Category Archives: CMV Operator Information

This category is specifically aimed at drivers to keep them safe while their on the road.

Rail Grade Crossing Safety

Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Safety

Saving Lives

One of the initiatives the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is undertaking to save lives on the Nation’s highways is to intensify our focus on highway-rail grade crossing safety. FMCSA has launched a nationwide educational campaign to remind commercial motor vehicle drivers of the precautions they must take at highway-rail grade crossings.

Highway-Rail Grade Crossings

A highway-rail grade crossing is an intersection where a roadway crosses railroad tracks at the same level or grade. Such crossings may be encountered on both public and private roads. There are more than 250,000 such crossings in the U.S.

Although the highway safety picture has improved considerably over the last decade, people are killed every year and more than are injured at grade crossings. Of the more than highway-rail grade crossing incidents annually, around 500 involve trucks or tractor-trailers. This translates to an average of about 10 per week. Although collisions involving buses at grade crossings are infrequent, results of such incidents can be tragic.

Safety Information

This Web site provides a compendium of highway-rail grade crossing safety information for drivers, motor carriers, and users of commercial motor vehicles. It is a “one stop shop” for readers who want to learn more about the critical importance of rail grade crossing safety.

And, remember: When you see tracks, “Always Xpect a Train”!

Emergency Numbers

Safety Guidance

Regulatory Information

Learn More

Driver Fatigue (CMV)

Driver Fatigue

Fatigue is the result of physical or mental exertion that impairs performance.46 Driver fatigue may be due to a lack of adequate sleep, extended work hours, strenuous work or non-work activities, or a combination of other factors.14 The Large Truck Crash Causation Study (LTCCS) reported that 13 percent of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers were considered to have been fatigued at the time of their crash.15

Below are some tips that will help you stay healthy and well rested during all your trips.

TIP #1: Get Enough Sleep Before Getting Behind the Wheel

Be sure to get an adequate amount of sleep each night. If possible, do not drive while your body is naturally drowsy, between the hours of 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Driver drowsiness may impair a driver’s response time to potential hazards, increasing the chances of being in a crash.16 If you do become drowsy while driving, be sure to choose a safe place to pull over and rest.

Did You Know? The circadian rhythm refers to the wake/sleep cycle that our body goes through each day and night. The cycle involves our internal clock and controls the daily pattern of alertness in a human body. With inadequate sleep, the drowsiness experienced during natural “lulls” can be even stronger and may have a greater adverse effect on a driver’s performance and alertness.47

Did You Know? A study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) found that driver alertness was related to “time-of-day” more so than “time-on-task.”48 Most people are less alert at night, especially after midnight. This drowsiness may be enhanced if you have been on the road for an extended period of time.16

Did You Know? A recent study conducted to determine the risk of having a safety-critical event as a function of driving-hour suggests that incidents are highest during the first hour of driving. The authors hypothesize that drivers may be affected by sleep inertia shortly after waking from sleep. This may be especially true for drivers who sleep in the sleeper berth.49 Sleep inertia refers to impairment in a variety of performance tasks, including short-term memory, vigilance, cognitive functioning, reaction time, and ability to resist sleep.49,50,51,52

An example of a fatigued driver is shown in the video below. Training exercise questions follow the video clip.

VIDEO DESCRIPTION: The CMV driver is traveling in the right lane of a two-lane road at night. The driver is clearly drowsy, making it difficult for him to pay attention to the roadway. The driver drifts towards the right shoulder of the road, nearly hitting the curb, before he returns the truck to the lane.

TRAINING EXERCISE: After viewing the video, try to answer the following questions:

  • What behaviors indicate that the driver is drowsy?
  • What happened as a result of the driver’s drowsiness?
  • How did the driver correct his mistake?
  • What could the driver have done differently?

TIP #2: Maintain a Healthy Diet

Skipping meals or eating at irregular times may lead to fatigue and/or food cravings. Also, going to bed with an empty stomach or immediately after a heavy meal can interfere with sleep.53 A light snack before bed may help you achieve more restful sleep. Remember that if you are not well-rested, induced fatigue may cause slow reaction time, reduced attention, memory lapses, lack of awareness, mood changes, and reduced judgment ability.

Did you Know? A recent study conducted on the sleeping and driving habits of CMV drivers concluded that an unhealthy lifestyle, long working hours, and sleeping problems were the main causes of drivers falling asleep while driving.54

TIP #3: Take a Nap

If possible, you should take a nap when feeling drowsy or less alert. Naps should last a minimum of 10 minutes, but ideally a nap should last up to 45 minutes. Allow at least 15 minutes after waking to fully recover before starting to drive.55

Did you know? Short naps are more effective at restoring energy levels than coffee.16

Did you know? Naps aimed at preventing drowsiness are generally more effective in maintaining a driver’s performance than naps taken when a person is already drowsy.47

TIP #4: Avoid Medication That May Induce Drowsiness

Avoid medications that may make you drowsy if you plan to get behind the wheel. Most drowsiness-inducing medications include a warning label indicating that you should not operate vehicles or machinery during use.16 Some of the most common medicines that may make you drowsy are: tranquilizers, sleeping pills, allergy medicines and cold medicines.56

Did You Know? In a recent study, 17 percent of CMV drivers were reported as having “over-the-counter drug use” at the time of a crash.15

Did You Know? Cold pills are one of the most common medicines that may make you drowsy. If you must drive with a cold, it is safer to suffer from the cold than drive under the effects of the medicine.16

TIP #5: Recognize the Signals and Dangers of Drowsiness

Pay attention: Indicators of drowsiness include: frequent yawning, heavy eyes, and blurred vision.57

Did You Know? Research has indicated that being awake for 18 hours is comparable to having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent, which is legally intoxicated and leaves you at equal risk for a crash.57

Did You Know? A 2005 study suggests that three out of every four CMV drivers report having experienced at least one type of driving error as a result of drowsiness.58

Did You Know? On October 16, 2005 at 2 a.m., a 23-year-old CMV driver fell asleep behind the wheel, causing him to enter a ditch and eventually roll his truck over on both west-bound lanes of Interstate 94. Minutes later, a charter bus carrying a school band crashed into the truck killing 5 and injuring 29 others. As a result of the crash, the CMV driver was charged with 5 counts of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle and 29 counts of reckless driving that caused great bodily harm. If convicted he could have faced nearly 90 years in prison.59,60,61

TIP #6: Do Not Rely on “Alertness Tricks” to Keep You Awake

Behaviors such as smoking, turning up the radio, drinking coffee, opening the window, and other “alertness tricks” are not real cures for drowsiness and may give you a false sense of security.

Did You Know? Excessive intake of caffeine can cause insomnia, headaches, irritability, and nervousness.53

Did You Know? It takes several minutes for caffeine to get into your system and deliver the energy boost you need, so if you are already tired when you first drink a caffeinated drink, it may not take effect as quickly as you might expect. In addition, if you are a regular caffeine user, the effect may be much smaller.62

Did You Know? Rolling the window down or turning the radio up may help you feel more alert for an instant, but these are not effective ways to maintain an acceptable level of alertness.63

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Driver Distraction (CMV)

Driver Distraction

Driver distraction is the diversion of attention from activities critical for safe driving to a competing activity. Driver distraction increases your risk of getting into a crash.

Distractions can come from both inside and outside of your truck cab. Distractions inside of your cab can include dialing cell phones, texting, using dispatching devices, eating, reading, or adjusting the radio. Distractions outside of your cab can include looking at a passing building, billboard, or person. One way to think about distraction is to ask yourself if something is drawing your attention and taking your eyes away from the road ahead of you. If the answer is “yes,” it is probably a distraction.

A 2009 study found that 71 percent of large-truck crashes occurred when the truck driver was doing something besides driving the truck.82 Staying focused on driving can help keep you, and other road users, safe on the road!

Below are some tips that will help you stay focused on the road ahead and can help make you a safer driver.

TIP #1: Do Not Let Objects Outside of Your Truck Distract You

When driving, stay focused on the job of driving your truck. You should avoid focusing on things outside of your truck that aren’t related to driving. This includes things like billboards, buildings, and people. Remember, anything taking your eyes away from driving is a distraction and can be dangerous. Paying attention only to things that are related to driving will help keep you aware of the road and cars around you, and will help make sure you are ready to react to anything unexpected.

Did You Know? A 2006 study found that driver inattention was the leading factor in crashes and near-crashes. The study found that nearly 80 percent of crashes involved some form of driver inattention in the 3 seconds before the crash or near-crash.14

Did You Know? A three-year data collection effort by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that an estimated 11,000 truck crashes nationwide involved distractions external to the truck cab.20

Did You Know? Billboards and other advertisements near the road are meant to get your attention. However, anything that takes your eyes off the road ahead can be a distraction. Aim to minimize the amount of time you spend looking at these objects.

An example of a driver distracted by something outside of the truck is shown in the video clip below. Training exercise questions follow the video clip.


VIDEO DESCRIPTION: The truck driver is in the right lane of a two-lane highway on wet pavement during the day. The driver becomes distracted with something out his right window. Traffic begins to slow ahead of him. The driver returns his attention to the forward roadway and has to brake quickly and move into the left lane.

TRAINING EXERCISE: After viewing the video, try to answer the following questions:

  • Was the driver aware of the road in front of him and the traffic around him?
  • What was the result of the driver’s inattention?
  • Would the driver know if there were any vehicles in the adjacent left lane?
  • What could the driver have done differently?

TIP #2: Do Not Text While Driving

Texting while driving is illegal for CMV drivers.83 Texting is an easy way to keep in touch with people. Yet, texting can also be one of the most dangerous distractions in your truck. Texting takes your eyes, hands, and mind off the job of driving. In order to read or send a text message, you must look at the phone. This takes your eyes off the road. You must use the buttons on the phone to open or write a message, which takes at least one hand off the steering wheel. You must read or think about what you are going to write, which takes your mind off the road.

Did You Know? A 2009 study of real-world driving found that text messaging while driving increased a driver’s chances of being involved in a safety-critical event by 23 times. This study found that, in the moments before a safety-critical event, drivers who were texting while driving spent nearly 5 seconds looking at their phone.82

Did You Know? Based largely on a 2009 landmark study of driver distraction in trucking, FMCSA banned texting while driving for commercial drivers.82,83 This study was so compelling that President Obama issued Executive Order 13513, banning all federal employees from texting while driving on government business.

Did You Know? If you are driving at 55 mph and take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds to write a text message, you have traveled the length of a football field (end zones included) without looking at the road.

An example of a driver distracted by sending a text message is shown in the video clip below. Training exercise questions follow the video clip.

VIDEO DESCRIPTION: The CMV driver is traveling on a two-lane highway during the day. The roadway curves to the left. The driver is distracted by his phone and fails to notice the car turning across his lane. He looks up from his phone at the last moment, and manages to avoid a head-on collision with the car by driving onto the shoulder.

TRAINING EXERCISE: After viewing the video, try to answer the following questions:

  • What shows that the driver was distracted by the cell phone?
  • How far did the driver travel without looking at the road?
  • How long were the driver’s eyes on the phone versus on the road?
  • Would having his eyes on the forward roadway have allowed him to handle the situation differently?

TIP #3: Do Not Use a Dispatching Device While Driving

Dispatching devices let you and your dispatchers communicate, can help you navigate, and can help keep your logs. These devices are sometimes called mobile or portable data terminals and can help make your job easier. Although a message on the dispatching device might seem urgent, using a dispatching device while driving can be dangerous. This is because the dispatching device can take your eyes, hands, and mind away from driving safely. Since using a dispatching device while driving raises your risk of a crash, many companies have policies in place or lock out features when the truck is moving. Using a dispatching device is “texting for truckers.”

Did You Know? A 2009 study of real-world driving found that using a dispatching device while driving increased a driver’s chances of being involved in a safety-critical event by 9 times.82

Did You Know? Companies are working on building better dispatching devices. Some dispatching devices are easier to use, allowing you to respond to messages without looking at the screen, and read messages aloud. This can help you keep your eyes on the road.

TIP #4: Do Not Dial a Handheld Phone While Driving

Handheld cell phones involve multiple types of distractions and using them while driving is illegal for CMV drivers.83 Handheld phones can take your eyes and hands away from driving. Dialing a handheld cell phone requires you to take your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel.58 If you have to make a call while driving, find a safe place to stop and keep your call short.44 Or, consider a voice-activated hands-free phone or phone app. Phones that do not require you to hold them while dialing a number or talking can help keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel. Most smartphones either have this hands-free ability or have apps available to provide it.

Did You Know? A 2010 study of real-world driving found that dialing a handheld cell phone while driving increased the risk of a crash or near-crash by 3 times.84

A 2011 study found that drivers who were dialing a handheld cell phone made more frequent and larger steering corrections than drivers who were only talking on the phone.84

An example of a driver distracted by a cell phone is shown in the video clip below. Training exercise questions follow the video clip.

VIDEO DESCRIPTION: The CMV driver is traveling in the far right lane of a multi-lane highway during the day. The roadway curves to the left. The driver is distracted by his cell phone and his tire catches the road edge. He tries to correct with steering, but slides the truck and narrowly misses colliding with an oncoming car. His truck flips.

TRAINING EXERCISE: After viewing the video, try to answer the following questions:

  • What shows that the driver was distracted by the cell phone?
  • What happened when the driver was dialing his phone?
  • When were the driver’s eyes off the road?
  • What does this tell you about the driver’s attention while driving?

TIP #5: Do Not Read, Write, or Use Paper Maps While Driving

Printed directions, notes to yourself, and maps are a normal part of your job. However, reading or writing while you are driving is a much bigger risk than you might think. Reading a map while driving increases your risk of being in a crash. This is because both reading and writing take your eyes off the road ahead of you. If you need to read something or write yourself a note, the safest thing to do is pull over. Never read, even a map, or write while you are driving!

Did You Know? A 2009 study of real-world driving found that writing while driving increased a driver’s chance of being involved in a safety-critical event by 8 times. The study also found that reading a map while driving increased the chances of being in a safety-critical event by 7 times.82

Did You Know? GPS units are much safer to use while driving as compared to maps, as long as you are not trying to enter information into the unit while driving. However, studies have shown that using these kinds of systems can still take your eyes off the road.84 Therefore, never try to enter information into a GPS unit while driving!

Did You Know? Many newer GPS units allow you to enter an address with your voice only. These voice-activated units help you keep your eyes on the road while still allowing you to get route information.

TIP #6: Avoid Eating and Drinking When Driving

Sometimes you may feel like driving is the only time you have to eat or drink. But you may not realize that eating while driving can be dangerous.72 Eating while driving can take your eyes off the road. It always takes at least one of your hands off the wheel. Always try to eat or drink before getting behind the wheel or leave time to pull over and eat.

Did You Know? A survey of all types of drivers found that 49 percent of drivers believed eating or drinking while driving could be a distraction.73

Did You Know? A recent study found that eating while driving was riskier than talking on a cell phone.74

Did You Know? On May 23, 2008, a 51-year-old CMV driver crashed into the back of a stopped school bus, which was letting children out, on Highway 50 in western Kenosha County, Wisconsin. The CMV driver was distracted by drinking a soda and did not see the school bus, which was stopped with its lights flashing and its stop-arm extended. After the crash, 14 children had to be taken to area hospitals, 4 of them with serious injuries. The CMV driver was transported to a hospital in critical condition.75,76 This crash may have been prevented if the CMV driver was not distracted by drinking the soda and was paying full attention to the road ahead.

This post was taken from the FMCSA website, a link can be found here. It was through the CMV Driving Tips that this post was created.

CatchNET System

This video is a quick introduction to the CatchNET System.

The CatchNET system is comprised of a series of nets set up along a truck escape ramp. The array of nets is arranged to stop the vehicle in the distance allowed, while minimizing the deceleration forces. These nets made of aircraft cable can have one or two energy absorbers connected on each side. The energy absorbers, in turn are mounted within the concrete walls of the truck escape ramp.

The variable involved with determining the stopping distance and ‘g’ load response of a system are vehicle weight, vehicle speed and net width. CatchNET system has been designed to stop a wide range of vehicles now as large as 110,000 lbs. traveling at 100 mph.

CatchNET energy absorbers use a patented “metal bender” principle for absorbing energy, which provides the means to stop vehicles of varying weights and speeds. The absorbers are primarily comprised of a changer, a length of metal tape and a series of offset pins.

As the metal tape is pulled through the series of offset pins, the tape is bent back and forth beyond its yield point. The process of bending the metal beyond its yield point is the principal mechanism for absorbing the energy of impact.

The absorbers utilize few moving parts, making them virtually maintenance free. Following an arrestment, the system can be quickly returned to service by replacing the metal tapes with minimal time and effort.

Cargo Tank Truck Rollover Prevention

This training video covers the four approaches to reducing cargo tank truck rollovers:

  • Vehicle design and performance
  • Load effects
  • Highway factors
  • Driver factors

Over 78% of rollovers involve driver error. As a driver, YOU are the key component for preventing rollovers. The preview above highlights what you’ll see in the full 17 minute video.

So why do rollovers happen and what can you do to prevent them? This Cargo Tank Truck Rollover Prevention video answers those questions and more.

  • You’ll see how rollovers happen, why they happen, and what you can do to avoid them.
  • You’ll hear how vehicle design and loads affect rollover potential.
  • You’ll learn the warning signs of unsafe behaviors and conditions that contribute to rollovers.
  • And you’ll watch survivors of rollovers tell their stories.

This video will show you how to:

  • Avoid sudden movements that may lead to rollovers
  • Control your load in turns and on straight roadways
  • Identify high risk areas on roads
  • Remain alert and attentive behind the wheel
  • Control speed and maintain proper “speed cushions”

These 17 minutes can save your life—and the lives of others!

The FMCSA also has more resources for this topic found here.