Why You Need to Learn About Personal Safety
“I was born and raised in the ‘hood. I pulled myselfout of there first by becoming a nurse and then a trucker. When I became a trucker, the lessons in being street smart I learned as a child and teenager in the ’hood kept me safe on the road.”…a lady driver.
The targeting of truck drivers by criminals goes back to the beginning of the industry when truckers carried large amounts of cash both as payment for hauling loads and to pay for fuel and repairs in the days before credit cards. While this no longer holds true, the criminals have not figured it out yet. There have always been people who looked for the easy way to make a living, by theft or other criminal acts. Their kind is still prevalent on the highways and in the towns and cities today.
With the increased traffic on the roads, highways and interstates, road rage has escalated in recent years. There have even been instances of truckers fighting or even killing another trucker over some simple traffic error. To survive, a trucker needs Street Smarts.
Personal Safety Starts With You
1. Never wear shoes you cannot run in or maneuver in without slipping or falling.
2. If you are a woman, dress appropriately for the job: most crimes against women on the road concern prostitutes. Do not dress or act like them. Do not wear flashy jewelry even if it is fake.
3. If you think like a victim, act like a victim or walk like a victim; someone will see you as a victim and make you one.
4. An old southern saying is “if you lay down with dogs, you will get fleas.” Stay away from people engaged in illegal activities such as prostitution and drugs.
Before You Start Your Trip
1. Get directions to your destination, double check your route against the atlas.
2. If you are going to a big city and your shipper/receiver or company does not offer safe haven over night parking, plan your break so you can stop short of the large city and go in to the city during the wee hours 3-4 am if possible.
3. Make sure that you have enough fuel to get to your shipper/receivers and back to a fuel stop.
4. Plan on where you will park if unloading late at night, choose somewhere safe.
There are times when you cannot avoid getting out of your truck in bad neighborhoods to check in with a shipper/receiver or to ask for directions.
1. Always walk quickly and with your head up.
2. Keep your eyes moving.
3. Avoid heavy bushes, deep doorways, alleys and unlit areas if possible.
4. Keep your hands out of your pockets.
5. Do not ask a person on the street other than a taxi/bus driver, store operator or law enforcement officer for directions. It is better to call information and ask for the nonemergency number for the local police or fire department and ask for directions than walk the street in most areas.
6. Watch for suspicious activity.
7. Watch for and avoid groups of people hanging around.
8. Watch for people slowing down behind you to pace your walk.
9. If you are a woman with long hair, put your hair up tight to your head, not in a ponytail or braid, wear a cap if going into bad areas.
In The Truck
1. Never advertise where you are going to deliver or park for the night.
2. Never advertise or talk about your load on the cb or at the truck stop.
3. Keep your doors locked especially in stop and go traffic.
4. Keep your windows up in urban (downtown) areas and in stop and go
5. After you are loaded, watch behind you for 10-20 miles to see if you are being followed.
6. Do not stop after loading unless traffic or regulations demand it for the first 50 miles.
7. Watch the cars or other trucks that stay along side of your cab to see what they are doing inside in case they have a gun.
8. Watch for anyone paying you undue attention.
9. If you are driving and see police lights behind you to stop you in the night; turn on your flashers to let the officer know you are aware he wants you to stop, slow down and continue to a well lit off ramp area, rest area or exit where there are people around. You may want to call 911, give them your location and relay that you are going to stop at the first well-lit area to the officer. You can also ask the 911 operator if the officer is actually at that location to make sure they are real officers. BE POLITE!
10. If someone flashes their lights at you and motions you over or tells you on the cb that you have a mechanical problem going on, do not stop on the shoulder of the road or on ramp unless you can identify that there is a real problem from the seat. Go to the nearest exit with people around or ask a specific trucker on the cb if there is a real problem before stopping. If you do decide to stop, do so where there is clear sight around you and sit there for a few minutes before getting out of the truck to see if anyone else is near or approaches you.
11. Never pick up hitchhikers even women.
12. Be wary of stopping to help a broken down car (there have been many instances of drivers being robbed while stopped to help a woman broke down who had her cohort hiding).
13. Always watch overpasses for people standing on them or things hanging down from them.