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Drivers have to prepare for the upcoming holiday shipping season

Drivers have to be prepared this holiday season.
/ Industry News & Trends /

By: Phil Sneed

Truck drivers, that time of the year is quickly approaching: the holiday shipping season. Retail and e-commerce websites are preparing for an influx of shoppers, with a large portion of consumers shopping online and having merchandise shipped to their homes or loved ones. It all makes for a hectic time and a busy few months.

This of course does not account for other items that have to be shipped, such as food. Whatever drivers will be asked to ship, they have to physically and mentally prepare for the hectic shipping season. They also have to account for outside factors that may have an effect on their delivery schedule. Either way, drivers and other professionals in the logistics management supply chain can expect a full workload until the end of 2015.

"Drivers can strike the perfect balance between work and coming home to enjoy the holidays."

That being said, truckers also want to spend time with their families instead of spending long stretches on the road. This upcoming holiday season, drivers can strike the perfect balance between work, remaining safe while on the road and coming home to enjoy the holidays.

Winter checklist
First things first: Drivers will have to winterize their trucks, even if they are stationed in warm states like Texas. The winter weather can reach even the unlikeliest of places, as evidenced by the last few years. In fact, The Dallas Morning News reported this season's El Nino will likely bring above-normal rainfall in addition to below-average temperatures. Temperatures may even be about 2 degrees below the seasonal average in areas surrounding San Antonio.

To start, truckers and fleet managers will want to ensure all vehicles are routinely inspected. The engine is one of the most important pieces of equipment, and lower temperatures have a noticeable effect on the machinery. According to CDL Life News, engines have more difficulty starting in colder temperatures. As a result, truckers may want to consider having an electric-powered block heater stored in the vehicle. They can then use this to keep the engine warm throughout the night.

Cold weather will also have a negative effect on the semi-trailer's battery, as they end up draining much faster. Regular checkups will reveal batteries nearing the end of their life span, as well as other potential equipment issues involving radiators, belts, hoses and air dryers.

If drivers know they will be traveling through icy conditions, they'll want to pay close attention to the air dryer. A filter change may be required to prevent the truck's brake lines from freezing.

Balance work and life
A balanced work and personal life schedule is essential for every job, perhaps even more so for truckers who are already away from their families for periods of time. For the months of November and December, drivers have to maintain a realistic mindset when it comes to work. While they hope to get in as much work as possible during the busy holiday season, they also have to learn when to say no.

Employee happiness is a critical asset in any workplace. Drivers who are happy have extra motivation to perform their job well and look forward to work.

A good work-life balance goes both ways: Drivers cannot place more stress on themselves than they can handle, and management has to keep employee wishes in mind. With careful and creative scheduling, carriers and shippers will find ways to prevent work overload on truckers, but still make required shipments.

Connect with family and friends
Unfortunately, instances may occur where drivers are unable to make it home in time for a family gathering. Drivers can to utilize today's technology so they can still join in on the holiday spirit even if they are not physically in the room.

"Carriers and shippers will find ways to prevent work a overload on truckers."

Mobile applications and services such as Facetime, Skype, Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts are available on Android and iOS, and represent an excellent way to catch up with family members and friends. The Healthy Trucker said phone and video calls can go a long way in lifting a driver's spirit instead of them feeling isolated.

Keep health in mind
Drivers have to keep their personal health in mind this holiday season. From all the family dinners to roadside stops, truckers will consume a lot of calories. Regular exercise and plenty of rest will help manage health and fatigue.

In addition, drivers who exercise regularly are better able to manage stress levels during the holidays. According to the Mayo Clinic, any form of exercise is a stress reliever, and regular physical activities will improve one's mood and self-confidence. Reducing stress is essential while on the road, as truckers can focus on the road and avoid potential accidents.

This holiday season, truckers and fleet managers have to prepare for the busy shipping season by managing stress and workloads while also setting time aside to spend with families.