By Steve Binkley
InfoStream Safety Consultant
Being a professional truck driver is one of the most challenging professions there is. Think about it. They’re operating under the demand to get from points A to B on time, preferably early. The traffic includes obstacles such as accidents, construction, rush hour, and limited parking. Plus, drivers must have the skills to safely drive tractors in inclement weather and know how to function when mechanical failures hinder their deliveries.
I believe these professionals have a unique makeup to manage the many challenges they face every day while performing their jobs as expected. Many drivers are away from family and loved ones for extended periods and must spend time alone. There’s the challenge of finding healthy foods to eat while on the road. Even getting a good night’s sleep presents a challenge.
Like any profession, some have difficulty meeting these challenges and performing well on the job, but I believe that most of our drivers are professionals who want to do the job the right way. In my many years as a commercial vehicle enforcement trooper, I was very impressed with how well organized and professional most drivers are. Now, as I work on the motor carrier side, I think about what I can do to assist drivers in their day-to-day life behind the wheel.
Here’s what I think we can do to help drivers manage their jobs or make them easier:
- Randomly call your drivers and ask how they’re doing. If they have family, inquire about them. Jot down the names of their relatives for future conversations. Please get to know them as people and not just a number in the driver files.
- Ask how sleep is going. Are they resting? How are they feeling? If you have sound advice, offer it. And, listen, really listen to them.
- Suggest healthy eating habits. Talk about what has worked for you. Suggest simple exercises such as walking around at rest areas or truck stops. If drivers are at the terminal, take them out for lunch or dinner.
- Include the topic of distracted driving and other safe driving tips when having conversations with them.
- If you can, offer an additional day off from time to time.
- Ask drivers what their hobbies are when they’re home and what activities they enjoy. You may find common interests that can trigger future conversations. For example, I once found that a driver enjoyed playing golf, so the next time he was at the terminal for scheduled maintenance, we played nine holes of golf.
- Offer bonuses for jobs well done.
- If drivers are open to doing so, offer a stay in a hotel from time to time.
National Driver Appreciation Week is Sept. 12-18, 2021. Let’s show our drivers the respect and appreciation they deserve. As we know, if we eat it, wear it, drive it, or use it – a truck with a driver behind the wheel delivered it. During the coronavirus pandemic, drivers have played a crucial role in ensuring the delivery of our essential needs. How much different would our own lives be without their dedication to delivering supplies during these most difficult times?