As summer sets behind us and autumn begins to show its true colors (both literally and figuratively) there are more potential hazards on the road than the season prior.
Temperatures drop, days become shorter and drivers in all lanes must become more aware of the pitfalls that may be lurking while on the job. While there are a multitude of factors that come into play with driving into the months ahead, there are some basic and routine reminders that a driver can keep in mind in order to stay alert.
1. Dress for the Occasion
While this may seem like an obvious reminder, it is ultimately an important one, especially for those making the long haul in otherwise inclement weather. Bringing along multiple layers and clothing that can withstand varying levels of degrees is not only crucial to one’s condition while sleeping, but also in maintaining a driver’s comfort while on the job. A driver cannot be expected to perform well or concentrate properly if they are not adjusted adequately to the in-cab temperature. Packing clothes for any potential weather or discomfort is key to safety.
2. Adjust Sleeping Schedules With Daylight Savings
Though not officially taking place until November, many workers in different industries across the nation find that their natural sleep rhythms may be thrown off by the time change. Truckers are especially susceptible to this, often working non-traditional shifts or otherwise handling a non-traditional sleep schedule. Though drivers must abide by the reset rule in taking mandatory rests for 34 hours before facing another batch of work, the external factor of adjusting an established sleep schedule becomes an entirely different story for some drivers. What was once a regular day of driving for some may now become an incredibly difficult shift. Drivers can prepare for the oncoming change in hours by establishing a nighttime routine and slowly working towards adjusting their sleep schedule as needed.
3. Be Aware of Traffic
With the ushering in of fall comes the impending commercial Christmas season. As the weeks close in nearer to The Holiday Season, more commercial trucks, as well as civilian automobiles are expected to the flood the roads. Many fleets require their drivers to be in full-force when nearing Thanksgiving, Christmas, and all other assorted shopping days in between. Considering that many drivers are facing hectic schedules at this time, others on the road must be alert as to those who may be speeding to make a deadline or pushing themselves to get home for that special holiday.
4. Winter Is Coming – Prepare Now
It’s the Boy Scout motto – “Always Be Prepared.” For commercial drivers, this is doubly true, especially in regards to checking one’s equipment and ensuring that it is up to snuff. One of the last things a driver wishes for is to be stuck on the side of the road or detained by an official due to insufficient equipment. Compound that scenario with the situation of waiting for a part or a mechanic and a driver can find themselves wildly behind schedule. More than anything, this tip circles back to safety. Drivers should not make the trek if their vehicles could be hazardous to themselves and others on the road.
5. Know Your Routes – Plan Ahead
The last tip is obvious and perhaps simplistic, but it ultimately comes down to how well the communication factor is established within one’s company. If one knows their routes, plans for the weather ahead, has an amicable relationship with their manager/dispatcher then it is likely they can formulate a cohesive mode of action in accordance to all of these factors. For those new to the industry or for those establishing a new position with a company, inquire in advance what the Fall/Winter season might typically look like for a driver so that you may adequately plan for a conscientious and progressive experience behind the wheel.
Guest blogger Jake Tully is a writer and blogger for many topics, including the transportation industry, entertainment, and culture, among others. Jake is based in Los Angeles and enjoys spending his free time attending concerts, hiking, and exploring California. Read more of Jake’s work at his profile.