Driving HGVs is not just a job, it’s a lifestyle. And it’s certainly not for everyone, but if you like to travel, it’s a path you may consider. Getting paid to travel is a benefit, as is seeing the country. Driving will take you to places you’ve never seen and towns you’ve never heard of.
One gnarly old soul we encountered on the road said, “Leaving on a trip on a sunny day is like sitting in the rocking chair on the front porch of the world.” We concur, leaving out on a bright day with clean, dry roads and full fuel tanks is the highlight of many a long haul trip. Some drivers say it’s like the start of a new adventure. Getting home is great too, but home time never seems long enough.
It’s great, most of the time.
Of course, it isn’t always a bed of roses. Sunny days are stellar, but bad weather tends to flatten a driver’s smile as quick as the biting words of a crabby dispatcher.
Occurrences like flat tyres and breakdowns suck as well. Having to chain up in a mountain snow storm can be hairy. But those events don’t happen often. Drivers generally travel many miles between events.
Heavy traffic, construction delays, and crashes that cause highway closures are also bad news, but after a while they just bore you when all you really want is to put the hammer down and get going.
Driving good equipment that’s clean inside and freshly washed outside makes you proud to be on the road. And using an electronic logging device (ELD) should not deter or frighten you. The ELD is your friend. It takes a little training but it’s easy to use.
It will free you from having to doctor a paper log book in order to be harassed into driving beyond your regulated hours of service (HOS). The ELD will prevent you from incurring a violation that can cost you a fine and put you out of service.
Adjusting to long haul life
Sleeping while on the road likely will take some getting accustomed to. The sleeper berth is usually comfortable as long as you have a good mattress and pillow. But it’s not like sleeping in a king bed.
And if you’re pulling a reefer equipped with a diesel refrigeration unit, you may find the noise a challenge to dozing off. But you will find it to be less noticeable once you’re used to it.
Eating well on the road can be a challenge. Don’t allow yourself to surrender to the lure of the fast-food diet. And don’t gorge on unhealthy high cholesterol foods in restaurants. Many truck-stops now offer healthy alternatives that are delicious and don’t turn you into a sickly butterball.
Some drivers pack ready to eat meals prepared at home and stored in an electric cooler, then reheat the meals in a small microwave oven.
Don’t fall into the trap of using energy drinks to pep you up. They interfere with your sleep and when they wear off, your body crashes. They can spoil your home time too. If you find yourself needing a nap, stop and take one.
During off duty time while away, try to get some light exercise. Take a walk around your immediate environment, breathing deeply as you go. Take some inexpensive exercise bands on your travels to help maintain your health. It will help your sleep too.
Avoid taking any exercise weights with you as they can become deadly missiles when you brake hard or in the event of a crash. Keep the focus on a happy, healthy lifestyle. It will help you circumvent losing work time from poor health.
At BrightOrder Inc. we’ve worked with many fleets, big and small over more than two decades. We hope the insights in this post will help you in on-boarding new drivers. Being open and honest is still the best policy. If new drivers know upfront what their life will be like, they are more apt to turn from new hires into long term employees even with small fleets.