TMA Trucks: What You Need to Know to Prevent Workplace Accidents

By Michael Benedict on November 16, 2015

TMA Trucks: What You Need to Know to Prevent AccidentsWhat is a TMA truck?
A TMA truck — also known as a safety truck, crash truck, cushion truck, or scorpion truck — has one purpose: to save lives.

A TMA (truck mounted attenuator) truck has an attenuator attached to it that can be deployed anywhere. In essence, it’s a truck that comes with its own enormous crumple zone. TMA trucks are deployed behind a moving operation like dropping cones or barricades or painting lines to protect workers as they move along the work area. TMA trucks can also be used in place of Fitch barriers in stationary work zones.

When used properly, TMA trucks slow down an oncoming car quickly enough that the car won’t crash into the work zone, but not so quickly that the car’s occupants are injured.

There are even autonomous TMA trucks entering the marketplace that eliminate the need for a human driver, which will make them even safer for employees without compromising the safety of travelers.

Do you need a TMA truck? And what’s the best way to use one?

  1. The Federal Highway Administration “highly recommends” TMA trucks for all moving freeway applications and “recommends” or “highly recommends” their use for stationary ones. If you are working on a non-freeway road, a recommendation for a TMA’s use is based on the road’s speed, so check out the full guidelines.
  2. The Federal Highway Administration also offers guidelines on how to place the truck. In general, the buffer between the truck and the first worker or vehicle to be protected is a little bigger if it’s being used in a moving operation, and even more so the faster traffic is moving. So a stationary operation in traffic moving no faster than 45 mph needs a buffer of only 74 feet, but a moving operation at highway speeds requires the front of the TMA truck to be 172 feet behind the work area.
  3. Ensure your TMA driver is qualified and trained. According to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT), “It is the responsibility of the TMA driver to make sure the TMA or protective vehicle is in the proper position to protect crew members from errant vehicles. The driver needs to remain alert, attentive, and observant to the surrounding traffic and roadway conditions.” Make sure your driver is aware of his or her role in keeping colleagues safe.
  4. Have an emergency plan in place. Who will you call if someone hits the TMA? Is someone trained in first aid and CPR? While it is unlikely that you will experience an incident, it is important to plan for the worst. Incidents tracked via mobile forms allow you to capture snapshots of the scene, document police details, insert GPS maps, and store this information securely in the cloud for instant access.

Other ways mobile can help
TMA trucks are complicated pieces of equipment. They need regular maintenance and inspections, and need to comply with proper certifications and rules — “enough to make the banking industry look simple,” says one TMA manufacturer. But you can ditch much of your paperwork for mobile forms, which put the information you need to stay on top of those inspections at your fingertips and make providing and retrieving information easy.

Mobile checklists for a TMA safety inspection can be easily customized to include fields for whether a truck’s ballast is adequately anchored, whether there’s enough ballast to properly stop a crash, ensure moving steel parts have been properly lubricated, and that fasteners and support cables are checked on a daily or monthly basis, respectively.

All trucks have different maintenance needs, but no matter your particular challenge, you can save time and money by switching to mobile forms — for everything from maintenance checklists to repair shop work orders.

Try GoCanvas free and let us help you harness the power of mobile forms for pre and post trip inspections to keep your workers safe and your TMA trucks well maintained.