Together Alone by Dr. Anna Akbari

Truck Drivers

May 21, 2014

Life on the road is perpetually memorialized and romanticized. Whether it’s an iconic road trip novel like Jack Kerouac’s On the Road or Willie Nelson’s legendary driving anthem, traveling long distances on the open road conjures images of carefree cruising and a soul searching, coming-of-age journey into the unknown.   At least in theory. In practice, it’s often not as magical and awe-inspiring as it may sound, particularly when it’s less of a joy ride and more of a harsh reality. Traveling for weeks at a time, separated from friends and family, can feel like a sentence to solitary confinement. But that need not be a permanent status. Enter television. Television has the power to bring the community to you, wherever you are, in real time. When TV follows you out onto the highway, the trip becomes infinitely more interesting—and a lot less lonely. Why? The secret sauce to any great trip (and life in general) is companionship and memory-making. Companionship is a key ingredient for happiness—so much so that it contributes to personal well-being more than income.1 And some have argued2 that memory is even more important than actuality—or, in other words, what we remember trumps what actually happened. Pictures, post cards, souvenirs; our desire to mark our experiences and share them with friends and family is persistent, crossing cultural and other demographic boundaries. Ritualized memory-making informs our sense of identity and adds meaning to relationships. Television programming in trucks satiates our appetite for connective memories and serves a dual purpose:   The characters become companions.   What does it mean to “be alone”? Is it merely the absence of other bodies, a lack of human contact? Or is there more to it? Being alone is less about physicality and more a mental state of being. Sherry Turkle3 reminds us that we are often “alone together,” preferring to connect with screens and absent bodies over those in our immediate presence. And yet, I argue that the inverse is also true: We can be “together alone,” filled with the spirit of companionship while in solitude. Television can help to satisfy this human need for connection. The characters on the screen fill the void of absent friends and family while out on the road. They speak to us, keep us company, and make us feel “together,” even when we are physically alone.   Their stories become our stories.   The stories that unfold on the television do more than merely pass the time. They fuel the narratives of our own lives. The trucks are 18-wheeled islands, and the programming serves as the bridge between them. Television creates a common point of connection—a shared story—to discuss at the truck stops and pontificate over the CB, to guide and animate the conversations when they call home. Imagine for a moment that you are one of these drivers. It’s Sunday and you’re fulfilling some mandatory rest time in your truck, somewhere along a deserted stretch of road near an Iowa cornfield. The sound of cars passing in the distance is the rhythmic hum that fills the airwaves. Now imagine that same scenario, only with a front row seat for the NFL kick-off. The passing cars are replaced with the roar of enthusiastic fans and the chatter of eager commentators. You know the players by name and pride yourself on recalling their stats. You grew up with these teams and have followed them for decades. They’re family – and they’ve been the topic of conversation at more than a few family dinners. Suddenly you’re at home, with the television and its characters keeping you company. At half-time, you call home—it’s non-stop chatter for those 12 minutes. The conversation is centered on football, but the value of that quality time is anything but trivial. After the game, you head to a truck stop for some dinner. The faces at the counter aren’t familiar, but their stories are. They’re reminiscing about the game—the extraordinary plays, the unbelievable calls. You dive into the post-game fray with your own play-by-play analysis and season predictions. It’s family mealtime all over again. Spontaneous camaraderie erupts, with the television programming serving as a social icebreaker that establishes kinship ties amongst strangers. And when it’s time to fuel up and head out once more, you’re not only refreshed and recharged, but you’ve also made new memories and forged new relationships, despite the confines of your truck and limited access to community—proving television actually can counteract isolation. Televisions in longhaul trucks are not only good for truckers, they’re good for the entire trucking industry. When a driver’s quality of life is improved, his job satisfaction shoots way up. And happy drivers are more likely to stay with the fleet and on the road, season after season, year after year.4 Access to television is an affordable job perk that, through its ability to breed connectivity and foster memory-making, can dramatically improve the costly cycle of perpetual recruitment and low driver retention. “The road is life,” Jack Kerouac said. And television has the power to make that life a little sweeter.
1. [Lane, Robert E. “Diminishing Return to Income, Companionship – and Happiness.” Journal of Happiness Studies 2(1): 103-119 (2000)] 2. [Norman, Donald A. “The Way I See It: Memory is More Important Than Actuality.” Interactions 16(2):24-26 (2009)] 3. [Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other. New York: Basic Books, 2011.] 4. [Medina, Elizabeth. “Job Satisfaction and Employee Turnover Intention: What Does Organizational Culture Have To Do With It?” M.A., Columbia University, 2012.]
Quality truck fleet management with a good strategy is a vital element for success in the trucking industry. These systems are necessary for communication, and processes are sure to succeed. There’s no doubt that the best semi-truck fleet teams are those that are effectively and efficiently managed, making a great fleet manager worth their weight in gold — and then some!  But what is it exactly that makes a fleet manager great? It all comes down to a solid fleet management strategy and reliable semi-fleet processes. In fact, these are essential to finding both short- and long-term success. If you’re in charge of a semi-truck fleet and are looking to build a fail-proof truck fleet management strategy, you’re in the right place. We’re here to give you some tried-and-true tips and tricks for developing a solid plan. With a little hard work and the right strategy, you will surely see increased profits, fleet growth, and a happier, healthier, and more productive crew. Keep scrolling to learn more.

5 Things to Consider When Developing Your Truck Fleet Management Strategy

If you want to develop a quality truck fleet management strategy, make sure to consider the following:
  1. Invest in a Fleet Management System — You could be the most experienced and focused manager, but you will still have difficulties staying organized and productive without a quality truck fleet management system in place. Managers of old used to rely on elaborate systems involving paper spreadsheets, filing cabinets, and more to run their business, but there are simpler ways to get the job done. Join the digital age by digitizing your workflow and operations; you’ll find that processes are optimized, and your team’s performance is improved! A good system will allow you to keep track of the best routes, maintenance schedules, driver and vehicle efficiency, automating various tasks (such as routing and scheduling deliveries, billing and invoicing, sending jobs to drivers, etc.) and more so you can maximize the potential of your fleet.
  2. Find Ways to Cut Maintenance Costs — It’s no secret that the economy is in an exciting place right now. Inflation is on the rise, and maintenance costs are not exempt. A solid semi-truck fleet manager must prioritize finding ways to reduce costs. Taking a defensive, preventive approach to maintenance is key. Improving fleet efficiency and ensuring that your rigs and necessary equipment are in tip-top shape and ready to go can help you stay ahead of maintenance issues. Consider utilizing a good fleet management system that can tell you about the vehicles’ engines and other diagnostic features to help extend the life of your trucks. These tools can help you quickly identify any problems with your trucks and avoid issues down the road when they become more serious, thus cutting maintenance costs. Another way to reduce maintenance costs is to base your trucks’ service schedule on accurate engine usage hours instead of an arbitrary calendar. This helps to eliminate unnecessary repairs and potential hours and revenue lost, allowing you to make the most of your fleet while still taking great care of them.
  3. Find Ways to Save Money on Fuel — As a fleet manager, it almost always comes down to budget. And one of the biggest portions (we’re talking between 50% and 65%) of overall operating costs is dedicated to fueling costs. As mentioned above, having a good management system and GPS tracking in place can help you develop an excellent management strategy. You’ll be able to monitor your drivers’ driving performance, habits, and behavior and monitor fuel usage, which directly affects fuel consumption. By tracking and analyzing this information, you’ll be alerted to issues sooner than you may have been otherwise. Moreover, tracking this info will keep you apprised of any safety concerns, such as aggressive driving. Addressing these issues will help you reduce operational costs associated with your fuel budget.
  4. Perfect and Optimize Your Drivers’ Routes — Customers and clients demand quick and on-time deliveries, so taking the perfect and optimal route is absolutely crucial. Your business’ reputation counts on it! Inaccurate arrival time estimates, delays, and inefficient routes will only lead to frustration. Hiccups and issues along the way are bound to happen and are an inevitable part of any industry, including trucking. But, by automating customer notifications and other processes, fleet managers can experience a lot less stress, allowing them to spend time and put their focus elsewhere.
  5. Prioritize Your Drivers’ Health and Wellness — One of the biggest parts of developing a good truck fleet management strategy is prioritizing your team’s health and wellness. Feeling isolated on the road comes with being a truck driver; it’s part of the territory. So fleet managers who promote a healthy work-life balance and positive mental health are typically much more successful.

Here are some ways managers can prioritize employees’ health:

Include EpicVue in Your Truck Fleet Management Strategy

Developing a truck fleet management strategy is essential to the success of your business, and EpicVue is here to help make it happen. EpicVue will outfit your fleet with premium in-cab television so your drivers can enjoy a bit of home on the road and catch up on their favorite shows. Contact EpicVue today to learn more.