Who had "train drivers to stay safe if they get stuck in a protest" on their 2021 bingo cards? Luckily, we did.
We're not going to get into the politics of the moment, but our training is all about dealing with real-world problems. Your drivers have a job to do, and protests that block their route pose a unique set of risks that they may not be prepared to deal with. You don't want them in a high-stress environment, surrounded by hundreds of angry people making the wrong call that puts themselves, their equipment, the load or the protesters in danger. So training helps them understand the priorities: safety first.
ITI added training to deal with demonstrations and protests for drivers of heavy-duty trucks, delivery trucks and other commercial vehicles to its Road Rage courses. Those courses help drivers deal with (and avoid) aggressive behavior on the road. Below, you'll find a short video just for this section along with some simple tips you can provide to drivers.
Note that this course is geared to delivery and commercial fleets, who are more likely to get caught in a protest. View the protest safety lesson for heavy-duty truck fleets here.
Avoidance is always Safest
Whenever possible, you and your drivers should listen to local news and social media for information about protests and look for alternate routes to avoid known protest areas. Since drivers are on the road, your dispatch staff at their desks might need to stay on top of local alerts. Remind drivers that their vehicles and loads are not worth their lives, and it's far better to be delayed than to risk their safety!
If your drivers can't avoid a protest and are forced to stop or stall, encourage drivers to:
- Never try to "ease" your way through a crowd — stay stopped
- Set the parking brakes
- Lock all doors and windows
- Remain in the vehicle if safe to do so
- If the protest escalates or you feel unsafe, virtually all fleets will prioritize your safety over the security of the vehicle and load. You should gather your belongings (phone, jacket, water, etc.) and try to evacuate to a place where you can safely watch your vehicle (if possible).
- Call law enforcement — they may not know there is an event happening
- Use a mobile phone or dash cam to record the event, but only if it doesn't provoke people
- Avoid provoking or engaging with protesters
The recent Forbes article Keeping Your Car – And You – Safe During Protests also has a great list of tips for delivery, commercial, heavy-duty and everyday drivers, and it's drawn from ITI's training material.