Monthly Archives: January 2019

Proper Planning And Patience The Key To Winter Driving

With snowy conditions covering over half the United States, these can be tricky times for professional truck drivers. It is no secret that winter weather conditions provide unique challenges for truck drivers, even those with million-mile safety records. No matter the season, shippers have the same expectations that freight hauls will be delivered on-time. Slower speeds, reduced visibility and poor road conditions can put a serious crimp in this paradigm.

Yet, there are two factors that can ensure truck drivers get their freight safely from one place to another during the hazardous winter driving conditions. The two keys to winter operation are both good planning and persistent patience.

Professional truck drivers must understand that more time must be baked into the equation when winter storms are blanketing the roads. They must also do their best to plan around severe storms or unfortunate weather events. Even more, patience means not trying to rush just because road conditions are causing delays. If there is anything that could result in an unfortunate accident, it is trying to rush when conditions are unsafe.

Truck drivers must also be extra vigilant in watching for other drivers who may not know how to handle the rough winter road conditions. Whether it be leaving extra space ahead or behind the truck, stopping distances are critical when operating on wet or icy roadways.

Dispatchers must also work with truck drivers to ensure there are alternative routes ready when rough winter conditions make certain roadways unsafe. It is critical that advance research is done when heavy snow or ice is hampering your usual route. Substitute parking locations should also be part of the equation when researching how to avoid hazardous winter weather.

Trucking companies who do not live by the ethos of proper patience and planning find themselves in a bind should the worst happen. It is also important that truck drivers act on the spot when weather conditions which were not on the company weather report suddenly make road conditions too dangerous. Many truck drivers use real-time weather map apps or advanced radar systems tied to tablets or smartphones to stay ahead of the game.

It is also important to consider others who may be operating on the roadways and trying to clear the road of snow or debris. Law enforcement shares the same goal of safe operation on the nation’s roads and highways during winter. Take snow plow drivers as one example. Snow plow operators work in the most dangerous winter conditions, often with little-to-no visibility. When a truck driver sees a snow plow on the road, it is of utmost importance to give them proper space, distance, and patience to do their job.

Providing extra space when operating around snow plows is important because snow plows have wing blades that can extend 10 – 12 feet out from the side of their vehicle. Consider that is the equivalent of a full traffic lane. While these blades often have blinking lights to signal where they are, difficult visibility conditions can make it extra hard to see those lights. Allowing for safe distance and slow driving can make the difference between getting your load safely to the receiver or winding up in an accident, or worse.

Patience is a virtue, especially during winter driving. Never be tempted to pass in unsafe conditions or speed to get around an obstacle when the conditions are snowy or icy. Safe winter driving is key to maintaining a safe record. Don’t let the icy conditions blanketing half the U.S. lull you into a rushed sense of impatience or bad planning.

When Doing The Right Things Right Is What Matters

Today, we wanted to focus on some very important credos in trucking. Simple turn of phrases often carry great meaning, and the same is true in trucking. No matter what level of the trucking organization you occupy, understanding the importance of words is critical to your success. Let’s start with the first credo.

Do the Right things Right

When it comes to operating a trucking company or driving a big rig in a safe and professional manner, there is one axion that everyone should have at the front of their mind: Do the right things right. Let’s take some time to expand on that important way of thinking about things viewed through the context of safety.

You may read this credo and think, “Well, isn’t that just doing the right thing?” Not really. When it comes to communicating something well or making the proper decision, intent is key. Soldiers in the military know how important it is to understand intent when following through with an order. In situations where it is incumbent upon them to make the decision free of orders, intent is even more important.

Understanding a commander or fleet manager’s intention when issuing an order, asking a question, or providing a new directive provides the basis of how important it is to do the right things right. In the trucking business, this ethos reflects a leader’s intent, which will influence the planning and execution of the question or directive. Trucking is a dynamic business and requires a dynamic level of thinking to ensure safety and success, in-and-out, day-after-day.

Above All, Do No Harm

Here is another important credo we all must keep in mind: Nothing we do is worth harming ourselves or others. These eight simple words should influence everything you do. As a professional truck driver or transportation professional, when you are confronted with tension between competing demands, the best way to handle them is to go back to the two important credos we have just outlined. These simple phrases can be used to reconcile the tension and decide on the best course of action.

Realizing that nothing we do is worth harming ourselves or others is a qualitative statement that should guide a truck driver or trucking organization to strive for operational excellence in everything they say and do. It is important to consider that excellence is achieved and sustained only by assessing your individual and collective performance both critically and continuously. There is no room for error or time to let up when it comes to this assessment.

With the near-real time performance technologies available to us today, the right tools in the hands of fleet managers and truck drivers, when embraced, represent great ways to critically and continuously assess and improve performance measures. By making a habit of following these important credos, over time, truck drivers have fewer crashes or incidents that consume a lot of valuable time. It is better to spend time learning safety credos or technologies than it is investigating instances of failure.

Doing the right things right and ensuring we do nothing that harms ourselves or others requires investments in safety technologies and proactive programs that enable us to live by these credos. When commercial truck drivers fail to live by these simple words, they not only fail to achieve excellence, but accidents can occur. The stakes are simply far too high to allow performance to be managed passively. So, next time you have an operational question you just can’t seem to find the answer to, ask yourself, are you doing the right things right?

Personalizing Your Trucking Safety Program

Often, when a truck driver is contacted by a recruiter for a trucking company, the offer can sound too good to be true. Yet, the present environment, where qualified and experienced truck drivers are hard to come by it isn’t hard to imagine that the endeavors trucking companies are embarking on to capture qualified candidates can sometimes sound like total fantasy.

To attract and retain qualified and enthusiastic truck drivers, trucking companies today need to sound almost too good to be true. In every conversation and/or interaction with the company, trucking organizations need to refer to their people as “professional truck drivers.” Potential recruits will hear if you refer to your people as “drivers” or “CDL holders.” This incredibly impersonal way of referring to your people could easily send potential new operators looking for a company that speaks like it appreciates them more.

Does your trucking company sound like it places value on the team and treat the truck drivers on their payroll like professional colleagues? This is especially true for potential truck drivers or employees who have worked in safety before. These employees will want to know that the company they are joining will support their efforts to create a personalized safety program, because those are the most effective programs.

Creating a Personalized Program

To create a safety management program that truly sticks, a fleet safety manager must first recognize that everyone is human, and each person has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. The key to creating an effective safety program is to identify the individual strengths and weaknesses of each employee and then using those personality aspects to create an advantage for each employee.

It takes highly committed leadership and innovative thinking to create and maintain an all-encompassing safety environment. It is an approach that must pervade throughout the entire organization. They key thing to remember is that your organization should not have to ‘sell’ their safety and operator recognition program to attract top talent. It should be obvious as a part of what they do without any selling required.

Everyone within the organization, from top-level leadership on down to front-line truck drivers, must live the safety philosophy every day. The company should exist not just for a profit motive, but to be an advocate for their people that they employ and their families.

Technologically-Based Initiatives

If there is one way to prove to current and potential employees that you care about their safety, it is the amount of resources you place in safety programs they count on. Whether it be through a web-based safety program or otherwise, there are specific technologies you can use in your recruiting efforts to attract top talent.

The secret to success in business isn’t very much of a secret. It comes down to getting people, processes and equipment aligned in such a way that there is no question in regards to the benefit of the program you are putting into place.

From video-based programs to customized web-based training sessions, effective motor carriers invest in safety programs that will not only help to attract new truck drivers but remind current truck drivers that the company they call home is invested in their development.

Are you personalizing your truck driver safety program to those within your organization? Remember, not every employee responds to the same training or safety stimuli. Invest in comprehensive programs and ensure those responsible for training your people understands the unique needs of each employee, and you will be set up for success!