Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Complacency


Trucking is a fun occupation despite all the oppressive rules and regulations because the fact still remains that the driver gets to travel the country and see the wonders of North America while getting paid for it. Once the luster of seeing your favorite iconic city skyline wears off and the horses running through the prairies at sunset no longer keep your attention, you might find yourself becoming bored. This is where complacency sets in. And this is where a ritual of safety is so important. Oh sure the word ritual might conjure up images of goat headed men in cloaks circling a pentagram, but in this instance, it is actually essential in maintaining a culture of safety.

Developing safe rituals starts in training. Then after training, you are set loose to develop your own style and practice. This is where you start to hone your skills. During this time you are learning the ropes the hard way using what little training the schools have provided and applying it to the actual scenarios that you are faced with from backing into small docks, to navigating city streets, to deciphering local laws and regulations.

Then comes the trucker lifestyle of chatting up the other truckers and learning the ins and outs of the industry.  Learning about the best truck stops and the best companies to work for.  Learning about the other types of trucks and trailers.   Learning about starting your own business.   After all of this newness has worn off, you will be faced with complacency.  And it is deadly. 

Once you start thinking that you know everything there is to know or that the road ahead is predictable so you don’t have to focus that much or pay attention, you are entering into a situation where you no longer belong behind the wheel of a semi-truck.  It can happen to the best of us out here.  It can happen at any time.  The only thing you have to fall back on is your training and knowing the basics. 

Everyone has been driving down the road and lost focus for a minute or two.  Everyone has mentally drifted off for a few seconds.  But in a semi-truck, a few seconds could mean life and death for not only the driver of the semi-truck, but those around the truck.  Even more so than a small 4 wheeled vehicle, a semi-truck can plow through buildings, cars, and trucks.

Complacency kills.  It’s as simple as that.  As a professional driver of a 40 plus ton vehicle, you simply cannot afford to be complacent.  Many drivers do all sorts of things to placate complacency from listening to audio books to taking numerous breaks from driving to stretch their limbs.  When an operator has successfully completed a year of safe driving around the country, they have come face to face with a situation where complacency has been a factor in their operation. 

Complacency isn’t just not paying attention, but not actively thinking during mundane processes that you have already performed countless times before.  An operator can’t depend on the last glance in the side view rear mirror.  No chances can be taken.  Once your attention is taken off the mirror, someone could walk behind your truck or something could happen that you didn’t notice because you are being complacent causing a potentially life threatening situation.  Many a pedestrian has been killed walking between the back of a trailer and a dock or even another truck. 

Complacency is dangerous in trucking because every day something new is being introduced into trucking, be it a regulation or a product.  If you aren't paying attention, you will miss important changes.  Even the best of us our here on the road find ourselves behind in the latest news and changes.  Reading the latest news and updates will help you fight complacency.  Fighting complacency will keep you and those around you safe and happy.

4 comments:

The Daily Rant said...

Great post! This is so true. Need to stay aware of your surroundings at all times. Safe and happy!

june in florida said...

That's great advice for any drivers of any vehicles.

mom said...

Well said, Son. Keep up the good work you're doing. As always, we are proud of you.
Love,Mom

Ed said...

You are right about that June! (:
Mom, thanks for your support, I wouldn't be here without you. :)