One in 10 of America’s bridges is an accident waiting to happen. According to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association, more than 63,000 interstate highway bridges urgently need critical structural repairs to protect the safety of the millions of drivers that travel across them every day. For professional truck drivers, who spend more time crossing these unsafe bridges than most drivers, the risk of being caught on a collapsing bridge is both frightening and potentially fatal.
Aging Transportation Infrastructure
The aging of America’s massive transportation infrastructure is no secret. Since President Eisenhower signed the Federal-Air Highway Act in 1956, more than 46,000 miles of interstate highway have been constructed across America. Years of use have taken their toll; and in recent years the government has struggled to maintain all that asphalt.
According to Reuters, the American Society of Civil Engineers gives U.S. bridges a mediocre C+ grade and estimates that clearing the current repair backlog will cost $20.5 billion a year, or nearly twice the current annual investment.
Congress Fiddles While Bridges Fall
State transportation departments are responsible for maintaining the bulk of the interstate highway system and its bridges, but federal funding helps pick up a big chunk of the tab. Federal financing for highway and bridge projects comes from the Highway Trust Fund which is funded by motor fuel, heavy truck and truck tire taxes.
But tax revenue is not enough to cover highway and bridge improvement projects, resulting in a shortfall. Despite pleas from the Obama administration, trucking industry and motorist safety organizations, Congress barely managed to pass another “place-holder” bill on its way out the door for summer recess. Instead of the $302 billion, four-year bill the White House asked for, Congress approved just $10.9 billion for 9 months. Will it be too little too late? Time will tell, and truckers may pay the price.
What constitutes “aggressive”?
Any unsafe driving behavior performed without regard for safety such as tailgating, illegal passing, or erratic lane changes, which contribute to up to 56 percent of fatal crashes.
Graduating to road rage
Extreme cases of aggressive driving may lead to road rage – the intent to cause physical harm – a criminal act. Road rage incidents often result from trivial traffic issues such as tailgating or not letting another driver pass.
How aggressive is your driving style?
- Lane changes & merging
Do you use your signals and wait until you have plenty of room to merge or change lanes without cutting other drivers off?
- Passing & slowing left lane traffic
Most state laws requires travel in the right lane, reserving the left lane for passing. Though the need to pass other vehicles is inevitable, be aware that slowing left lane traffic for extended periods of time can incite aggressive driving in others. If traffic is piling up behind you and your truck is puffing like the Little Engine That Could, don’t be discourteous, move over, let traffic by, and try again.
Allow ample space between your truck and the car ahead. Your truck’s excess weight increases the risk of not slowing down in time if traffic patterns change.
Nothing angers other drivers like obscene hand gestures.
- Common courtesies
Use signals every time you turn, before you change lanes, and take it easy on the horn.
Does your attitude need adjustment?
- Cool down.
Leave angry feelings behind to avoid doing things you’ll later regret.
- It’s not a contest.
Don’t race the clock, try to make the time good by enriching your drive with music or books on tape.
- Step into the other driver’s shoes.
Don’t take the aggressive driving of other personally. Consider the whys, such as a sick or crying child, fireman, or physician en-route.
For more sanity-saving driving tips, visit TruckertoTrucker.com.
Most of us consume caffeine in some way, shape, or form. As truckers, it is fairly common to partake of caffeinated beverages as a means of alleviating fatigue and staying alert and focused through many a long, rough haul. But how much is too much?
Safe caffeine consumption
According to the Mayo Clinic, 400 milligrams of caffeine per day appears safe for most healthy adults, however people who don’t regularly consume caffeine may be more sensitive and react to smaller amounts. About how much is 400 mg?
- 4 cups of coffee or
- 10 cans of cola or
- 2 energy drinks
Signs you’ve had too much
Are you fueling-up on more than 500-600 mg of caffeine per day? Excess caffeine can cause:
- An afternoon slump.
- Dark or orange urine, a sign of dehydration.
- Difficulty falling asleep (it takes you more than 30 minutes).
- Feelings of anxiety or restlessness.
- Frequent symptoms of:
- Stomach upset
- Frequent heartburn
- Fast heartbeat
- Muscle tremors
Some medicines and supplements can prolong the effects of caffeine:
- Antibiotics: Ciprofloxacin (Cipro) and norfloxacin (Noroxin)
- Bronchodilators: Theophylline (Theo-24, Elixophyllin, others)
Need to curb your caffeine habit?
Pay attention to how much caffeine you are consuming each day.
- Cut back gradually.
Drink or consume one item fewer each day, or avoid consuming caffeine later in the day to help your body get used to lower caffeine levels without side effects or withdrawal.
- Switch to decaf.
Most decaf beverages are taste similar to their caffeinated counterparts. Teas brewed for shorter time periods also reduce caffeine content. Herbal teas don’t contain any.
Beware hidden sources of caffeine when calculating your daily total:
- Excedrin, 130 mg
- Vital Energy water, 150 mg
- Snapple, 42 mg
- Barq’s Root Beer, 20 mg
- Hershey’s chocolate bar, 12 mg
- Dannon Coffee Yogurt, 45 mg
Looking for more tips to keep your going? Visit TruckertoTrucker.com, your online truck superstore.
Human bodies developed organically to perform certain tasks that help them survive. Our close-together eyes allow us to better judge distance when hunting. The tilt of our hip bones make it easier to walk or run upright.
One task the body never adapted to, though, is spending the better part of your day or night driving a big rig. The angle of the seat, the amount of time you spend slouching, leaning or perching behind the wheel; and the overall lack of regular movement during those endless hours while you’re driving across the country – all these factors add up to back complaints, stiff necks, sciatica nerve pain and other conditions.
Fortunately, you need not resign yourself to a lifetime of backaches or headaches. You can perform core-strengthening exercises behind the wheel that can help keep your skeletal and nervous system operating more efficiently.
Hollowing the supine
Best performed at a stoplight, this exercise helps core strengthening while boosting related muscles. Lay or sit in the car with your shoulders dropped (but no arch in the back). Breathe normally, but at the end of each breath contract your Kegal muscles (the ones that control your flow of urine); at the same time, draw your navel toward your spine to the best of your ability. Hold this position a second or two, then release.
Side balance clutch
Do this one when you take a break. This ground exercise keeps your back more flexible. Start with a left knee and left hand on the floor; then life and hold the other leg so your body shows a straight line. Bring the right knee in toward your chest, then pull it a back out straight. Repeat 10 times in either leg.
Good ol’ fashioned walking
During a refueling/rest stop, take advantage of a half-hour or hour free to walk the grounds. Invest in good walking/running shoes and keep them in the truck. Walking is ideal to work large lateral muscles and build up endurance while flattening the belly.
Commercial trucking has never been an easy life, but there are some truck appliances available today that will definitely make life on the road more enjoyable. Driving a heavy haul truck will never be like checking into the Trump Towers, but the mattresses in today’s sleeper trucks aren’t bad. If you can find space in your rig to stash a couple of useful appliances and outfit your rig with a few comfortable accessories, highway life can be surprisingly comfortable.
Top Truck Appliances
Essential tools for the modern trucker include a truck GPS loaded with Lifetime Maps, laptop or tablet to connect to the internet, VIR electronic log books and CB radio. But life isn’t all work. To upgrade your life on the road, check out TruckerToTrucker.com’s list of best truck appliances:
• A 12-volt mini fridge keeps drinks cold; but it also saves you money and promotes healthy eating by allowing you to stock cheese, meat, fruit and salads in your truck. Save money on meals by keeping sandwich fixings and healthy snacks in your fridge.
• A 12-volt microwave is the perfect companion for your fridge. Stock your fridge with microwaveable TV dinners or make your own at home and store them in microwaveable containers. Use your microwave to make hot coffee in the morning or pop a bag of popcorn at night.
• A 12-volt TV lets you catch the game during your off hours or keep up with news about the weather and road conditions.
• A 12-volt DVD player is a nice companion for your TV. Settle in with your bag of popcorn and chill until you can get back on the road.
• With a truck filled with 12-volt appliances, a DC/AC inverter or generator is essential.
TruckerToTrucker.com Tip: For the best prices, check our truck accessories listings under Parts for Sale. If you’re looking for something specific, consider posting a free TruckerToTrucker.com want-to-buy ad.)