Just Say No
by Sandy Long
|OTR Truck Driver|
Truck drivers are some of the most dedicated workers in the world, they know the importance of the job they do. They take pride in a job well done and making that delivery on time. Companies have figured this out about drivers and use all sorts of psychological tricks to take advantage of the driver. Drivers fall for it all of the time too, over and over. I am guilty of falling for it also.
How many times have you overheard a tired driver with blood shot eyes say, "Man, I am so tired, but dispatch said the load is hot, so I gotta go." Doesn't matter if there is two foot of snow on the ground or ice an inch thick, there is always some driver that 'just has to get going.'
Several years ago, I ran across Utah with a driver who had his wife and little girl on his truck with him. You know how it is, when you see a ittle kid in the jump seat, you just have to say, "Hey, that sure is a cute co-driver ya got there." When i asked if the ittle girl was enjoying her vacation on the truck with dad, he told me that she was never off the truck, as a matter of fact had been born in the truck five years prior in the sleeper, backed into a receiver's dock and how he had gone and loaded before taking mother and baby to the hospital to be checked out! When I voiced my surprise at this, he simply said, "Dispatch said the load HAD to get picked up right away."
When working for a small company, the A/C went out in the truck one very hot and muggy July in Ohio. I called the boss and told him of the problem, he stated that he just couldn't afford to have it fixed on the road, so would I bring it on into the yard in Missouri. 800 miles. Of course, being the good company driver I am, and wanting to help the boss save money, I agreed. Made it in, but I was one sick driver believe me. I made the boss get me a motel at a Ramada Inn no less so I could rehydrate and cool down while the repairs were made.
There are regulations to protect a driver against a company pushing them beyond safe limits:
392.6 Schedules to conform with speed limits.
No motor carrier shall schedule a run nor permit nor require the operation of any commercial motor vehicle between points in such period of time as would necessitate the commercial motor vehicle being operated at speeds greater than those prescribed by the jurisdictions in or through which the commercial motor vehicle is being operated.
[33 FR 19732, Dec. 25, 1968, as amended at 60 FR 38746, July 28, 1995].
392.3 Ill or fatigued operator.
No driver shall operate a motor vehicle, and a commercial 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.
[35 FR 7800, May 21, 1970, as amended at 60FR 38746, July 28, 1995].
392.14 Hazardous conditions; extreme caution.
Extreme caution in the operation of a commercial motor vehicle shall be exercised when hazardous conditions, such as those caused by snow, ice, sleet, fog, mist, rain, dust, or smoke, adversely affect visibility or traction. Speed shall be reduced when such conditions exist. If conditions become sufficiently dangerous, the operation of the commercial motor vehicle shall be discontinued and shall not be resumed until the commercial motor vehicle can be safely operated. Whenever compliance with the foregoing provisions of this rule increases hazard to passengers, the commercial motor vehicle may be operated to the nearest point at which the safety of passengers is assured.
[33 FR 19732, Dec. 25, 1968, as amended at 60 FR 38747, July 28, 1995].
We all know the HOS regulations and those too can be used to protect one's self from being pushed too far.
No load is worth your life or jeopardizing the equipment. No one in your company is going to give you a medal for going that extra mile to make impossible deliveries or get through that bad weather. If you wreck and are over hours, or have gone over too bad of roads, you will most likely get fired anyway, no matter that dispatch told you how "hot the load was" or "you have the hours to make it" even though you have been up for hours waiting to load. Part of being a professional driver is knowing when to say 'NO' and protecting yourself, the truck and the load.