Lost and Found
Drivers go missing for various reasons: fights with spouses, quitting a company without notice away from a terminal, going on a bender, becoming ill, dying due to natural causes in the truck, or being a victim of a criminal act. We hear about these lost drivers once in awhile; some who are found are alive and well, and some never are found. Drivers can do things to assist their families and companies to find them if they go missing.
Whether you are a company driver, independent contractor driving someone else’s equipment, or owner operator, give your family a complete description of the equipment you are driving. This includes VIN number, license plate number, unit number, color, make and type of equipment, identifying features and company you are working for or leased to and their contact information. Also, make sure they have a recent photo of you and your spouse/partner if running team. In addition, tell them whether you run coast-to-coast or regional and what region you are running in.
Here are some other things to do:Set up an alternative contact person to run intermediary in case you and your spouse or partner are on the outs. Have that person at least let your partner or spouse know that you are ok. If you are a company driver or contractor driving someone else’s equipment, never abandon a truck; this will follow you adversely throughout your career. If you are going to quit a company, notify them that you are doing so and take the truck back to where you got it or where they say to take it. If you are an owner operator, then at least notify the company that you are leaving. We all would hope that you are professional enough not to go on a bender when on the road and supposed to be working, but stuff happens. As soon as possible alert your company and family where you are and always have ICE (In Case of Emergency) next to a family member’s number in your cell phone and on a piece of paper in your wallet. If you become ill enough that you have to stop driving, contact your company and give them your location. Also, contact a family member giving them your location and a truck stop name if that is where you are and have them check with you periodically while you are sick. Drivers are creatures of habit; we have our favorite truck stops, rest areas and on ramps where we might stop. Give your family an atlas and a truck stop guide and make sure they know how to use them. Mark out your usual routes, favorite stopping places and fuel stops. At the beginning of a run, let your family know where you are going, along with your route and schedule. Also, have a copy of your favorite stopping places put in your personnel folder at your company. Always carry identification on your person. This could be your CDL, your company ID card or any other form of identification. In this way, if you are dead or unconscious, you can be identified. Put ICE (In Case of Emergency) next to your company’s number and any other person’s number who would need to know about you if something adverse occurs. Carry a list of any prescription medicines you take in your wallet along with contact information for your family doctor behind your license. In addition, if you take blood thinners, are a diabetic, or have other life threatening conditions that emergency personnel might need to be aware of, wear the medical alert bracelet or necklaces. Establish regular check call times with a family member, spouse, or partner and make sure to call on time. If you are going to be unable to call on time, then call early. Establish ahead of time a set time they should wait before panicking and starting to look for you, perhaps 24-48 hours.
For the family: First off, do not panic too soon. Cell phones break or get lost, a driver may be out in the middle of nowhere with no signal, or just be swamped with problems on the road and forget to call for a day. Take a deep breath and then if need be, contact the company your driver is working for or leased to and see if the driver has checked in with the company, is having mechanical issues or is out in the middle of nowhere. If there are cell phone issues, they may be able to contact the driver thru satellite. If the company has not heard from them and cannot reach them then:Contact the MissingTruckDriverAlertNetwork.com. This organization, using social media and other outlets, will alert the driving force to look for the missing driver. MDT is found on Facebook also. Contact trucking radio shows on Sirius/XM channel 106. Dave Nemo, Even Lockridge, Tim Ridley, KC Phillips, and FreeWheelin are some of the shows and hosts. Give them the details you have. (Always follow up when your driver is found.) Check with your driver’s favorite truck stops along the route he/she would be running and ask the manager to check for the truck in the parking lots. Alert state law enforcement along your driver’s route; ask them to alert the weigh stations on the route. Tell them if you know of any favorite stopping places in the state that they might look in. Alert other family members so if they hear from the driver, they can let you know. They also can help you with calling law enforcement along the routes or even go out and look in their area.
Worst-case scenario, your driver is found very sick, injured or dead, call TransAlive USA 1-800-USA-Hurt or go to transalive.com to email them. This organization and its volunteers will help bring your driver home if need be.
Everyone dreads hearing of a missing driver; other drivers’ cringe thinking that it could easily be them and family members worry more about their drivers. Through proper planning, some care taken and some consideration given, if a driver goes missing, they can be found.