Driving a truck as a profession can be fraught with peril, and many times it comes in the form of accidents caused by fatigue or poor preparation. Even the most seasoned of drivers can fall prey to the dangers of the road, not the least of which can be found in truck stops. When you pull over for a rest break, you may find clean, well-lit, and properly maintained (and stocked) facilities frequented by friendly patrons. But these are few and far between. You are much more likely to stop in a remote area that could best be described as shady, peopled by scary characters who might just as soon steal your truck as shake your hand. But if you practice proper safety precautions, you can come out of a truck stop relieved (in more ways than one) and ready to get back on the road.
1. Double check the parking brake. This is especially important if you’re going to be doing any maintenance on your truck. If your eighteen wheels start rolling when you’re not behind the wheel, you’re going to be hard pressed to stop it. And it can easily roll right over you (or others) before running into an object solid enough to bring it to a halt (causing even more damage). So check and double check the brake before you exit the cab.
2. Lock up valuables. Don’t leave any part of your truck unlocked when you leave it and be sure to keep valuables (cash or other items) in a separate lock box hidden somewhere in the cab. It couldn’t hurt to have some kind of alarm system, as well, to let you know if someone is tampering with your rig.
3. Be confident and alert. Don’t act nervous or people will suspect you have something valuable that you don’t have the means to protect. Instead, carry yourself confidently as if you have nothing to worry about. Bullies are less likely to pick on someone who looks like they could hold their own in a scuffle (or like they know something that tip the outcome of such an encounter in their favor). And keeping track of what is going on around you could help you to avoid an undesirable situation in the first place.
4. Carry protection. This statement can be taken any number of ways (and probably should be), but it always pays to have some pepper spray on hand. Remote truck stops could be frequented by wildlife, and there is always the chance that someone wants to jack your truck (or just mug you). So keep some spray on your keychain and keep your keychain in your hand any time you’re away from your truck. It will stop anything from a mountain lion to a gang of hoodlums when sprayed in close proximity to the face (and the radius of its effect spreads, so take the opportunity to run away).
5. Practice proper hygiene. Not all threats are readily apparent. Some truck stops are not well maintained and there will certainly be times when you find yourself pulled over by the side of the road because there are no toilet facilities anywhere nearby. So make sure that your cab is stocked with TP, hand sanitizer, and a flashlight, just in case.
6. Women truck drivers are many times more vulnerable than their male peers. Women should avoid parking in secluded areas or areas that are not well lit. Also, it is best when entering the facility, to give the impression that they are traveling team and that their husband or co-driver is asleep in the truck.
Jim McCormack writes for Cheaper Car Insurance where you can compare rates and the find the best deals on auto insurance.
Desiree is an OTR Driver who not only enjoys driving, but enjoys helping cdl students and new cdl drivers overcome obstacles every chance she gets, and she does . . . alot! She is an advocate for truck driver training safety, the fair treatment of students by their trainers, women in trucking, and Green Trucking . . . but NOT at the expense of the Owner Operators, which appears to be the case these days.
Desiree will the guest on Allen’sBlog Talk Radio Show on Sunday February 22, 2009 at 6pm EST discussing: “The Harrassment of Women CDL Students and Drivers Within Trucking Companies” and also the Contoversial “CARB” ( California AirResources Board) Topic, which has many, especially owner operators, quite disturbed to say the least.
TruckerDesiree ( as she is known ) has become quite popluar with many groups as she makes her stand for truckers everywhere.
She is quickly becoming “a voice for many” as she is frequently contacted by magazines, news networks, and organizational groups desiring her input, opinions and support. Here is a page from her Facebook account which will give you an idea of “Who is Trucker Desiree” and what she wants to accomplish:
“Trucker Desiree :California is where I was born & raised. I am of a Family of Migrant Field Workers who came to California before the Freeways. I grew up at the beaches in Venice, Oxnard, Malibu, Arcata, Trinidad and Carlsbad as a child of the Welfare System.”
“After a life of struggles as a Single Mother, I am now an “Over the Road” Trucker.I fully understand where the miscommunication lies between Activists, Environmentalists & Truckers because I have lived on both sides of the argument and I have an Idea that can help.I am New to Trucking and I quickly learned to not tell people I was from California because of the manner Truckers are looked upon in my home state.”
“Similiar to the way I conceal I am Mexican as I travel across the U.S. as a Trucker to areas that Mexicans are also misunderstood. The Geography of my home state isolates population centers from understanding that Industry requires dirty stinking trucks that work 24/7 to move sensitive high dollar freight from the Ports & Agriculture from rural areas of the State.”
“Trucking is a detail oriented job that requires much more than driving skill. Good planning to move freight out of California in Particular, makes this State… the least desired State to work in as a Trucker. Mostly because California targets Truckers without regard to how difficult this job is and what they do for California Industry.”
“California has the worst infrastructure I have seen since I became a Trucker. No Parking is available to accommodate sleepy drivers, especially in areas where Freight must be shipped from. The transit time to move freight out of the state at the Truck speed of 55 mph thru the traffic centers of Southern California & geographic locations in Central California affect a driver’s ability to NOT violate Federal “Hours of Service”. Therefore, California places Truck Drivers at risk by NOT providing them adequate space to rest, forcing them to continue to drive out of the state in many cases to get to “Friendlier States” where they can sleep safely.”
“Sleeping safely includes Idling because currently no other system in California has other options for drivers to sleep properly & have temperature controls in their cabs. A safe driver is well rested, not roasting or freezing which is the case now because Idling laws do not take into account that Truckers live in their Trucks & must congregate where shippers are located for proper planning to move sensitive California Freight out of the State.”
“Truckers are targets for Hijackers, esspecially in this economic downturn. Much of the Freight from the Port is extremely High-Dollar that must not stop for at least 200 miles from the time the trailer is sealed at the shipper.”
“Freight moves 24/7 so a driver must be on call to drive 24/7, this is why many trucking companies have Terminals in the Long Beach Port & other Port Areas. Owner-Operators do not have anywhere to go but wherever they can to sit and wait. Both Company Drivers & O/O must idle to rest & be ready at a moment’s notice.”
“Many times, arriving at the shipper, the load is not ready. Sometimes I have waited 14 hours, my entire Legal shift for a load at the shipper. I am only paid to drive, nothing else. Legally, I cannot drive. I must be in the sleeper 10 hours to go back on duty, but with no temperature control? Even if I am in the sleeper in the shippers dock during that 14 hours I cannot have temperature control to sleep properly under California’s current policy. When I am waiting at my company terminal in Long Beach, Pomona, French Camp waiting for a load, sometimes for days on end I have nowhere to go, I live in my truck to move freight.”
“Many O/O in this downturned economy do as well. California needs to implement in their Infrastructure plans a “Green” solution for Truckers that everyone can afford, not just targeted at “Mom & Pop” Truckers who have only their Truck in the whole World where they live & work to move California’s Freight out of the State.”
“Shippers, Receivers, Big Trucking Companies who have Terminals in California & the State of California need to combine forces to reduce emissions.The burden on O/O is too great, they are being singled out because they have just that “Old Truck” that is their life’s blood. As a Student Trucker I am appalled to see companies charging drivers to Idle in Freezing Winter Temperatures at a price higher than Diesel per gallon & the turning around and accepting the “Smart Way EPA Award.”
“A true Smart Way would be to require innovation to combine existing technologies in Trucking & provide adequate space for Truckers to park & rest.This includes at Shipper/Receiver facilities, Terminals & areas for O/O. Companies that manufactuer APU units to reduce idleing have struggled in our downturned economy. Truckers who have purchased expensive APU units to comply with emissions regulations now have an additional concern that they cannot get warranty or repairs done.”
“Idleaire, the company that is in use at some Travel Plazas, is not a viable option for mass appeal because technology has advanced to the point that their product is quickly becoming obsolete.”
“Currently, Wal-Mart has a no idle policy on at their Distribution Centers. For Wal-Mart Tractors, a unit is provided in the bobtail parking section that keeps the engine block from freezing in Winter Temperatures. This unit currently does not provide temperature control for the driver, only for the engine. Some Tractors come equipped with bunk heaters, but many Big Trucking Companies buy only the Standard Model for their Fleets that do not have bunk heaters.”
“In California, Temperatures do not fall low enough to jeopardize the engine block, but they do get too cold & too hot for the driver to rest properly without temperature Control. RV’s can plug into electric power, Ships in port can receive shore power, but nothing is available to Truck Drivers to accommodate their comfort for safe driving to move freight from the State of California.”
“My Idea is a unit of similar size which is currently used by Wal-Mart to provide warmth to the engine block. It is less cumbersome than Idleaire.
It would not pump in foreign air like IdleAire which is an added security risk, because of Hijackers & Criminals who target Truckers and rob them. This unit could run off electricity but could be developed into a solar unit, perhaps wind power as well.”
“The Long Beach “Green Port” Project is the Ideal place to implement such a prototype because of the forward thinking innovation they are currently using to modernize this urban center. I am concerned when I read the Conference entitled “Faster-Freight, Clearner Air” has no VIP Speakers who are Truckers who live this life. I only see VIP Speakers who sell Trucks.” http://www.ffcacalifornia.com
“When I watched the Port of Long Beach Webcast about The Green Port Project, I heard about Innovations for Ships but not for Trucks that move the freight and fight Southern California Traffic to do it. To solve this problem, Californians need to understand Industry of this State is conducted away from the beach and the beautiful scenery. Its a dirty, stinky business that must be done. Who wants to put some plasma screens in their mercedes and drive them across the country? Anyone?” — TruckerDesiree@gmail.com
There are thousands of women across the United States who enjoy the lifestyle of an over the road truck driver. Although the number of women in trucking have virtually remained the same for the past 20 years, there is still a desire in many women who would like to give a trucking career a try.
Recent news of a trucking company out of Pennsylvania who was ordered to pay $2.43 million dollars in a sex discrimination suit, poses the question: Is there sex discrimination against women truck drivers? And if so, how serious is it? With 30 years of trucking under my belt, I seldom, if ever, heard anything about this issue. Until recently . . . and I receive quite a few emails from women across the country sharing their stories of sexual harrasement within the trucking industry.
Are the women drivers making the same amount of money in trucking, as their male counter parts? The answer to this, should be “yes.” Based on what I am hearing, however, there are those female drivers that are coping with much greater problems than the media is willing to be let known.
I would like to hear more from the women truck drivers out there. Is sex discrimination a problem out there for women drivers? Is this an issue that would-be women truckers need to be concerned about? We are preparing to air a show concerning this topic in the near future, on our trucking talk radio show.
10/19/09 One Year Exactly from the original post of TruckerDesiree and 130 posts later!! From that scared and frantic student contacting Allen for help, to one of the most determined and influential women in trucking today…offering advice and empathy to all who need it.
**YOU’VE COME A LONG WAY BABY!**
If you would like to read Desiree’s Journal from the beginning, please scroll ALL THE WAY DOWN to the bottom of the page.
Click on the Blue Words at the bottom of this page: “30 Old Comments are not displayed, Click to display all comments. ”
If you don’t do this, you will miss the first few months of the journal. Thanks, Donna
This Journal will soon be available in book form. We’ll let you know when it’s complete
Allen and I have the honor to communicate with so many people every day. Although we haven’t met the majority of them, I feel a comradery between us and them just the same. Trucking can be a lonely lifestyle in itself, but our websites, truthabouttrucking.com and askthetrucker.com, have introduced us to some of the finest human beings around. We receive letters, gifts, prayers, and friendship from many of our loyal subscribers.
Recently I started communicating by e-mail with a woman by the name of Desiree. Her e-mails describing her life as a truck driver were so detailed and graphic, I felt like I was living the experience right along with her. Her stories were those of courage and integrity and Allen even used one of them in his new version of “The Truth About Trucking“ 4th edition.
I invited Desiree to post some of her stories here, and I hope all of you find them as intriguing, entertaining and fascinating as I did. These stories represent similar experiences that so many other woman truck drivers have lived.
Some of her stories can definitely give you some insight on how trucking companies “value” women truckers.
When I asked her to how she would like to share some of her stories here on our blog, she answered with this reply,
“Well I’d like to start, by starting from the very beginning and navigating my way thru the trucking
school scam and thru the individuals that I teamed with and was trained by, because there
are already tons of funny stories… but great learning experiences. From weight
management to hygiene I’ve been collecting and fine tuning this lifestyle to make it