While as truck drivers we always hope our wheels will keep on turning it is inevitable that at some point you are going to experience a breakdown. It is the nature of things that even the most well maintained vehicle with the best parts, best fuel and most rigorous maintenance will still at some point come to a grinding halt at the side of the road. Knowing that this is a very real possibility, what should a truck driver do to make sure that he is prepared for this eventuality?
The first thing to do is to call it in. Letting your office or maintenance crew know about the problem as soon as it happens is very important. This should be done even before you start to see if you can resolve the problem yourself. There’s a good reason why you should do this promptly. It gives your office the opportunity to make contact with your customer to give them a heads up that there may be a delay in the delivery of their goods. The other benefit is that your maintenance crew can already start thinking about what the cause of the problem could be. They can start checking their inventory to see if they have the spares that they may possibly need for the repair. If they don’t have them they can now contact their automotive spares supplier to see if the part is available while you check the problem out further.
Sometimes the problem may be a small one so the next step is to see if you are able to resolve the issue yourself. It may be that you can quickly see what the problem is and you may even have the knowledge to fix the issue. But, what if you don’t have the tools required for the job? While it is the driver’s job to drive the truck it is still very important that he has a full set of tools in the cab so that he can attend to any smaller breakdown issues. This preparation and small investment can save hours of down time at the side of the road.
As a trucker you are part of a community of other truck drivers who feel your pain when your rig goes down. There’s no shame in reaching out to drivers who may be nearby to see if anyone could assist. The problem you may be experiencing for the first time has probably happened several times to many other drivers before. It may have been something simple that they needed to do to fix the problem. Calling on that experience can often have you hitting the road again far quicker than if you tried to fix it by figuring it out yourself.
Access to the internet has also given truck drivers a huge advantage. While you’re waiting for your crew back at the depot to work out what the next step is you could even start checking out some of the truck driving forums to see if someone else may have had a similar issue before. They may even point you in the direction of a company where you could order the spare online and have it delivered right to where you are on the side of the road.
As with all things related to trucking it’s important to put safety first. Don’t become so distracted by your tight schedule or the problem at hand that you forget to ensure your own safety. Whether it’s day or night it’s always a good idea to be wearing a reflective jacket. Make sure you put the hazard lights of the truck on and put out your reflective warning triangles and other indicators to warn passing motorists.
It’s never fun being stuck on the side of the road but if you take some positive steps you can make the best of a bad situation. Remember that while you may be alone in the cab, you are actually part of a team. Make sure you communicate effectively with that team and help them to help you. Also, don’t discount the value that your fellow truck drivers can add. We’re all here to help eachother to keep on rolling.