Category Archives: Tips

Trucker’s Nightmare – Fatigue on the Road

foodNearly 4,000 people die each year across North America in crashes with large trucks, and driver fatigue is the leading factor in these accidents.

Anyone who drives a truck knows that the regulations regarding time on and off the road are strict, and that an accurate log of time spent behind the wheel versus time spent in the bunk must be kept.

All the regulations in the world, however, cannot guarantee that the driver behind the wheel is rested, no matter how many hours he or she has been off the road.

A sleeper cab isn’t the most comfortable place in the world in which to sleep, and a roadside motel is often worse. Away from home for days or weeks at a time, and under stress to comply with a whole heap of legislation as well as deliver cargo in a timely fashion in surroundings that are often unfamiliar, a driver may find themselves fatigued or “burnt out” even when they are fully compliant with the regulations.

Here are some things drivers can do to help alleviate fatigue on the road:

  1. Take care of themselves. Aside from just sleeping, regular exercise and good nutrition go a long way to making sure that a driver is in the best possible shape to spend hours behind the wheel. Many drivers carry exercise equipment with them, or schedule time to do outdoor activities along their route. Although healthy food is harder to prepare than simply microwaving canned goods, the benefits can last a lifetime.
  2. Don’t Rely on Stimulants – Coffee and sugar are great, but you can’t count on it to provide real alertness that lasts.
  3. Avoid stress. Anxiety causes difficulty with sleep. Learning to relax, and not sweat the small stuff means that the driver behind the wheel is more rested and ready to take care of the most important task – driving the truck.
  4. Know themselves. Regardless of the logbook, it’s incumbent on professional drivers to know when they’re too tired to drive, and take the only appropriate – get off the road and rest until they’re ready to operate safely.

As professionals who see more than our share of accidents, we are first to applaud the safe operators who make the road freight industry as safe as it is. We know that the majority of trucking professionals are just that –professional, and urge them to pass their good habits on to the next generation of truckers.

If you are looking for a provider in Manitoba, call Dr. Hook Towing. We are available 24 hours a day Toll Free 1-800-561-4665.

Heading on the Highway this Weekend? Check Your Tires Before You Go!

Victoria Day weekend is almost here, which means that the first trip up to the cottage is also just hours away. You can almost smell the open road as you sit at your desk, reading this blog before you pack up your ride and head out to your summer escape.

Before you go though, we do want to advise you to do some tire maintenance before you head out on the road, lest you need to call for some roadside assistance this weekend (and yes, we will be available 24 hours a day in case the worst does happen).

First, be sure that your tires are at proper pressure. Under inflated tires can affect your fuel efficiency and affect the wear on your rubber, while overinflation can put unneeded pressure on the centre of your tire.

Next, do a thorough check for any nails or other objects that may be embedded in your tires. This happened to an associate of ours – as they were prepping to leave North Dakota to get back to Winnipeg, they discovered a large nail in their tire. Sure enough, it had made the trip to the States successfully, but deflated overnight in the hotel parking lot.

Finally, be aware of your tire’s tread. At worst, your tire tread should be 1.6mm in depth, but twice that amount if you’re going to encounter wet and slick road surfaces.

Ultimately, if you’re concerned about your tires’ state, take it to an auto shop for inspection before you hit the road. Otherwise, do be mindful of the weekend riders and the wildlife you may encounter along the way.

Have a great long weekend Winnipeg!

Remedies for Frozen Car Doors

If there’s anything worse than a back lane or street that hasn’t been plowed, making Winnipeg roads torturous, it’s not being able to get into your car in the first place.

We’re not talking about locking your keys in the car or forgetting them at the office after security locks up; instead we’re talking about that rather unfortunate where snow and ice have built up so much that you literally can’t open the door.

This is one of those cases where home remedies may be your best solution.

One of the tricks we always hear about  is using a hot air dryer to melt the ice buildup. It’s pretty practical if it can be achieved, but that can be hard to do if you’re parked away from a power outlet or, you know, have a hot air dryer.

So we crawled the web in search of some other handy tips for opening your car, and here are a few home remedies for your frozen four-wheel.

1. Praise Lifehacker for this gem – hand sanitizer, which seemingly everyone carries these days, can be used as a lock de-icer.

2. WikiHow offers up five suggestions (including our aforementioned hot air dryyer), the simplest? Push on your car door to break the frozen seal.

3., appropriately, has a variety of methods listed. Heating a key with a lighter, if available, isn’t a bad step.

Of course, lock de-icer is still the best solution, but if you don’t have this at the ready, then you now have some more solutions in your back pocket.

Stay warm Winnipeg!

Avoid a Summer Tow – Prep Your Car for Storage

Alas, Summer is drawing to a close.

Yep, as much as we don’t want to admit it (and hope that the 2011-12 winter weather will return for another year), it’s just about time to start prepping your home for the cold weather.

Among the activities we’ll be doing is putting our ‘summer cars’ – the convertables and collector vehicles – in storage for another year.

For many of us, April can’t come soon enough. Melting snow means that another glorious summer is almost upon us and we’ll be ready to once again drive around in our favourite wheels with the tops down and the music blaring.

That will happen, if you properly stow your car over the winter.

We all know that for a car to best survive the blustering conditions, it is best stored indoors, or at least under a protective tarp – but if you want to avoid having to have your car ready to be towed in May, be sure to take proper care of it over the winter.

The best bet is to remove the battery before putting it in storage to ensure there is no damage suffered over the winter. Even if it freezes over the winter, some batteries can be recharged when the winter is complete. Head to a local battery professional for more information.

Also, if at all possible, find indoor storage for your car and, of course, outfit it with a proper tarp to avoid dust and other collection over the cold season.

Call Us Before the Cops

At times though, we find that our vehicle isn’t where we parked, and the panic sets in. Even if there isn’t evidence of a theft like broken glass or a discarded break-in device, it’s natural to assume that your car has been stolen.

This isn’t always the case though. Your car may have been towed without you knowing it. Call us first 956-HOOK (4665).

Stay Safe this Holiday Season

Winnipeg is unquestionably in the holiday spirit. Whether it’s on the streets or in our homes, the festive season is vibrant and alive in our city.

With the celebration, however, unfortunately comes over-celebration, and that’s when we, unfortunately, have to do our job over Christmas and New Years.

The reality is that no matter how often and how repeated the word is spread by organizations like Operation Red Nose, drivers in Winnipeg aren’t always conscious of how many drinks they’ve had amidst their celebrations and their hazardous effects. They may think that the augment of a healthy serving of food for dinner that their tolerance is bolstered, or they may think that the difference between two and three drinks is minimal.
Combine this with what can undeniably described as treacherous conditions in our city then we have the recipe for disaster in Winnipeg. Single or multivehicle accidents are far too common and can not only ruin a time that should otherwise be peaceful.

It goes without saying that we strongly advise Winnipeg drivers to play it safe and maintain a low consumption of alcohol during the holiday season, but as we stated above there will always be people that don’t heed this word.

So instead, we’d like to remind all drivers in Winnipeg to be aware of the conditions around them. Getting to dinner or a club 15 minutes late won’t hurt you, but being sideswiped will. Don’t rush to get home because of your babysitter – the extra few dollars for them to stay while you drive slowly and carefully far outranks the price to have us come and haul your vehicle away from a crash.

From all of us to all of you, have a happy, healthy and safe holiday season.

What to do if the “Check Engine” Light Comes On

Today’s automobiles are sophisticated machines.  The engine might provide the power, but at the heart of the vehicle is a computer monitoring numerous systems, making compensations for everything from engine temperature to exhaust temperature to the habits of the driver.

When the computer detects a condition that it cannot correct, it will inform the driver, usually by displaying the “Check Engine” light.

Many people don’t notice this indicator on their dashboards, or worse, they ignore it.  “Check Engine” could be displayed for anything from a loose gas cap to failure of a critical engine component that could, if not addressed, destroy the engine.

If your car displays this warning, find out why!  Check any other gauges or warning lights that your car has for other signs of trouble, especially concerning temperature or oil pressure.  Drive the car to a safe location and check to make sure there’s no smoke, steam, leaking liquid, or other signs of trouble.  If you’re comfortable doing so, check the oil level.  Be careful, components under the hood can be extremely hot, especially if there’s been a malfunction.

If you don’t find any signs of immediate problems, it’s likely okay to drive the car (preferably to a mechanic for service).  If you’ve found any of the above problems, or anything else that suggests that something’s not right with your car (noises, smells, etc.) then don’t risk damage – call the experts at Dr. Hook Towing and Recovery for roadside assistance.  A uniformed, trained professional will be dispatched to your location, and will be able to help diagnose the problem further.  If possible, you can continue your journey.  Should your vehicle require towing, Dr. Hook can arrange for speedy and safe transport for your vehicle to wherever you choose.  To reach Dr. Hook, Call 956-HOOK (4665) or Toll Free 1-800-561-4665.  To enroll in the Guaranteed Roadside Assistance Program, which assures speedy service even peak usage times, visit this link.

Is Your Car Ready For the Summer Heat?

When winter sets in, people are generally very concerned about their vehicle’s readiness.  They check their antifreeze, and make sure they have everything they need to deal with snow and ice.

People are more carefree when it comes to preparing for the summer.  Unfortunately, more car problems occur in warmer months, because we tend to drive a lot more when the weather is nicer.  Here are some tips that can help you ensure that your summer travels are as trouble-free as possible:

1. Coolant level. Make sure that your radiator is full, and that your car’s cooling system is working properly.  Nothing is harder on an engine than overheating.

2. Tires. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and maintained.  Tire pressures will rise in the heat, which can turn a slow leak into a sudden problem.

3. Windshield Cleaning Fluid and Wipers. Dirt and insects can build up very quickly on a windshield, reducing visibility (especially in the sun).  Make sure you can clean them away effectively.

4. Lights. Make sure your headlights are working, and that the lenses are clean and free of “chalking”.  Makes sure signal, brake, and taillights operate properly.  You want to be certain that you can see and be seen out on the road.

Despite your best efforts the unforeseen can occur, and breakdowns can happen.  Take your phone with you, and enroll in Dr. Hook Towing and Recovery’s Guaranteed Roadside Assistance program.  You’ll know that no matter what time of day or night, an experienced professional will be dispatched to help you get on your way.  Dr. Hook offers program members accurate information about timelines and guaranteed access to service.  Your call will always be answered.  For more information visit this link.

Do You Need Four-Wheel Drive?

While most of us are accustomed to having the option of upgrading a new automobile to four-wheel drive, recently, many makes and models are coming standard with four Wheel drive. Honda and Volkswagen are the first makers to bypass the idea of giving an option to customers and are only putting four-wheel drive on some models. Other makers are extending this traditionally SUV/truck option to their smaller, sedan models. Many still question whether this is actually a needed feature or just a way for car companies to make more money. There are many advantages and disadvantages to having four-wheel drive.

(1) Lack of crash tests studies
Although four-wheel drive increases traction, control and handling, it is a feature that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not fully tested. Although “all”-wheel drive is considered a safety feature in many publications, NHTSA has not officially named “four”-wheel drive as a safety feature.

(2) Most people DO NOT need it
With a price tag close to $2000, four-wheel drive is a feature that rarely pays for itself. Unless you live in extreme climates or environments such as mountains, you will likely never need this feature. Typically, automobiles with front wheel drive fare just as well as four-wheel drive in snow. Blizzards and ice storms may require four-wheel drive, but most people do not leave the comfort of their home (and aren’t recommended to leave) during these conditions.

Before you decide on a new model and its features, realistically consider the situations you will find yourself. If you happen to be a park ranger in a mountain community, then four-wheel drive is required. If you are a commuter in a northern environment, most often, you will require a simple front-wheel drive automobile.