A Little Empowerment for Truckers
Here's an idea for the empowerment of professional truck drivers who want to stay comfortable in trucks without idling alternatives when they're parked in no idling zones. It may not make you feel any more comfortable physically, but it can help you create the "paper trail" you need to prove your point.
This may be especially helpful for drivers who find themselves in a situation in which they cannot leave a particular trucking company (possibly because they received CDL training through the company and must finish a mandatory driving period).
In a word: document!
As a means of your empowerment, we recommend that you start documenting the temperature inside your truck any time you park and would ordinarily idle for climate control -- especially at the beginning and end of your sleep break.
We have designed a "Temperature vs. Rest Documentation" table which you may print and use to record not only the time and temperature in your truck at the start and end of your rest period, but also how rested you felt afterwards.
In this way, you record both objective and subjective measurements.
We bought a Polder digital thermometer somewhat like the one shown here.
With it, we planned to start documenting temperatures in Mike's truck.
As it turned out, Mike got a local truck driving job, which meant that he no longer had to take a sleep break in his truck.
Not only do we recommend that you keep documentation in your truck, but we recommend that you send the numbers to your driver manager and someone you trust in your family -- preferably in written form so that there is a record. Your documentation is your empowerment to keep you from feeling completely helpless.
If you can show over time that being in a truck without idling alternatives is uncomfortable, you may be able to make a case for having an APU or other climate control device installed on your truck. This is a tool for your empowerment.
We do not recommend this, but during the time when Mike drove over the road and had a certified clean idle engine (with no idling alternatives on the truck), we thought about pressing back against anti-idle laws for the sake of our health (not getting overheated) and the safety of the motoring public.
You see, Mike has experienced heat-related stress during his career as a professional truck driver. As we previously shared on our drinking water page,
The weather was incredibly hot the day that Mike had some extra outside work to do in moving trailers. Vicki warned him to take frequent breaks and keep up his water intake. But he kept pushing himself. Later, while we were taking a shower at a truckstop, Mike's body had had enough and he threw up.
In their page on Heat Precautions, the state of Missouri recommends (among other things) that a person "Rest in a cool, preferably air-conditioned, area" if a person exhibits the warning signs of heat exhaustion. They also provide tips on how to prevent heat-related illness.
But what if you can't make your truck air conditioned and there is no A/C-cooled building in which you can rest as a trucker?
We know that the following will not prevent truckers from getting a ticket for violating posted anti-idle laws, but the image has a two-pronged emphasis: one's own health and the safety of the motoring public.
What would happen, we wonder, if drivers started posting this or a similar sign in their driver's side window in an otherwise hot truck. It reads:
"Attention: Law Enforcement
I am idling for my health and the safety of the motoring public."
Again, pressing back on anti-idle laws is not the key to your empowerment (unless you just happen to like flirting with getting a ticket or fine). You would be better served to get in touch with the lawmakers of that jurisdiction or investigate our proposition.
But a couple of questions: If you would be held responsible for the injury or death of a young child or pet for being kept too long in a hot vehicle, why should you have to put up with that same hot environment yourself? Shouldn't there be empowerment for you, too?
Money saving tip: Consider your empowerment options, if there are any, for staying as cool as you can when you have no idling alternatives. Your options may be more numerous if you are able to use your truck's battery power for connecting an inverter.
We also have come up with a proposition between drivers and their companies that could prove to be a win-win situation.
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