Women in Trucking - A Woman Driver's Guide
Courtesy on the Road
The road. Whether we are talking about the road of life or the road on which we are driving, the same advice applies: Be polite, be courteous, smile, treat people nicely, acknowledge people when they let you out, or let you over, and otherwise reinforce good behavior. We all want folks who help us to help out the next truck driver too. Even if you sort of backed them up unwillingly, thank them. It's the simplest things that matter.
I talked to the Region 3 Commander of the Motor Carrier Compliance and she said they still appreciate drivers who turn off their lights when they approach the scale house. She also agreed with what I have already learned (and what some have learned the hard way). So here are some things that will help make the hours you're logging more pleasant for you and those you meet on the road.
- If you miss the entrance to the scales (1) don't back up; (2) do stop on the shoulder beside or opposite the scale house and walk to the building. If you go past the exit to the scales you are subject to a very expensive ticket, and the very bored officers inside love to get out on the road too!
- Take all your paperwork with you. Make sure you have your truck registration, BOL, drivers license, DOT card, logbook, etc. Take the same with you if you are told to park when weighed. Don't carry outdated papers in the truck-like last year's registration-get your company to remove them and replace them. Always make sure the permit book is up to date.
- I can't say this enough, be neat with your logs, your truck, and your person, it is the first impression you make. (And if you ever need the benefit of the doubt, that would be the way to gain it or not.)
- Don't stop on the highway to get in line at the scale house, go on by. If your company has the equipment, and the state does too, the green light will let you bypass anyway. If not, approach station at the speed limit, because speeding will trigger the light to the back in and of itself. Follow the posted arrows. If everything is OK, you get to stay in front without stopping. If you do anything wrong, (like not having your seat belt on), believe me they will be watching with binoculars.
- Don't hem in another truck that might be running out of room or space to be safe. Whenever you approach an intersection, look for another truck approaching, one that might need room to get out or in, or stop in time. Don't park without making sure other trucks have room to get past safely-speaking of which, many companies will charge you with an accident or incident if you park on the end of the row and get run over! Don't park in the area other trucks will need to pull into in order to set up for the docks, or park for fuel or scales.
- Don't drive with your fog lights on when there is no fog. Don't blind people with your bright lights, but use them when you won't do that.
- Don't tailgate. Besides being dangerous, it is scary and discourteous. And just because you know the driver in front of you does not mean it is OK do so!
- Whenever you are coming up on an area where the road narrows to fewer lanes, let as many faster vehicles around you go by as safely possible. No one wants to follow the big slow trucks they can't see around and sadly, will often take dangerous chances to get around-sometimes with tragic results.
- If you are approaching a light or a stop sign, and someone is trying to get out in traffic, let them out! It doesn't really cost you any time and it makes truckers look good. And that driver is much more likely to do the same for another trucker out there somewhere down the road.
- If you slip seat, leave the truck clean and fueled and post tripped. Even if you don't, you should always leave your equipment in good condition for various reasons. Safety is one. Clean windows and lights keep drivers safer. Keeping the cab neat and cleaning objects off the floor that could end up under your feet or distracting you from driving will keep an accident or injury from happening. Don't pile things, cute or not, in the windows or stuck to the windows. They interfere with your view of the road.
- Keep it courteous on the CB to anyone who could be listening. It's how you act when no one is looking that is the measure of a person. If we do all this, it's hard to have an accident or tick anyone off.
- If you do get pulled over by an officer, stay in your truck. Open or unlock the passenger door, clear off the seat or whatever it takes to let them in, and get your papers in order. Be polite, many times their plan is to give you a warning and a driver's lousy attitude escalates it right into a ticket! They have a job to do too, and believe me there are trucks and drivers out there that no one wants to share the highways with.
- If you are having a hard time finding a place to sleep, ask at the scales, they really will help anyone with a good attitude. And if no rest area is close they are a quick pit stop with a vending machine and a rest room when open.
Remember, what goes around comes around, and nowhere faster than out there on the road. Your attitude can take you farther than your truck ever will, or it can undo many of the miles and dollars you have earned. The choice is always yours to make, lets make good ones.