When I used to drive trucks for a living, this time of year was always stressful, as we come into the dreaded Easter period. This was a period of at least two weeks where, if something went wrong, it would go badly wrong.
First of all, any major public holiday becomes a deadline. The fact it’s a holiday means there is going to be higher spending around the country by consumers and what does that mean? More truck trips. Loads are bigger and more regular, the pressure on the truckie rises a little.
Secondly, the fact the country is having two days off has every customer wanting their delivery before the holiday. There is often no particular need to get it here before Christmas or Easter, but the customer must get what the customer wants. The pressure raises just a little more for the truck driver.
Many truck drivers spend way too much time away from home and their family, in the opinion of their families. When there’s a four day weekend it’s a great opportunity to get the whole family together and have some quality time, as a family unit. This only works if said driver can get the load off, get the truck back to the yard and drive home at a reasonable time on Thursday. Just a little more pressure on the driver creeps into the equation.
For those of us on the road all of the time, the amount of traffic we have to deal with starts to ramp up a week before Easter. There is just a few extra caravans and overloaded cars on the major highways to begin with, but every day of the week leading up to the public holiday, there is more traffic to deal with. All of these car drivers don’t normally drive this route and can chop and change lanes or make sudden moves without warning. It’s like a drip, drip increase in pressure for the driver.
In the lead up to Easter, the radio starts talking about double demerit points for offences. Just to remind the driver, there are illuminated signs on the road side to bring the point home. Demerit points are very easy to build up, when you spend your entire life on the highway and can mean a lost license, a fine and a loss in pay. The pressure is really starting to build now.
It’s at this point, as we close in on a relaxing weekend at home, that all of these factors start to play on the driver’s mind. The road is much more busy, it is going to take longer to reach the delivery point, they might knock off early before the holiday, the kids are on the phone asking when you’re going to be home.
Travelling at 100km/h with over 60 tonnes on behind, one small incident can wreck everything. This is something a truck driver lives with day-in day-out. They also know, at this time of year, it is more likely to happen on a busy road with a lot of road users unfamiliar with the route, with a full car and a long way to go, like the week of Easter.
Let’s just be extra careful out there in the next couple of weeks. We need to be extra extra careful as the normal Easter madness also bumps into Anzac Day. This is a time for calm from everyone. Let’s just put a little less pressure all round, whether we are shippers, customers, drivers, family or just driving our car to the beach.
Have a safe one!