Disaster Preparedness – COVID-19 and Beyond

2020 took us all by surprise.  Our world was flipped upside down before we even knew what was happening.  In many ways there was no way for us to prepare for the pandemic, but for those companies that had a Disaster Plan in place, coping with the challenges of the pandemic has been a little more bearable.  What exactly is a Disaster Plan?  How can it help in moments of crisis?  And how can companies create a Disaster Plan?

What is a Disaster Plan?

A disaster is defined as a sudden event that causes great damage.  When something unexpected occurs, the goal of every business owner is to keep their operation moving forward in as normal a fashion as possible.  A Disaster Plan allows the company to do just that while also ensuring the safety and protection, (both physical and economical), of employees.

How does a Disaster Plan help in moments of crisis?

In her article entitled How fleets can succeed during tough times, Jane Clark of Fleet Owner Magazine highlighted one key way a Disaster Plan benefits a company.  An effective Disaster Plan ensures continued communication with customers, vendors and employees.  ‘Being able to connect with these individuals as quickly as possible following a disaster and staying connected for the duration of the event instills confidence that your business is stable and reliable’, says Ms. Clark.

It has been said that by failing to prepare, one is preparing to fail.  Even when a disaster strikes there will still be bills to pay, customers expecting your services and employees who need to feed their families.  Having a Disaster Plan will allow you to continue caring for the needs of your business, as well as your employees.

How to create a Disaster Plan

Expect the unexpected.  Start by thinking about the area where you operate your business as well as the areas your employees travel to on business.  What potential natural or man-made disasters might occur in these areas?  Identifying these potential threats and the type of damage or interruption they could cause to your business operation is a vital first step.  Other key steps include:

  • Review your insurance policies and discuss any concerns with your agent to be sure you’ll be adequately insured.
  • Delegate the implementation of the plan to a reliable employee or manager.
  • Communicate with your customers and vendors regarding their emergency plans.
  • Communicate the plan to your employees, customers and vendors.  Make adjustments as needed.

In the blog post entitled Disaster Planning in the Trucking Industry, Neil Sebring of Godfrey Trucking explains other important factors and details fleet owners should consider when designing a plan.  A thoughtfully designed Disaster Plan is vital to the success and survival of a company during a catastrophic event.  As the country starts to make an upward swing economically, now is an excellent opportunity to begin designing a Disaster Plan if your company did not previously have one, or to identify weaknesses in your company’s plan and how to improve.  We can never be certain when a disaster will strike, but we can be certain that they do and will when we are least expecting it.  As Ms. Clark bluntly stated at the end of her article, ‘Plan to be prepared.’






Coping With Stress – Six Strategies

Stress is a part of every person’s job.  For truck drivers, there are unique circumstances that contribute to their stress, such as traffic and long hours on the road away from their home and family.  What can drivers do to cope with and reduce the stress they experience?  AnnaBeth Rouse from American Trucker highlighted six strategies for reducing stress on the road.


Move and Stretch as Often as Possible

Exercise does wonders for the mind and body.  AnnaBeth recommends stopping every couple of hours to stretch and get fresh air.  If stopping is not an option, she suggests taking advantage of stop lights to quickly re-position, stretch your arms and legs and take some deep breaths.

Listen to a Podcast or Music

Podcasts are a great way to engage your mind while simultaneously keeping stress at bay.  And listening to music is proven to help you relax and focus.

Get Adequate Rest

Who of us hasn’t felt extremely stressed when we’re running a little to no sleep?  Getting enough sleep is vital to your health and will ultimately keep you and others safe while you’re on the road.

Plan Your Route

Missing a turn and getting lost is a huge stress factor, especially if it means you have to turn that big truck around!  If you take a few minutes to look over your route on a map or GPS before your trip you will be better prepared if technology fails or something unexpected happens.  You can also use this tactic to avoid road construction or traffic.

Practice Breathing Exercises

When stress strikes one thing you always have control over is your response.  AnnaBeth recommends taking in a deep breath through your nose, holding it for seven or eight seconds, then exhaling slowly.

Eat as Healthy as You Can

This may sound challenging for someone who is on the road constantly.  While options are limited, there are still options for getting a quick, nutritious meal on the road.  Eating a healthy meal will help to ease stress levels and will benefit you ‘down the road.’


Driving Force: Customers

Your customers are what keep your business in motion.  What does it mean to take a customer centric approach to your business and how can you do so?

The term ‘customer centric’ refers to an approach of doing business that focuses on creating a positive experience for your customers from beginning to end.  This results in repeat business, customer loyalty, and the growth of your business.  Being customer centric means the customer is in the driver seat when it comes to the goals you set for your company.

Steven MacDonald shared a post on SuperOffice about Customer Centricity and in it he provides four practical steps you can take to improve in this area.

Be passionate.  Your customers come first and if you’re passionate about this truth, it will shine through in your customer relationships.

Focus on what your customers really want.  This is where your customers need to be in the driver’s seat.  Their wants and needs need to be the driving force behind the goals you set for your company.

Focus on building relationships.  Do you know how most small towns have that one coffee shop or diner where all the patrons are a “Regular with a Usual”?  These places are the epitome of customer centricity when it comes to building relationships with their customers.  This should be your goal.

Carefully formulated marketing strategies.  Of course there is a science to everything, so analyze the data and come up with a detailed and structured plan to reach your target customer group.


Taking these steps to build a customer centric culture within your company will drive your business forward in all sorts of wonderful ways!




Setting Them Up for Success

As Fleet Owners, you know that your success largely depends upon your team of hardworking employees.  When it comes to new hires of both entry level applicants and experienced drivers, how is your company setting them up for success?

Regarding entry level new hires, many companies do an excellent job of initiating extensive training programs to help inexperienced drivers to adapt to the lifestyle and strenuous demands of the job.  How would you rate your company in this area?  Are you giving the inexperienced drivers in your company the tools they need to succeed?

When it comes to more experienced drivers, we often celebrate those who have been with the company for 10 years or more.  But beyond that first year of training, what kind of resources or additional training are these drivers receiving?  Are you helping them to improve their skills and providing opportunities for growth within your company?

Evaluating these aspects of your training procedures and checking for any gaps in these procedures can help you to ensure that your employees are well equipped with the knowledge and skills to contribute to the overall success of your company.  They will also feel appreciated and motivated to stay with your company for extended periods of time.

Ergonomics – The Low-Down

Driving a truck is hard on the body.  Lack of attention to proper ergonomics causes many preventable injuries and accidents.  What exactly are ergonomics?  Ergonomics are the study of a persons efficiency in their working environment.  How does that apply to the trucking industry?  Truck driving is strenuous work, and something as simple as sitting too close to the steering wheel for long periods of time can have physical repercussions.

Many studies are being conducted with the goal of designing more accommodating, safer truck cabs to improve the overall comfort and safety for truck drivers and reduce accidents and injuries.  While adjustments are being made to the design of these trucks, Fleet owners can take measures to ensure the comfort of their drivers.  One way of doing this is by selecting a vehicle that matches the requirements for a drivers size and any physical limitations they may have.  Proper training is also important when it comes to matters such as safely entering and exiting the vehicle, as well as bending and lifting.  It is the responsibility and should be the priority of all employers to provide a hazard free workplace for their employees.


Source: Fleet Owner Magazine, Sept. 2019.  Truck Ergonomics, Awareness and Solutions by Carol Birkland

STOP! – Brake Safety Week, September 15-21

Brake check!  We are right in the middle of Brake Safety week, this week of September 15th through the 21st.  Brake Safety week is part of the Operation Air-brake Program, which is sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA).  The August edition of Fleet Owner Magazine highlighted that the goal of Brake Safety week is to reduce the number of crashes or severity of crashes caused by faulty brake systems.

What can truck drivers expect during this week?  Enforcement officials will be conducting roadside safety inspections throughout North America.  Vehicles with critical violations will be restricted from traveling until the violations are corrected.  Vehicles without any violations will be eligible to receive a CVSA decal indicating that the vehicle passed inspection.  Properly functioning brakes are important for the safety of the truck driver, other drivers on the road as well as the maintenance and well-being of the vehicle.  Even if you aren’t stopped along your route this week, it would be beneficial for Fleet Owners to conduct their own regular brake inspections on their vehicles.

Have a great week and be safe!


Source: August 2019 edition of Fleet Owner Magazine

National Truck Driver Appreciation Week – September 8th-14th 2019

Many consider the trucking industry to be the most important in the country.  Truck drivers keep America in motion; they deserve to be recognized for their hard work!  Every year the American Trucking Association designates an entire week to do just that.  This year, National Truck Driver Appreciation week will be observed during the week of September 8th-14th.  It will be a great opportunity for Fleet Owners to show personalized appreciation for their drivers and other hard-working employees, but there are also big things happening around the country.

The ATA has decided to honor truck drivers at Nationals Park in Washington DC on September 13th during the game between the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves.  Professional truck drivers will sing the National Anthem, receive mid-game recognition from the fans and participate in on-field activities.

Don’t let the week pass by without saying ‘thank you’ to the truck drivers you know!


August Edition of Fleet Owner MagazineATA sets driver appreciation week

Girl Power – Changing the Face of the Trucking Industry

For decades, the trucking industry has been a man’s world.  That is starting to change thanks to some inspiring women who are making a difference.  The July 2019 edition of Fleet Owner magazine featured the article ‘Women in Trucking’.  In the article it mentions that while women make up 50% of the working population, the transportation industry attracts less than 15% of the female workforce.  So, what are they doing to bring more female force onto their fleets?

Social media is one way to help women who are interested in joining the ranks to connect with other women drivers and see that the industry is an exciting and challenging field to be in.  Another way to attract female employees is to help them be aware of the wide array of options available to them within the industry, whether it be driving, mechanics, safety positions or office work.  Better training programs and upgrades to equipment are other areas where Fleet Owners are making changes to attract female workers.

Why should fleet owners be interested in hiring more women within their businesses?  Statistics show that women drivers are safer drivers; they log more miles, stay with their carriers longer, are better at paperwork and build stronger relationships.  It is true that women form a powerful, inspiring community within any field.  They unite team members, create rapport with customers and are truly the heart of anything they set their minds to.

July 2019 edition, Fleet Owner Magazine – Women in Trucking

Safety First: Eyes Open and On the Road

Being a truck driver is a difficult and grueling job, there is no doubt about it.  Two of the biggest challenges truck drivers are facing these days are lack of quality sleep and distracted driving.  What can drivers do to minimize these challenges, stay safe and keep their eyes open and on the road?


The September 2018 edition of Fleet Owner magazine contained an article outlining a study that had been done by Dupré Logistics of Lafayette, LA.  The study discussed how drivers are most vulnerable to fatigue when they alter their normal shifts, impacting their sleeping and eating patterns.  Of course, from time to time a change in shift will be necessary and is not completely inevitable.  However, sticking to a consistent routine of sleeping and eating patterns as much as possible can greatly reduce the affects of fatigue.

Quality sleep is key, not just getting the mandated hours of sleep.  Driver’s need to recognize that ‘being tired’ isn’t just ‘part of the job.’  Changing that mindset and making sleep a priority is vital.  Managers and Fleet Owners should also work with drivers to recognize and reduce the risks.


Cell phone usage and device addiction is an epidemic in today’s society.  These kinds of distractions, especially while driving, have proven to be extremely dangerous, even life-threatening.  It is important to note that our lovely state of Minnesota will be enforcing the Hand’s Free Law, starting August 1st, 2019.  That means NO cell phones in your hand while you’re driving.  A description of the law and it’s restrictions can be found on the Minnesota Department of Public Safety website.  Some practical suggestions it offers include:

  • Keeping your phone out of reach, in the glove compartment, back seat or trunk.
  • Use voice commands or hands-free devices such as blue-tooth.
  • Set your phone to Do-Not-Disturb.

Many trucking companies are also utilizing the SafeRide app.  It automatically blocks cell phone usage when paired with a vehicle.

Remember, Hand’s Free doesn’t mean Distraction Free; each driver is responsible for maintaining a distraction free driving environment.  Fleet Owners need to also make this a topic of consistent discussion with their drivers with the intent of creating a Safety Culture within the company.


Resources: September 2018 edition, Fleet Owner magazine, Technology on Your Side by Neil Abt; Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Hand’s Free Law 2019


Trending – Spring 2019

What’s Trending in the Trucking Industry?

  • Walmart is implementing new recruiting and hiring strategies, increasing it’s number of new hires to 1,400 which is up from 922 the previous year. One of it’s strategies is to utilize social media to widen its demographic of applicants.
  • In the April 2019 edition of Fleet Owner Magazine, Neil Abt wrote about the DRIVE-Safe Act which will allow certified CDL drivers under the age of 21 to participate in apprenticeship programs, giving them the experience and training necessary to become competent, safe drivers.
  • The long term benefits of Electric Trucks are starting to be recognized by the Trucking Industry. Not only will they be better for the environment, but they will also decrease costs for Fleet Owners and customers.
  • The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 111 set new rear vision system requirements for vehicles with 10,000-lb or lower gross vehicle weight rating. This revised standard will impact fleets monitoring compliance for upfitted vehicles, manufacturers understanding design implications, and equipment distributors and upfitters.


Trending topics featured in the February, March and April 2019 editions of Fleet Owner Magazine