N00b Questions You (Probably) Have But Were Afraid To Ask!

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Partagas's Comment
member avatar

Great questions Miss Mioshi - I'm not a driver yet (start CDL school in 10 days), but I'll un-retire some of my cop and accident investigation experience and help with a couple.

#2 Cruise Control & Engine Brake Regarding the use of cruise control and/or engine brake in reduced traction situations, they can both cause your drives to loose traction. If cruise control is engaged and the vehicle hits a slippery stretch, the drives which are constantly working to maintain set speed can break loose - lose traction with the roadway - and begin to spin. The vehicle will begin to slow, yet the cruise control system will continue to meet set speed as measured at the drives. So assume the cruise is set to 62 mph and the truck encounters an icy bridge deck (an incredibly common accident type for vehicles running on cruise in freezing conditions). The drives loose traction on the black ice and the vehicle overall - meaning the steers and tandems - may slow to 58 mph while the drives are still maintaining the 62 mph set speed. The result is an acceleration skid by the drives and loss of lateral control. And, a skidding (or spinning) tire always has less traction than a rolling tire and will try to "pass" the rolling tire with more traction = tractor jackknife. Newer cruise control units on 4-wheelers with ABS are able to compensate for this somewhat, but not completely. Ever notice how many cars spin out on bridge decks and typically hit the ditch or median rear-wheels first just past the bridge (if they don't ricochet off the guardrail and back into traffic in front of you). I don't know about heavy truck cruise control and its ability to prevent this.

Engine brakes - or radically downshifting any vehicle - has the opposite effect but same result. When the engine brake activates, it's using the engine as a brake on just the drives. If the road is slippery - or even on dry pavement if the engine braking force is greater than the road surface - tire coefficient of friction, the drives can go into a brake skid. Think of the engine brake as a brake on just your drives - the engine braking effect takes the place of the brake pedal or lever - the result is the same. If the drives are turning slower than the vehicle overall, they will break loose and brake skid. And, as they now have less traction than the steers, they will try to pass the steers. The tractor is now pushed by the inertia of the trailer as Patrick explained, which is still moving at a speed greater than the drives are turning = tractor jackknife.

Errol's advice is the same as we were given in many trips to advanced & emergency driving school over the years: the rule of thumb is slow down to where you can see the texture of the road surface. The tread depth and design of your tires, amount of rain, road surface, and speed all combine to reduce the coefficient of friction below that of the ideal dry roadway. We have no practical way to measure this while driving, and of those factors the only one we can control as drivers is speed, so slowing down is our best defense.

#5 Alcohol in Cab: Regarding alcohol in the cab, Rick is right - DOT regs prohibit it while on-duty. You generally wouldn't run afoul of state open container laws with the sealed containers in your example, but DOT regs take precedent.

#8 Deer whistles: we ran these on our squad cars in northern Minnesota. Our experience is that they didn't chase or scare deer away, they could cause deer to stop and look at you so that their eyes reflected your headlights giving you a chance to avoid them. I'm not aware of any studies or analysis - that's just our experience with them.

Sorry for the long-winded response - feel free to skip all of this. I probably should have said that up front...

That's all I can help with - Take care and drive safe all. Don

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

Partagas wrote:

Great questions Miss Mioshi - I'm not a driver yet (start CDL school in 10 days), but I'll un-retire some of my cop and accident investigation experience and help with a couple.

#2 Cruise Control & Engine Brake Regarding the use of cruise control and/or engine brake in reduced traction situations, they can both cause your drives to loose traction. If cruise control is engaged and the vehicle hits a slippery stretch, the drives which are constantly working to maintain set speed can break loose - lose traction with the roadway - and begin to spin. The vehicle will begin to slow, yet the cruise control system will continue to meet set speed as measured at the drives. So assume the cruise is set to 62 mph and the truck encounters an icy bridge deck (an incredibly common accident type for vehicles running on cruise in freezing conditions). The drives loose traction on the black ice and the vehicle overall - meaning the steers and tandems - may slow to 58 mph while the drives are still maintaining the 62 mph set speed. The result is an acceleration skid by the drives and loss of lateral control. And, a skidding (or spinning) tire always has less traction than a rolling tire and will try to "pass" the rolling tire with more traction = tractor jackknife. Newer cruise control units on 4-wheelers with ABS are able to compensate for this somewhat, but not completely. Ever notice how many cars spin out on bridge decks and typically hit the ditch or median rear-wheels first just past the bridge (if they don't ricochet off the guardrail and back into traffic in front of you). I don't know about heavy truck cruise control and its ability to prevent this.

Engine brakes - or radically downshifting any vehicle - has the opposite effect but same result. When the engine brake activates, it's using the engine as a brake on just the drives. If the road is slippery - or even on dry pavement if the engine braking force is greater than the road surface - tire coefficient of friction, the drives can go into a brake skid. Think of the engine brake as a brake on just your drives - the engine braking effect takes the place of the brake pedal or lever - the result is the same. If the drives are turning slower than the vehicle overall, they will break loose and brake skid. And, as they now have less traction than the steers, they will try to pass the steers. The tractor is now pushed by the inertia of the trailer as Patrick explained, which is still moving at a speed greater than the drives are turning = tractor jackknife.

Errol's advice is the same as we were given in many trips to advanced & emergency driving school over the years: the rule of thumb is slow down to where you can see the texture of the road surface. The tread depth and design of your tires, amount of rain, road surface, and speed all combine to reduce the coefficient of friction below that of the ideal dry roadway. We have no practical way to measure this while driving, and of those factors the only one we can control as drivers is speed, so slowing down is our best defense.

#5 Alcohol in Cab: Regarding alcohol in the cab, Rick is right - DOT regs prohibit it while on-duty. You generally wouldn't run afoul of state open container laws with the sealed containers in your example, but DOT regs take precedent.

#8 Deer whistles: we ran these on our squad cars in northern Minnesota. Our experience is that they didn't chase or scare deer away, they could cause deer to stop and look at you so that their eyes reflected your headlights giving you a chance to avoid them. I'm not aware of any studies or analysis - that's just our experience with them.

Sorry for the long-winded response - feel free to skip all of this. I probably should have said that up front...

That's all I can help with - Take care and drive safe all. Don

Most of the trucks I have driven,...cruise control is disabled when the wipers are on. There are signs all over our driver's area; "no cruise control in the rain or snow".

CDL:

Commercial Driver's License (CDL)

A CDL is required to drive any of the following vehicles:

  • Any combination of vehicles with a gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 26,001 or more pounds, providing the gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of the vehicle being towed is in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any single vehicle with a GVWR of 26,001 or more pounds, or any such vehicle towing another not in excess of 10,000 pounds.
  • Any vehicle, regardless of size, designed to transport 16 or more persons, including the driver.
  • Any vehicle required by federal regulations to be placarded while transporting hazardous materials.

Tandems:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

Tandem:

Tandem Axles

A set of axles spaced close together, legally defined as more than 40 and less than 96 inches apart by the USDOT. Drivers tend to refer to the tandem axles on their trailer as just "tandems". You might hear a driver say, "I'm 400 pounds overweight on my tandems", referring to his trailer tandems, not his tractor tandems. Tractor tandems are generally just referred to as "drives" which is short for "drive axles".

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

OOS:

When a violation by either a driver or company is confirmed, an out-of-service order removes either the driver or the vehicle from the roadway until the violation is corrected.

Rick S.'s Comment
member avatar
Most of the trucks I have driven,...cruise control is disabled when the wipers are on. There are signs all over our driver's area; "no cruise control in the rain or snow".

Actually - ALL TRUCKS have this as a feature set in the ECU Feature set. It's typically enabled by most every company - but it CAN actually be turned off (so that you CAN use CC with the wipers on).

If you're in weather adverse enough to use the wipers, you need to be ALERT & ENGAGED - not relaxed with your feet up on the dash & the CC on.

Rick

G-Town's Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

Most of the trucks I have driven,...cruise control is disabled when the wipers are on. There are signs all over our driver's area; "no cruise control in the rain or snow".

double-quotes-end.png

Actually - ALL TRUCKS have this as a feature set in the ECU Feature set. It's typically enabled by most every company - but it CAN actually be turned off (so that you CAN use CC with the wipers on).

If you're in weather adverse enough to use the wipers, you need to be ALERT & ENGAGED - not relaxed with your feet up on the dash & the CC on.

Rick

Yes...in most trucks I have driven Cruise Cancel was enabled when the wipers are turned-on. And the one that wasn't? So noted on the post-trip inspection MACRO message.

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Partagas explains:

#5 Alcohol in Cab: Regarding alcohol in the cab, Rick is right - DOT regs prohibit it while on-duty. You generally wouldn't run afoul of state open container laws with the sealed containers in your example, but DOT regs take precedent.

I did mention the thing about being seen carrying stuff to your truck. No, there are not people sitting in cars with binoculars watching, but if a company says no alcohol, open or sealed container, in their trucks, this takes precedence over any other law - because it's their truck and you are employed by them.

DOT:

Department Of Transportation

A department of the federal executive branch responsible for the national highways and for railroad and airline safety. It also manages Amtrak, the national railroad system, and the Coast Guard.

State and Federal DOT Officers are responsible for commercial vehicle enforcement. "The truck police" you could call them.

millionmiler24's Comment
member avatar
DUI in a CMV , is the KISS OF DEATH

THIS is one reason I DON'T Drink, thank God.

CMV:

Commercial Motor Vehicle

A CMV is a vehicle that is used as part of a business, is involved in interstate commerce, and may fit any of these descriptions:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more
  • Has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more
  • Is designed or used to transport 16 or more passengers (including the driver) not for compensation
  • Is designed or used to transport 9 or more passengers (including the driver) for compensation
  • Is transporting hazardous materials in a quantity requiring placards

DUI:

Driving Under the Influence

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
No, there are not people sitting in cars with binoculars watching

Actually, don't bet on that. I know for a fact that there are unmarked vehicles out there hired by or belonging to various entities like trucking companies, law enforcement, insurance companies, and shippers & receivers that will indeed spy on trucks and either hand out citations or report violations to the people who hired them.

For instance, when I used to pick up high value freight for the one company I worked for they reported to me two different times that I was followed by someone to make sure I was following proper procedures.

They also know that one of the main tactics thieves will use to steal freight is to follow a driver when he leaves a high value shipper and grab the opportunity if the driver stops nearby and leaves the truck unattended. So various entities will hire people to follow trucks to watch for thieves or improper procedures by the driver.

There are eyes everywhere nowadays. Think long and hard about the risk/reward ratio of everything you do out there and never forget what's on the line.

Shipper:

The customer who is shipping the freight. This is where the driver will pick up a load and then deliver it to the receiver or consignee.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

No, there are not people sitting in cars with binoculars watching

double-quotes-end.png

Actually, don't bet on that.

Actually, I wouldn't take that bet. I got props onto my Swift driving record (good points, that is) from a paid observer who "caught me being good".

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

double-quotes-start.png

double-quotes-start.png

No, there are not people sitting in cars with binoculars watching

double-quotes-end.png

double-quotes-end.png

Actually, don't bet on that.

double-quotes-end.png

Actually, I wouldn't take that bet. I got props onto my Swift driving record (good points, that is) from a paid observer who "caught me being good".

Oh, so there ya go!

Susan D. 's Comment
member avatar

I've been caught "doing good" too.

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