169227187 | Golden Sikorka | Dreamstime
Dreamstime 169227187 2 63d8847616c39 63da94b67e1d1

Safety on the side of the road

Feb. 23, 2023
Roadside repairs create additional safety concerns for technicians. Aside from PPE, there are other factors that must play into a fleet’s safety program for mobile technicians.

Roadside truck repairs create some additional safety concerns that technicians won’t encounter in a shop. Aside from the basics like hi-vis safety apparel and other recommended PPE, there are other factors that must also play into a fleet’s overall safety program for mobile technicians.

“One of the most important safety items is a clearly defined safety culture where every technician has ‘captain of the ship’ authority to decide if the scene is a safe area,” said Joe Puff, VP of truck technology and maintenance at NationaLease. “If a scene is not safe, call for police assistance or a tow truck.”

If a scene is deemed safe for roadside service, NationaLease technicians are trained to turn on their vehicle’s safety beacon and four-way flashers. Technicians also call dispatch to let someone know they are on scene and to establish a 30-minute contact protocol.

TravelCenters of America (TA Truck Service) has established a process where an advanced warning sign is set out several hundred feet behind the disabled vehicle. “Technicians also put out eight safety cones in a tapered pattern,” said Daniel Mustafa, director of technical service at TravelCenters of America. “Our cone pattern is an effective, proven method developed by our safety experts over many years.”

TA Truck Service technicians are also trained on how to position their service vehicle. “We don’t want a situation where they could be pinned by passing traffic if they are between the service truck and the disabled vehicle,” Mustafa explained.

Training is a big part of roadside safety. At TA Truck Service, intensive video-based training helps educate technicians on things like how to maintain hand contact with the side of the disabled vehicle. “That technique helps prevent the technician from drifting out into the roadway when walking around the disabled vehicle,” Mustafa said.

TA Truck Service technicians are also required to go on a certain number of service calls with a mentor before they are turned loose on their own. “You can never just send a technician out roadside and say ‘good luck,’” Mustafa said.

Because of its safety measures, Blaine Brothers, which offers roadside service and towing, has experienced good luck on the side of the road.

“For 40-plus years, we’ve had a very clean record,” said Dean Dally, president and owner of Blaine Brothers. The company, completes thousands of calls per year and never says “No” to a truck in need. Back in the 90s there was an incident where a driver prematurely took off and technician was injured, but Blaine has since mitigated this through additional preventative measures.The service trucks also use warning lights to supplement the truckers’ triangles.

“There is always a way to resolve the situation and make it safer,” noted Mike Lamphier, Blaine’s primary tow dispatcher. “If we have to go out there with a tow truck and tow it out of there to get into a safer location, we will do that. There’s always an option.”

He reiterated how vital it is to ensure the roadside tech is never caught between the service truck and down vehicle.

“It’s a scary place, no matter what,” Lamphier noted. “The main thing is to always be alert and aware. Always watch your surroundings.”

About the Author

Gregg Wartgow

Sponsored Recommendations

Repair, Replace or Retire - Grab Your Calculator

Don't make the mistake of ignoring fleet maintenance. Learn how to be proactive instead of reactive and reduce up to 70% of breakdowns.

Mobil Delvac™ oils give race car haulers winning edge

See how Mobil Delvac™ oils boosted the Tony Stewart Racing Team

The Technician’s Guide for Mastering DPF Regens

Become a regen expert today! Equip yourself with the skills necessary to recognize when a forced regen is the correct procedure to maximize the lifespan of your filter and keep...

Report: The 2024 State of Heavy-Duty Repair

From capitalizing on the latest revenue trends to implementing strategic financial planning—this report serves as a roadmap for navigating the challenges and opportunities of ...