Driving emergency tips from AAA
By Eric Peters, Automotive Columnist
You probably know tires are made of rubber — but how much more do you know? Here’s a run-through of some important tire-related terminology:
1) Aspect ratio
This technical-sounding term refers to the relationship between the width of a tire and the height of the tire’s sidewall. High-performance “low profile” tires have “low aspect ratios” — meaning their sidewalls are short relative to their width. This provides extra stiffness and thus better high-speed handling and grip — but also tends to result in a firmer (and sometimes, harsh) ride. “Taller” tires tend to provide a smoother ride and better traction in snow.
2) Contact Patch
As your tires rotate, only a portion of the total tread is actually in contact with the ground at any given moment. This is known as the contact patch. Think of it as your tire’s “footprint.” Sport/performance-type tires are characterized by their wider footprint — more tread is in contact with the ground — which provides extra grip, especially during hard acceleration on dry pavement and during high-speed cornering.
3) Treadwear indicators
These are narrow bands built into the tread during manufacturing that begin to show when only 1/16 of the tire’s tread remains. Also called wear bars, treadwear indicators are there to provide an obvious visual warning that it’s time to shop for new tires.
4) Speed ratings
An alpha-numeric symbol you’ll find on your tire’s sidewall that tells you the maximum sustained speed the tire is capable of safely handling. An H-rated tire, for example, is built to be safe for continuous operation at speeds up to 130 mph. Most current model year family-type cars have S (112 mph) or T (118 mph) speed ratings. High performance cars often have tires with a V (149 mph) or ZR (in excess of 149 mph) speed rating. A few ultra-performance cars have W (168 mph) and even Y (186 mph) speed-rated tires.
5) Maximum cold inflation load limit
This refers to the maximum load that can be carried in a given vehicle with a given type of tires — and the maximum air pressure needed to support that load. In your vehicle’s owner’s manual, you should be able to find the recommended cold inflation load limit. It’s important not to exceed the load limit (or over or under-inflate the tires) as this can lead to stability/handling problems and even tire failure. Always check tire pressure “cold.” Driving creates friction which creates heat; as the tires warm up, the air inside expands, increasing the pressure. Measuring air pressure after driving can give a false reading; you may actually be driving around on under-inflated tires.
6) Load index
This number corresponds to the load carrying capacity of the tire. The higher the number, the higher the load it can safely handle. As an example, a tire with a load index of 89 can safely handle 1,279 pounds — while a tire with a load rating of 100 can safely handle as much as 1,764 pounds. It’s important to stick with tires that have at least the same load rating as the tires that came originally with the vehicle — especially if it’s a truck used to haul heavy loads or pull a trailer. It’s ok to go with a tire that has a higher load rating than the original tires; just be careful to avoid tires with a lower load rating than specified for your vehicle, even if they are less expensive. Saving a few bucks on tires is not worth risking an accident caused by tire failure.
7) Radial vs. bias-ply tire
Bias-ply tires have their underlying plies laid at alternate angles less than 90 degrees to the centerline of the tread; radials have their plies laid at 90 degrees to the centerline of the tread. That’s the technical difference. The reason radial tires are dominant today is that they help improve fuel efficiency and handling; they also tend to dissipate heat better than bias-ply tires. No modern passenger cars come with bias-ply tires these days and their use is generally not recommended. (Exceptions might include older/antique vehicles that originally came equipped with bias-ply tires. Some RVs also used bias-ply tires, etc.) It is very important never to mix radial and bias-ply tires; dangerously erratic handling may result.
8) LT and MS tires
These designations indicate “Light Truck” and “Mud/Snow” — and are commonly found on tires fitted to SUVs and pick-ups. LT-rated tires are more general purpose, built primarily for on-road use — while MS-rated tires typically have more aggressive “knobby” tread patterns designed for better off-road traction.
9) Temporary Use Only
Many modern cars come with so-called “space-saver” tires which are smaller and lighter than a standard or full-size spare tire. They are designed to leave more room in the trunk and be easier for the average person to handle when a roadside tire change becomes necessary. However, they are not designed to be used for extended (or high-speed) driving. Your car will probably not handle (or stop) as well while the Space Saver tire is on – and you should keep your speed under 55 mph and avoid driving on the tire beyond what’s absolutely necessary to find a tire repair shop where you can have your damaged tire repaired or replaced.
10) Treadwear, Traction and Temperature ratings
Each tire has three separate ratings for Treadwear, Traction and Temperature.
Traction ratings run from AA to A to B and C — with C being the lowest on the scale. The ratings represent the tire’s ability to stop on wet pavement under controlled testing conducted by the government. C-rated tires are marginal and should be avoided. Never buy a tire with a Traction rating that isn’t at least equal to the minimum rating specified by the manufacturer of your vehicle.
Temperature ratings from A to B to C — with C being the minimum allowable for any passenger car tire. The ratings correspond to a given tire’s ability to dissipate heat under load; tires with lower ratings are more prone to heat-induced failure, especially if driven at high speeds (or when overloaded). As with Traction ratings, never buy a tire with a Temperature rating that’s less than specified for your vehicle.
Treadwear ratings differ from Traction and Temperature ratings in that they aren’t a measure of a tire’s built-in safety margin. Instead, these ratings — represented by a three digit number — give you an idea of the expected useful life of the tire according to government testing. A tire with a Treadwear rating of 150, for example, can be expected to last about 1.5 times as long as a tire with a Treadwear rating of 100. These are just guides, however. Your tires may last longer (or not) depending on such factors as how you drive, whether you maintain proper inflation pressure and rotate the tires per recommendations — and so on.
In the U.S., trucks are among the vehicles that often get involved in road accidents. In 2000 alone, the Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that more than 450,000 big trucks encountered accidents.
Currently, there are approximately 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S. handling different types and sizes of trucks. These people should have undergone the necessary CDL or commercial driver's license training that is one of the important qualifications considered by companies when hiring truck drivers.
Trucks need to have the right safety tools that will allow them to fix problems during their travel and navigation devices to guide them when locating their destination. For those who transport huge boxes, they also need to have the proper equipment such as levers for loading and unloading purposes.
GPS navigation device - This is a very important tool that helps drivers locate the place they're going to. With its small monitor, drivers will be able to view a map of their area of destination. There are also units that have voice features and tell drivers the streets they can take.
Vehicle backup camera - As it's hard to monitor a truck's blind spots, having a backup camera is very helpful. This is normally attached on the top part of the license plate and is connected to a monitor positioned on the dashboard or sun visor. With this tool, a driver can easily check what's behind the truck while backing up or moving along the highways before changing lanes or making turns. It's an affordable device that's a must today for all types of vehicles.
Jack and tire iron - You never know when you'll get a flat tire or your tires experience low pressure the reason why having a jack in your truck is very important. The CDL training course will teach you the right way of changing tires so this should not be a problem in case you encounter flat tires during your travel.
Tire chains - Also known as snow chains, these devices are meant to provide traction when you're driving through snow and ice. These are fitted in the drive wheels of the vehicle and are required by transportation authorities during snowy conditions. Usually, they are sold in pairs. When these are in place, you have also to reduce your speed to ensure the safety of your vehicle.
Other than these devices, a truck driver traveling on long hauls should also bring along water, food and extra clothing. There are times when you need to travel through desert areas or places wherein there are no restaurants along the highways so it's always best to be ready.
Getting your CDL training should provide you with the appropriate knowledge on truck driving safety and the tools you need to have while traveling. So never ignore its value for it will benefit you for the long term.
As more businesses resume operations, and more vehicle fleets are getting back on the road, it is important to remember that an alert fleet driver is a safe fleet driver. While no one is immune to drowsy driving, there are steps you can take to help ensure you get enough sleep.
Across North America, this week and next have been designated Drowsy Driving Prevention Week in the US and Canada respectively. A recent study by the National Safety Council revealed that almost 50% of Americans operate their vehicles while too tired to do so. This is a troubling statistic, especially considering the NSC has determined that driving with less than five hours sleep has the same accident risk as driving drunk. In other words, drowsy driving is impaired driving and half of us are driving around without enough sleep!
When you don't get enough sleep, you are more likely to make bad decisions and take more risks. The effects of drowsy driving are staggering, with an estimated 100,000 accidents and 1,500 deaths caused by drowsy driving each year. In addition to the impact on loved ones and family members, driving drowsy results in close to $13 billion in losses per year in the US alone.
The COVID-19 pandemic has added to the problem. Many are struggling with additional stress caused by uncertainty and fear, which is preventing them from getting enough sleep. Neurologists are seeing a spike in patients with sleep disorders caused by COVID-19, and are calling this phenomenon “COVID-somnia.”
What do companies need to remember to prevent drowsy driving?
As more businesses resume operations, and more vehicle fleets are getting back on the road, it is important to remember that an alert fleet driver is a safe fleet driver. Employees may not have driven in a few months, they may be operating a different vehicle, or they may be new hires with little driving experience. Given these additional challenges, it is even more important that drivers are well-rested, alert, and fully aware of their surroundings.
Getting enough sleep is even more important depending on your work environment. Long-haul trucking with heavy loads for example, the sheer size and weight of the truck and cargo combined demands a focused, and alert driver. Similarly, getting enough sleep can be a challenge for others who work long hours, night shifts, or have a very early start time every morning.
The NSC has compiled a list of nine risk factors for driver fatigue, and a staggering 97% of drivers surveyed had at least one of these factors which include: shift work, late working hours, sleep loss, and physically or cognitively demanding work. While no one is immune to drowsy driving, there are steps you can take to help ensure you get enough sleep.
What can fleet drivers do to stay healthy and well-rested during the pandemic and in “normal” times?
The best way to ensure you are well-rested and ready to drive, is to get enough sleep. So how much is enough? The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommends that adults get at least between seven and eight hours of sleep every day. Our bodies crave sleep - not getting enough of it can also increase the risk of having high blood pressure, heart disease and lead to other medical problems.
Here are some great tips from NHLBI and UC Davis Health that will help you get a better sleep:
Sleep and wake at consistent times every day, including weekends. Establishing a regular sleep rhythm can make sure your body knows when to stay awake.
Maintain your daily routine when working remotely. Wake up, get dressed and eat breakfast as if you were heading to work. The same goes for after work, try to eat dinner and carry out your evening tasks on a regular schedule.
Establish one hour of quiet time before sleeping. Avoid loud music, strenuous exercise, and bright screens (e.g., smartphone, TV, laptop) and make sure your sleeping area is as dark as possible.
Stay away from heavy meals, alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine right before bed. All of these things will disrupt your sleep.
Use caution with sleep aids. Over-the-counter sleep aids can leave you drowsy the next morning and prescription drugs can lead to dependence.
Stay active - exercising on a daily basis, especially outdoors, can help maintain a more regular sleep rhythm.
Don't take naps - a short nap is ok, but anything over 20 minutes will disrupt your sleep cycle.
Take a hot bath or practice relaxation techniques - such as meditating before going to bed.
If you are already on the road, and feeling a little drowsy, there are a number of things you can do to help stay alert. The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following:
Drive in two-hour shifts with resting stops in between. If you begin to feel drowsy while driving or find yourself dozing, pull over and park as soon as possible to take a short nap.
Drink a caffeinated beverage. While caffeine is not a substitute for sleep, a caffeinated beverage can help you feel more awake after a short nap.
Travel with a passenger who is fully awake. Having someone who can help keep you awake or alert you if you’re drowsy can help prevent an accident. If possible, drive in shifts with your passenger.
Getting enough sleep every day is essential. It's also easier said than done, especially considering the psychological stress that COVID-19 has caused for so many of us. The best thing you can do is try and maintain a regular routine, exercise regularly, and avoid consuming stimulants before bedtime. We hope these tips will help you stay alert and focused on the road. Drive safely!
By Element Fleet Safety -
By the Element Safety Team
A&T Road Service added Truck 32 in 2014. It was a brand new 2014 Kenworth with a 500 hp Cummins and 18-speed gearbox is outfitted with an NRC Quickswap detachable tow unit with a tag axle for extra capacity. This allows the truck to be a wrecker and also a transfer vehicle, so with the unit disconnected, it will tow mobile home units, trailers of all kinds and with the wrecker unit attached is capable of lifting up to 20,000 lb steer axles for heavy duty truck towing. This unit can easily to HD trucks, buses, mobile homes.
It is outfitted with tools and parts to make minor mechanical repairs, air line repair, fuel line repairs, add fuel, and can take care of any DEF needs. It is also equipped with extra high intensity lights for more effective and efficient night work, since A&T Road Service is available 24 hours a day.
North Bay Truck Center is centrally located in Fairfield CA to service all of Solano County along with much of the San Francisco/Oakland bay area and Sacramento. A&T Road Service is available by calling 800-434-1205.