When I was appointed as the new editor of Freight magazine at the end of last year, I was tasked with refreshing the content of the long-established members’ magazine, making it into a ‘pick up and read’, and – crucially – covering the stories that members are interested in.
That’s why we sent out a survey to our readers. And the results both pleased and surprised us. Ninety nine per cent of members read Freight, while almost three out of four pass it to one of their colleagues to read. And when it comes to the topics that capture their interest, readers ranked compliance and safety firmly at the top of the leader board.
Having listened to what we’ve been told, we have changed the title and the content of the magazine, as well as its ‘look and feel’. There are not only larger images and fewer words, we’ve illustrated many of the stories with lively infographics too.
One of our magazine’s regular features is a new Compliance Advice section, where readers can discover more about the various O licence undertakings. Plus, there’s a regular Headliners section, featuring the month’s must-read news stories, and a member profile to show how others are negotiating the compliance minefield.
In the February issue you can read about the latest from our team in Brussels, a feature on the Government’s focus on decarbonising freight and coverage on our key campaigns.
So if you haven’t already received your copy, check out our new Freight & Logistics
Matt Harrington, Editor, Freight & Logistics
The shortage of lorry drivers means that these days we are able to pick and choose which company we work for, and the facilities provided for basic tasks like preparing food, washing and going to the loo are fundamental to our experience of the job. In the past if a driver complained about poor conditions, the response might have been, “If you don’t like it, you know where you can go, there are plenty more to replace you.” Nowadays, that is no longer the case, so companies would be wise to take note of drivers’ concerns.
Forget the stereotypical image of a lorry driver – nowadays drivers, both men and women, want to be able to wash their hands before eating, prepare their own healthy food, and have access to satisfactory toilet facilities. The job can be unhealthy enough as it is, and many drivers would actively choose a company which supports them in staying healthier.
Most truckers seem fairly happy with the facilities provided by their company at their home depot, but out on the road, however, it’s a different story. Good quality roadside services are few and far between, are often expensive if you are buying food, but do not allow you to eat your own in the building. Drivers who do European work say that facilities on the continent are vastly superior – frequent free, clean service areas.
But by far the worst problems of all are reported at delivery sites. I have personally had the experience of arriving at a warehouse at 4am and being told that the ladies’ loo is on the 1st floor with the offices, is kept locked, and the only key is in the desk of the woman who does accounts and she is not due in until 8.30. One driver complained of having to sit on a plastic chair for six hours while being loaded, with little more than a bucket for a toilet. There were adequate loos for the staff there, he just wasn’t allowed to use them.
The real issue is one of respect. Decent facilities are an essential, basic human right that somehow as a truck driver we seem to be thought to be able to do without. Access to decent facilities and respect go hand in hand.
If the industry as a whole does not provide good facilities at rest areas, and expects drivers to urinate in the open (one woman was told to go behind the trailer) or exclusively to eat unhealthy fast food, that tells potential or new drivers everything they need to know about what the industry thinks of them and how much effort and money is put into their welfare. The number of people prepared to put up with it is dwindling. Why would a young person pay thousands to acquire a licence when that is the treatment they will get at the end of it?
So what does best practice look like? In terms of facilities at the home depot – toilets and, if necessary, showers, for both sexes, which are cleaned as regularly as those of the office staff. Poor treatment and facilities at collection and delivery sites is unacceptable. As an agency driver, I would not take a job with a company if it included waiting for hours at a drop with no facilities.
If something doesn’t change, drivers will vote with their feet. It is simply a case of employers looking at the conditions provided for drivers and thinking, ‘Would I put up with this?’ If the answer is no, then why should a driver?
Jenny Tipping is a driver for Manpower Logistics and was a finalist in the 2012 and 2014 everywoman in Transport & Logistics Awards in the Driver of the Year category.
For those who don’t work in the freight and logistics industry it may seem that the life of a lorry driver is a pretty easy one; they are able to sit down all day and get to listen to the radio whilst working. The truth is however, that they face a number of issues that can cause anxiety and stress on a daily basis, these go beyond what most of us will have to deal with at work, and can lead to serious health problems both mentally and physically.
The Battle Against Fatigue
It’s well known that lorry drivers spend long days on the road which can be dangerous as concentration levels are bound to dip after a few hours. Added to long hours is the stress that many face on a daily basis because of the volume of traffic and delays which impact on many who battle against fatigue, and struggle to maintain concentration levels at all times. If I have a lull in concentration in the office it’s likely that it will go unnoticed, but on the road one dip in concentration can be fatal.
Truck drivers have to navigate their vehicles through busy traffic and around narrow streets in our towns and cities. Simply getting from one side to another can be an exhausting obstacle course, and physically and mentally draining on the driver. When regularly faced with an issue like this the levels of stress and anxiety will rise – particularly knowing that they have to face the same again tomorrow.
Meeting Deadlines While Being Safe
Regulations on how long a lorry driver can spend on the road are an essential safety enhancement for them and other road users. However, they can put extra strain on them being able to meet delivery deadlines. Reduced time on the road, confusing directions and traffic jams all play havoc with the ability to deliver the goods on time.
Sitting in a lorry for the majority of the day can be detrimental to a driver’s health and for many the food options on the road aren’t that great either. Truck drivers on short haul journeys are able to take their food with them and exercise at night. But for the long distance lorry driver, sleeping in the cab, a healthy lifestyle isn’t so easy.
Another unhealthy element can be spending a long time in isolation and away from home. The adverse effects of being alone for a long time away from loved ones are common knowledge. Dealing with mental turmoil only makes the other issues even more difficult to deal with.
The job of a lorry driver is certainly one that demands a great deal from the individual who is literally delivering the goods; an essential role not always recognised by the general public, but one which should be. Without them we would have no food in the supermarkets, no sofa to sit on, television to watch, computer to work from, or beer in the pubs. They do a great job and one that personally I applaud.
Stuart Cooke is a Marketing Executive for BMG Insurance which specialises in the haulage industry.