Tag Archives: drivers

SHARING THE ROAD WITH SEMITRAILERS

semi

Semitrailers. You see them everywhere. At your local Jewel. At Walmart. At the Kraft Distribution Center. On the toll road going into and out of Chicago. On the highways in the countryside. How many can there be? Hundreds? Thousands? More than that?

According to www.popularmechanics.com/cars/trucks, “there are 5.6 million semitrailers (or tractor trailers) in the U.S. That is almost three times the number of semi trucks (also called tractors). Since a trailer has no front wheels and can be used only when connected to the tractor part of the truck, it is called a semi-trailer.”

The article continues, “Trailers are typically 53 feet long. They have brakes that are automatically applied when the trailer is standing unattached to the truck. When the truck is connected to the trailer, pressure from the truck’s engine-powered air pump releases the brakes so that it can roll.”

How important are semitrailers to our way of life? According to the article, semitrailers deliver sixty-eight percent of all goods in the U.S. Amazon has announced the purchase of thousands of semitrailers to send items around the country and to get orders to customers faster. The United States Postal Service uses semitrailers to transport mail from one processing facility to another or to stations and branches. Semitrailers deliver new cars from the factory to the new car dealers lots.

According to the Popular Mechanics article, there are 3.2 million truck drivers in the U.S. You are probably familiar with the names of some of the biggest companies including United Parcel Service, Fed Ex, J.B. Hunt, and Schneider. However, about 90 percent of trucking companies and owner-operators have fewer than six trucks. Each year a single semi will average 45,000 miles. Long distance trucks average 100,000 miles per year.

Many of the routes are on interstate highways built to carry the weight of a fully loaded semitrailer. The maximum weight allowed for a semitrailer is 80,000 pounds spread over eighteen conventional wheels. Problems sometimes occur when a semitrailer has to travel on two lane highways with bridges not built to handle that weight. In that case, the driver has to reduce the weight of the load before traveling such roads. State police set up weigh stations on highways to ensure that trucks are in compliance. If a truck exceeds the maximum weight allowed, the trucking company can receive a hefty fine.

If you are going to be sharing roads with semitrailers, you need to be aware of the fact that semitrailers have certain blind spots. That means the truck driver cannot see your vehicle at certain times. The Queensland (Australia) Government—Department of Transport and Main Roads published the following information at https://www.tmr.qld.gov.au/

  1. Stay out of the heavy vehicle blind spots.
    • Immediately in front of the truck
    • Beside the truck driver’s door
    • On the passenger side which runs the length of the truck
    • Directly behind the truck
      Remember: If you can’t see the truck driver’s mirror, the truck driver cannot see you.
  2. Travel at a safe following distance.
    • Do not follow a heavy vehicle too closely. Allow time to stop safely.
  3. Look out for turning heavy vehicles.
    • Trucks need more space when turning. Trucks may take up more than one lane to turn at corners, intersections, and roundabouts.
  4. Overtaking safely around heavy vehicles
    • If traveling on the motorway/highway, try to use overtaking lanes whenever possible.
    • Only overtake when the road ahead is clear.
    • Be aware of strong wind conditions as you pass a vehicle.
    • When it is safe to pass, indicate, accelerate and pass quickly, without exceeding the speed limit.
    • After passing, maintain your speed so the heavy vehicle does not need to brake.
    • Never attempt to pass a heavy vehicle or other long heavy vehicle on a curve or hill as your visibility is reduced.

—By Karen Centowski


To see Share the Road Instructional Video You Tube, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wS_YwM-aNbA

WHAT’S THE WORST ROADBLOCK TO SELF-DRIVING (AUTOPILOT) CARS?

Car

It’s 2016, and the future is now. Automakers have developed self-driving cars which use multiple sensors to keep your car centered in the lane, keep pace with the car ahead, and pull your car back into the lane if it detects a car coming up in the blind spot. However, it is necessary for the driver to always keep his hands on the wheel and be prepared to take over at any time.

What is so hard about that? Experience in other fields such as transportation and aviation show this is very difficult. People have a difficult time keeping their minds on boring tasks like monitoring a system that rarely ever fails. The mind is easily distracted from routine tasks. The brain seeks stimulation.

Add to this the fact that some individuals already act in an irresponsible manner while driving. They text and drive. They eat while they are driving. Women put on their makeup while driving. Drivers turn around to talk to the passengers in the back seat. People change their clothes while they are behind the wheel. Daredevils even switch places behind the wheel while the car is moving. Can these same people be trusted to always keep their hands on the wheel and be prepared to take over at any time?

On May 7, 2016, the automaker Tesla recorded its first fatal crash of a vehicle in self-driving Autopilot mode. Joshua Brown, 40, of Canton, Ohio was killed when a tractor-trailer turned left in front of Brown’s Tesla Model S. In a prepared statement Tesla said, “Neither autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied… Autopilot is getting better all the time, but it is not perfect and still requires the driver to remain alert.”

To see a video, go to Testing Tesla’s Autopilot System at 70 mph-You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tP7VdxVY6UQ.

—By Karen Centowski

ILLINOIS SECRETARY OF STATE ANNOUNCES CHANGE IN ISSUANCE OF DRIVER’S LICENSES

Illinois Drivers License

On May 17, 2016, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White announced a significant change in the issuance of new driver’s licenses and renewals of existing licenses and State ID cards. The changes are being made to better identify and prevent fraud and identity theft and to meet the requirements of REAL ID mandated by the Department of Homeland Security.

If a driver goes to a Driver’s License Examining Facility to obtain a new driver’s license/State ID or to renew an existing license, he will no longer receive his permanent driver’s license/State ID at the end of the application process. Instead, he will be given a temporary secure paper driver’s license/State ID. This paper document is valid for 45 days. The old driver’s license/State ID card will be given back to the applicant with a hole punched in the driver’s license/State ID.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has stated that it will accept the paper document along with the old driver’s license/State ID to board an airplane until the individual receives his new driver’s license card/State ID.

The information for the new driver’s licenses/State IDs will be sent to a central location in Illinois. Fraud checks will be conducted to ensure the applicant’s identity. Then a higher quality, more secure driver’s license/State ID will be printed and mailed to the applicant’s address within 15 business days.

The transition to central issuance will take place in phases. Beginning May 17, 2016, Safe Driver Renewal applicants will receive by mail their new driver’s licenses with the upgraded security features. Beginning in late June 2016, Driver’s License Examining Stations throughout the state will implement a gradual rollout of the new central issuance with the new card design. All driver service facilities will have transitioned to central issuance by the end of July 2016.

For more information, go to www.cyberdriveillinois.com.

-By Karen Centowski

RENEW YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE ONLINE

 Driver

Do you hate going to the Drivers’ License Examining Station to renew your license?  Is it hard to find a place to park?  Is the facility always crowded?  Is it difficult to fit a visit to the Drivers’ License Examining Station into your schedule?

Well, here’s some good news.  If you qualify for the Illinois Secretary of State’s Safe Driver Renewal Program, you will be able to renew online, over the telephone, or through the mail.  If you are eligible, a Safe Driver Renewal Application will be sent to you approximately sixty days prior to the expiration of your current driver’s license.

According to www.cyberdriveillinois.com,  the official Web site of the Illinois Secretary of State, you are UNABLE to participate in this program if any of the following statements pertain to you:

  1. You hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
  2. Your driver’s license or privilege to obtain a driver’s license is suspended, revoked, cancelled or refused in any state.
  3. You are not between the ages of 22 to 74.
  4. Your license has been expired more than one (1) year.
  5. You participated in the Safe Driver Renewal Program at your last renewal.
  6. You have already renewed.
  7. You are required to submit an updated medical and/or vision report.
  8. You are a School Bus Permit holder.
  9. Your driving record reflects any conviction, supervision, accident and/or withdrawal.
  10. You have been prescribed corrective lenses (eyeglasses/contacts) for driving since your last renewal.
  11. You wish to change the classification or restrictions on your driver’s license.
  12. You hold a driver’s license in any other state.
  13. Your driver’s license is being held by the court in lieu of bail.
  14. Your legal name or gender has changed.
  15. You are an honorably discharged U.S. veteran and wish to have that designation added to your driver’s license.

If you are eligible for the program, you will receive a “Safe Driver Renewal Application” approximately sixty days before your current driver’s license expires.  Your renewal authorization number will be at the top of the page.  You will need this number to renew online at www.cyberdriveillinois.com.

Follow the directions on the screen and verify your information.  Use a Visa, MasterCard. Discover, or American Express card for payment.  A payment processor fee will be added.

Print out the confirmation page.  If something happens to your order before you print out the confirmation page, e-mail the Illinois Secretary of State by using the Safe Driver Contact form and include your Driver’s License number.  The Illinois Secretary of State’s office will check to see if your transaction was completed.

Your renewed driver’s license will be delivered to your address on file within fifteen business days.

By Karen Centowski