The weeks leading to Thanksgiving are the busiest. As Americans prepare to get their feasts ready, truckers spend the holidays away from their families to get deliveries on time. It’s lonely to be on the road on such a day, but drivers know they need to get the job done, so the holidays can go on as planned. For this, we’re grateful for all that truckers do during the holidays and beyond.
Thanksgiving Travel Safety
Roads are always jam-packed with local and foreign travelers during the holidays. The American Automobile Association (AAA) estimates 53.4 million people travel during Thanksgiving. As restrictions begin to lift statewide, more people are expected to be on the road.
What does this mean for truckers who are on the clock during the holidays? For one, it means sharing the road with other motorists who are in a rush to get to their families for Thanksgiving. If you’re in a state where winter is harsh, expect travel to move at a snail’s pace the moment it begins to snow.
Traveling on the road during the holidays is not always a bad experience. With enough time for preparation, you can have a safe Thanksgiving on the road. In this blog, we share different Thanksgiving driving tips to help truckers keep safe during the busiest time of the year.
Thanksgiving Driving Tips
What should drivers do to stay safe on the road? Here are a few tips to make your journey safe and bearable:
Plan your route
Driving through the holiday season is twice the challenge as driving on a regular day. Truckers are expected to meet deadlines, so any roadblock can set them back a couple of hours to a day from their original schedule. Because holiday driving is unpredictable, drivers need to anticipate any obstruction that could delay their deliveries.
One way to ensure that you’re on schedule is to leave earlier than you originally planned. Check which routes tend to get extremely busy during Thanksgiving and find another way to get to your destination faster. Before driving, make sure to eat a hearty meal to keep you alert on the road. Rest well the day before to prevent fatigue from setting in faster. All successful jobs are the result of careful planning, so make sure to prepare everything you need for the long drive.
Check your vehicle
Is your truck ready for the long drive? Before you leave, make sure to check your fuel, antifreeze, and wiper fluids. Inspect tires and gauges to ensure that the truck is in tip-top shape. De-ice your vehicle to ensure maximum visibility on the road.
You don’t need a printed checklist to do all these. If you have fleet management software, you can easily track the check-ups and repairs made to your vehicle within the app. Performing vehicle maintenance before a long trip helps prevent unwanted stopovers that can delay your schedule. It also helps prevent accidents from busted tires and malfunctioning vehicle parts.
Prepare for traffic delays
Traffic congestion is one of the challenges of driving during the holidays. If you plan your route well, you should have a backup plan in case there are road closures or accidents to your destination.
As holiday traffic is unpredictable, it’s best to have a winter kit prepared and stashed inside your vehicle. The kit should include everything you’ll need in case you get stuck on the road for long hours.
Take rest breaks
Truck drivers follow a strict schedule for deliveries. Companies depend on them to consign goods on time, so making pit stops may seem like a luxury. However, driving for long hours is dangerous for both the driver and other people on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drowsy driving resulted in 91,000 police-reported crashes in 2017. Truckers who don’t get enough rest tend to feel fatigued more easily. This leads to slower response time in avoiding road hazards, which often lead to crashes and fatalities.
To ensure 100% focus, drivers need to get enough rest before and in between drives. Drivers need to take a break every 100 miles to recharge. Whether you follow the 60-hour or 70-hour limit, giving drivers enough time to rest will keep them alert and focused. The Hours of Service (HOS) determines when carriers can operate and when drivers need to be off the road. You can set this within your fleet dashboard to keep track of drivers’ hours and ensure that they get the rest they need.
Pack a lot of patience
Driving alongside other motorists is an exercise in patience, especially during the holiday rush. Heavy traffic can be frustrating, but don’t let it get in the way of safe driving. Tailgating, speeding, and changing lanes can lead to crashes and other accidents. Always travel at a safe speed.
Whenever the temptation to cut another vehicle off arises, drivers need a soft nudge that will put their focus back to safe driving. A fleet management system can detect distracted driving behavior. With the program installed, drivers will receive an audio alert that will help them correct their behavior.
Prepare for the weather
Harsh weather presents another challenge to truckers as they navigate the roads through strong winds and blowing snow. If you’re driving through freezing rain or heavy snow, the only way to keep safe is to get off the road. Once the temperature drops, it’s going to be hard to predict what’s going to lie ahead.
Park your vehicle in a safe area, preferably in a place where you can eat and rest, and wait for the weather to improve. Reduced visibility and freezing temperatures can make you lose control of the vehicle, so it’s best not to fight inclement weather. Before you leave, fuel up and check your truck for any damage.
Holiday driving can pose a lot of challenges even for seasoned drivers. To keep yourself and others safe, prepare yourself and your vehicle for the long trip ahead. With proper planning, traveling during Thanksgiving can be less stressful.