Above all else.........stress reduction.
I could write a thesis on how stress impacts drivers. We have all heard or read the studies so I will not cover those in this writing. I will speak to how stress relates to our perception of our life and what we can do to change it.
The effect of stress manifests most commonly in the condition of depression. Drivers work hard, live in a confined space, and are placed under almost impossible dead lines. Depression is much like other emotions such as happiness. It is a perception of our world.
As an example. A man was on his way to work this morning and had a flat tire. He had to walk two miles in a pouring rain to have it repaired. He was most unhappy. On arriving at the repair shop he met a man in a wheel chair and shared his story. The man in the wheel just smiled and said he would have gladly walked a hundred miles in the rain if only he were able. This is what I mean by perception.
So how do we go about changing our perception?
Start by changing your environment. If you are a driver who has a disorderly truck, clean it up and get it organized. Structure and cleanliness contribute to mental well being. A good “spring cleaning” will do wonders. Take your truck through the truck wash. Everyone knows a clean truck drives better. Above all, get rid of junk you never use!
Develop this mindset: Slow is smooth and smooth is fast.
Personally I have but one speed. Wide open. As with most drivers, I started out hauling things that simply required hooking to it and heading to the destination wide open. Things changed for me when I became involved with hazardous materials. I had to retrain myself to slow down and focus. Driving to point “B” became a distant second on my list of priorities. This was very difficult but was absolutely necessary. Once I made this change I noticed a significant reduction in stress.
Slowing down and reducing stress is made easier by developing a routine. Prior to each day of work I have my planning time in which I take no phone calls, read any dispatch messages or allow any distractions. I verify my work using TTP, Google maps for traffic flow, weather apps for the planned route, and my road atlas for any restricted sections. This generally takes thirty minutes or so. At the end of this planning I have zero stress relating to my route and time line. Prior planning is an absolute must.
Following the operations planning, I move to the vehicle and do a very thorough pre trip. I use an air gauge on all tires while they are cold. Failing to pay attention to my tires has cost me heavily in the past. Anything that is deficient relating to the vehicle is repaired immediately. I do not trust rolling the dice because I always come up short. A leaking tire discovered at a truck stop may take an hour or better to repair. The same tire can take four plus hours for repair at roadside and be twice as costly. This holds true for most all repairs.
The things I have listed are nothing new but each of them contribute to stress and your quality of life as you perceive it. Failing to plan is something you have control over. Take the time to use the tools at your disposal such as the Trucker’s Trip Planning applications. Starting out like a lightning bolt to run two hours and have to stop for four because you didn’t plan properly is inefficient and over the top stressful.
Truly........slow is smooth and smooth is fast.