(BPT) - When you get behind the wheel, some actions come automatically, without thinking, such as checking your fuel gauge, using your turn signal and snapping on your seat belt.
But even the most experienced drivers fail to follow this key habit that every driver should practice: They don’t check their tires.
If you miss the warning signs that your tires need air, repairs or replacement, you could end up with a tire blowout as your car zooms down the highway. This can lead to loss of control of the vehicle and, ultimately, an accident. According to a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 12 percent of crashes involving inexperienced drivers are caused by tire-related issues.
So as a new driver, you have an opportunity to start a new habit right away. Check your tires once a month, and schedule a reminder on your phone. It’s worthwhile to take a few moments to pay attention to your tires. Otherwise, if you don’t, your tires will one day force the issue.
If any of these tasks on this checklist are unfamiliar to you, have a trusted family member or friend show you how. Before long, these steps will be almost as effortless as checking the fuel gauge!
Inflation: Learn how to check tire pressure with the help of a simple, inexpensive tool that fits right in your glove box: a tire pressure gauge. First, look in your jamb of the driver's side door for the PSI number, which means pounds per square inch. This tells you how much air your tires need. Remove the cap from the valve stem of your tire and apply the pressure gauge to find out how much air is in your tires. If you need to top them off, find a nearby service station, hopefully one that offers free air!
Wear: Get down and examine each tire, front, back and sides, and use the penny test to check for excessive wear. You accomplish this by placing the coin in the tread with Lincoln’s head pointing downward. If you can see the top of his head, your treads are too worn down to adequately grip the road and it is time for replacement.
Debris: Check your treads for any debris, such as rocks or nails. If you think one of your tires is punctured, yet you don’t hear any hissing, place some liquid soap on the suspected area. If a bubble arises, that's a sign of a puncture and it should brought in.
Bulges: If you see a "bubble" or a bulge in the sidewalls, that is a sign of distress and your tire in danger of failing. Bring it in as soon a possible. This is usually caused by striking a curb or a pothole or some other debris on the road. If you should accidentally hit something, it's a good idea to pull over to a safe place and examine the tires for signs of damage. If you don't see anything, be sure you check again the next time before you get behind the wheel.
Rotation: Front tires will wear more quickly than the rear, thanks to the heavy weight of the engine. That’s why it’s recommended that you rotate your tires every 6,000 to 8,000 miles. Luckily, this can be done very easily during an oil change. All you have to do is ask.
Equipment: Is your spare tire in the trunk of your car, along with all the other necessary tools? Don't forget to check the tire pressure of your spare, as well. If you are in a situation where you can't change your own tire, know who you would call, and whether you have the resources to cover the costs. Now that winter is coming, it's a good idea to be prepared with other supplies to keep you safe in case you are stopped, such as a winter kit and a snow shovel.
Your tires are the only things between your car and the road. But investing a few minutes into this monthly safety check is an important step in reducing your risk in getting into a crash. To learn more about being safe on the road, check out Michelin's Beyond the Driving Test at www.beyondthedrivingtest.com.
(BPT) - As the transportation industry continues to grow and baby boomers continue to retire, the need for trained diesel mechanics and truck drivers has never been greater. Job openings span the United States, and many sit open while businesses feel the stress of a massive talent shortage.
For people seeking job security in a hands-on field, this could be the opportunity they've been waiting for. Whether you prefer the beauty of the open road or the puzzle of diagnosing complex mechanical equipment, each day offers a satisfying challenge, with the income potential to match.
Employment of diesel service technicians and mechanics is projected to grow 12 percent by 2024, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. The experts at Penske Truck Leasing and Penske Logistics say the growth demand is much higher in many parts of the country.
As one of the largest transportation companies in North America, Penske Truck Leasing has the responsibility of servicing a 241,400-piece equipment fleet on behalf of its customers.
While an 8,000-person maintenance workforce (representing nearly a third of its global headcount) seems like enough associates to keep trucks of all shapes and sizes running well and on-time, Penske — much like the rest of the industry — needs more commercial truck mechanics.
"Nearly 70 percent of all the freight tonnage moved in the U.S. goes on trucks," notes the American Trucking Associations (ATA) website www.trucking.org. "Without the industry and our truck drivers, the economy would come to a standstill. To move 9.2 billion tons of freight annually requires nearly 3 million heavy-duty Class 8 trucks and over 3 million truck drivers."
The trucking industry has a massive shortage of drivers that continues to grow as qualified drivers age and retire. ATA estimates the current shortage at roughly 25,000. Industry insiders fear that number will grow in the coming years. Trained drivers ready to hit the road are in high demand. Employers highly value drivers with clean motor vehicle records who place an emphasis on safety.
Correcting transportation employment misconceptions
There are many misconceptions about being a truck driver and diesel mechanic. In order to encourage more people to consider these careers, it's important to get the facts.
For example, being a truck driver doesn't necessarily mean you're on the road for weeks on end. There are many opportunities if you prefer to stay close to home. About 80 percent of Penske Logistics’ 4,400 truck drivers return home every evening thanks to flexible shifts and delivery schedules.
Another common misconception is that being a diesel engine technician means wrenching on vehicles all day. In reality, due to the electronic complexity of today's diesel vehicles, mechanics must be able to troubleshoot computer systems and problem-solve electronic malfunctions. This aligns well with the mindset of the next generation of technicians who grew up with smartphones and social networks.
How to enter these in-demand fields
Post-secondary training in diesel engine repair or commercial truck driving will put you in high demand. Technical colleges from coast-to-coast offer quality degree programs. Remember, just because a student graduates from a particular school doesn’t mean he or she needs to remain in that area. Industry opportunities abound across the United States.
What are some of the way to become a truck driver? Community colleges and truck driver schools offer the needed training. For military veterans who operated heavy duty vehicles in the armed forces, there is a path to convert that experience into a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in the United States.
“We have a major need for entry-level technicians and truck drivers,” says Ron Schwartz, director of staffing services at Penske’s Reading, Pennsylvania, headquarters.
To learn more about diesel mechanic and truck driving opportunities across North America, visit Penske’s career website.
Winter is approaching, bringing cold temperatures, salty roads, wet conditions and other challenges for drivers. To ensure your vehicle is at its best, follow these six simple tips to get your vehicle winter-ready. Whether it’s packing an emergency kit and jumper cables or preventative maintenance like getting a car wash to defend against ice, salt, sand and slush; preparation is key to keeping your vehicle going strong throughout the winter months.
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