Department of Transportation (DOT) updates are always a hot topic for those in the equipment and event industry. That certainly was true when the ARA of Wisconsin offered a DOT training session April 13 at Event Essentials, Windsor, Wis. More than 44 attended to hear the latest updates from a member of the Wisconsin State Patrol, network with peers and enjoy a delicious barbecue lunch.
“We haven’t offered this topic for a number of years, so we wanted to do that again now to inform our members of changes on the state level as well as offer a refresher of what some of us may or may not know and what to look for when we are on the road, whether driving a box truck, semi-trailer or other vehicle to make deliveries,” says Robert Copley, CERP, Event Essentials sales manager and ARA of Wisconsin president.
Those who attended say the event hit all the right notes. Inspector Kevin Riordan with the Wisconsin State Patrol offered hands-on training with a live demonstration, complete with equipment on a semi-tractor-and-trailer combination on site.
“We loaded some event equipment and tied it down for the live portion,” Copley says. “We had another flatbed CDL truck with equipment on it as well. The first thing we did was go outside and walk around the vehicles. Investigator Riordan shared what he does as an inspector — what he looks for and what to expect question-wise if you are pulled over. That was very helpful. He talked about proper ways to tie down equipment as well as the do’s and don’ts of the ratchet straps. Then we moved to the other truck, which had the equipment chained down. From there we went inside for his overall presentation, which included covering the do’s and don’ts of the road and any updates on the state level. At the end, he opened it up for Q&A. There was a lot of engagement from everybody, which was really good.”
Travis Ness, shop manager, A to Z RentAll & Sales, Madison, was impressed with Riordan’s live demonstration and overall presentation. “It is always good to see a good visual. I appreciated his review of what officers look for as far as strapping. He said that for tie-down strapping, it is best to make sure everything is as secure as it can be. He also talked about chains vs. tie-down straps. We always get questions from customers about that. They always ask about safety chains, whether they have to be crisscrossed or knotted. He said you need to do one crisscross so in case it pops off the ball it will land on the chain and prevent it from dragging on the ground. We have been doing that, so it was good to hear that directly from the officer. Now we can share that when we receive these types of questions from our customers,” he says.
Katie Nichols, human resources director, JK Rentals, Kewaskum, Wis., attended with three others from her company. “We as a business wanted to attend to make sure we are doing things correctly. We feel it’s always good to become further educated and improve,” she says.
Nichols says she took in all that was discussed. “This is a new role for me as far as trucking and all that. Everything was brand-new to me. I now know about pre-trip records and all the checks that have to be done before you leave. Now that I know what our guys need to do, I will be on them to make sure they do that,” she says.
A comment that Riordan offered encapsulated what the training was all about for Nichols. “He said, ‘Secure your load as if everyone you love is driving in the vehicle behind you.’ I thought that was huge and I think we will use that when we talk with our team,” she adds. “If one of us fails, we all fail. We all have to make sure we are doing things safely for ourselves, the people behind us and everyone on the road.”
For Travis, the training also reinforced his desire to secure his commercial driver’s license (CDL). “I had been thinking about getting my CDL down the road. The inspector went through the entire sequence of what you have to go through as a CDL driver even before you leave the premises. That encouraged me more,” he says.
All agree that the information shared was valuable and the presenter offered the information in an effective way. “It was a great course and the officer did a great job. He was very down to earth, he joked with us but made sure we were listening and learned. He was great,” Nichols says. “The others who went with me thought it was a good refresher and that they even learned some new things. What was great was that everyone had lots of good questions. We saw some who had been in business for a long time still have questions, showing that it is always needed to stay up to date on these regulations.”
In addition to the training, all participants were treated to a delicious lunch. “It was amazing,” Nichols says.
As a way to support the state troopers who do so much to help those in the rental industry stay safe on the road, the ARA of Wisconsin offered all proceeds from the event to the Wisconsin Troopers Benevolent Foundation.
“A member of our board came up with this idea as a way to give back to the community, especially the state police who serve our entire industry and are out there to make sure everyone is safe,” Copley says. “We received about $1,000 from registrations. The ARA of Wisconsin board matched that, so we gave $2,000 to the Wisconsin Troopers Benevolent Foundation for its education outreach that includes Kids Safety, Rollover Convincer, Saved by the Belt and Teddy Bear programs. Everyone felt good about being able to provide that.”