Workers within the freight industry are generally stressed at their job, as logistics processes involve split-second decisions and remarkable planning to make sure freight movement is seamless and cost-efficient. Truck drivers are a vital cog in the supply chain and often suffer from depression and significantly higher levels of stress as they have to be behind the wheel at odd hours, sometimes sleep in uncomfortable tractor cabs, and sometimes be away from home for weeks on end.
That apart, drivers may also be faced with driving-related issues while they are on the road like making tight turns, delivering freight on time, facing inclement weather, being stuck in traffic and even dealing with irate drivers and shippers.
To manage stress, the first step drivers can take even before they get behind the wheel is to understand what makes them tick – what makes them anxious and stressed. Drivers can benefit from reflecting on the issues they face with every haul they do and make a note of everything that causes them stress. After writing the events down, drivers should think about how they felt, what got them worked up and what they did to resolve the situation. This will help drivers gather their thoughts, streamline their reactions to adverse situations, and consider communicating it with the back office or the dispatcher.
Effective communication is crucial in the business, and that drivers and dispatchers need to have an efficient dialogue to address stress-related incidents. It is good practice to communicate guidelines in advance on what is expected from a haul, to make sure the driver and the dispatcher are on the same page.
It is essential for drivers to trust their dispatchers during the entire haul because dispatchers will usually be well-versed with the area and can help plan routes better than a generic navigation system.
Another reason for stress is the frequent change in sleep cycles, as drivers are forced to take shelter for the day once they reach their maximum driving hours, to avoid compliance issues with the mandate. This makes it tough for drivers to maintain a proper sleep schedule, because it may not be easy to find a good parking spot when they are in urgent need for one.
Drivers can prevent this from happening by pre-routing their hauls with their dispatchers, helping them predict their movement and zero in on the location where they would likely take a break from driving.
Fleet management will also have to take the initiative to train their drivers on seasonal changes so that they can adjust driving habits and be aware of the various weather patterns that can impact their haul.