If you’re one of those people who buy a new electronic gadget and throw away the instructions before reading them, you’re not alone. Who wants to spend 20 minutes reading paragraph after paragraph of technical terms and directions? If you’re an OTR driver, though, not reading your orientation handbook can have negative consequences.
A driver orientation handbook contains a bevy of information key to your job. Not knowing the policies and procedures of the company for which you work may even endanger your career as a driver. The best handbooks include points relevant to issues unique to the trucking industry. They also provide drivers with a valuable reference tool.
Even though your initial orientation included a lot of information, having written policies and procedures to review can be essential. This is especially true when you need an answer quickly to a crucial question when you’re out on the road. The company for which you work may have 24/7 company support. However, being able to locate an answer in your orientation handbook can save you a call to a dispatcher or mechanic.
Let’s look at some sections included in many trucking company orientation handbooks:
In addition to a mission statement, your handbook may cover the company’s history and culture. You represent your company through your driving. Knowing what is expected of you in certain situations can make a big difference. Many handbooks also contain information on human resources issues, including pay and benefits such as health insurance.
Policies and Procedures
Several important parts of your job occur at pick-up and drop-off. For instance, you’re tasked with counting the product you’re carrying and ensuring it’s in excellent condition. Things like not examining and signing bills of lading or checking reefer temperature can affect not only your job but the company’s relationship with a customer. Some customers want their own specific guidelines followed. Details on situations like this are included in a well-designed orientation handbook.
The policies and procedures encompassed in your handbook act as a set of guidelines for you to follow. They’re based on best practices and offer a quick reference on topics including safety, maintenance, training and regulations. Even steps for what to do if you’ve had an accident with your truck are included. These points are especially important to follow in case some sort of litigation results from the accident.
As we mentioned in a previous blog, conducting regular maintenance checks makes for a more fuel-efficient truck. It also can help reduce the number of mechanical problems you encounter on the road. Trucks often have more breakdowns and are less safe overall when they’re not properly maintained. Your orientation handbook contains a pre- and post-trip inspection guide, guidelines for routine maintenance and steps to take for reporting mechanical problems. Following these can make your job easier and help keep your truck running better longer.
Rules and Regulations
As a driver, you know there’s a multitude of regulations you must follow. Your handbook covers these regulations along with the necessary permits, licensing and certification mandates and hours-of-service rules. For drivers carrying hazardous materials, as some Dynamic employees do, the handbook lists requirements for hauling these types of loads. By following these rules and regulations, you can avoid fines and penalties for both you and the company for which you work.
As you know, most trucks weigh 20-30 times as much as cars. Loaded semis take 20-40 percent farther to stop. Therefore, it’s crucial that you’re aware of the rules of the road and what steps to take to ensure both you and your load arrive safely to your destination. Orientation handbooks list safety rules, operation of safety devices, guidelines for securing your cargo and more.
Although this is only an overview of an OTR driver orientation handbook, it covers some of the major issues that affect your job. By being knowledgeable about its contents, you can address issues on the road without having to call company headquarters or another driver. Remember, your orientation handbook is designed for you to get the most out of your career and be the driver you strive to be.