Category: driving safe

Winter Weather Driving Tips

Winter seems to come too quickly. It’s a beautiful season filled with opportunities to see the family, eat great food, and celebrate the holiday season, but winter is also one of the most dangerous seasons as there are all the usual hazards coupled with ice and snow. As the days continue to get colder, it is crucial that you are prepared for the challenges of winter, in both your home and work life as driving in near-freezing temperatures and potentially inclement weather can be hazardous.

Driving in Severe Weather

Considering the problems that can occur while driving is the first step to building safe winter driving habits. The first thing to take into account when you are planning on taking your next route is to make sure you are familiar with the weather in all locations you will be driving through. Some places will be warmer or colder than others, and it is crucial that you know which locations will have hazardous conditions such as snowstorms, icy roads, or freezing rain. Being familiar with the challenges you will face on the journey and continuing to check the news (or a dependable weather app) will help you be prepared. 

The most important thing to know when driving in potentially icy locations is that going slowly can save lives. Speed is very highly valued in the trucking industry, and it can be very hard to choose to slow down especially when most drivers are in a time crunch. However, in hazardous conditions, the most responsible thing to do is slow down to a comfortable and safe speed, being sure to follow any emergency directives from road signs even if this results in a delayed arrival. 

In addition to this primary guideline, you should also complete pre-travel checks of your truck to ensure it is well-equipped and functioning correctly for the trip. Other important tips for safe driving in any season, but especially the winter, include following traffic at a safe distance, staying to the right, checking your brakes often and keeping them clear of winter slush overnight, avoiding distractions, and making sure your headlights are clear. While you are driving, do your best to avoid panicking, even when you face scary situations. Staying calm and using common sense will help you through even the worst problems. You can always pull off the road and call for assistance if you believe the conditions are too unsafe to continue.

Stay Safe, Stay Warm

Icy conditions wreak havoc on the plans of drivers (both commercial and civilian) all through the winter season. While there are hazards on the road all year round, from animals and natural dangers, winter takes the cake as the most dangerous season of the year because it combines all the risks with ice and snow. However, many incidents are easily avoided by using common sense and making sure to follow the guidelines of going slowly when necessary and taking steps to ensure you are staying alert, aware, and prepared for any challenge winter throws at you. 

Preparing your rig for winter

Winter is here! The leaves have fallen and frost is on the ground in the mornings, which means that the snow and ice of winter are coming soon. This holiday season, before the outdoors become uninhabitable, is the perfect time to prepare your truck and ensure it is winter ready. While you’re thinking about getting your truck ready for winter, read our helpful tips for making your winter travels safer and more comfortable.

Winter is Finally Here!

It may seem like Winter rolls around faster than other seasons, and that may be because we dread taking out the winter coat, gloves, and snow shovels. Even though Winter may be inconvenient, it should not be something to be dreaded as it is a very beautiful time of year with plenty of celebrations taking place. If you know the right procedures to stay safe while driving, your winter can be a blast! 

You may not have noticed the day it became cold enough to wear a coat because that change is usually gradual, but when the frost begins to collect on the ground, you likely know that winter will be approaching soon. Something that most people do automatically is to locate all the cold weather gear as winter begins to take hold. In addition to this, many families gather firewood, ensure their homes are well fueled, and stock up on groceries in case the weather becomes too bad to get outside. With all this home preparation, you should also think about your truck.

Frightful Cold

Driving in the winter can be scary as there are added hazards to the road including slick roadways, high winds, and low visibility. Keeping your cool is necessary in these situations. The best way to stay calm is by knowing you have the tools to get you out of sticky situations. Creating a game plan for how to act in dangerous situations can save your life and others.

Be Winter Ready

How can you be winter ready? Checking up on your truck and assembling a safety kit are great first steps. Inspecting your fuel filter, battery, and cooling system is crucial to starting the winter season correctly. Ensuring your fuel filter is clean and not contaminated with water can save your engine from failure. In addition to this, make sure your batteries are still strong. It is never a good idea to enter winter with  weak batteries. Finally, while the cooling system may seem to be a weird place to check when you’re entering the coldest months of the year, checking to make sure your antifreeze is sufficient for freezing temperature is important.  Antifreeze testers are cheap and can save thousands of dollars in engine repairs. Items you should include in your winter kit are extra winter clothes (especially gloves), a first aid kit, extra blankets, a flashlight and extra batteries, extra fuel filters and coolant. After creating this kit, there are many recurring things you should do throughout the season to make sure your truck is running at peak performance.  

Alongside these preparations, you can use fuel additives throughout the winter to reduce the effect of diesel fuel crystallization at colder temperatures which will make the engine work efficiently. On the coldest days keeping the engine running may be your best defense against fuel gelling.  Many trucks are equipped with fuel heaters that only work when the engine is running.  If you can’t leave your engine running in sub zero weather a block heater can be a life saver.  Check to make sure yours is working before you need it.

Final Thoughts

As winter progresses, it is important to make sure you have made all due preparations. Taking the time to prepare yourself and your truck will give you the best chance of having a safer, warmer, and happier winter. The cold is coming, so be safe out there!

Ideas to stay mentally engaged while over the road.

You’re probably always looking sharp while on the road, but can you say the same about your mind? Truck driving is a very fulfilling career, but it is not for everyone. With long hours of sitting, driving, and staying on high alert to ensure the safety of civilians and cargo, there are plenty of stressors and long hours that need to be effectively managed to pursue a happy and healthy career. Keeping your mind sharp and your brain engaged while on the road can be a lifesaver and it will certainly keep you happier in your chosen career!

Long Days, Long Nights

Driving is a career filled with long hours at all times of the day. Depending on the type of driving you do, the miles you cover may be locally oriented or nationwide. Each type requires a lot of sitting down, buckling in, and preparing yourself for the long haul. The first few hours of driving may go by swimmingly, you’re paying attention to scenery, discovering new roads and locations that fill you with wonder and a desire to come back and visit someday when you’re on vacation, but soon enough the boredom will decide to set in.

The good news is that taking a few precautionary steps will help you fight the ensuing boredom. There is a stereotype that driving is not a mentally stimulating career, and if this is true for you, there are ways to change it for the better. Like any career, driving can be made more mentally stimulating with just a few adjustments!

Combating Boredom

Sometimes creating a mentally engaging environment for your work requires a few changes in your habits and perspectives, but it will be a rewarding shift that ensures you will stay fresh and mentally engaged for the duration of your trip. Trying out these tips and tricks will allow you a degree of entertainment for the long drives, and while some may not work for you, others may become lifelong strategies to stay sharp, or they may inspire you to create strategies of your own!

Some of the best tips to stay mentally engaged while driving include:

  • Listening to music, audiobooks, and podcasts.
  • Taking stretch breaks.
  • Writing music or stories in your mind.

Listening to the radio may be an obvious choice for drivers as it is free and readily available, but there are ways to expand your listening experience including podcasts and audiobooks. Podcasts and audiobooks are a great way to learn while driving. Many of them are downloadable so they do not require consistent radio or cell signal to keep playing, and there are millions of podcasts and audiobooks available for any subject that you find interesting. 

Taking stretch breaks is important for your physical and mental health. These breaks will allow you to stay flexible, fit, and get the blood flowing back into your brain as well. Stretching feels good, and it will make your brain feel sharper.

Writing songs and stories is a great idea for the road, especially for those that are more creatively inclined. Who knows, you may even write the next audio or literary hit! This will also help expand your creativity and language skills, which will be helpful when doing anything involving problem solving and speaking with others.

Keeping Your Mind Sharp

Staying sharp on the road is an important aspect of staying safe and making your drives more fulfilling. You may even find a new passion while trying these strategies. There are plenty of resources online for finding audiobooks, podcasts, and even song and story ideas, so check those out before your next long drive. We understand that sometimes keeping the boredom at bay is hard, but try to approach this issue by thinking outside the box and you will definitely find a way to keep yourself interested and engaged. 

Truck Drivers: How You Can Avoid Back Pain

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Spending hours upon hours behind the wheel of a truck can be physically and mentally exhausting and dealing with back pain seems to be part of the territory.  Along with the long hours sitting there’s also the lifting that is often involved as well as the constant vibration of the truck. The movement may not seem that bad but when your entire body is vibrating for more than 8 hours every day, you’re bound to eventually have some injuries.  Sitting in the same position, sedentary for hours, causes poor circulation and your muscles and joints stiffen.  But you don’t have to accept it!  Back pain doesn’t have to be “part of the job”!  With some adjustments and changes, you can avoid back pain from driving a truck.

Look At Your Seat

Adjust your seat so you’re not only comfortable but that you also don’t have to strain to reach things.  Depending on your seat, it may be beneficial to get some added support in the seat area as well as good lumbar support for the lower back.  While driving, changing your position, even just a little, can prevent some of the pain that comes with sitting in the same position.     

Be Mindful of Your Posture 

Incorrect posture is terrible for the back.  Sit up straight, don’t slouch, and keep your chin parallel to the ground.  Letting your body relax in the seat all the time is only going to cause spinal problems.  If you keep your wallet in your back pocket, take it out when you drive.  It can cause you to sit with your hips higher on one side than the other.     

Stay at a Healthy Weight

Because driving a truck involves inactivity and unhealthy food options, truck drivers are often overweight.  In fact, a recent study appearing in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine found that 69% of truck drivers were obese.  Whether sitting or standing, carrying around excess  weight is extremely damaging to your musculoskeletal system that wasn’t built for it.  

Quit Smoking

The same study of obesity in drivers found that more than half (51%) smoked which is more than twice that of other occupations (19%).  People who smoke have higher rates of osteoporosis, lumbar disc diseases, and slower bone healing which can lead to chronic pain.  

Take Breaks

Because of strict schedules, it’s not always easy for drivers to get enough breaks throughout the day but it’s important to try to do so.  Get out and stretch your hamstrings.  Move around and get a little exercise if you can.    

Stretch

Find time to stretch while out on the road.  When you’re driving, stretch each leg, reach each arm out to the side and over your head, and move your head from side to side to stretch your neck.  When you stop for a break, bend over and touch those toes and reach up to the sky for a full-body stretch.  Do some more stretching in bed.  When you don’t use your muscles, they shorten.  Stretching actually elongates them, increasing your range of motion, and increases the blood supply and brings nutrients to your muscles.  

Get the Right Mattress

If you’re sleeping in your truck, it needs to have a good mattress, just like you have at home.  When it comes to a mattress for back pain relief, you have to be like Goldilocks?not too firm and not too soft.  You need back support but not rigidity that will prevent good sleep.  It’s also important to find the right sleep position that works for you.  Some tips on how to sleep to alleviate back pain can be found here.    

Get Help

Applying ice to your lower back for 15-20 minutes can calm nerves and provide short-term relief and a chiropractor may help as well.  Because of the prevalence of back pain in drivers, some truck stops have begun opening chiropractic offices with their other driver amenities.  

Driving a truck doesn’t have to destroy your back but it does take some mindfulness and extra steps to keep those back problems at bay.  

If you’re a driver looking for opportunities in the trucking industry, look no further than Trucker Search. At www.truckersearch.com, you can post your résumé (which is a short form application) as well as search the ever-expanding database of companies looking for drivers and job postings.  It’s a great resource for any driver starting in the trucking industry or looking for a new opportunity.

Sources:  

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ajim.22293

https://health.usnews.com/health-care/patient-advice/articles/smoking-and-chronic-back-pain

https://chiropractorofstlouis.com/blog-post/the-health-benefits-of-a-good-stretch

https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/best-sleeping-position-for-lower-back-pain#pillow-under-your-abdomen

https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/what-helps-with-lower-back-pain#2

 

Driving a Truck In The Era of Social Distancing

driving-a-truck-in-the-era-of-social-distancing
If there’s a phrase that best describes our current situation, it’s “social distancing”.  It’s an easy enough concept to grasp:  by staying home and remaining at least 6 feet from others when we go out for necessities, the coronavirus won’t be able to make the jump from one person to the next, stopping the spread of the virus over time.

In practice, however, it’s not so easy.  Not everyone follows the rules and some people forget so navigating a grocery store and maintaining a 6-ft buffer is a bit like walking through a field of land mines with none of the explosions but all of the anxiety.

For essential workers, this is an all-day stress-fest.  Truck drivers are used to some solitude but during the pandemic have lost those usual welcomed times of human interactions along their routes.  Some truck stops have been forced to close their doors while others only offer drive-thru services which most trucks can’t maneuver through and won’t serve people who walk up to the drive-thru window.  Some drivers now have to pack their own foods and eat in their trucks.

Safety for drivers as well as anyone around them is most important during these difficult times.

Social Distancing Tips for Drivers

  • Stay 6 feet away from everyone even in truck stops, gas stations and points of delivery.
  • Use disposable gloves when you’re pumping gas and dispose of them in a garbage receptacle at the pump immediately after.
  • Use debit/credit cards instead of cash.
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Use hand sanitizer often.
  • If you develop symptoms, seek assistance where you are.  Don’t try to stick it out until you’re home.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Wear a mask when you’re in public places.  N95 masks are the best if you have one but they’re needed by medical staff and are in short supply in many areas so the CDC is recommending that they are left for them.  A cloth mask will do, or a bandana or scarf folded in layers.  Continue to maintain your 6-ft. distancing even when wearing a mask.
  • Use your phone to communicate with customers to avoid as much face-to-face time as you can.
  • Disinfect your vehicle often.  Keep disinfectant wipes in your truck so you can use them to wipe down door handles, the steering wheel, gear shift, and pay particular attention to shared items like clipboards, pens, and dollies.
  • Be mindful of what you’re touching when you use a public bathroom.  Once you’ve washed your hands thoroughly, don’t touch anything else.  Use a paper towel to open the door.

More guidelines for protecting yourself during the coronavirus pandemic can be found on the CDC’s website.

By following guidelines and taking appropriate precautions, drivers can be safe and minimize their chances of getting the virus or passing it on and be more prepared in the future.

If you’re looking to start a career behind the wheel of a big rig, Trucker Search can help. Connecting truck drivers and employers is what we do.  It’s quick, it’s easy, and it can get you that dream job on the open road. Get started today at TruckerSearch.com or call us at (888)254-3712.  Stay safe!