Tags Posts tagged with "Driving"

Driving

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spring food truck driving tips

Spring is here officially, although the in some places you may question it. With spring’s arrival we felt that we’d share some driving advice to food truck owners who are getting ready to launch and provide a reminder to those of you who’ve spent a few seasons in your truck.

With winter fading into the background and better weather on the horizon, you’d think the roads would finally be safe again. This isn’t always the case. Today we’ll cover some of the road dangers to avoid as well as a few driving tips to help you and your truck make it safely to summer.

So what are these spring driving dangers?

Rainy days and flooding

Spring rain brings slippery road conditions and flooding. What makes rain and wet pavement so dangerous? For one, slippery roads reduce your truck’s handling and increase the distance it takes to stop your already tough to stop food truck. Big puddles can also cut down on tire traction and could lead to hydroplaning.

Hail

Beware of hail storms, particularly if you live in a hail-belt state (Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri). Even small hailstones can shatter your food truck’s windshield, and raining balls of ice are never good for the roads or your truck’s exterior.

We understand a truck won’t intentionally head out in a hail storm, (how many customers do you expect to wait in line while being pelted with hail?), but if it starts hailing during a shift, have a plan in place to be able to get your truck under cover as soon as possible..

Winter Potholes

In many states, winter wreaks havoc on the roads. Snow plows, salt, sand, and the aftermath of ice can all leave roads a bit battered. Once snow melts away, expect to drive over new potholes.

Bikes and Motorcycles

Spring brings cyclists out of hibernation. Driving alongside cyclists can make traffic maneuvers, from turning right to parallel parking, more dangerous.

Spring Food Truck Driving Safety Tips
  • Check your lights. Since spring rain hinders driving visibility, make sure all your lights work, including headlights, taillights, backup lights, turn signals, parking lights, and brake lights.
  • Replace your wiper blades. Worn-out wiper blades may not be up to the task of clearing water away from your windshield. Check your wiper blades and replace them if necessary.
  • Check your tire pressure. Harsh winter weather can deflate your food truck’s tires. Make sure you have enough air in them once spring rolls around. (As a bonus, proper tire pressure can also help you increase your truck’s mpg *cha ching*!!!)
  • Slow down and drive carefully. The first few rainy days of spring can produce exceptionally slippery roads due to oil and other leaked fluids mixing with rainwater, so slow down and increase your stopping distance when it’s raining.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for bad road conditions. Remember that harsh winter weather breeds potholes and other driving obstacles.

Seasonal showers and poor road conditions can create unpleasant complications for all drivers on the road. Food truck owners need to be a little more cautious due to the size and weight of your vehicles, not to mention that if your truck is damaged and cannot drive…you’re losing sales opportunities. Use the above tips to your advantage and you’ll be that much more prepared for any spring driving dangers that come your food truck’s way.

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tip of the day

A good driving record for you and the drivers of your food truck will help you maintain the best auto insurance rates. So to say that it’s important to have a good driving record is an understatement when it comes to keeping your monthly expenditures down.

Today’s Tip of the Day centers around driving and how to keep a clean driving record. No matter what the reason, should you rear-end a vehicle you are driving behind…it is your fault, and in all likelihood will result in a ticket for following the car in front of you too closely. To prevent this from happening, use the “three-second rule” to help prevent rear-end accidents.

The “three-second rule” accounts for your reaction time to the movements of the vehicle ahead and your vehicle’s stopping distance.

NOTE: You should add more time if the road is slippery or if you’re being crowded by a tailgater. Since full sized food trucks or trailers weigh so much and take a lot of time to brake, it couldn’t hurt to add a second or two.

The three-second rule:

  • When the vehicle ahead of you passes a stationary object, start counting:  1,001 … 1,002 …
  • The first second is your reaction time; the next two seconds account for your braking distance
  • You should not reach the object before you count to … 1,003. If you do, you are following too closely.

At a vehicle speed of 55 mph, the three-second rule creates a gap of 243 feet between vehicles.

 

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Food Truck Driver Safety

Today we would like to welcome and introduce a new contributing author at Mobile Cuisine. Marcie Newman is a Safety Manager for a company-owned fleet of 65+ food trucks stationed at United Caterers, Inc. – a commissary with over 200 customers operating in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Over the last 6 years, she has developed and administered the industry’s first comprehensive Risk Management Program for hot trucks, featuring Vehicle Maintenance, Equipment & Workplace Safety, Food Truck Driver Safety, Food Handling Safety, and First Aid. She also conducts accident investigations, handles insurance claims, serves as legal liaison, and works with over 85 North Texas municipalities to facilitate the permitting process for their customers.

In Marcie’s first article at Mobile Cuisine, she covers some basic food truck driver safety that everyone that drives a food truck should be aware of. Not only do these rolling bistros handle differently than most privately owned vehicles, they are the life blood of a food truck business. Every time your truck is in the shop means you are not able to hit the streets to sell your food truck fare.

Just when you thought you were having a bad day . . .

Whenever one of the girls in the office starts to complain, we have a little saying to remind us of how lucky we are: “If you think you’re having a bad day . . . just go out to the shop!”   Our mechanics are definitely some of the hardest working people around, and new challenges are always just around the corner.   Every once in a while I get the opportunity to see them in action – usually when I’m dispatched for an accident investigation.

I have to admit . . . when I first arrived at the scene of this accident, I was very tempted to just keep on driving.   A few months before, those colorful “Look at me!” decals seemed like a really good idea when we decided to install our first full wrap, but now . . . not so much.

Luckily, our mechanic arrived quickly, and I was hoping he would be able to get us out of there just as quick.   He exited the tow truck . . . I looked at him . . . he looked at me . . . I looked at him.   We knew we were supposed to do something, but what?   After years of investigating food truck accidents, this was a new predicament for both of us, so I decided I would just start taking my photos.

By image at the top of this post is one’s my favorites:

Thankfully, everyone was alright, and after speaking to the driver, I learned that she was “just driving along” when she hit a slick patch, and the truck “went flying”.   Since I was pretty sure this was not 100% exactly what happened, I knew I was going to have to find a way to dig deeper.   While the mechnic tried to figure out how to get her down and bring her home, I went over to speak with the special investigator.

It turns out that speed was a huge factor (you don’t say!) – he determined that she had to be going more than 70 miles-per-hour at the time of the accident.   In fact, in his opinion, if she’d been traveling only a few miles-per-hour faster, the truck would’ve rolled right over the median (instead of straddling it ever so gracefully), heading straight into oncoming traffic. In light of the fact that she was not wearing her seatbelt, he was certain that (in this scenario), not only would the driver have been killed, but it is very likely that there would have been more serious injuries.

So how did this accident happen?

  • Experienced driver . . . check!
  • Well-maintained equipment (with fully-functioning brakes and seatbelts) . . . check!
  • Active participation in a safety program . . . check!
  • No more stops for the rest of the day . . . check!

Actually, we can all guess how it happened . . . she was obviously speeding, and the truck hydroplaned, spun around a few times, triple toe loop, etc.   But the real question is “why?”   In my experience, the answer is usually that the driver was distracted.   Whether she was worried about picking her kids up from school, calculating how much gas to put in her tank, stressing about the business she lost in the rain, or even talking on the phone, the reality is that food truck operators can be some of the most distracted drivers around.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.   On top of the usual distractions, it is critical for food truck operators to realize that every time they step into their truck, it’s a different truck.   The weight is constantly shifting from loading product, melting ice, washing dishes, etc.   For this reason alone, operating your vehicle demands your full attention, especially when road or weather conditions are a factor.   Every time you take the wheel, you have the power to decide what’s important, and make a priority of driving safely.

So eliminate all distractions, adjust your safety cushion, focus your attention – and remember . . . you might think you’re having a bad day, but it can always get much worse!

Stay safe!

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tip of the dayIf you are the owner of a food truck business, establishing a driving safety manual for your employees may be just as important as your food safety manual. When you or your employees are behind the wheel of your food truck you are in control of not only your own lives but the safety of your entire mobile food business. The responsibilities you are bestowing on the drivers of your food truck business are great and you should establish a training program that will help them understand the importance of this task.

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Food truck owners and drivers Beware! Although Twitter is the major source of mobile food truck location advertising, there are some things you should be aware of if you are currently tweeting out your location while moving to your next parking spot. Driving while texting on a smart phone or similar electronic device is not new, but it may be the most deadly way to endanger yourself or others on the road.

To date, twenty states and Washington, D.C., have banned this practice. The Transportation Department prohibits truckers and bus drivers from doing it. President Obama has even outlawed the practice for all federal employees.

Despite all these laws and practices, many people still text while driving.

In a 2010 safety report issued by the Highway Loss Data Institute (research sponsored by insurance carriers), state laws prohibiting texting while driving have not reduced car crashes, and in some places may have actually increased the number of accidents.

US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called the study “misleading,” and released a statement saying that his department’s research showed that distracted driving laws could, in fact, reduce crashes.

A 2008 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) showed that nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involve some form of driver distraction occurring within three seconds before the vehicle crash.  According to the NHTSA and VTTI study, the principal distraction that led to vehicle crashes include:

  • Cell phone use.
  • Reaching for objects inside the vehicle.
  • Gawking at an object or event outside of the vehicle.
  • Applying makeup.
  • Reading while driving.

Cell phones with text-messaging capabilities further increase the risk of driver distraction. Drivers multitasking while operating their company trucks has become common practice and is a primary factor in driver distraction. Use of Twitter or other forms of text messaging while driving is a dangerous habit. According to an Australian study, drivers who engage in mobile texting spend about 400-percent more time taking their eyes off the road and are 70 percent less likely to stay in their lane.

It is not uncommon to see drivers resting a BlackBerry or Iphone on top of their steering wheel while using their thumbs to tap in a text message. A driver talking on a cell phone can watch the road, but someone responding to a text message must stare at his or her hands.

Tweeting is fine when you’re sitting at your current stop or before you leave to get there, but not while driving. Food truck owners need to get ahead of the curve and proactively prohibit this activity by themselves and their employees. Drivers need to be given notice that there is zero tolerance to use these devices while driving the company vehicle. Not only will this safeguard the business and its assets, but also to protect the employee, your greatest asset.

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Last week, Mobile Cuisine Magazine covered the death of New Jersey food truck owner Jose Goncalves. This was tragic news for the food truck industry. Being in the insurance industry, we are more aware than the general public about food truck claims such as this. This topic has prompted me to discuss the importance of Key Person Insurance and Workers’ Compensation for a food truck business.

In this particular story, Jose’s wife will have a difficult time continuing the business by herself. Key Person Insurance would help sustain and continue operations despite the loss of her husband. Even with him gone, there will still be outstanding business liabilities. There are four categories of loss for which key person insurance can provide compensation (source – Wikipedia):

  1. Losses related to the extended period when a key person is unable to work, to provide temporary personnel and, if necessary to finance the recruitment and training of a replacement.
  2. Insurance to protect profits. For example, offsetting lost income from lost sales, losses resulting from the delay or cancellation of any business project that the key person was involved in, loss of opportunity to expand, loss of specialized skills or knowledge.
  3. Insurance to protect shareholders or partnership interests. Typically this is insurance to enable shareholdings or partnership interests to be purchased by existing shareholders or partners.
  4. Insurance for anyone involved in guaranteeing business loans or banking facilities. The value of insurance coverage is arranged to equal the value of the guarantee.

Now just imagine if the person killed in this particular accident was an employee. Too often we hear about food truck operators ignoring the state requirement (see your particular state laws) of Workers’ Compensation. A death or substantial injury to an employee could bring your food truck business to a screeching halt without Workers’ Compensation. Your business is directly responsible for the employee’s medical bills and other liabilities that result from an accident. The business is also subject to state fines and penalties for not having this coverage in place. All those months invested into building the truck, perfecting the menu, creating a website and Twittering…all in order to create a line of eager patrons is now gone in an instant.

Some food truck operators think that this type of thing could never happen to them. Yes, Workers’ Compensation or Key Person Insurance isn’t cheap, but it is worth spending the money to protect your business, lifestyle and family. Please contact me if you would like to discuss options or catering truck insurance quotes.

Matt Carlson, CIC is an insurance broker that specializes in insurance and risk management solutions for food and catering trucks. He is a foodie and second generation commercial insurance broker. He provides his clients with General Liability, Auto and Workers’ Compensation coverage. Matt currently insures over 25 food trucks. Some of his more notable clients are Krazy BBQ, Kogi BBQ and The Fox Pizza Bus. You can find his insurance website at http://www.cateringtruckinsurance.com where you can get more information on his company or an insurance quote application.

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