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Safety Tips for Driving a Refrigerated Truck

Joe Dickman | November 8th, 2021

Refrigerated truck drivers must keep themselves and the products they’re delivering safe. By following sensible protective measures, you can ensure that both drivers and cargoes are secure. Continue reading to explore different safety tips for driving a refrigerated truck.

Preventive Measures Keep Your Drivers Safe

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You can take many different steps to prepare and drive your truck that will ensure you take full advantage of your reefer trail and have a comfortable and safe trip. Performing proper maintenance before, during, and after your journey will also help extend the life of your rig and avoid significant issues down the road with a few simple measures.

  • Watch and adjust temperatures for safe transportation.
  • Clean and sanitize your truck.
  • Keep your refrigerated equipment fueled up.
  • Service your rig regularly.
  • Follow proper loading procedures.
  • Maintain a record of shipments and processes.

Watch and Adjust Temperatures for Safe Transportation

Your primary goal is to transport your products safely, so they’re preserved and intact once they’ve arrived. As a result, you must be cautious in keeping your truck’s cabin at the right temperature, verifying that they do not exceed or fall below a particular threshold.

You should always work with your loader and receiver to come up with an agreed-upon threshold for safe temperatures. Temperatures for upper control limits (UCL) and lower control limits (LCL) should be specified before you load anything. Make sure temperature ranges are specifically specified, and directions aren’t just a vague “chilled” or “refrigerated.”

Check that your equipment is working correctly and that you can read temperatures accurately during travel. You should inspect your temperatures at the onset of transportation, and then again throughout transit and when you arrive to avoid goods being denied or contaminated.

Clean and Sanitize Your Truck

There’s always a potential for contamination and the spread of germs, as well as the food-borne diseases they cause when transporting meats, vegetables, fruits, dairy, and other perishable goods. That’s why it’s critical to keep the inside of your refrigerated truck clean and sanitized. That way, you can prevent people from getting sick and reduce the chance of spoilage.

Use a pressure washer with a low heat setting. Start with the ceiling and work your way down from the front of the trailer to the back door. Make sure you use a USDA-authorized detergent.

Once your trailer has been deep cleaned, give it a thorough rinse, and provide it with time to dry thoroughly. Always follow the FDA’s specified cleaning guidelines for equipment and vehicles.

Keep Your Refrigerated Equipment Fueled Up

Always refuel before filling up your cabin with cargo, since many loading docks will require you to have at least two-thirds of a tank before loading. Since the truck’s engine powers most reefer units, you must consistently be topping off your fuel as much as possible. Low fuel levels could also lead to the cooling unit absorbing residue from the fuel tank, resulting in mechanical issues that negatively impact your truck’s refrigeration.

Service Your Rig Regularly

Breakdowns while driving can jeopardize your drivers’ safety, as well as the integrity of your cargo. That’s why routine maintenance is critical to guarantee that your equipment and vehicles comply with local, state, and national standards and make sure your vehicles continue to run.

You’ll need to develop a fleet assessment management plan that allows you to see and manage all information associated with your vehicles. You should know which vehicles are operating, which aren’t, and what repairs they may need. That information will help you budget for future services and determine whether you should consider adding a new refrigerated delivery vehicle to your fleet.

Follow Proper Loading Procedures

While your refrigerated units work hard to keep your products adequately cooled, you can still risk your cargo’s integrity if it’s improperly loaded. You need to make sure that you and your drivers practice intelligent loading procedures to maximize your refrigerated trucks’ effectiveness.

Keep in mind that your refrigeration unit’s job is to keep the temperature constant, not to change it. When you place products onto the trailer, they should already be at the desired temperature. You can pre-cool the trailer to the right temperature before loading to help maintain products from the beginning.

Don’t let your cargo sit on the loading dock unrefrigerated for too long or you risk impacting their integrity. Before loading, double-check the maximum height and weight restrictions of your truck. Finally, make sure you properly stack goods and pallets to allow for ventilation.

Maintain a Record of Shipments and Processes

According to the FDA, you need to keep records, and they must include “written processes, agreements, and training.” Accurately maintaining these records will help you plan for future repair and vehicle servicing. It’s also a promising idea to keep track of a driver’s history and accreditation so that you’re alerted to any infractions that might jeopardize the safe delivery of your refrigerated cargo and their well-being.

Safe Driving Techniques

Once you’ve done everything possible to ensure the integrity of your equipment, vehicle, and cargo, you need to ensure drivers are staying safe while out on the road. Backing up to offload freight is one of the most hazardous moves your operators will face. Many accidents happen in this moment, but you can teach your drivers some safe driving techniques to avoid them.

Always make sure there is enough clearance for your trailer and enough space to back in comfortably before starting. Allow any car or person approaching your truck from behind to pass before trying to back up. When backing up into buildings or docks, take particular care not to harm your vehicle or property. The slower you go, the better.

Don’t rely on your mirrors alone. Get out of the cab when you’re in a tight spot. Double-check your room, then double-check again.

If there is another way out of a blind alley, don’t back out of it. Try not to back up in an intersection or while you’re stopped in traffic. Give enough room in front of your truck to go ahead and around stopped cars, and if you’re uncertain, go outside and look.

These safety tips for driving a refrigerated truck can help protect both your personnel and your payloads. When it comes time to replace or add a truck to your delivery fleet, Emerald Transportation Solutions is your one-stop shop for all your refrigerated delivery vehicle needs. Feel free to contact us with any questions you might have.

Safety Tips for Driving a Refrigerated Truck

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What does under DOT mean?

Questions regarding DOT requirements come up often. 10,000 lbs GVW (gross vehicle weight) and over are commercial vehicles that fall under the Department of Transportation regulatory requirements.

What is the difference between GVW and payload?

GVW or Gross Vehicle Weight is the entire weight of the vehicle including the payload. The payload weight represents the amount of cargo you are hauling.

What is a self-powered unit and a vehicle-powered unit?

A self-powered unit has its own fuel source and will run independent of the truck. This is the heaviest and most expensive option. While vehicle-powered units run off the engine via a compressor mounted on the engine. These are less expensive and lighter in weight but you must run the truck or plug the electric standby into shore power.

What does K-factor mean and why is that important?

K-factor is a term that stands for the overall insulating value of the container (truck body). Quite simply the lower the K-factor the better the truck body will be able to maintain a given temperature and require less energy to do so.

How much lighter is a Poly Van vs a US spec body?

Poly Van bodies are very light. On average we estimate we are 75-150 lbs per foot lighter than a traditional sheet and post foamed in place body. These weight savings translates to less fuel burn and less CO2 emissions, along with added payload, the most important benefit.

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