozen valve or if the shoes are frozen to the drums.

The best safety against poor conditions is staying vigilant.  It’s okay to stop and pull over if the weather or visibility warrants.  We’d always rather our drivers arrive safely than quickly.

FIGHTING DEPRESSION IN TRUCKING

In general, truck drivers spend a lot of time alone on the road, away from home and their families. Some studies report nearly a quarter of truckers report their relationships were negatively affected by time spent on the road, while nearly 30% report feelings of loneliness. In addition, approximately 13% of drivers report inadequate sleep, siting a need to stay awake for long periods of time.

Sleep deprivation, loneliness, and too much alone time can lead to overthinking, which can cause anxiety and depression. Even when drivers are able to spend time at home with family, it can often seem rushed and short, with the driver sleeping, repacking, and leaving again and not much quality time with loved ones.

At Carbon Express, we are a family-oriented company. Our drivers either return home at night or sleep in a hotel room. We don’t use sleeper cabs and don’t expect you to stay in truck stops. We take our road loads and relay them with other drivers, giving everyone more precious time with family. No one wants to be away from the people who matter most to them, especially during the holiday season.

If you or someone you know someone who may be suffering from depression, we urge you to seek help. There is no shame in treatment.

Mileage Pay vs Hourly Pay

When it comes to hourly pay versus mileage pay, there really is no correct answer. There are several factors to consider for each pay scale.

Drivers receiving hourly pay are guaranteed as long as the job is completed. Hourly rates also tend to factor in cost of living increases, and generally offer health insurance. You’ll have more time at home and can likely stay local. On the other hand, hourly pay drivers may miss out on layover and inconvenience pay.

Drivers on a per mile pay scale often find it easier to track their expected pay. Avoiding traffic delays to meet mileage goals and quotas comes into play here. You may be offered incentives or bonuses for being a top mileage producer.

Conversely, those traffic delays can impede the money you’re able to earn. City streets are a much slower pace so consider your area as well. Weather conditions, breakdowns, and other unforeseeable circumstances will negatively impact your wages.

At Carbon Express, we pay our drives both hourly and pre-mileage based on their unique circumstances. This ensures each of our drivers gets the most beneficial income package. We have been fortunate enough to offer a pay raise or bonus each quarter since January of 2017.

The happiness and loyalty of our drivers is our top priority. If you’re interested in joining our team, give our Driver Recruiting Hotline a call at 862-244-4761. Let’s get you started in your new career.

Benefits of Hotels for Overnight Drivers

In addition to the benefits of nightly showers, a comfortable bed, and the space to spread out a little, putting drivers in hotels for overnight hauls is good for everyone involved. Aside from free continental breakfasts and accumulating hotel points, this also gives us a solution to problems having a trainee of the opposite sex may present.

Companies who have made the switch report:

• Happier drivers and increased driver retention
• Financial savings in purchasing day cabs over sleepers
• Fuel saving due to no idling
• Less wear on tractors
• Ability to carry heavier cargo compared to sleepers

Perhaps most importantly, drivers report feeling a deeper connection to their company and an increased sense of loyalty.

At Carbon Express, we made the move to Day Cab trucks in 2009 and it has been a win-win ever since. We’ve experienced a steady decrease in safety incidents since moving to day cabs, and we attribute that to our drivers being better rested and alert.

In addition to safety, eliminating sleepers allows us to haul 21% more weight than our competitors and allows us to fulfill our corporate responsibility to protect the environment.

As our own Steve Rush says, “The improvement in efficiency is there and always has been, but it has been ignored by this industry in favor of keeping the driver in the sleeper.”