Tomorrow is Groundhog Day.
Did you ever see that movie with Bill Murray where he repeats the day over and over until he finally gets it right? I think driving a truck can sometimes be that way too. We do all the same things over and over – load, drive, unload, drive, repeat. There should be some way for us truckers to automate some of these tasks. For example, maintenance. We do the same checks on our equipment week by week.
We get bored with routine.
“We know when people are bored they’re more likely to make performance errors and likely to not be as productive,” says [psychologist John]Eastwood. “That’s a big deal if you’re an air-traffic controller or you’re monitoring a nuclear plant.” American Psychological Association
It’s the same for truckers. A weekly task can become so routine that we run through it without much thought or attention.
What can you do to change up your maintenance and truck checking routine?
The Internet to the rescue
A quick check with Google will show you dozens of forms you can download and print. The sequence varies on some of them, which would force us to pay attention. A different look or style might be enough to prompt attention for a few weeks. Put “trucking inspection forms” into a Google search box and see what you’ll get. The maintenance routines you learned in trucking school aren’t written in stone. Start at the trailer and fifth wheel instead of the cab.
There will be people who have developed an efficient way to do their checks. They’ve got the routine worked out so they’re done quickly – which is important for truckers who have a schedule to meet. But when that routine fails to identify issues because the driver is bored and therefore, easily distracted, it can be trouble.
Efficient or Effective? How we look at maintenance checks
In these days of the ELD, speed is now a critical factor. We have to get on the road and cover as many miles as possible. That’s why the efficiency of a truck maintenance check is valued more than one that’s slower. But the slower one may be the better of the two.
Take your tires, for example.
There’s a metric that says how many miles you should get on your tires. Is that what you get from your tires? Chances are, it’s winter and the roads are a mess here in Ohio. It’s also cold and messy to inspect those inner wheels. We may be tempted to not take the time we need to really examine our tires. Especially as the tires get older, it’s critical that we spend the time checking them over. This is effective over efficient. Will another few minutes make a difference in how far you get on the road today? Probably not, and in the long haul, noticing a problem with your tires before you have an emergency on-the-road replacement.
Maintenance is our life-blood
It doesn’t matter how much they’re going to pay us to haul a load if we don’t have the equipment.
It’s not just about keeping the exterior clean and shiny – or even bling-y. It’s about making sure what’s under the hood, under the trailer, and under our seats is in good, safe shape.
Tracking your truck’s maintenance isn’t just important. It’s the difference between life and death of your business. It will pay you to keep track of the repairs you’ve made and who made them (in case it needs to be done again.) When you’re on the road, it can be hard to be consistent. That’s why a good maintenance software is worth the expense – if it’s tracking your miles as well as your time.
We recommend TruckingOffice trucking management solutions. We’re here to help you prevent and solve the challenges of being a long-distance trucker. Our maintenance module alone is worth the monthly fee, but we give you much, much more. Invoicing, payment-tracking, routing – you name it – if your trucking business needs it, we’re here to give it to you.
So try us out for free! Check out our maintenance module and see what you need to keep your truck on the road.
And remember – don’t drive angry. Phil the Groundhog from Groundhog’s Day