The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many aspects of our lives. Take professional sports, for example. Who anticipated games taking place outside their standard seasons, in nearly empty stadiums and arenas? At the same time, the adjustments made by sports teams offers some guidance on the safety adjustments motor carriers can continue to make in the new world of COVID-19.
Ballparks do not look the same. Most sports teams have few, if any, fans in the stands. To compensate, some TV networks adjust their camera angles away from the empty seats and pipe in crowd noises. Similarly, motor carriers changed their customer facilities to emphasize social distancing and closed some areas to drivers. Personal safety is now taken as seriously as highway safety. Motor carriers must consider what customers require for health as well as for business.
The fan experience is not the same. With most venues closed to fans, many people choose to watch sports on TV. Teams have adjusted the pace and packaging of their games to compete with other entertainment offerings. Motor carriers also must adjust as consumer demand shifts during COVID and some businesses close. That means new customers, new routes, new schedules, new truck parking locations and new places for food and fuel. For safety, open communication among all carrier team members is critical during changing times. Motor carriers must reinforce that safety remains the mission of all members of the team.
The players are not the same. In sports, some familiar players chose to sit out the season due to COVID, while others tested positive to the virus. Sports teams pulled players from the minor leagues, held tryouts and conducted medical exams to fill out their ranks. In trucking, COVID also sidelined drivers; some by their own choice, by furlough due to the slow economy, and some for health reasons. With the economy improving at least somewhat, motor carriers must field a team with new “players” or those returning from an extended absence. When those team members are drivers, all must be qualified, medically fit, and appropriately licensed. When hiring, motor carriers can learn best practices for driver screening from experts in the field. With federal waivers for commercial driver’s licenses, TWIC card renewals and medical certifications for many drivers now extended through Dec. 31, 2020, motor carriers should verify and schedule legally required tests and renewals before there is a rush.
One thing hasn’t changed in sports – practice. Even in these tumultuous times with shortened regular seasons, sports teams put in the necessary practice before returning to competition. Athletes these days may engage in year-round physical conditioning, but they still need actual practice to sharpen the skills and distinct movements required in their sport. In trucking, returning drivers may still know “how to drive,” but practice helps restore the safety awareness of sharing the road with others. If possible, drivers should practice runs or yard moves with a truck. Driver training videos also provide helpful reminders, as do chat sessions with other drivers.
COVID-19 has driven change in both sports and trucking. For motor carriers, those adjustments lead to one goal: deliver on time and safely. For an easy step toward this goal, keep a “Ready to Drive” cab card in each truck, like below, or make your own and distribute it to all of your drivers.
READY TO DRIVE
Your safety and the safety of everyone on the road with you is important to our company. Safety begins by being ready to drive. Follow these simple pre-trip steps to eliminate distractions from your job driving. Before even starting the engine:
- Conduct pre-trip vehicle inspection and report any maintenance issues.
- Adjust seat and mirrors.
- Review route and identify turns and intersections.
- Stow unneeded mobile devices.
- Place bills of lading, permits and other official documents where they can be readily accessed for safety officials.
- Buckle seatbelt.
- Look around vehicle for obstacles, pedestrians, traffic before starting to drive.
Have a safe trip!