Many authorities agree that backing is one of most difficult skills for drivers to master, so it’s no wonder that backing accidents are common. Poles, parked vehicles, and other stationary objects are the usual victims, but in addition to causing costly damage, backing accidents frequently injure and even kill workers.

To avoid such accidents, site owners and managers need to work with site workers and drivers to identify hazards and ensure that everyone has best practices in place in conjunction with a site safety plan.

The basic problem for drivers when backing is that they simply cannot see where they are going. There are always blind spots around any vehicle and with large trucks, the difficulties multiply. If you’re a driver, always make sure the truck’s mirrors are clean and properly adjusted before attempting to back up. Cameras on the truck can also aid your vision.

However, even with mirrors and camera in use, there are places you may not be able to see from the cab, including:

  • The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has created a fact sheet titled “Road Work – Backing Up Safely” that provides a number of tips. It suggests that drivers do a circle check before beginning to back, climbing down from the cab and walking around the vehicle to inspect under, around, and above it. The word “GOAL” is sometimes used as a quick reminder: Get Out And Look.directly behind the trailer,
  • above the ground, and
  • along the sides of the rig.

You should be watching for:

  • posts and poles,
  • buildings,
  • overhead objects, especially electrical/power lines,
  • other vehicles,
  • people in the area, and
  • anything else that might be in the way or move into the path of the backing truck.

When possible, work with a spotter or signaller who can see where you cannot. There is no substitute for the human eye and brain, and a spotter can be a great help. Both drivers and signallers need training in how to work together. If you’re in the situation of dealing with someone you haven’t worked with before, take the time to confirm the signals they will use. You need perfect communication here.

Don’t forget to turn off the cell phone, radio, and any other distractions before backing. You need all your senses and powers of concentration to pull off this skilled task safely.




When drivers are sleepy they are less able to respond quickly to changes in the road environment (that is, reaction time is slower) and they are also less likely to notice things that may pose a risk.

For example, a fatigued or sleepy driver will probably take longer to notice an upcoming intersection or railway crossing. Another risk is that the fatigued or sleepy driver will fall asleep while driving.

Research on the proportion of casualty crashes that are a result of fatigue has had mixed results, but often it is reported that around 20% of fatal crashes are fatigue related, and that this percentage is higher for crashes involving commercial vehicles.

What can be done to prevent fatigue related crashes? Drivers can do a range of things to reduce their risk of a fatigue related crash. These include:

  • not driving at times of the day when they are usually asleep
  • getting enough sleep before driving
  • stopping driving for a short sleep if they notice signs of fatigue or sleepiness (such as yawning, blinking more than usual, or forgetting the last few kilometers of driving).

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Trucker Lingo 101

We all wanted to talk like a trucker after seeing trucking movies like Smokey and the Bandit, Black Dog and Convoy. Trucking lingo is still as cool as ever. So if you want to speak trucker, try using these phrases the next time you’re on a CB radio and you’re sure to fit in. 10-4!

  • All locked up: weigh station closed
  • Alligator: piece of tire debri- if you’re not careful it can flip up and “bite you”
  • Back it down: slow down
  • Bear: law enforcement officer
  • Bear bite: speeding ticket
  • Bikini: Florida
  • Bird dog: radar detector
  • Brush your teeth and comb your hair: radar gun is monitoring cars
  • Bumper sticker: someone who is tailgating
  • Chicken lights: truck and trailer with extra lights
  • Convoy: trucker’s traveling together
  • City Kitty: female police officer
  • Destruction Zone: road construction
  • Double nickel: 55 mph
  • Driver awards: ticket or citation
  • Evil Knievel: law enforcement on a motorcycle
  • Furniture wreckers: moving companies
  • Go juice: diesel fuel
  • 42: Yes or Ok
  • Go- go juice: diesel fuel
  • Green stamps: money
  • Hood ornament: motorcycle
  • Lollipop: small reflector poles on the side of the highway
  • Meat wagon: ambulance
  • Quiz: breathalyzer test
  • Salt Shaker: snow plow
  • Skins: tires
  • Warden: wife
  • We’re clear: sign off
  • Zipper: painted lines on the road
  • 10-4: message received

If you are a new driver or have friends who drive 18 wheelers, who you’re trying to keep up with, here’s some of the popular trucker lingo translated to real English.


In the winter, there are all kinds of unexpected things that can happen out on the road. The icy conditions and freezing temperatures affect many different things. Your battery may not work in the cold, or you may have to stay pulled over for awhile because of road conditions. Because of this uncertainty, it’s a good idea to always carry some winter essentials with you. Here are items you should consider including in your Winter Emergency Kit:

  • Warm socks, hat, and gloves. Waterproof gloves cost more, but keep your hands from freezing and going numb.
  • Sleeping bag or blankets.
  • Non-perishable foods such as dried fruit, nuts, granola.
  • Extra medication. Check expiration dates.
  • Bottled water.
  • Foldable or stowable shovel.
  • Flashlights and batteries.
  • First aid kit.
  • Jumper cables.
  • Tool kit:
    • Screwdrivers (both flat-head and Phillips) Pliers.
    • Box knife.
    • Small selection of wrenches. Duct tape.
    • Spare bulbs for either the marker lights or headlights. Extra fuses.
  • Chains. Windshield de-icer and scraper.
  • Emergency flares.
  • Charged cellphone with emergency contact numbers. If you don’t have your emergency contacts memorized, then keep a paper copy as well in case you need to borrow a phone.
  • Small section of tarp or other such material to lay on for installing chains.


If you spend a lot of time alone on the open road there are some important ways to be aware of to keep healthy in body and mind. Being isolated could have a damaging effect on your health and well being. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recently interviewed nearly 1,700 truckers about their health and work—and the results were shocking.

69% were obese. 54% smoked. And 88% reported at least one risk factor for chronic disease. We’ve compiled a few recommendations so we all can be health conscious and proactive to take proper care!  Have a read below!  

  • Join a wellness program

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will requires self discipline. It may involve  joining a program such as health coaching, nutritionists or tobacco counseling to develop new healthy habits or reduce chronic illnesses like depression, sleep apnea and obesity. Check with your insurance if a wellness program is available to join. Using a wellness program could greatly reduce stress and the risk of other health concerns.

  • Explore fitness options

You need to commit to a consistent plan by giving you the time and the opportunity to eat healthier and to exercise more. You can also get your own bike and ride on the specific areas. If you want to get in shape, you can also download the Iron Trucker Fitness app to bring the gym to yourself. The app includes a database of exercises you can perform using your tractor-trailer.

  • Increase mental stimulation

Keep constantly your brain in shape while driving. Listen to audiobooks, podcasts or lean a new language will keep your brain waves moving to maintain proper intellectual stimulation, boost your ability to multitask and think deeply. No matter how mentally fit you think you are, it is important to get additional exercise while you drive to stimulate your brain.

  • Develop a stable sleep schedule

Sleep deprivation causes every year almost 100 000 vehicle accidents and 1550 fatalities a year. The human body needs 7-8 hours of rest a day. Sleeping is very important to your overall well-being. Fatigue is an important safety issue for truck drivers. To improve your sleep you need to create a relaxing and quiet bedtime routine along with a good sleep environment to improve your sleep. Close all curtains and truck shades or use an eye mask. Try also to sleep at the same time everyday.

  • Socialize with family and friends

One of the main reason people get away from traffic is the relentless solitude; the isolation from their home and their family that can push truck drivers to drug use or accident. Maintain contact with family and friends to lessen the feelings of loneliness and isolation. Make a plan to stay in touch with loved ones at home and make the most of your time when you are with them.



One of the biggest challenges for drivers is to maintain a healthy diet while out on the road. It is common for those with an unhealthy diet to have health issues that will later affect their career, including not being qualified to drive

One of the reasons impeding drivers from having a healthy diet comes from the lack of accessible healthy food. Truck stops offer mega deals on supersized fast food meals, with extremely high calories. It is rare to find healthy food with the same deals.

According to studies conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, roughly 70% of drivers are overweight, which can lead to greater health risks, such as diabetes, sleep apnea and heart disease. Drivers may know that what they eat is bad for them, but they may not know how to make a change.

It is never too late to rediscover healthy eating habits. Here are 7 tips to help you improve your nutrition and healthy eating:

  1. Aim to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily to balance calories and nutrients when meal choices are limited. Opt for salad instead of fries, or choose fresh fruit and nuts as a snack.
  2. Decide to make healthier choices on your own and commit to them. Begin with small changes you can stick with, such as trading soda for water or green tea. Instead of putting cream and sugar in your coffee, opt for skim milk.
  3. When you have some time at home, plan and prepare your meals in advance. Freeze them in portion-size containers and bring them with you in a portable cooler when you are on the road. You will save money and have access to better food.
  4. Stock your cab’s refrigerator with healthy snacks so you are not starving when you stop for a meal break. Healthy snack options could be nuts, raisins, and naturally sweetened or low sugar protein bars.
  5. Don’t try to save time by skipping breakfast or snack time. Start the day with good intentions with eggs and whole wheat toast, or Greek yoghurt with berries. Healthy snacking also prevents overeating later- precut veggies or natural cheese are good options.
  6. Start by eating a large breakfast, in order to be less likely to snack and crave bigger meals throughout the day.
  7. Figure out what obstacles are standing between you and a healthier way of eating and find solutions to overcome those obstacles.

By tackling these 7 tips, you will be able to take realistic steps toward becoming a healthier truck driver.


Van Kam is proud to announce the pre-order of 3 new Tesla Semi trucks to improve efficiency and to enhance the experience and safety for our drivers. The first delivery is expected in late 2019.

“We expect to reduce our costs, save more energy and maintain the safety of our drivers in the years ahead.”- Casey Henry, Controller of Van Kam.

The electric truck has remarkable features, including a capacity to travel 500 miles on a full charge, impact-resistant glass, an innovative cabin design and the ability to go from 0-60 mph in five seconds without any cargo, using a solar powered charging station.

Inside the truck, two touchscreen displays offer an easy access to navigation, blind-spot monitoring and electronic-data-logging capabilities. Built-in connectivity will allow direct communication with a fleet’s routing and scheduling system, which make it the safest, most comfortable truck ever.

With the buzz around autonomous vehicles, many find it interesting that Tesla paid so much attention to the driver experience.

Aside from safety gains, the redesigned cabin — which has enough space to stand up and move around — puts the driver at the center, allowing for optimal visibility and control.

Tesla says the semi-trucks will offer a better experience for truck drivers, increase safety and significantly reduce the cost of cargo transport.


At Van Kam, we like to encourage and aid the integration of women and promote their accomplishments working in the trucking industry.

Federal labor statistics demonstrates that the percentage of women representation is only of 27% in the transportation workforce, while only 3% of Canadian truck drivers are women. This lack of representation is due to a shortage of recruitment and retention of more women in key occupations.

At Van Kam, we want to help women continue to become a more integral part of the industry. This is not just as drivers filling a need, but as well qualified employees who bring a different perspective to the job.

Here are some helpful tips for what you can do to increase your chances to have an awesome experience and great career as a future professional truck driver.

  • Believe in yourself

The thing you always need to remember with trucking and anything in life is to trust yourself and your capabilities. If you are considering becoming a professional truck driver, you need to remember that you can be just as qualified as the men who are taking advantage of the opportunities for careers in trucking. You should not feel like you have anything to prove and you should not be intimidated for any reason. Don’t get stuck on being a woman in a man’s world. It’s about you doing your job and going home.

  • Learn about the industry

In the transportation industry, there are number of helpful resources and organizations, which are committed to supporting female truck drivers and that are available to teach the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in trucking. Be sure to reach out and use these resources to help achieve your goals.

  • Get trained by women instructors

You can give a jump start to your career by getting the best possible training by seeking a CDL training program that includes female instructors as well. They will be able to provide you insights to operate the industry efficiently.

So if you are looking for a more driver-friendly environment, apply today!