How Do You Handle Illness On The Road?

Topic 24034 | Page 1

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CK's Comment
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I don't get sick often, but I just got out of a round with the seasonal flu, and I'm currently fighting the stomach flu. I have been sick all night, and without getting into too much detail I was literally in the bathroom and could not leave from about 8:30 last night till 4 a.m. this morning.

Haven't been able to keep anything down, so how do you handle this on the road? I would imagine illnesses are less common when you aren't closely around people everyday, but when they do strike hard, you don't really have the ability to call in sick, right?

I imagine in most cases you keep on truckin', but what about when you're incapacitated?

Turtle's Comment
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In that situation you need to inform dispatch that you will be unable to drive for the time being. As with so many other things, your overall history of productivity will determine whether your dispatcher sympathizers with your condition and cuts you a break, or suspects you of crying wolf.

As long as you're out there getting it done consistently, some down time is to be expected.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
Old School's Comment
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CK, as a general rule I'll try and get my load delivered. If not possible communicate with dispatch as soon as possible and let them know where you will shut down. Many times they can dispatch a nearby driver to come and hook to your trailer and deliver it.

Here's a couple of real world examples:

Once I was on a really nice load going into Connecticut, and as I was running the last 500 miles of the trip I began feeling really poorly with flu like symptoms. I let dispatch know that I was getting sick, but would go ahead and make the delivery. I also told them to not plan on me being available for another load until I gave them notice. I delivered my load, found a nearby hotel with truck parking, and got myself a room for about three nights. I slept and soaked in hot baths until I felt better. Each day I communicated with my dispatcher and kept them updated on how I was doing. It was simple and straightforward. Good communication goes a long way in this business.

Another time I came out of Pennsylvania with a load of metal going to a manufacturing plant in Unicoi, TN. There was another of our drivers who had pulled the same load just two days ahead of me, but got really sick about 150 miles from the destination. He had to be hospitalized. My dispatcher had me make my delivery, deadhead to the location of the other driver's truck, hook to his trailer and finish his delivery.

Good communications make these situations go smoothly. Any productive team member in this industry realizes how important accurate information and communications go toward solving the many issues that can arise on the road. All these companies have easy ways to make sure you get paid for the miles you took care of on a load that has to he finished up by another driver. There are many common reasons why a load might be switched to another. Unexpected illness is just one of them.

Deadhead:

To drive with an empty trailer. After delivering your load you will deadhead to a shipper to pick up your next load.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
CK's Comment
member avatar

Thanks Old School & Turtle. Yes, communication is the key in any successful business relationship. It's good to know that as long as I am reliable and consistent, there are options in this type of situation.

What are some other common situations a load might get switched? Obviously breakdowns.

Old School's Comment
member avatar

Available hours of service can keep a driver from delivering on time, especially if the load already had a tight schedule. Sometimes a dispatcher will put a load on someone knowing they can't make it, but it helps him get the load closer to a driver who can then retrieve it and make the delivery on time. Sometimes they will have a driver who is needing to go home but they don't have a load to his area, so they give him something running through his hometown. Then another driver picks it up and finishes the load. Sometimes your truck is due for maintenance at a terminal or shop on your route, and they'll have you stop for a preventive maintenance service on your truck and assign the load to a driver at the terminal.

This practice is common. We call it a T-called load. When I say it's common, it just means it happens. I've only had two or three T-called loads over the past year.

Terminal:

A facility where trucking companies operate out of, or their "home base" if you will. A lot of major companies have multiple terminals around the country which usually consist of the main office building, a drop lot for trailers, and sometimes a repair shop and wash facilities.

Dispatcher:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

JuiceBox's Comment
member avatar

We call them repowers and I do not know of one driver that likes doing them at my company. They are 100% neccessary for the various reasons old school described above but man, in the flat bed world they can be an absolute PIA. If you are a driver who takes care of your equipment, then you will fully understand when you switch out almost all of your equipment with a driver who couldn't care less. Tarps in horrible condition, cut straps, bad bungees, and whatever else you can think of. It's nothing to scare anybody away but it was one of my main pet peeves. Oh and don't get me started on improperly secured loads!

Lucky Lew's Comment
member avatar

I can attest to the PIA this can be, I started with new tarps, but after a couple of repowers I had to spend hours patching old tarps. One repower load I had was not properly secured and it was very difficult to get the load to stop sliding out. I suspect that was the reason the driver had an "emergency". I had to add straps and tarp a very tall load to keep it from shifting. I never complained about these because it is a necessity, especially if you want to get home!

Rainy D.'s Comment
member avatar

I was once really sick and vomiting. i was 130 miles from home and had been out about 5 weeks. However, i had hometime scheduled in 2 weeks. i asked if incould go home early and my FM complied. i asked if he wanted a doctors note cause i did go and got antibiotics. he said no.

2 weeks later, a drunk driver hit my trailer and fled the scene. i had witnesses and a police report. the next morning my FM said "drop the trailer and bobtail home". i freaked out. WHAT??? BT home why? was he telling me to clean out my truck or something and Im fired?

nope. he said i didnt enjoy hometime while i was sick and "its already in the system approved" lol

However, there are tons of people who claim sick and try to extend home time with that. that ticks him off. tell him in advance and he might be able to work extra time. he said the one guy claimed like 12 times "my sister just had a baby so i need to help out an extra day". its worse if he assigned a load then the driver says "i cant get to the truck...my ride is late" or whatever.

basically, dont abuse the trust. once you do, you never get it back. no matter how good you once were.

when it comes to colds and congestion etc, you just keep trucking along.

Bobtail:

"Bobtailing" means you are driving a tractor without a trailer attached.

Fm:

Dispatcher, Fleet Manager, Driver Manager

The primary person a driver communicates with at his/her company. A dispatcher can play many roles, depending on the company's structure. Dispatchers may assign freight, file requests for home time, relay messages between the driver and management, inform customer service of any delays, change appointment times, and report information to the load planners.
CK's Comment
member avatar

Thanks everyone. I figured that anything minor I would just keep driving, but if I is as bad as I was the other day where when I wasn't actually in the act of getting sick I was in the fetal position on the floor driving wouldn't be safe or even possible. It's good to know that communication and honesty goes a long way, and that a person's history is considered.

I've been a manager before in retail and restaurants. The things people do and say to try to get out of work... there certainly are some doozies! Haha

Anyway, back to the High Road Training! Hoping to have permit in hand by the end of the month.

Mr. Curmudgeon's Comment
member avatar

And, it probably doesn't need to be said, but if you are blessed with an interaction with the person of the unusual hat, you're feeling just dandy, "Fit as a fiddle, Officer!" Telling them you're fighting the flu is an invite to an out of service

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