A Little Empowerment for Truckers Without Idling Alternatives

Here’s an idea for the empowerment of professional truck drivers who want to stay comfortable in trucks without idling alternatives when they’re parked in no idling zones.

Plugging into an electrical outlet, symbolic of being empowered or empowerment.It may not make you feel any more comfortable physically, but it can help you create the “paper trail” you need to prove your point.

This may be especially helpful for drivers who find themselves in a situation in which they cannot leave a particular trucking company (possibly because they received CDL training through the company and must finish a mandatory driving period).

In a word: document!

As a means of your empowerment, we recommend that you start documenting the temperature inside your truck any time you park and would ordinarily idle for climate control — especially at the beginning and end of your sleep break.

We have designed a “Temperature vs. Rest Documentation” table (available through our Free Downloads page) which you may print and use to record

  • both the time and temperature in your truck at the start and end of your rest period, and
  • how rested you felt afterwards.

In this way, you record both objective and subjective measurements.

How to Measure Temperature

We bought a digital thermometer somewhat like the one shown here from Amazon.com, with whom we have an affiliate relationship.

With it, we planned to start documenting temperatures in Mike’s truck.

As it turned out, Mike got a local truck driving job, which meant that he no longer had to take a sleep break in his truck.

Not only do we recommend that you keep documentation in your truck, but we recommend that you send the numbers to your driver manager and someone you trust in your family. By putting them in written form, there is a record, a paper trail. Your documentation is your empowerment to keep you from feeling completely helpless.

  • If you have a QualComm unit in your truck by which you can send messages to your company, this might be the perfect way to send a daily report to your company in digital format.
    It might not hurt to mail a copy (always keep your original!) of your weekly or monthly hard copy report to the Director of Operations at your company.
  • If you have email or can send a text message, this might be the perfect way to make sure your family gets your information daily.

If you can show over time that being in a truck without idling alternatives is uncomfortable, you may be able to make a case for having an APU or other climate control device installed on your truck.

This is a tool for your empowerment.

Pressing Back?

We do not recommend this, but during the time when Mike drove over the road and had a certified clean idle engine (with no idling alternatives on the truck), we thought about pressing back against anti-idle laws for the sake of our health (not getting overheated) and the safety of the motoring public.

You see, Mike has experienced heat-related stress during his career as a professional truck driver.

As we previously shared on our drinking water page,

The weather was incredibly hot the day that Mike had some extra outside work to do in moving trailers. Vicki warned him to take frequent breaks and keep up his water intake.

But he kept pushing himself. Later, while we were taking a shower at a truckstop, Mike’s body had had enough and he threw up.

In their page on Heat Precautions, the state of Missouri recommends (among other things) that a person “Rest in a cool, preferably air-conditioned, area” if a person exhibits the warning signs of heat exhaustion. They also provide tips on how to prevent heat-related illness.

But what if you can’t make your truck air conditioned and there is no A/C-cooled building in which you can rest as a trucker?

We know that the following will not prevent truckers from getting a ticket for violating posted anti-idle laws, but the image has a two-pronged emphasis: one’s own health and the safety of the motoring public.

I'm idling for my health and the safety of the motoring public.What would happen, we wonder, if drivers started posting this or a similar sign in their driver’s side window in an otherwise hot truck.

It reads:

“Attention: Law Enforcement

“I am idling for my health and the safety of the motoring public.”

Again, pressing back on anti-idle laws is not the key to your empowerment (unless you just happen to like flirting with getting a ticket or fine).

You would be better served to get in touch with the lawmakers of that jurisdiction or investigate our proposition.

But here are a couple of questions:

If you would be held responsible for the injury or death of a young child or pet for being kept too long in a hot vehicle, why should you have to put up with that same hot environment yourself?

Shouldn’t there be empowerment for you, too?

truck drivers money saving tip iconMoney saving tip: Consider your empowerment options, if there are any, for staying as cool as you can when you have no idling alternatives.

Your options may be more numerous if you are able to use your truck’s battery power for connecting an inverter like the one shown here.

You may be forced to supply your own batteries to keep the air moving in your truck just to try to stay cool, but using a battery operated fan may beat nothing at all.

Shown here, you will see a fan that will run on either electricity or batteries.

Bear in mind, however, that one resource says, “High relative humidity reduces the effectiveness of sweating in cooling the body by reducing the rate of evaporation of moisture from the skin.”

If you have an ice chest with a supply of ice in it, be aware of the potential of applying any water derived from melted ice on your body.

As the Heat Precautions page linked above says, “Electric fans may be useful to increase comfort and to draw cool air into your home at night, but do not rely on a fan as your primary cooling device during a heat wave. When the temperature is in the upper 90s or higher, a fan will not prevent heat-related illness. A cool shower or bath is a more effective way to cool off.”

We also have come up with a proposition between drivers and their companies that could prove to be a win-win situation.

Return from A Little Empowerment for Truckers Without Idling Alternatives to our Truck Operations page or our Truck Drivers Money Saving Tips home page.