Truck driving remains one of the most dangerous jobs in the United States. Not only because trucks are more prone to accidents but also because truckers are often the targets of violent crime. Just last year, CDLLife reported several incidents of violence against drivers, including a semi-truck driver who was fired upon by an SUV driver and a trucker who was attacked by a group of protesters while making deliveries.
Whether drivers are alone in desolate places at dangerous hours or near a crowd in broad daylight, there is always a possibility of danger lurking ahead. Although they are very much aware of the dangers that come with their job, they can never really tell when or where perpetrators might strike.
If you are a trucker, here are helpful tips to protect yourself from being attacked on the road:
Be more aware of your surroundings.
No matter where you are, you must always take the time to notice your surroundings. This is especially true when you are at a rest stop or at the side of the road on a dark night. When you become more aware of your surroundings, you can take better notice of the things that are out of the ordinary.
It is always easier to let your guard down when your mind is pre-occupied with so many things, such as staying on schedule or when you are already tired after hours of driving. But the moment you do, that’s when the unexpected happens. So, be always on the lookout for changes in your surroundings that seem or feel a bit off.
Follow your gut instinct when choosing a truck stop.
Not all truck stops are the same. While there are rest stops that seriously consider not just truckers’ comfort but also safety, there are a few that can be especially dangerous at night.
Is the parking lot too dark? Does the stop look outdated and badly need a makeover? Are there many parked vehicles, or are you alone at the parking lot?
The answers to these questions play a crucial role in choosing that truck stop. However, even if you think the positives outweigh the negatives, it still pays to follow your gut instinct when choosing a truck stop. That inner voice that says you’re better off driving a few more miles instead of stopping might save you from trouble later on.
Make sure to be as visible as possible.
While assaults on truck drivers can happen anywhere, they are very much likely to occur in less visible areas. That is why, no matter where you are, you have to stay in the open as much as possible. The more visible you are, the lesser the opportunity for the perpetrator to attack you out of fear of getting caught.
At nighttime, you can even wear reflective clothing to discourage assailants. If all you’ve got is a basic safety vest, then that will do. In case someone attacks you in the dark and you try to defend yourself by wrestling with the attacker, passersby might notice your reflective vest and approach you to ask what’s happening.
Keep the inside of your truck away from prying eyes.
Smartphones, laptops, wallets, and GPS devices—these are what thieves are usually after. And the moment you put them in plain sight, the higher the chance robbers will target you. Don’t let this happen to you by keeping these valuable items hidden from plain view.
One effective way of concealing your belongings is to use a curtain window cloth. This product can be used to cover the windows when you leave your truck or when you need to rest or sleep. If curtains aren’t your thing, you can always get a window cover for this job. It comes in many different sizes, shapes, and colors to meet your specific needs.
Have a weapon with you.
When we say weapon, it does not necessarily mean gun. But, many drivers do carry guns with them, and there is no law that prohibits them from doing so. They are, however, expected to obey state and local rules and regulations regarding weapons and a person’s right to carry.
Many truckers feel the need to carry owned firearms since some driving routes, such as Detroit and Chicago, have high crime rates. Not only that, according to reports, about 40% of crimes against truck drivers are violent, including rape and assault. So carrying a firearm is a means of protection for them, especially when they are on the road at dangerous hours or parking at an odd place.
Some trucking companies, however, do not allow their drivers to carry firearms because local laws vary from state to state. If you are denied to obtain a firearm, you can always keep and use alternatives, such as a baseball bat.
Make use of the things around you as protection devices.
Since the requirements of states, cities, and counties regarding weapons and a person’s right to carry are complicated, some drivers choose not to carry a firearm and make use of the things around them as means of protection instead. These include basic tools such as a hammer, wrench, tire thumper, screwdriver, and the long metal rod type of tire gauge. Everyday items such as padlocks, wasp spray, and big flashlights are also included in the list.
Learn basic hand-to-hand moves for self-defense.
When an attacker confronts you and you don't have a weapon or any protection device, you can always use bare-handed self-defense techniques to disable your attacker. These techniques are easy to learn—in fact, you may have probably used a move or two even before you started a truck driving career.
Trucking is no doubt a dangerous business. And no matter how vigilant you are, you will still find yourself standing face-to-face with danger at some point in your trucking career. Be sure to keep these important tips in mind to better protect yourself from being attacked on the road.