Driving a truck is one of the most dangerous jobs you can have. With more and more distracted, impaired, or drowsy drivers on the road, it’s really no wonder that crashes involving large trucks have been on the rise in recent years. In 2016, the number of large trucks involved in fatal crashes rose to 4,213 from 4,074 in 2015, an increase of 3%.
When truckers aren’t driving, they face potential dangers while parked and sleeping during long-distance hauls, and even if all goes smoothly, there are potential scams that target the trucking industry that they need to be alert to.
Whether on the road, at a truck stop, or in the work process, truck drivers need to always be aware of potential dangers.
Overnight parking is a necessity for long-haul truckers. There are Hours of Service regulations to prevent truckers from working too many consecutive hours risking falling asleep behind the wheel. Finding a safe place to rest is essential.
When parking overnight:
- Look for a well-lit area to park.
- Look for a place that is open 24-hours-a-day.
- Park near other drivers. You’ll be less of a target for thieves if other people are nearby.
- Carry protection. Make sure that whatever you choose, you know the proper way to use it!
- Look for a parking space that is easy to leave in a hurry. Pull-through parking spaces allow you to leave an area quickly if needed.
- Always lock your truck when you leave it and when you’re in it.
- Be confident. If you carry yourself with confidence, criminals and scammers may leave you alone.
- Look around when getting in and out of your vehicle.
- Keep your cell phone with you and charged at all times.
- Report anything suspicious.
On the Road
The reason for being a safe driver isn’t just about avoiding injuring yourself or others, it’s also essential to do your job well and make deliveries on time.
- Don’t change lanes more than you have to.
- Follow the Hours of Service restrictions. If you’re feeling drowsy, stop to stretch, take a cat nap or have a cup of coffee. Don’t ignore drowsiness or use drugs to keep you awake.
- Give others space. Assume that everyone else is a terrible driver who may cut you off.
- Keep your truck maintained to avoid breakdowns and accidents.
- Drive for the weather conditions. Even though you have a deadline, you must adjust your driving for bad weather or risk not getting to your destination at all.
Larger companies are generally well-regulated and you don’t really have to worry about them scamming you. While most smaller companies are reputable and try to build a successful business, there are disreputable ones that will do things that risk the safety of their drivers. Things like requiring them to drive more hours than are allowed, using vehicles that are not able to pass inspections, lack of appropriate insurance to protect their drivers and loads, or exceeding the weight restrictions on loads. These companies will often hire drivers as independent contractors rather than take them on as full-time employees in an attempt to bypass regulations by OSHA, the IRS, and the DOT.
If you manage a fleet of trucks, you need to be on the lookout for:
- Someone with info on one of your trucks claiming to be a repair shop in need of payment for a non-existent repair.
- Someone who has gained info on one of your drivers claiming to be the driver who has broken down and is in need of money to be wired for repairs or a tow.
- Someone claiming to be a tow truck driver needing payment for a tow that was never done.
Truckers should also be alert to anyone pretending to be a police officer or DOT official. These scammers state some kind of violation and demand immediate payment. Always check credentials and if there’s a violation, tell them your employer will take care of it. Never give out any banking information or MoneyCodes.
A career in the trucking industry can be a rewarding and lucrative one. However, it’s important to always be on the lookout for unsafe conditions, potential dangers, and fraud. Trucker Search, a leading trucker job search website, yields detailed information on companies looking for drivers. Truckers can make an informed decision and it’s a great resource for finding a great company to work for. Go to Trucker Search today to see all it has to offer.