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Nov 6, 2017
It was his third trip this week and he was starting to feel the tiredness setting in. He was used to a couple of trips a week, but this was only Wednesday and he was on the third short trip. Having steady work was great and the paycheque would certainly benefit from the healthy miles but his body was feeling the pace. So what was new about this week that hadn’t happened in the past? Ted had been running hard and was used to the physical nature of the loads he hauled. Tarping, chains, and other job requirements were a way of life for Ted. What he was having trouble with was the emotional side. Personal issues like family and finances were causing Ted some troubled nights and his sleep wasn’t as solid as it should have been. It is one thing to lie down for six hours but how many of those are solid sleep hours. As a result Ted was not getting quality sleep and was feeling exhausted.
While driving to the border from his last switch he was starting to fall asleep. He had turned the trip and just had to get to other side of the border before shutting down for the night. He had caught himself drowsing off a couple times on his own but on this particular night he had been caught by someone else, the Police. After the Police officer reviewed his logbook with a fine tooth comb he was released and told to get more rest if he was feeling sleepy. On this trip he managed to get other side of the border and shut down.
This happens to many drivers and it comes down to your internal clock and sleep management. As professional drivers the physical part of the job usually is something we are comfortable with and can do without too much thought. We do it everyday and for the most part do it well. This is a comfort level in our positions so we think we can work for long hours without rest. Where we get caught is in the mental part of our brains that add another level above that pressure. Think about the last time that you were driving down the road with a load and started to think about family back home, the work you didn’t get done on the weekend, the bills that need to be paid, and other important items in your life. Your work level goes onto autopilot and you begin to focus on the extra pressure. You have now added extra pressure increasing your level of exhaustion. Most of us don’t acknowledge that this has happened until we begin to feel tired and don’t understand why. So when thinking about your level of exposure of fatigue think about your job as one level and each additional level weighs more on an individual creating a higher exhaustion level. If possible deal with issues so you’re not dragging them around with you on the road. Your lively hood depends on it.
About the Author
Bruce Outridge is a business and leadership consultant for the transportation industry with over 30 years of experience from driver to management and more. He is the host of The Lead Pedal Podcast www.theleadpedalppodcast.com , author of books for the industry and owner of Trucking Cartoons and Safety Content new online store at www.truckingcartoonsandsafetycontent.com