Around the clock, 365 days a year (and 366 on leap years), the largest and heaviest trucks hit the road to make the deliveries we all wait for. Now that online and one-click ordering in what we can now call "the freight marketplace" has taken hold, truck drivers are under pressure to get their bounty to us faster and in less mileage.
As you manage your small trucking company, your most important asset is not your trucks or what the trucks hold. It's the people driving the vehicles.
And to keep them safe, follow these heavy haul trucking practices to ensure everything - and everyone - makes it to their destinations.
Track that Truck
Ever read the book "1984" or heard its signature term, "Big brother is watching?"
In the book, people resisted against being spied on through strange electronic devices. We seem to have gone in the opposite direction now, where we're totally connected to our cams and devices 24/7 and the good news is, most of us are actually opting in.
You can make this work in your favor as a way to improve heavy haul trucking safety.
Chances are, your drivers are staying connected through GPS and other onboard devices. Not to mention those that are on their own cell phones and wearables.
Encourage your drivers to "check in" or at least enable both their WIFI and "Location" services apps. As any driver knows, getting lost, disabled, or out of gas in a remote and unfamiliar place is the worst.
But if you decide to make it company policy, make sure you inform your drivers well in advance. As some trucking company owners in North Carolina found out, attaching GPS to your drivers' trucks without warning or consent can get you into major, major trouble.
Amp up safety by requiring your teams to stay connected but make sure you realize why you're doing it (that is, because you're looking out for them, not spying). Sometimes, big brother watching can be a big boost.
Get a Handle on the Handles
CB radio has long been a good friend to heavy haul trucking drivers, but you can help your drivers stay safer with some education on CB handle protocol.
According to the Truckers Report, certain practices should be followed when using the CB radio:
- Don't use the call of "Mayday" except in the most extreme circumstances
- Never transmit a joke, crass remark, or falsehood
- No politicking
- No communications with CB stations outside of a 155.3-mile radius
- Don't try to sell anything
Of course, encourage your drivers to remember that CB interaction can also contribute to distracted driving.
Instruct drivers that anything other than keeping a full mind and eyes on the road can cause accidents and other safety concerns. CB interaction can be like listening to a great audio book or radio station on the road, as long as drivers know when to turn it down or switch it off.
Ergonomics for Heavy Haul Trucking
Ever notice how cramped your neck feels or maybe the onset of headaches after you've been staring down at your phone in your lap for a while?
Or that your body just can't take another twist to peer over and behind your shoulder every couple of minutes?
This is due to the fact that our bodies, bones, joints, and muscles were built for and get conditioned to certain types of behavior. Unfortunately, long haul truck driving may be your drivers' passion, true career calling, or temporary job choice, but it's not what bodies feel best doing.
Thanks to many years of medical studies, there are ways to accommodate the way we collapse our bodies into trucks for those long hauls and even make things better.
It's the idea of ergonomics, which involves setting up everything from your captain's chair to where your steering wheel is positioned to how far you are from the foot pedals, all in mind of making sure your long haul is best on your body.
So take some time to rearrange your truck's inside for a custom fit for your body and it will thank you. If you share or trade off in the driver's set, be sure to make the proper adjustments every time you swap.
Better riding ergonomics can lead to you feeling less tired/more awake on the road, fewer aches and pains, and a general sense of more happiness in the work.
And don't forget to hop down and out of the cab every few hours, too!
Inspect Your Gadgets
Sure, having Go-Go-Gadget-Arms like Inspector Gadget would make for unloading pallets a lot easier, but we're talking about the inspections themselves.
If you incorporate regular inspections into your company's routine, you may find that safety goes way up and problems go way down.
It may seem impossible to ask your drivers to stop and complete inspections on the road, so maybe the best time is when they come in for a reload. Or you assign personnel to inspect the trucks monthly.
Another option is to create a calendar of gadgets, gears, and areas of the truck to inspect. Each week, check off what you are conducting safety inspections around. Whichever works best for your business is the way to go, but make sure you do something.
Obviously, every truck is different, but you'll find loads of free resources available online, such as the Vehicle and Trailer Inspection Checklist from the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources Department.
Got Your Mind on Your Money?
We know how it is. Your truckers may feel like family and your company may be your passion project, but it's still a job and you need to ensure that you all stay afloat in an ever-more-competitive industry.
One reason that safety goes down and injuries or problems rise up is when you're not focused and unfortunately, worries over money can really take your mind off the most important part of the business: your people.
If things like clawbacks really make your claws come out, you'll want to check out software options that help you keep more money in your business without your having to take your mind off safety factors.
Think apps and software have no place in the heavy haul trucking industry? Think again. We use apps for everything else, why not our jobs? Apps can help you avoid hidden fees, master digital payments, and reduce back-office tasks.
Pump the Gas Towards Safety
Click here to send us a little bit of information about your business (if you prefer to call or email, that information is here, too) and we'll see how we can best help you save money and improve safety at the same time with no loss to either. Download our app and help us get you on the road today!
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