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How to deal with stress on the road

Posted On 29 September, 2016

How to deal with stress on the road

We recently heard a story on the road about a stressed out truckie

A driver is given a task of taking a 25-ton load from Darwin to Adelaide. He hooks up the trailer and takes off down Winnellie Road.

At the intersection he has to stop for a red light. This particular lane is only as wide as the truck and he is stopped at the front of the queue.

When the lights turn green he selects a gear, lets off the park brake and starts to take off.

Unable to move he finds that the brakes aren't released…..so he tries again, park brake on, park brake off…still no luck.

While pondering his dilemma he hears the cars behind start tooting horns and looks back to find the traffic banked all the back to next corner. The driver is so embarressed!

The driver feels that he MUST get out of there as quickly as possible! He selects lo-lo and try's to drag a fully loaded semi-trailer with brakes locked on, to the next bay.

You can image how that saga ended, obviously he burns the clutch out!

It turns out that all this drama was actually caused because he didn't lock in the air hoses when he hooked up! The only time he had hooked up airlines previously someone had given him a hand and it looked like you just pushed them in!

So when he applied the brakes, full air pressure went through the system which caused one of the unlocked hoses to spit out the back, causing the brakes on the trailer to lock on.

Some drivers get so embarrassed if people are looking at them that this embarrassment quickly evolves into stress and aggression. When stress checks in common sense seems to check out.

Slow down if you have a problem like this!

Get out of the truck, count to ten and try and engage the brain. Down worry so much about the traffic behind, if you break down, you break down its bound to happen to you some day. Didn't your old fella ever teach you that might is right?

Try to identify the problem, perhaps you could put out your tri-angles out and turn on the hazards. Now think about what just happened. No need to stress about the traffic when your truck has broken down.

If the bloke had a few seconds to process the event It should have soon become clear that all he did was apply the brakes then let them off again…….. Ok so that's a clue -brakes!,

A reasonable man should now be thinking brakes are a problem so let's go and check the air supply to the trailer. There may be something blocking the line or an air leak of some description.

What you should do hear is as simple as removing the airlines inspect them and reconnecting again.

If this bloke had of done that he would have learn that one of the airlines was not locked in. Unhook then rehook - problem solved.

Stress is unavoidable in our industry, so as truck drivers we need to develop thick skin but that doesn't mean we can't ask for help. When people are chronically stressed they often stop problem-solving. They may feel 'I have no choices', but they do, and just acknowledging this can be a big step forward.

Stop get out of the truck, count to ten, and think about what is happening. Call a friend, call your company and get some help.

Driving is as much a state of mind as anything else. If you can accept that there are limits to the amount of control you can exert as a driver it helps.

You can also reduce how stress effects you're driving the same way we reduce stress on other aspects of our life. Exercise, good diet, low or no alcohol and regular sleep will all contribute to an overall sense of health and well-being which will ensure more common sense can be applied the next time we drive into the unknown.   

Stories from 55 years on the road from Alan Rutland