Big Rig Trucks and Safety on the Highway

Posted by Rose Ann Woolpert on Mar 18, 2015

Everyone who drives our area highways passes commercial big haul trucks on a regular basis. But do we think about their drivers, the loads they carry or the importance of safe driving while we share the road with these big rigs? Graniterock transportation drivers recently talked about the challenges of safely navigating our area roads as they deliver construction products to our customers. 

Oil tank drivers are up at midnight to hit the road so that Graniterock’s hot mix plants will have oil early in the morning that same day. “We haul a 380-degree Fahrenheit product in from Bakersfield, Benicia and Martinez and need to remain very alert while loading, driving and unloading the truck. Hot oil sloshes around in the tanks and can cause trailers to become unstable around corners,” explains driver Gabriel Orozco. He also notes that tanker drivers must be vigilant to keep water out of the tanks, especially during rainy seasons. If water comes in contact with heated oil it causes steam to expand the load and overflow the top of the trailer.

Bulk cement drivers are also up early to get loads of cement, fly ash, and slag to Graniterock’s ready-mix concrete branches. Our transportation fleet drivers recently celebrated a milestone of two million miles completed with ZERO lost-time injuries, preventable collisions or property damage incidents. Just imagine the challenge of driving 80,000 pounds of loaded truck up and over Highway 17, and then consider that these drivers do it safely every day.

Driver Mike Duran stresses the importance of respecting trucks on the roadway. “Please keep in mind that bottom dump trucks weigh 13 tons unloaded and hold about 27 tons of material for a total weight of 40 tons. You want to leave distance between you and a truck because it takes quite a bit to bring a truck like this to a stop.”  Mike says that he sees more and more drivers weaving on the roadway and crossing lines. “When I get up near them, I see that they are texting on their cellphones, eating and drinking.I’ve even seen one driver typing on a laptop computer in the passenger seat. Pay attention to your driving. That’s enough responsibility to worry about.”

Transfer truck drivers are often required to go into backwoods areas that require a great deal of training and experience. Graniterock’s emphasis on safety has led to improvements such as the five mirrors installed on the right side of Ricki Mancebo’struck to help her see any vehicle that gets too close to her. There are also three mirrors on the left driver’s side. “All lights on the truck have been upgraded and provide greater visibility. When the trailer is dropped off, all of the lights flash on the trailer and the lights on the tongue remain on so no one will trip over it or drive over it,” said Ricki. A new convex mirror installed on the right side of bulk cement trucks makes it possible for drivers to see what is immediately adjacent to the right front tire and hood. Without the convex mirror there would be a blind spot.

Graniterock transportation drivers safely delivered forty-one thousand loads during 2011and more than 98% of them arrived on time. Our customers comment on the safety of our drivers and that “Graniterock’s drivers take the time to learn what we (the contractor) want to get accomplished and when we want it done. Graniterock Drivers are the best we’ve ever had on our job.” How do they do it?  According to Transportation Manager Denny Mahler, “We all agreed that we wanted to have no accidents. We set a short-term goal of 500,000 miles without an incident, and when we made that we moved it to 750,000 miles and then 1,000,000 miles. The reason for this success is because our drivers truly do care about each other.”

Graniterock transportation drivers care about safety, for themselves and for all of us who share the road.  Each day they are on the job, doing whatever they can to safely provide quality service to our customers. The next time you pass one of our big rigs on the highway, please take a moment to consider their challenges and your driving habits, and do whatever you can to help keep our roads safe and accident free.

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