Roadways across America have seen their fair share of demonstrations and civil unrest in recent months, and a number of commercial vehicle drivers have found themselves in the middle of potentially-dangerous protest areas. With the hotly-contested presidential election upon us, motor carriers and drivers should brace for the possibility of protesters taking to the streets over the next week or two to demonstrate against election results.
While it is impossible to plan for every situation, there are some important security measures drivers can take to help keep themselves and their equipment safe:
Check news outlets, your dispatch department, and delivery locations for possible protests along your route, and avoid areas where protest activity is occurring. Even a peaceful demonstration can turn into a violent situation fairly quickly.
Conduct a thorough pre-trip inspection before departing, as required by law, to help eliminate maintenance breakdowns while you’re on the road.
Double check your route before leaving, as conditions are constantly changing. If you cannot avoid the vicinity of gatherings, protests, or demonstrations, plan for road closures and prepare alternate routes. Travel during daylight hours whenever possible.
Remain in regular communication with your dispatcher to provide travel updates.
Keep all doors locked and exercise extreme caution.
Pay attention to the road ahead and watch for makeshift barricades used to block roadways and get drivers to stop.
Assess every situation prior to exiting the vehicle. If danger or exposure to masses of people exists, abort delivery operations immediately.
Call 911 to immediately report any emergency situation to local law enforcement and contact your company office.
If you encounter a gathering, stop your vehicle…DO NOT drive through a crowd. Avoid any interaction and do not provoke group participants.
If there is sufficient time, crack the vehicle’s windows and turn off the ventilation system. According to the Iowa Motor Truck Association, windows that are down approximately a half inch are more difficult to break than windows that are tightly closed, and turning off the ventilation system helps prevent smoke or teargas in the air from getting into your vehicle.
If available, utilize your event recorder to document your surroundings, or use your phone camera to record the situation if it is safe to do so. The recorded Information could assist law enforcement and also help for insurance purposes.
Consider moving away from the driver’s seat—after the vehicle is turned off and keys are removed—and away from the windows.
Stay in touch with police, and maintain continuous contact with your dispatcher and safety department for specific operating procedures and follow company policy.
Remove keys from unattended vehicles, and keep doors locked and windows closed. Also ensure trailer locking and latching mechanisms are functioning properly. At night, only park in well-light, safe areas.