Maintaining healthy habits can lead to more productive work and a longer career. Luckily, there a few simple steps that owner drivers can take to protect themselves from injury and keep fit. These few precautionary measures pay a big dividend over the course of a driver’s career, especially if they often work in poor weather or transport lots of heavy cargo.
Preparing the Vehicle
On the road, anything can happen. That’s why safety starts before even leaving the parking area. It’s always a good idea for an owner driver to make sure that their vehicle is in good working condition before they set out on a journey. If the roads are slick or snowy, consider using tyre chains for extra traction. And ensure that there’s an emergency kit with equipment such as a functioning torch, safety triangles, battery booster cables, a mobile phone charger, a first aid kit, food and water. An extra hat, jacket and gloves are also good ideas to pack along in case you end up having to spend time unexpectedly outside your vehicle.
A safe owner driver also ensures that their cargo won’t tumble around on curvy roads or when driving over bumps. Make sure parcels are strapped down tightly and securely with nylon or chains. When loading, put cargo in a stable position so boxes won’t go bouncing around no matter what the road has in store.
Use Caution When Loading and Unloading
Lifting heavy objects can be a real strain for an owner driver handling multiple packages per day. Over time, the strain adds up. Always lift with your legs instead of your back. If conditions are poor, use extra precaution when exiting the vehicle and make sure that you’re fully equipped with proper gear. That means comfortable shoes with good traction. When transporting heavy parcels, take full advantage of trolleys and lifts to take some of the strain off of your body.
Drive Safely and Drive Smart
There are unfortunately many bad drivers out there. Owner drivers should make sure they aren’t contributing to the problem. Drive defensively, with both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road. Avoid paying attention to phones, the radio and other distractions.
Don’t drive while tired. To stay alert and keep your body in form, maintain good posture and adjust the driver’s seat to place it in an upright position so you don’t slouch. And of course, always travel at a safe speed and adjust your speed to reflect changes in driving conditions such as bad weather or slick roads.
Safeguard the Vehicle
In addition to preserving their health and the integrity of their cargo, owner drivers should also think about securing their vehicles. Unfortunately, courier vans can be an attractive target for thieves. Protect yourself by always locking the doors and maintaining awareness of your surroundings. Padlocks, seals and other security features can be effective at preventing thieves when drivers aren’t around. Some drivers also use vehicle CCTV systems to make sure their cargo is properly watched at all times.
A few simple steps are all that’s needed to stay safe and ensure a long and productive career. Both on the road and off, make it a priority to avoid injuries and keep yourself fit.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day owner driver jobs in the express freight exchange industry. Over 5,400 member companies are networked together through the Exchange to fill empty capacity, get new clients and form long-lasting business relationships.
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