Unsafe, high risk deliveries are an unfortunate risk of a truck driver’s job, although truly, not part of the job. It’s vital to know how to handle a situation, should you find yourself in an unsafe area.
Drivers should ask the receiver, when delivering to a new location about any safety issues the area might present. Ask questions to find out whatever you’re able about the area.
Some delivery areas just aren’t safe. Personal safety could be at risk. Find out BEFORE getting into the area, rather than when arriving. Once you’ve wheeled that truck and trailer into the area, there’s often no turning back. Don’t find out when you land that you’re the only guy in the area without a gun.
Usually it’s best to go in and out of an area in daylight hours. If it’s discovered that an area is very high risk, no matter what time of day or night, call your dispatcher and tell him so. Don’t be concerned to refuse to deliver in an unsafe zone.
“We’ve never had a problem there before”, is the standard line from the dispatcher when trying to convince a driver to go into a high risk zone to deliver or pick up a load.
It’s not surprising to discover a delivery location area is high risk. Today’s dispatcher’s job is to move the freight from point to point. They aren’t particularly worried about driver safety. That is the job of the driver. Don’t rely on dispatch.
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Don’t Rely on Dispatch For All the Answers
1. Dispatchers will sometimes say things which just are not true. They probably won’t tell you if there have been problems in the area previously.
2. It only take one error in judgment to change or cost a driver their life. The dispatcher will go home safely at the day’s end after his shift. The driver also has the right to do the same.
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In an Unsafe Area? What to Do
Should you find yourself in the unfortunate position of already being in an unsafe area:
- Notify your company of your findings (satellite or cell phone).
- Be sure the truck doors are locked.
- Stay on the main streets.
- Keep your cell phone handy, in case you need to call 911, or take a photo.
- Don’t stop. Keep the truck moving if you’re able.
- Remain calm and keep your head on straight.
- If you have a GPS, program it to guide you to the quickest way out of the area and back to the highway. Or, if possible, get out of the area, the same route you came into the area, to avoid getting lost in a bad neighbourhood.
- Take the time to trip plan. It will pay off huge. At the very least, talk with the receiver by phone before going into the area.
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Drivers are Responsible for Their Own Safety
It’s up to the professional driver to make a common sense judgment call. Making high risk deliveries and thus jeopardizing your safety and risking your life for your job as a truck driver, just isn’t worth it. It isn’t part of the job.
The main focus of trucking companies is profit. Sometimes, their goal to have a profitable quarter superceeds everything else. Sadly, they’ll sometimes sacrifice the safety of their drivers, to reach their financial goals.
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While carriers will say safety is always their number one goal, it may not always be true. The driver is the one ultimately responsible for their own personal safety.
At the end of the day, the most important thing to the driver, is to arrive home safely to family and friends. Yes, the company may be sorry if one of their drivers was hurt on the job. But it’s the driver’s life which will change, not theirs.
Ask the families of Jason Rivenburgh and Michael Boeglin, both truckers who lost their lives, by being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
When the chips are down, drivers must do what’s best for their personal safety and well being regardless of what anyone else says or demands. It may cost you your driving job when all is said and done.
But there isn’t a truck driving job that exists, that is worth a life.
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