More from: reflective tape

5 Things to Have on Hand for Winter Flatbed Driving

Severe winter weather is just weeks away in parts of the country where storms can begin in late November and last all the way through March. In the past, we have written blog posts detailing safe winter driving tips and how to apply tarps and other cargo control components in winter weather. In this post, we want to focus on some of the equipment drivers should have on hand if they are planning to haul flatbeds over the next several months.

Obviously, tire chains and a good selection of high-quality flatbed truck tarps are prerequisites for winter weather. Departing without them wouldn’t be a good idea. But what else does a trucker need? Are there any other pieces of equipment truckers should be considering about above and beyond  tarps, ratchet straps and bungee cords? Absolutely.

winter-tarping

 

Here are five things you should have on hand for winter flatbed driving:

1. A Heavy-Duty Tool Box

No flatbed trucker should ever think about hitting the road without a solid, heavy-duty toolbox on board. During the winter, it’s worth carrying the extra weight to have a second tool box. The tool box is the prime storage area for everything from tarps to bungee straps to those extra hand tools that might be necessary to keep a truck going in bad weather.

We obviously recommend aluminum as the construction material of choice. Aluminum is lightweight on one hand, durable on the other. If you have room on your truck, two tool boxes would be ideal for winter driving. You can never have too much storage for all the extra gear you need for the season.

2. Work Lights

With the onset of winter is less daylight to work with. As such, flatbed truckers may find themselves loading or unloading in the dark. A good collection of work lights is indispensable. Work lights come in different sizes and shapes; they can be permanently affixed to a truck or moved around and used as needed.

3. Trailer Stabilizer Dolly

The presence of snow and ice in freight yards can make parking and stabilizing a trailer a bit tricky. If you have room in your toolbox, a good tool to have on hand during the winter is a trailer stabilizer dolly. This handy piece of equipment makes it possible to add extra support underneath a trailer to keep it stable on uneven ground. This isn’t something to leave behind, though.

4. Air Brake Tubing

Cold temperatures can wreak havoc on air brake hose when temperatures get really low. More than one trucker has found cracked tubing that renders air brakes useless. Therefore, it goes without saying that the flatbed trucker needs a healthy supply of air brake tubing in the toolbox at all times, more so in the winter. You never know when an emergency brake repair going to be necessary.

5. Beacon Lights

The relatively low profile of flatbed trailers makes them harder to see in inclement weather. Every flatbed trucker should have a supply of beacon lights to increase visibility. A couple of lights mounted in strategic positions could be the key to keeping you safe on the road.

Winter is coming and with it a long list of extra challenges for flatbed drivers. Here at Mytee Products, we have everything you need to keep your cargo safe and secure in all kinds of weather. From truck tarps to chains to beacon lights and reflective tape, you can find everything you need quickly by browsing our online store. We make shopping for your truck driving supplies easy and convenient.


What You Need to Know about DOT Conspicuity Tape

One of the products we sell here at Mytee is DOT conspicuity tape. This is a reflective tape product intended to be used on trailers in order to increase visibility. As new truck driver, you might question why this tape is used. The answer is simple: the law requires it. Having said that, let us delve more deeply into why the federal government has made use of the tape mandatory.

Also known simply as DOT tape, a roll of DOT conspicuity tape is a double-sided product with adhesive on one side and a highly reflective surface on the other. The reflective surface is intended to reflect the headlights of other vehicles during nighttime driving in order to make a dark trailer more visible. The idea is to reduce the number of serious crashes involving big trucks and cars.

Government Study Results

DOT conspicuity tape was not always required. In the late 1990s however, it was determined that steps had to be taken to increase the visibility of large trucks with the use of additional lights, reflectors, and conspicuity tape. In 2001, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted an analysis of crash data and estimated the use of conspicuity tape reduced the number of accidents and fatal injuries as much as 44%.

The study was conducted by analyzing crash data from Florida and Pennsylvania. Nearly 11,000 accidents were included in the study. NHTSA researchers concluded that, although using conspicuity tape does significantly reduce the number of crashes between large trucks and passenger vehicles, such crashes are not eliminated entirely. They further discovered:

  • Crashes involving flatbed trailers were reduced more than those involving dry vans
  • Applying DOT tape had the greatest benefit on dark roadways with little or no lighting
  • Applying DOT tape significantly improved trailer visibility during inclement weather – except for snow
  • DOT tape was most beneficial for avoiding crashes among drivers age 50 or younger.

The results of the NHTSA study were convincing enough that federal regulations made using the tape permanent. Every trailer now on the road must make use of the tape in strategic locations as determined by the regulations. Furthermore, DOT conspicuity tape must meet certain specifications as outlined by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 108 and DOT-C2 in order to be legal.

Limitations of Conspicuity Tape

As helpful as DOT conspicuity tape is, it does not eliminate all risk. In order for it to be as helpful as possible, it must be properly applied and in good condition. For example, dirty reflective tape loses its effectiveness as the amount of dirt and grime accumulates. Therefore, drivers have to take the time to clean the tape every now and again.

Wear and tear can also be a problem. When a piece of DOT tape begins to look old and worn out, it should be replaced as soon as possible. The good news here is that the tape is rather inexpensive.

As a truck driver, it is your responsibility to make sure all of your equipment meets federal standards for safety. When hauling your own trailers, purchasing and installing DOT tape falls squarely on your shoulders. When hauling trailers belonging to a shipper, the expense and labor is their responsibility. Nevertheless, you are still required to inspect the trailer for compliance before you pull out of the shipping yard. Don’t leave until it’s right.

DOT conspicuity tape is a good tool for reducing crashes between tractor-trailers and passenger vehicles. Make sure you use it correctly at all times. It could save a life.