The holidays can have a significant impact on truck driving — from increased traffic volumes and delays to potential road closures and unpredictable weather patterns. Increased traffic, delays, road closures, and weather can affect truck drivers. Shippers must plan ahead to avoid potential problems and trucking companies have adapted to navigate the holiday season.
The holidays are always a busy season for everyone. With the increase in online shopping, shipping increases as well. Keep reading to learn how the holidays can affect the truck driving industry, from the perspective of both drivers and shippers.
How the Holidays Impact Truck Drivers
The holidays can be a hectic time for truck drivers as they strive to meet the demands of travel and tight deadlines. With the influx of shipments, drivers may be required to work extra hours to get everything to where it needs to go in time. According to a survey of 500 truck drivers, 84% of them plan to take on extra shipments this holiday season. Though drivers taking on extra work will help with the demand, this can lead to stress as drivers have to manage the additional workload while trying to take care of their families during the holidays.
Additionally, there is still a truck driver shortage this season. The American Trucking Association, (ATA) estimates that there is still a record 78,000 truckers needed on the road. This is a slight decrease from the 81,258 drivers needed in 2021. The top reason for this shortage is that companies are struggling to find qualified long-haul 18-wheeler drivers.
Higher Demand for Shipping
According to Forbes, Americans spent a record $9.12 billion online during Black Friday in 2022. This is a 2.3% increase in money spent in 2021. On Thanksgiving, $5.29 billion was spent on online shopping, a 2.9% increase over last year. All this online shopping leads to increased shipping needs and strain on truck drivers. In 2020 during the holiday season, 800 million more packages were mailed than in 2019. That number went on to increase in Q1 of 2021 by 14%.
The increase in traffic during the holiday season can also create additional risks and can be a challenge for drivers to navigate. Busy routes and hazardous driving conditions due to weather can add more stress to drivers.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 146,930 people were injured in accidents involving large trucks in 2020. The NHTSA also tracked traffic-related deaths from 2001-2005 and found that on average 45 people died per day during the holiday season rather than the average 36.
Accidents increase not through the fault of the driver but more due to fatigue, tight turnarounds for deliveries, and poor weather.
Strategies for Truck Drivers During Holidays
Staying safe on the road this holiday season is essential for you, your families, and other drivers. Keep reading to learn more about how the holidays impact truck drivers and how you can stay safe on the road this holiday season.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 24 percent of weather-related accidents occur on snow, slush, or ice each year and 15 percent of those accidents are during snowfall or while it is sleeting.
Make sure you stay prepared to be on the road in harsh weather conditions this holiday season. Black ice and snow are very dangerous, especially for truck drivers. If you feel like you’re skidding on ice resist the urge to slam on your breaks. You’re more likely to skid on the ice by slamming on brakes. Instead, ease up on your gas and then lightly step on your brakes. This will help you control your sliding better than slamming on your brakes will.
Everyone knows how dangerous drinking and driving is, but many don’t consider how dangerous it is to drive drowsy. According to the National Safety Council, drowsy driving accounts for about 100,000 crashes, 71,000 injuries, and 1,550 fatalities. Being awake for more than 18 hours has the same effect on your body as if you had a BAC of 0.05 percent. According to the CDC, being awake for 24 hours gives you a BAC of 0.10 percent, which far exceeds the legal limit in all states. The legal BAC is 0.08 percent, drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving.
If you know you’re going to drive a long distance, make sure you plan ahead. Get a good night’s rest and eat a good meal before getting out on the road. Make sure that you take the appropriate breaks after you’ve been driving. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration dictates that you should take a 30-minute break after driving for 8 hours.
If there is going to be inclement weather while you are driving make sure to be prepared for it. Check the weather before you get on the road and make sure you have an ice scraper and other essentials handy in your truck.
Get on the Road this Holiday Season
The holidays can have a significant impact on truck drivers, both financially and emotionally. With an increased demand for goods, more truckers are out on the road and away from their families. But with extra pay and bonuses, hopefully, their job still feels rewarding. Ultimately, it is important for truckers to take care of themselves during the holidays so they can make it through safely and happily.
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