Life on the road can have its fair share of ups and downs. What may seem like a job for rugged individualists actually relies on many networks of support. Whether through the CB radio conversations and lingo, or the good will of other truckers, it’s important to stick together. Since truck stops can be like the proverbial oasis in a desert journey ( or sometimes literally), workers and owners of these businesses can also do their part to help truckers in need. Fortunately, a new online course is available to help with just that!
Launched as the third part of a series of online resources, the NATSO Foundation’s most recent course is entitled “How Truck Stops Help Drivers in Distress.” It aims to promote highway safety by teaching truck stop owners, operators and their employees how to recognize when a driver is experiencing physical, emotional, or financial distress at their truck stop or plaza.
Issues of Distracted Driving
NATSO Foundation Chairman, Jenny Love Meyer said, “Anything that distracts a driver from a primary task of driving significantly increases the chance of a driver being involved in a crash.”
She’s right – in 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers according to Distraction.gov. Though distracted driving is normally considering texting behind the wheel, it can really include anything that takes a driver’s mind off the task at hand.
Affecting 15-20 percent of professional truck drivers and 6 percent of men in general, depression is a real medical condition and can interfere with one’s ability to drive for many hours on the road. According to the Mayo Clinic, depression is characterized by these symptoms:
• Prolonged feelings of sadness
• General irritability
• Loss of interest in normal activities
• Irregular sleeping patterns
• Anxiety, agitation, restlessness
• Feelings of despair or hopelessness
• Trouble thinking, concentrating or making decisions
• Unexplained bodily pains
• Suicidal thoughts or attempts
Truckstops and plazas can represent a “home away from home” for some drivers – this makes identifying the signs of distress an important responsibility for owners and operators. With the NATSO Foundation’s online learning initiative, the goal is to strengthen the nation’s network of support for drivers as they make their way across the country, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Making the Online Course Available
Previous modules available through the NATSO Foundation launched earlier this year include “The Role of Truck Stops in Combating Human Trafficking” and “How Truck Stops Help the Homeless.” Since truck stops are everywhere in the country their significance can often go overlooked. Yet, being a common ground and dire part of the transportation industry for most drivers, these locations really serve to make life on the road easier. The next online course is aimed at providing truckstop owners with knowledge on how to help drivers during natural disasters.
Some ways that truck stop and travel plaza employees can help drivers include:
• Placing calls to emergency services
• Helping drivers unable to continue operating their vehicles
• Directing them to resources available
Although truck stop owners aren’t responsible for babysitting drivers per se, it is important that drivers feel that they can reach out to people working in these locations – especially in cases where other drivers may be in danger.
Owners of locations on the regular route of many truckers can sign up for the online course by heading over to the NATSO Foundation’s online learning site. A strong network of support for all drivers will hopefully make life on the road safer and more productive for everyone involved!