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Push the Limit

by Vicki Simons

Truckers may feel pressured to push the limit regarding their jobs in numerous ways. Some of these ways include these scenarios:

* Their driver managers may ask them to take "one more load" or a "hot load" that the drivers really don't have the time (Hours of Service) to take;

* If they are being exploited by unscrupulous trucking companies, they may feel that they must do everything their companies tell them to do no matter what, just to have a pittance of pay each week;

* They may have gotten into a routine that requires them to work out of sync with their circadian rhythms and hence feel tired because they can't get good sleep; or

* They may face a situation when it simply isn't safe to drive or when the truck needs repair work, but they are being pressured to drive in violation of the FMCSR.

There are also errors in judgement that can result in accidents, one of the most common being railroad crossing accidents.

Then there are completely avoidable accidents, such as running one's truck under a low clearance bridge just to try to save time or miles. These have been known to occur because truckers use non-commercial motor vehicle versions of GPS units instead of trucker GPS units -- or they simply didn't consult a good truckers atlas to stay on truck routes.

Professional truck drivers need to understand the limits they are pushing themselves to make
or are being asked to push. They need to stand firm in their resolve not to compromise with the law or with safety.

If possible, they need to untangle themselves from obligations they placed themselves under -- such as with a commercial truck lease -- so that they don't feel pressured financially.

Read the information on our whistle blowing page to learn more about how the Surface Transportation Assistance Act (STAA), 49 U.S.C. ยง31105, protects truckers from certain things on the job.

Is it possible to get drowsy on the job even if you're a local truck driver? You bet it is! Mike recently had a situation when he had to park his truck at a truck stop and get a quick 45-minute nap because he had started to get drowsy. He knew not to push the limit regarding his body's need for sleep.

As it turns out, Mike's compensation plan recently changed from being paid by the hour to being paid by other performance measures, so he didn't need to fear being accused of "padding the clock" when taking a nap.

A wise professional truck driver understands the law, truck maintenance needs and his/her own personal limits -- and works to stay within them.

Don't pressure yourself so much that you leave no "wobble room" in your schedule for meeting personal needs (meals, showers, doing laundry, etc.) or meeting job-related needs (doing a proper pre-trip inspection, getting your truck in the shop for needed repairs, etc.).

You'll be glad you did.

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