By Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm
Running team is favored by many companies. Husband and wife teams became highly desired in the early 1980’s. Having a couple together on a truck not only cuts back on the need for home time, it also provides stability and security that companies would otherwise be lacking.
Back in the days before cell hone and everything technological, there were many funny stories where one driver would leave their co-driver in a variety of places. A rest area was a common place for a driver to go in and, not knowing that their co-driver had done the same, and after doing their business would leave without verifying their co-driver was in the sleeper so they were accidentally left there.
Thankfully this never happened to us, even though we came close once! We have heard so many stories about another driver giving the one left behind a ride; then catching up to their truck and passing them while the driver who is supposed to be in the bunk is waving like a crazy person. The puzzled look on the faces of those drivers when they turned around to look in the bunk, and sure enough nobody was home, must have been priceless!
We said all of that to say this: It’s imperative that when running as a team, whether it be with a spouse, significant other or simply a co-driver, you must have a system in place to notify one another anytime one of you is out of the truck.
Today it’s probably less likely to happen than when we were dependent on payphones. However, if you phone is in the truck and you are not, there are a few things you can do to prevent this from happening. (Also keep in mind that these days it’s less likely another driver will let an unauthorized passenger in their truck and catching up to the other truck may be harder to do!)
DEVELOP A SYSTEM and put it to use EVERY time you get out. Leave a pillow on the steering wheel or set something specific in your seat so your co-driver knows that you are out of the truck. Pick anything that is obvious and will make sure your co-driver is aware that you are not there! In addition, ALWAYS leave the curtain open when you are supposed to be occupying the bunk but have left for whatever reason. This can also help ensure that you don’t get left behind. Make sure you take your mobile phone with you as well, JUST IN CASE!
BE CONSIDERATE of your co-driver when it’s their turn to sleep. Some people can’t sleep with the radio too loud and some like quiet radio noise to help muffle conversations the other driver may be having on their headset. Work out the details with your partner so everyone gets the rest they need and you are both safe at all times.
Talking on a mobile phone has replaced running with friends on the CB, so the noise can actually be quieter now than it was back in the day of scratchy CB noise. Conversations with others via your mobile phone can help keep you more alert, especially when you have to run the night shift. Remember to always use hands-free when you are driving. Not only is it safer, it’s the law!
Running team in such close quarters will also try any relationship at times. If you company allows, get out of the truck when you are sitting someplace interesting and go SEE THE LOCAL SIGHTS. If you are driving with your spouse or significant other, have a fun date on the road. Go to a movie; many huge theaters allow truck parking. Always make sure the truck and trailer are secure before going on an adventure!
Many people think that when you are running as a team you see each other all the time because you are together 24/7. In reality it’s not as much as you would think, one of you is driving while the other one is sleeping. So while running hard, as teams do, you oftentimes see each other as you pass through the curtain; one to driver and the other to bed.
We really advise that BOTH OF YOU DO EVERYTHING, load, unload, drive in all weather conditions, forward, back-up, big city, two-lanes. If something happens to “the main driver” who back into docks, drivers in the bad weather or through the big cities, the other driver could be in a tight spot if they don’t have any experience.
It takes effort and commitment from both drivers to run a successful team operation. COMMUNICATION is the key when working so closely together, and trust is mandatory to be able to sleep when the other is driving. If done right, team driving can be a great experience; one we have both had and been successful at. It just takes work. But the work is worth it, especially when you find the right partner.
Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!
Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.