Running Illegal or Driving Tired

Yes it still happens.  Some drivers will come across dispatchers that will have creative ways of trying to get them to run illegal or drive tired.  There are some things that you can do to help prevent being treated this way.  It's best to try and avoid it up front.  This video provides great tips and insight that will help you be proactive and cope with manipulative dispatcher right now.

Some reasons why it matters

Some drivers will take running illegal lightly.  Some will take the chance on running tired to get further down the road.  We tend to assume that we can make it this time, everytime.  Then one day, it's too late.

Keep in mind that you are risking safety of you and others on the road when driving tired.

Also, if you are in an accident, it is highly likely a lawyer will ensure your logs are audited and driving history is well reviewed.

Even if there is no accident, if you build up too many points from log book violations (points for anything actually), it could end your career early.  If you don't rack up enough to suspend you from trucking, it still could prevent you from getting hired at better trucking companies should you decide to make a change. 

So here are some ideas to help you stay ahead of the game or move forward if you are already dealing with dispatchers who try to get you to run illegal, drive tired or operate unsafe equipment.

What To Do When First Hired

When you are new at a company, one of the best things that you can do is to have a serious face to face talk with your dispatcher before ever going out on the road.

This is with the spirit of being part of a team. Your objective is to communicate the fact that you are responsible and take pride in your job performance.  It also is to communicate that your plan is to be an asset to a good trucking company and enjoy a successful career.

The most important part of this talk, you want to express your boundaries of running legal and operating equipment that is suitable and safe for the road.  Supported by the reason why this is the case.

Keep in mind during this conversation that this is not a verbal assault and not a contest for authority.  This is two people on the same team simply getting on the same page about moving forward in a way that is beneficial for the company, the dispatcher and you the driver.  If you have this conversation with that as the background, a pleasing personality and a positive mindset, it will go a long way to influence how you are treated.

That is provided that you prove, what you have stated in your job performance.  For instance, you are on time for appointments.

I am already deal with this, what do I do?

If you are already trucking and you are dealing with manipulative dispatchers who seem to force you to drive illegal, tired or operate unsafe equipment.

It's not too late to stand up for yourself.  Just determine how you will introduce the talk.  Maybe the situation has been bothering you and you have been stressed about it and you can't take it any longer.

The natural question for you from them/him/her would be, "Can't take what any longer?"

Of course, it's a perfect way for you to spill your heart about how and why you want the situation to change.  How you want a successful career and to be an asset to that company.  The risks that you have been taking is not in line with that goal. It also is not in the best interest of the company as a long term strategy.

I am not going to tell you what to say, it's your message but you get the idea.  If it is bothering you, just come from the heart about the change you want and why.  I know it can be a tough and intimidating conversation for some drivers, especially if you are new.

It's OK.  That's why you figure out exactly what you are going to say in advance.  Write it down, to help you remember and structure in the best way to convey your true feelings and what you want to say.

When you call however, don't read the paper, and don't try to remember the paper.  Breath deeply and slowly, make the call and speak your mind.

If it will help you to be less nervous about standing up.

Make a list of bullet points and use that.

Protecting Yourself

When you stand up to your dispatcher, keep a record of the conversation.  This is especially important if they seem to resist your desire to run legal.  It is especially important if they seem to justify doing things the way it has been done. 

By the way, simply saying this will affect your income is not all that bad to me.  The reality is that IT WILL likely affect your income.  If you run less miles of course you will make less money.  However, a good dispatcher at a company with adequate freight should still be able to keep you moving reasonably well.

The problem is when what a dispatcher depends on to keep you moving is doing whatever it takes at the time instead of gaining the skill of planning and coordinating freight in a smart way.

I digress...........

Keep track of the interaction.  If the company seems to punish you or retaliate for standing up for safety.  You can report them under the whistleblower program.  See the links for that program and other resources here.  Report a Trucking Company

If you need to quickly bring attention to the company, the D.O.T. would love for you to pull in to the weigh station with a truck badly needing attention that the company knows about and won't get fixed.

You should not do this, if you have not communicated with the trucking company/dispatcher about the need of the truck to be serviced. Remember you are on the same team.  Treat the company the way you would want a driver to treat you if the company was yours. 

So, if they are abusive and manipulative then you should do something about it.  However, if you simply don't like what you have been asked to do, it is not wise or advisable for you to retaliate by making false claims.

Remember, you get back in life, what you put out there.

Happy trucking!

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