Oh boy, down time!

| April 01, 2006

Truckstops offer some relief for boredom – television, books, audiobooks, video games. Still, all of that can get old with regular downtime.

“You can only watch television so long, read so many books and play so many video games,” Dave says. “That’s kind of a problem because not many places are trucker friendly anymore.”

Getting out of the truckstop to do something fun isn’t easy, says Rachel. “There’s never anything close to the truckstops where you can do something,” she says. “You can bobtail, but if you want to drop your trailer, you have to get permission.”

“It’s a security issue to drop the trailers in the truckstops now,” Dave says.

One way to keep a good attitude during downtime is to remember there’s always somebody worse off than you.

“We saw some people in a truck parked near us yesterday,” Rachel says. “There were two parents and five kids in there. It’s rough enough on an adult. I can’t imagine having five kids along. Who knows what they did with their downtime?”

The most important thing to remember is that downtime is not time off. Truckers are on call 24/7 during downtime. That means no partying or straying far from the truck without clearing it with headquarters and probably handing over the keys.

If a co-worker’s spouse gets sick and you’re the closest available re-power, but you have a belly full of beer and are 20 miles away from the truck, you’ll likely be fired, and it will be hard to get another job. It’s that simple. During downtime, stay sober and near the truck, and be ready to go.

That means take care of business before turning the television dial to the NASCAR channel or putting an epic movie in the DVD player.

“I get fuel and shower if I need to, maybe get something to eat, catch up on my logs or wash clothes,” Allen says. “When I get my chores done, I watch television, or I like to play the PGA Tour Guide video game.”

Less experienced drivers would be smart to heed these tips for handling downtime.

“This is my first trip out over the road from driving locally for three years, and I forgot all about the downtime,” says Alltrans Logistics company driver Henry Neufeld of Port Burwell, Ontario, Canada. “If I could, I’d be fishing or golfing,” Neufeld says. “But I haven’t been out here in a long time, and I don’t know what to do. The food is too expensive, so you can’t sit and relax in the restaurant.”

But Neufeld has his own suggestion for downtime well spent. “I’d like it if they had a weight room or an exercise room where you can burn off some this sitting-behind-the-wheel fat,” he says. “Ninety percent of truckers are overweight because they don’t get any exercise, so the best thing they could do is get on a treadmill or something like that.”

Many truckstops are offering more entertainment options all the time, so look for more ways to ease downtime (like exercise equipment) in the future. In this age of simple, easy, affordable access to the information superhighway, cell phones, movies, television, video games, plus the many tasks that a trucker needs to handle during downtime, it’s looking more and more like an opportunity for serious professionals to put their lives and trucks in order and then have a little fun.

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