The following winter preparedness tips for professional drivers emphasize ways to avoid the risk of potential delays, injuries, and crashes. Typical areas of focus include making sure your truck is mechanically sound, planning out your route, paying attention to weather updates, getting plenty of rest, and packing extra supplies in the event that you truck is stranded in bad weather. All of these things are extremely important, and can be key elements to completing a trip safely.
COVID-19 safety tips
Unfortunately, this year, different hazards require attention due to the spread of COVID-19. During this winter season, we are nearing the 12-month mark of dealing with this virus in the U.S. The good news of potential vaccines is being met with spikes in reported cases in many different areas of the country. As with any hazard we face in this industry, it is not a time for panic, but preparedness. Professional drivers do not have the luxury of working from home, so below are a few tips from the CDC to help them avoid illness while they are on the road:
- Stay home if you are sick. It is important to note, whether at home or on the road, that professional drivers have a regulatory obligation to avoid driving if they are ill or fatigued. If you are sick, and it impedes your ability to operate your truck safely, you should notify your supervisor and make the appropriate arrangements. Part 392.3 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations states the following:
“No driver shall operate a commercial motor vehicle, and a motor carrier shall not require or permit a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle, while the driver's ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness, or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle. However, in a case of grave emergency where the hazard to occupants of the commercial motor vehicle or other users of the highway would be increased by compliance with this section, the driver may continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle to the nearest place at which that hazard is removed.”
- Make a plan with your employer and your family before you leave as to what to do if you become sick while you’re on the road. Include where to stop, where and how to seek medical advice and treatment, and plans for freight delivery.
- Limit close contact with others by maintaining a distance of at least six feet when possible.
- Wear a mask when you can’t social distance. It will also be important to know what local and state requirements are where you are traveling, as well as guidelines at customer locations. Guidelines and mandates regarding mask usage can vary greatly from state to state and city to city, and have the potential to change, so it will be important to stay up to date.
- Wash your hands frequently, and use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available. Avoid touching surfaces often touched by others when outside of the cab. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after fueling, loading and unloading, or any visit to a rest stop. Avoid shaking hands, and avoid touching your face.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces in your truck on a routine basis. This would include steering wheels, door handles, turn signals, seat belt buckles, etc.
- Do not share personal protective equipment (vests, safety glasses, hard hats, etc.), tools, phones, radios, or other personal items.
For a full listing of tips from the CDC for professional truck drivers and their employers, you can visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/organizations/long-haul-trucking.html.
Whether it is avoiding a crash, an injury, or an illness, do your best to set drivers up for success and keep them safe from all types of hazards. They are the heartbeat of our industry, and it is of utmost importance that they are provided the support they need to keep our great country moving.
Contact your local Marsh & McLennan Agency representative for assistance.
 CDC, What Long Haul Truck Drivers Need to Know about COVID-19, November 2020