Every driver’s day has its ordinary “driving down the road” challenges and having a good attitude can you stay positive and not overreact to difficult situations. The right attitude will make a more professional, safety conscious driver. It can also help you earn more money and get more enjoyment from driving. However, the challenges the industry faces has made a positive attitude difficult to maintain.
Here are a few of the challenges that have brought on some sleepless nights for many owner-operators and company drivers:
- The changes in CSA regulations
- Hours of service regulations
- Clean air regulations
- Increased cost of equipment
- Increasing diesel fuel prices
- Difficulties getting loans for new equipment purchases
- Less parking spaces for trucks
- Rates not keeping up with costs
- Detention pay (the lack of and the need for)
So how do you keep up a positive attitude when you are faced with these challenges? Maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel, knowing carriers have been successful at improving truck efficiency and reducing costs by optimizing fuel, improving truck and trailer aerodynamics, improving power train efficiency, and inventing new tools or ways to get the job done. If carriers can come out ahead, owner-operators and company drivers can too.
Here are ways to overcome some of these challenges and keep up your Christmas cheer:
- Creative Brainstorm. Around the holidays, since you might have some additional downtime, start brainstorming and thinking creatively on ways to solve your business challenges. Catch up on the latest Team Run Smart articles to get industry news and business tips, or read posts in the Team Run Smart Forums to see how other drivers are solving their issues. Call some of your friends in the industry who are successful and ask them for advice. A fun idea for the holidays that keeps me in a positive attitude, is to watch my favorite Christmas shows. Seriously, it has helped me to relax and get the creative juices flowing. Start thinking outside the box and find new ways get over those bumps in the road to start fresh for the New Year.
- Choose your loads wisely. If the hours of driving each day get reduced, find a way to deliver the product on time. After all, if Santa Clause can make all his delivers to every house on the globe, surely we can find a way to make one delivery on time. The change might be to quit hauling loads for folks that make us sit at a loading dock for an unreasonable amount of time without any detention pay. Of course, this time of year, we can be held up by bad weather and road closers. You may consider a computer program or GPS system that provides weather updates and road conditions. Make sure you get the phone number for road conditions of each state and call ahead to change your route if necessary prior to being detained.
- Become a business minded entrepreneur. Changes in CSA will make us all better business minded entrepreneurs. CSA regulations are changing the way owners evaluate and train their drivers. Using electronic logs to ensure drivers comply with hours-of-service laws and using smart phones and iPads to take care of daily paperwork are a just a few of these recent changes.
- Remember regulations may save you money in the long run. Regulations like the new CARB Greenhouse Gas Regulation will actually save you money because it forces drivers to take advantage of some of the fuel-efficient technologies available. This is better for you and the environment.
- Consider switching to natural gas from diesel. Even though the cost of purchasing a new truck (which would most likely be necessary) is higher, the payback is fast because natural gas is less expensive than fuel. There also exists the side benefit of burning a cleaner fuel with less bad emissions, making the clean air folks happy. The engine manufactures are already developing the powerhouses for class 8 trucks. Several companies are developing a network of refueling facilities, enabling cross-country trips.
- Embrace technology. The new technological advances going into the cab of a truck at a record-setting pace should be looked at as assets to enable us to do a better and safer job. This integration of networked electronics with trucks means, in theory, telematics could do everything from automatically slowing a truck down when it approaches a blind curve, to diagnosing vehicle issues remotely for preventative maintenance. With telematics, your truck will have the ability to report your driving style to your boss or insurance company. It’ll keep track of any risky maneuvers you perform and tell the police if it thinks you’re to blame for an accident. If you are a safe driver, you have nothing to worry about and it should help decrease the number of truck accidents on the road, which will help boost the industry image. Telematics will also cut down on highway traffic and decrease the amount of fuel burned by idling vehicles, which will again make the clean air folks happy. Some even envision it will decrease potential litigation costs by keeping having the facts on the truck’s every move.
Plan ahead, keep positive, and make this a holiday season full of love, happiness, and optimism. Let’s put the fun back into trucking for 2013. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.