It’s been nearly 30 years since truck driver Reginald Denny was pulled from his truck and beaten during the 1992 riots in Los Angeles. Some of your drivers may be too young to remember, but many aren’t. As a fleet operator, it’s likely weighing heavily on you as you watch the news today.
Preparing your fleet for traveling through and working in the cities where civil unrest occurs is important both for the health and safety of your drivers and for your business. Here are a few things to keep in mind.
Maintain Situational Awareness
You know what routes your drivers have and where each load is going. Keep your eye on the news for up-to-date information about any protests or riots. Watch for road closures so you can help drivers re-route as needed. Work with your drivers to schedule deliveries and drops for early in the morning or late at night if they’re going into a hotspot.
Encourage your drivers to bypass major cities whenever possible. If they can avoid driving through downtown areas, where protests usually occur, they should. Advise your drivers to avoid areas with curfews in place, especially if they’re on the road when the curfew begins. Understanding where the crowds and police will be can help your drivers avoid those areas.
Communicate with Your Drivers and Your Customers
As much as possible, pass on the relevant information to your drivers. Help them re-route whenever possible. It’s also important to make it clear to your drivers that their safety is more important than a delivery time. This means you’ll need to be in contact with your customers, too.
Your customers are watching the news, so they have to understand what’s going on in their own area. Don’t wait for an angry customer to contact you about the state of their load. Be proactive about any changes or to let them know the driver has been rerouted to avoid protest areas. If your driver is delivering in the midst of a hotspot, keep your driver safe, and your customer informed.
Discuss Driver Safety
It’s easy to sit in an office, watching the news, juggling schedules, and talking to drivers. It’s much harder to drive around an angry crowd of demonstrators. Your drivers may be put into a position where they fear for their life or they don’t know what to do. Work with your drivers to help them stay safe.
Start with these tips:
- When they enter an area of unrest, especially if they feel unsafe, drivers should keep their doors locked and their windows rolled up. Most importantly, they need to stay in the vehicle.
- Some drivers keep wasp spray or tire thumpers in their cab to defend against any kind of attack, not just protestors. Advise your drivers not to engage with rioters and that retaliation should be an absolute last resort. They should never go on the attack, but they may need to defend themselves.
- If your driver carries a firearm in their cab, their permits must be current, and they must follow all local and state laws for the area they’re in. If they don’t, they may find themselves in legal trouble later, regardless of the civil unrest going on.
These are tough times for everyone. The incidents that lead to these protests are horrific, and people’s anger is justified. But you have a job to do and drivers to look after. Doing so not only keeps more people safe, it keeps your business moving forward.
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