Aug 31, 2017

By:

Omnitracs

Though most people in the trucking industry will be spending one last summer day with family and friends next Monday (Labor Day, if you’re in the next group), a few – but probably more than you think – will still be behind the wheel and on the road during what has come to be known as the official end of summer.

Working on Labor Day, like working on any holiday or during any extended holiday period when the majority of Americans are off, isn’t necessarily a desired shift. But somebody’s gotta do it and, thankfully, the duty often comes with holiday bonus pay. Yet for drivers of big commercial trucks it sometimes seems like driving on those days also should come with hazardous duty bonus pay.

Historically, about 97 percent of all U.S. companies, include Labor Day among their workers’ normal group of paid holidays. But, because life doesn’t stop, trucking services, as part of the nation’s fundamental economic infrastructure, continue to be in demand to support those businesses that remain open, at least to a degree, on holidays.  

While the kind of everyday traffic congestion and rush hour messes are all but non-existent, holidays do bring their own, distinct challenges and dangers. So those who draw the short straw and have to work this Labor Day (or other similar holidays) need to be especially aware of the different types and levels of problems they’ll encounter.

The traffic isn’t as heavy, but it’s also different than normal

First, it’s important to recognize that while Labor Day isn’t a conventional work day, traffic can still be pretty heavy; it’s just a little different than the typical. Traffic in urban centers, construction zones, and industrial districts likely will be much, much lighter because most people who work in those locations will have the day off. But the freeways can be unusually busy, especially as the day gets longer and weekend vacationers and partiers make their way back home. And those drivers you do find out there are very different that who is there normally.

The morning and evening rush pro knows his or her route. They know the traffic patterns. They’re dialed in, trying to either get to work on time or get home to the family. Holiday weekend drivers may or may not be in a hurry, depending on how great or awful the weekend was. He or she also may be really tired, sunburned, sore, or — worst of all — highly distracted by the kids and the animals in the car. And, undoubtedly, some of them will be struggling to control the boats, campers, and gear-laden RVs hitched uncomfortably to their bumpers.

Then, of course, are those drivers who may have had too much fun over the weekend. Labor Day isn’t the worst holiday in America for DUI arrests. That distinction belongs to New Year’s Day/New Year’s Eve. But Labor Day annually ranks among the top three. 

Plan ahead for holiday driving with these tips

So, how can truck drivers who have to work this Labor Day — and the managers who schedule and supervise them — make the experience better? Here are some suggestions that apply not just to Monday, but other similar holidays:

  1. Use your logistics planning technology to identify in advance those customers who must receive shipments, or have shipments delivered on that day and work with them on earlier-than-usual delivery schedules. If at all possible, get drivers off the road before the heavy traffic of weekend partiers begins to get thick.
  2. Encourage — or even order — drivers who’ve had the day off but plan to head out Labor Day night to stay off the road until one hour after dark, giving the holiday traffic time to clear. Use your logistics planning technology to provide any necessary notices to shippers and receivers who might need to adjust their scheduled time of arrivals and departures.
  3. Use your onboard technology to closely monitor the performance of any trucks (and their components) that will be scheduled to roll over the upcoming holiday period. Make sure they’re in top shape before Friday gets here to help avoid any breakdowns during the holiday period. Repairs during that time will be both difficult/impossible to complete and unusually expensive.
  4. When possible, dispatch your best equipment for use during the holiday period, also to reduce the chances of costly breakdown. Use your maintenance monitoring and planning technology to identify those vehicles several days in advance and, if necessary, hold them out of service late in the week to ensure their availability for use during the holiday weekend.

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