Over our last few blog posts we've talked a lot about the safety of our cargo out on the road, but what about the most important thing in the truck: you!
The safety and security of our professional drivers is always on our minds at CFI, but we especially want to be mindful of safety considering crime like cargo theft continues to rise as well as winter bringing fewer hours of daylight, more holiday travelers on the road and increased unpredictability of weather conditions. As always, remember that you are the captain of your ship and only you can truly determine when a situation is unsafe!
We turned to Jeff Messer, our Safety and Security Analyst, to gather a few important areas that you can be aware of when traveling over the road during the holiday season. Do you have a safety precaution you rely on? Make sure to share it with your fellow professional drivers here!
Safety and Security On The Road Starts In Your Truck
- The Basics: Always keep your doors locked. Many drivers will also run the seat belts through the door handles to hold doors closed while sleeping, especially in dangerous areas. Never walk around behind your truck at night even to do a pre-trip pull through the fuel islands or well-lit area and do a walk around. If you are a female driver, avoid having things hanging in your truck windows that can identify you as female which may make you more of a target for predators.
- At Night: Avoid sleeping with your windows or vents open. If you must park and sleep in a dangerous area, sleep with your head to the passenger side of the sleeper. Do not advertise where you are parked for the night. Do not talk on your CB at night while parked in a truck stop. Even with a small radio, someone driving around the truck stop can pin point you within a truck or two.
- If You Need Assistance: Never allow anyone into your truck unless it is a mechanic or law enforcement officer. It is better to call information and get the local police number in a town than to get on the CB and ask for assistance. If you are broken down on the side of the road, you must put out your triangles, and then stay in your truck and keep the doors locked until help arrives.
Truck Stop Safety Tips
- The Basics: Try to avoid parking on the back row. Walk around the ends of the parked truck rows, not between the trucks. If your clothing is dark, get some of that reflective tape and put it on when walking at night, or wear a reflective vest. Always carry identification when out of the truck especially at a truck stop. When you run across a truck stop that seems particularly safe make sure to write it down for future travel to the area!
- At Night: Avoid as much as possible leaving your truck after dark. Never sleep where you get your money from either cash advance or ATM. If you have a pet, walk them before dark or in well-lit areas.
- Stranger Danger and Suspicious Activity: Naturally it is ok to be pleasant with those you meet while driving, avoid engaging in conversation standing in the parking lot after dark. If someone you don't know offers to walk you inside or back to your truck, do not allow them alongside of your truck where people cannot see. Never get into another driver’s truck. If anyone approaches your truck, do not roll down your window, just wave them away. Always watch for suspicious activity around your truck when you are walking up to it. If you see anything suspicious return inside and alert the truck stop personnel. If you see suspicious activity while in your truck, stay in your truck and either call the truck stop or dial 911.
Going The Extra Mile to Stay Safe and Secure
Hopefully you never encounter a threat while driving, but on the chance that you do it is best to be prepared. Here are a few additional precautions you can take for added safety.
- If someone breaks into your truck while you are sleeping, try to get to the air horn lanyard and blow the horn. You can run a fishing line from the lanyard to the sleeper attaching it with fishing swivels and making a loop on the sleeper end.
- While many things like mace and pepper spray are illegal in some states, other things do as well as they do and are legal. Lacquer hair spray, perfume, Windex, deodorant, spray air freshener, and a fire extinguisher are all legal and can be used to spray in an attacker’s face to give you enough time to run. One of those canned fog horns sold in sporting sections of stores works well as an emergency alarm to attract help.
- Make a list of your common stopping places and give it to your family. Use I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency) in your cell phone to designate your emergency contacts.
Have you ever encountered an unsafe situation while over the road? What tips would you share with other drivers looking to prepare themselves? Post them here and help all professional drivers enjoy a truly safe holiday season on the road!