Early signs of rising operating costs for heavy vehicles in 2020 are clearly evident. Truck and bus owners therefore need to take action to control and minimise these costs
Road transport operators cannot always pass on rising costs to their customers. Therefore, the only way to stay ahead and continue to make a fair profit is to reduce operating costs.
The best people to reduce vehicle operating costs are the men or women behind the wheel, as they have complete control of the vehicle once it leaves the yard. Drivers have a major influence on fuel consumption, tyre wear, brake and clutch life, as well as all the other variables that influence the maintenance and repair costs of a vehicle.
However, even highly qualified and experienced drivers cannot continually drive a vehicle in a professional manner that will reduce costs if they are not fit and healthy. Ensuring that drivers stay healthy should, therefore, be a priority in any transport business.
Truck drivers should be tested annually to ensure that they are not suffering from the two major health problems affecting drivers – diabetes and hypertension. Both these health conditions are extremely dangerous for truck drivers, truck owners and other road users.
Good management of drivers entails keeping a continual watch on performance and behaviour. Erratic fuel consumption is normally a very good indicator that a driver is losing focus and concentration while driving, due to a health problem.
The tell-tale signs that could indicate that a driver may be suffering from diabetes include that he or she may have a continual thirst and may need to urinate frequently. They might also be tired all the time, overweight and experience blurred vision.
Drivers who have been identified as having diabetes should not be dismissed, provided that the condition is controlled and a system is implemented to track their health. Wherever possible, however, they should be removed from long-distance routes and allocated trips with shorter distances.
They should also be encouraged to take steps to help them to manage their health. These include eating healthy foods every day at regular intervals; stopping smoking; being physically active, for example, walking for least 30 minutes every day; and strictly following the instructions and advice of medical doctors and dieticians.
Hypertension is the other main health problem affecting truck drivers. Commonly known as the silent killer, it is hard to detect until it is properly measured. A driver cannot afford to have a heart attack or a stroke behind the wheel. It is, therefore, vital that the blood pressure of all drivers is regularly measured.
The message is clear: for trucking companies to survive and make a fair return, it essential to focus on the reduction of operating costs, and taking care of drivers is the key factor in reducing these costs. It is worth remembering that, in long-distance operations, operating costs can account for approximately 45 percent of total costs.