In any career, things don’t always go as planned. Learning how to adapt to unexpected circumstances is a worthwhile skill in life as a whole, and in particular in the trucking industry. Handling challenges efficiently and safely will earn you a strong positive reputation and can help increase your earning potential. It also helps reduce your stress since you will know you can manage difficult situations.
Here are some tips for handling the unexpected in trucking:
1. Plan Ahead
Since unexpected events aren’t possible to plan for, it may seem counterintuitive that planning would help you manage them. However, your plan shouldn’t be a rigid set of actions you must take. Instead, it should help guide your decisions and actions, which will need to change depending on the circumstances.
As an example, imagine that you stop for the night at a specific truck stop, but when you arrive, there are no parking spots. If you made a strong trip plan, you will know other stops nearby, and you will have planned your driving so you still have time to drive to a new stop within hours of service regulations. If you didn’t trip plan, or only had one possible stop, the situation could be more difficult to manage.
2. Prioritize Your Safety
In many cases, the actual unexpected event is less of a problem than your potential reaction to the stress that event causes. Unexpected traffic that causes you to get fewer miles in a day isn’t exactly ideal, but getting in an accident because you got frustrated and made a careless mistake is much worse.
If (or rather, when) something you don’t expect happens on the road, take a few deep breaths and stay calm. Remember that your first priority should always be your safety. Even if things aren’t going according to plan, you can always make up for it later on. You may not get this opportunity if you are unsafe.
3. Communicate Clearly
Although truckers spend much of their time in their vehicles by themselves, communicating effectively with others is actually a huge part of the job. When something unexpected happens, clear communication makes it much easier to get back on track.
Your dispatcher is often your first line of communication on the road. Keeping them informed makes both of your jobs easier. This is especially important if you may be late to a delivery or pick-up, as your dispatcher will need to inform the customer and make other arrangements.
Tips For Clear Communication In Unexpected Circumstances:
- Tell your dispatcher (or another appropriate contact) right away if you know there’s a potential delay or issue. Ideally, keep your contact updated even before an issue becomes serious, e.g. if there’s a forecast for bad weather, let them know that you may need to stop driving if it becomes unsafe.
- Be polite and try to stay positive. This doesn’t mean you have to be a robot, but taking your frustration out on others isn’t likely to help your situation.
- Offer solutions if you can.
A Supportive Trucking Company
In unexpected situations, it helps to have the support of your employer. At DSW, our management is made up of former truckers. We understand what life on the road is like, and we work as hard for our drivers as they work for us.