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Dangers of Distracted Driving

What Does Distracted Driving Look Like?

Distracted driving can look so different depending on the situation. There are times that drivers may not even realize they are putting themselves and other people on the road in danger. Distracted driving can be as little as looking at the temperature control. Other driving distractions include someone or something happening outside the vehicle, passengers, eating, drinking, smoking or a mobile device.

It is a known fact that truck drivers can spend countless hours in their trucks. With long days and nights on the road, there is no doubt being stuck in the truck can get boring. When boredom sets in it is easy to get distracted. Distracted driving is extremely dangerous and, in most cases, avoidable.

What is the Risk of Distracted Driving?

There are obvious risks when it comes to distracted driving. You are putting yourself and everyone else on the road in danger. This is especially apparent when you are one of the largest machines, if not the largest machine, on the road. This paired with heavy loads and busy roads can be fatal. The worse-case scenario of distracted driving can be fatal. If not fatal, distracted driving can cause damage to your truck, other vehicles, bodily harm or downtime and loss of income.

In the United States, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, truck drivers who text and drive are 23 times more likely to be involved in a serious incident while drivers who talk on a handheld device are 6 times more likely to be involved in a serious incident.

How can Distracted Driving be Prevented?

Being prepared can go a long way in preventing distracted driving while on the road. Before you hit the road think ahead. Get comfortable in your seat, have something to eat and put your cell phone away. While you are driving, keep your mind focused on the road so that if something comes up you can react as quickly as possible. If you do need to make a call or send a message, pull over in a safe area and use your mobile device.

Testing in a Safe Environment

If you had a chance to see how well you can handle distracted driving would you? How well do you think you would do? Most truck drivers believe they are able to handle being distracted while driving. Our friends over at Bison Transport, put that to the test and ended up with an interesting simulated video. The skilled truck drivers were surprised with the results. Take a look at the video here.

Communicating with Your Dispatcher

If you are a truck driver, you know that there are a lot of people who contribute to the success of your trips and the trucking industry overall. A dispatcher is an integral part of that. Some key tasks that dispatchers perform are keeping records and monitor daily truck logs, help to observe the weather in the area that their truck drivers are, coordinate and manage cost-effective loads and negotiate rates with vendors.

As a truck driver, building a strong relationship with your dispatcher can be so beneficial to your career. Put yourself in the shoes of a dispatcher and be kind and considerate when dealing with your dispatcher.

Dispatching has changed over the years. There was a time that dispatchers were usually retired truck drivers ready to come off the road and settle in an office. But now, more often than not, dispatchers have no experience driving out on the road but experience with computer programs and a college degree. No matter what history your dispatcher has, it will make your life easier if you can work well with them.

Do not argue with your dispatcher. In the end, this will not help you out on the road. If you are feeling upset with them, take a few minutes to cool off before you communicate with them. Approach them in a friendly manner and see if the two of you can resolve the problem calmly.

Be sure you establish who will be taking care of specific tasks. Be sure you both understand the schedule and talk about what obstacles might come up. Never make promises to dispatchers, if a load needs to be somewhere by a specific date just do your best to get there and tell your dispatcher the same thing.

Keep a clear record of all of the loads you deliver for a dispatcher and the loads they ask you to deliver. It is important to know so that you can report it to your company if there is ever an issue down the line.

Overall, keep things professional with your dispatcher and the lines of communication open. It is important to let your dispatcher know if you are struggling with something they have asked you to do or the way they asked you. You are both busy people and you will save time by speaking to them often and directly about what exactly it is you need or want.

RESOURCES

The Difference Between Live Loads and Drop & Hook Loads

Live Loads

A live load simply means that the driver waits for the load to be loaded and unloaded and then continues his trip with the same trailer. The pros to live loads are that they can save time for shippers, shippers do not require space to store the containers and no shunting truck is required.

For many drivers, the cons to live loads is that they have to wait for their trailer to be loaded and unloaded. This can be considered a ‘waste of time’ for drivers as the wait time can be up to 2 hours. When this is happening, a driver is usually just sitting idle. For the shippers, if there is a delay in loading or unloading trailers, they can incur detention fees. If the process is not running smoothly, it can cause a que of trucks or a backlog which is a con for both the shipping company and the driver.

When the live load strategy is used drivers must book an appointment before they show up at the shipper’s location to be loaded or unloaded. Live loads are most commonly used when the shipper does not have enough space to hold loaded or unloaded trailers, the driver does not have a load to take out with them or a shortage of man power.

Drop and Hook Loads

Drop and hook loads are exactly what they sound like. A driver simply drops off their loaded trailer and picks up another trailer that is ready to go from the shipping location. This can save the driver a couple hours at each drop off/pickup location which can add up once the driver is done his shift. The other advantage to the drop and hook model is that it allows for more flexibility for the shipper. It gives them more time to load and unload trailers without the pressure of a driver waiting for them.

 If the trailer they are picking up is ready and in position it can be a quick and easy transition but the reality is, that is not always the case.

Often times, a driver will have to wait for the trailer to come from a different location or be brought to a position where the driver can get access to be able to hook the trailer up. If it is a heavier load or the driver is not familiar with difficult dolly handles, this can also cause a delay. The drop and hook model becomes tricky for owner/operators as they are often personally own their trailer so it would not make sense for them to leave it there to take another one. Drop and hook works best for large enterprises with a large fleet.

No matter which way you look at it, there are advantages and disadvantages to both the live load and drop and hook model. As a driver, you may have experience with both and likely have a preference but cannot always control what model you use for the job.

RESOURCES

https://www.ntbtrk.com/news/entry/drop-and-hook-versus-live-load

Sleeping Tips for Truck Drivers

There is no doubt that sleep is one of the most important things that truck drivers do on the road. It gives them the ability to get through long days of loading/unloading trucks and driving lengthy distances. Being well rested not only keeps the truck driver safe, it helps to keep everyone who is on the road safe. Not only that, a well-rested driver is much more productive which is a positive for everyone involved.

It is no secret that it does take some time to get use to sleeping in your truck which is what most drivers do most of the time. If you are not use to it, you may get irritated by your truck or other trucks idling while you are trying to sleep or the feeling of being unsafe.

We have gathered up a few tips that might help you to get the recommended 7 hours of sleep a night on the road.

Try to find a quiet safe place to sleep. Ideally, away from other idling trucks. This is not always possible so if it is not try using foam ear plugs which will reduce the noise significantly. Just be aware you may not hear your alarm, so make sure you have a plan in place for waking up in the morning.

Get yourself as comfortable as possible. This might include bringing your favorite pillow and blanket from home. You could also consider using a quality mattress topper for the bed. Be sure to block out any and all light by using a sunshade cover for your windows. This also increases privacy and safety.

Be mindful how much caffeine you are drinking during the day, it is recommended by the Sleep Foundation that you should not consume caffeine six hours before you stop driving to sleep. There are many caffeine-free alternatives that you could try such as caffeine-free teas or flavored carbonated waters.

Do your best to follow a nighttime routine. Before you settle in for the night try to find a couple strategies to de-stress that work for you. This could be reading, exercising or phoning a friend. Other steps that are common in a nighttime routine might be washing your face, brushing your teeth and shutting your phone down about an hour before you sleep. If possible, try to go to sleep around the same time every night. When you find a strategy that works for you, make that part of your nighttime routine. This signals to your body that it is time to start winding down and can help you get to sleep faster.

Overall, getting a good night’s sleep on the road is one of the most important parts of your job as a truck driver. It is what is going to get you home on time and safely to your family and friends. Hopefully taking some of these suggested steps will help you have the best sleep possible in your truck.

RESOURCES

https://schneiderjobs.com/blog/truck-driver-sleeping-tips

https://www.smart-trucking.com/sleep-tips/