As we wrap up 2019, we’re left reflecting on the progress made in the industry this year. With the exponential rise of online commerce and ever-growing demand for immediate product fulfillment, the transportation industry is becoming more integral to the American economy than ever before. As the field grows, one would hope that conditions for drivers improve accordingly, but we all know that this is sometimes tricky. While drivers may be receiving many perks for fulfilling this important role, things still aren’t perfect out on the road. In our last post, we detailed some of the most frustrating issues facing drivers this year, and in this edition, we intend to unpack five more of these common complaints.
#6 Speed Limits
While it’s no question that speed limits are an important part of keeping everyone safe on the roads, excessively low speed limits can be a great annoyance for truckers. Speed plays a big role in a driver’s overall fuel efficiency. Fuel is easily the most expensive maintenance cost of owning a semi, and drivers try to maximize their miles per gallon. One of the best ways to do this is to find your trucks “sweet spot” which is the speed at which you’re getting the most out of your diesel. Speed limitations can cause drivers to miss out on their sweet spot and therefore miss out on precious fuel miles.
Slowing down can also slow down your routes significantly. An unexpected slowdown can lead to delayed or even missed deliveries if poorly planned. Efficiency is key out on the road. While safety measures are wildly important, speed limits are often huge hurdles for truck drivers. To minimize this inconvenience, try to take major highways and interstates that will probably have higher limits than surface roads. Additionally, try to find the sweetest spot possible for fuel intake while not risking unsafe or illegal driving habits.
#7 Faulty Infrastructure
Faulty infrastructure can be a huge inconvenience to truckers, particularly when it concerns the roads and bridges that they are driving across all day. Potholes, cracks and generally poorly maintained roads are not only unpleasant and bumpy to drive on, but they can also be a safety concern. Driving a semi-truck is high risk due to its size and power, so absolute control of the vehicle is essential at all times. Rough road conditions can also be hard on the mechanics of your truck. Potholes and cracks can cause damage to your suspension and tires. Particularly deep ones can even break an axle if you’re going fast enough, causing thousands of dollars in unnecessary repairs.
While it’s not necessarily realistic or possible to avoid these issues, try your best to minimize the damages they cause. Slow down a bit if you see a large pothole in your path.
#8 Distracted Drivers
Driver distraction is a huge issue for truck drivers, as it presents a massive safety concern. This is especially true of non-commercial drivers who aren’t always respectful of the amount of space required following an 18-wheeler. Drivers who are not paying attention and are unaware of a semi-truck’s blind spot present a real threat to themselves and the truck driver. Controlling a semi is a tough job already and trying to account for distracted drivers nearby only makes it harder. Trucks can’t maneuver or respond as quickly as regular cars, so when someone drifts into your lane or stops short, it can lead to a catastrophic outcome. Try to avoid potential collisions by always staying aware of your surroundings, frequently checking your mirrors, and never following too closely.
#9 Driver Training Standards
Driver training is the first defense when it comes to creating safe and efficient drivers. While many find extensive driver training protocol to be invasive and boring, its essential when it comes to creating good habits for the future of the industry. Even if you’re a seasoned industry veteran, being an advocate for thorough training creates a better industry standard. To personally help raise the bar, stay up to date on current training and make sure that you’re informed of all essential protocol.
#10 Delays at Facilities
One of the most important things to a driver is efficiency, and the ultimate killer of efficiency is a delay. Delays at facilities can eat away at a driver’s day tremendously. A delay of a few hours can mean missing out on hundreds of miles of driving that day. Depending on your unique employment situation, you may also be missing out on wages. If your hourly rate only includes hours on the road and not sitting in line at facilities, you could be missing out on time on the clock. While much of this is out of your control, you can minimize the waiting to the best of your ability by being prompt for all your appointments. To avoid missed pay, carefully review your employment terms when starting a new position.