Truck driving is one of the most dangerous occupations in the world. This is not just because of hazardous road conditions and the risks of hauling heavy cargo. In addition to the many required precautions truckers must take to ensure their vehicles are safe by Department of Transportation standards, there are other threats to a driver’s safety.
Truck drivers must take caution every day when passing through or stopping over in high-crime, unsafe areas – and in 2020, there are a lot more of these areas than there used to be.
When your vehicle is your primary equipment, mobile office and sometimes, home, there is a lot of ground to cover in order to keep it protected from damage and theft.
Fortunately, companies that manufacture heavy duty safety and security products know what truckers need to secure their livelihoods, and in some cases, their lives.
The key is developing layers of security that keep dangerous people out – one level at a time. From parking your truck in a gated complex to using an air brake lock and securing your sleeper cab with cameras – there are many steps a truck driver can take to keep his/her truck and self, safe.
Protect your Truck and Cargo
Truckers have plenty of options to improve the security of their tractors and trailers.
Several companies offer specialty locks designed for specific uses: Cargo door locks; rolling door locks; wheel locks; and more.
One effective tool developed by War-Lok is called a “Tractor Air Brake Lock.” This product completely covers and locks the air brake and trailer air valves when a truck is idling, protecting the truck from theft when it is being loaded or unloaded and the cab is unattended.
Some thieves are after certain parts of your truck; not the truck itself. In these cases, cargo locks and wheel locks are useful. The Lugdawg Wheel Lock, manufactured by Neffco Technologies, obstructs the hex socket, preventing removal. Once installed, those wheels are not coming off.
Trailers and equipment that remain overnight on construction sites are a frequent target of theft. This is why you see generators hanging from cranes on job sites. But when it comes to trailer doors – a simple padlock may not be enough.
The Equipment Lock Company offers a variety of specialty door locks that secure cargo trailer doors, like the aptly name Cargo Door Lock . Easy to install and available in a heavy-duty version, this lock keeps cargo doors shut tight.
Office trailers are also common on job sites. Often suspected to contain cash or keys, an unlocked office trailer is a sitting duck for break-ins. The Job Office Door Lock also by The Equipment Lock Company, lets site managers rest assured their portable workspace is safe.
These are just a few ideas to consider. At the end of the day, anything you can do to draw a wider and wider circle of security around your truck and equipment is worth the effort.
Protect your Fuel
When jerks aren’t trying to damage or steal your truck, they could be after your fuel. As you probably know - fuel costs are the largest expense for most owner-operators. According to the American Truck Business Services, average fuel costs range from $50,o00 to $70,000 per year.
And while there are many ways you can improve your truck’s fuel efficiency through aerodynamics and technology, a great place to start is to prevent people from stealing it.
Locking Fuel Caps
Locking fuel caps are pretty self-explanatory. The cap replaces the tank’s existing fuel cap and locks. They usually come with two or three keys. Multiple caps can be keyed alike to make life easier. They are sold individually (images usually show the front and back of the cap, making it appear as though they come in pairs).
While simple to use and install, the most complicated part of locking fuel caps is figuring out which will fit your tank. Though they are often listed with the truck brand in the title, fitment depends entirely on the inner diameter of the existing cap. If there is no existing cap, you would need to measure the outer diameter of the fill neck.
Other considerations include whether or not the tank is vented. If not, you would need a vented cap. Having access to the existing cap is extremely helpful as it usually says whether or not it is vented, or whether or not it is for low-sulfur fuel tanks on the cap itself. There is sometimes a number on the inside that can be cross-referenced as well.
Though there are many sizes available, some tanks’ dimensions cannot be matched. Or, the cap must be vented, but it’s too small to have both a vent and a lock. That said, there is a fitting cap for most Class-8 tractors.
Locking fuel caps are not for everyone, but they are a great method of defense against fuel theft. Check your tractor’s warranty, though, because in some cases, if damage is caused to the inner fuel tank while using a non-factory-issued cap, it could void the warranty.
Locking Fuel Cap Covers
If replacing your existing fuel cap does not appeal to you, another option for fuel security is a locking fuel cap cover .
A locking fuel cap cover is an aluminum clam-shell type cover that fits over your existing fuel cap and locks. It spins freely once in place and prevents access to the fuel cap without a key.
Like the locking caps, the covers can be keyed alike.
Sold through Bud And Tony’s Truck Parts (link), the locking fuel cap covers come in just four sizes. This makes fitment a lot easier. The main measurements you need are the outer diameter of your existing cap, and in some cases, its height. Covers come with three keys and are sold individually.
With a locking fuel cap cover, you don’t have to worry about replacing your existing cap. Now you are probably wondering if you can use both a locking cap and a locking cover. The answer is yes, but sizing will be different for the cover. You would need to measure the outer diameter and height of the locking cap instead.
An Anti-Siphon valve fits within the fuel tank, preventing someone from being able to siphon fuel out. Installation is fairly simple and fitment is based on the inner diameter of the filler neck.
If you use an anti-siphon, you do not necessarily need to use a locking cap or cover. That is, if your main concern is fuel theft. An anti-siphon does not prevent fuel tampering. Basically, you can put fluid in, but you can’t siphon it out.
Anything that costs up to and beyond $70,000 a year is worth protecting. Adding a locking fuel tank device to your security system not only safeguards your truck from fuel theft, but in most cases, fuel tampering – which could result in much higher price tag in damages.
When on the road, a truck driver’s truck is his or her home. The same steps one would take to secure their home from invaders apply. Like protecting the truck itself, a driver needs to implement layers of security to stay safe.
In these uncertain times, where a formerly peaceful city can become a danger zone overnight, it is imperative that truck drivers be aware of their surroundings and secure in their cabs.
Security cameras are a great way to help identify how or why an accident occurred. Backup cameras make it easier to back up (obviously). But think of the types of cameras people install on their homes.
These devices let homeowners know: a) someone is too close to the house; b) whether or not it is someone they know; and c) they may need to be prepared to confront that person. A trucker in his/her cab needs this same warning.
There are many Dash Cam options available, designed specifically for heavy duty trucks. These range from single, front-facing cameras that mount on the dash to multi-camera systems that provide a view from different angles. While some offer GPS and trip info in addition to a view, others simply record what is happening in front of the truck.
For security purposes, cameras that face more than one direction are the best bet, since most break-in attempts won’t come from the front. Top Dawg Electronics’ TD 4-Camera 1080P Trucker Dash Cam comes equipped with a “Parking Mode” that records only when the camera senses motion. Most other multi-camera systems offer the same programming. Many can be monitored from your cell phone.
Anything that will give you the jump on someone looking to do you or your truck harm is an essential part of your security plan.
One of the most useful tools in anyone’s self-defense arsenal is a cell phone. What would we watch on Facebook or Instagram if people weren’t recording pretty much everything happening around them?
Being able to document a situation as it unfolds – especially these days when angry “protestors” feel confident attacking vehicles and standing in highways – can be the difference between a criminal charge and a dismissal.
It is also very helpful to keep a backup phone, if possible. Sometimes when you purchase a new cell phone, your service transfers, but you keep the old one. Though you won’t be able to make calls or text on the old phone, it basically becomes a little computer/camera that can still connect to WiFi.
Having a backup phone to use as a camera can come in very handy if you find yourself in a bad situation. You can use the old phone to record what is happening and make calls on the new one (to the police, for example).
When all your efforts to keep someone from accessing your cab fail, your last resort is to actually defend yourself. No one wants it to come to this, but it’s better to be prepared for the worst. The reality is, you never know if your intruder is armed. It is best to assume he or she is.
Every trucker carries something for protection – from baseball bats to licensed handguns. This is a personal choice.
Any driver is encouraged to carry something for protection. Most women have pepper spray in their handbag or vehicle. In the wise words of Gus McCray from “Lonesome Dove,” “It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”
That said, we are not going to speculate on what could be used as a weapon or recommend anything in particular. What we will say is that if you confront an intruder with a weapon, be prepared to use it.
If you carry a gun, be trained and licensed and most importantly, understand the law. As you know, your concealed carry permit only applies to the state in which you reside. If your work takes you across state lines, make sure you understand what is required of you and your weapon. The U.S. Concealed Carry Association has a good resource for this information HERE
Regardless of whether you carry a weapon or what type of weapon you choose; pray you are never in the position to have to use it. That is the purpose for putting so many other shields in place before you find yourself face to face with a thief or intruder
Driving a truck for a living is a tremendous responsibility. As you take extra strides to make sure your vehicle and your driving is safe, your own safety must always remain a priority.
With help from companies like Bud And Tony’s Truck Parts you can equip your truck with locks, cameras and other security tools that will help ensure the wellbeing of your work – and your life on the road.
Share Your Experience: Have you dealt with unsafe conditions overnight? How do you protect your truck? What is your advice to others? Please feel free to share!