If you’re a fleet manager, then you may already know that it’s common for commercial truck drivers to bring their pets with them on the road. In fact, more than 60% of commercial truck drivers own pets and 40% of those pet owners bring their animal with them for the journey. But is it a good idea for businesses and fleet managers to actually allow drivers to bring pets on the road? To help you make the best decision for both your company and your drivers, Commercial Truck Trader is discussing the pros and cons of allowing pets and recommended pet policies.
Benefits of Allowing Pets
Allowing drivers to bring their pets on the road could provide several advantages to your company. First, it communicates to your employees that you are looking for ways to cater to their preferences and improve their work environment, helping to create a positive company culture and increase driver loyalty. Second, drivers directly benefit from bringing pets on the road, reporting lower loneliness and stress and experiencing improved health and happiness. Finally, by boosting employee wellness and job satisfaction, pet-friendly policies can make your fleet a desirable destination for drivers, helping you compete in the industry for recruiting and retaining top talent.
Drawbacks of Allowing Pets
There are several potential downsides that could result from allowing drivers to bring animals into the cab. First, many animals (especially dogs) will need regular stops for exercise and bathroom breaks. You also don’t know when pets may require unanticipated veterinary care while on the road. These disruptions can make it difficult for drivers to stick to tight schedules and looming deadlines Second, having a pet in the cab can be a big distraction, from making noises to jumping around, to unexpectedly relieving themselves on your nice seat cushions. These dangerous distractions can prevent a driver from giving 100% of their attention to the road, which puts them at risk of crashing.
Third, depending on various local, state, and federal laws, you could be liable if a pet causes an accident on the road or bites someone at a rest stop. Fourth, there’s also the chance that the pet damages the work truck or van itself, which could lead to disputes with the driver. Finally, it’s worth asking if a pet can have a good life while on the road. Some animals seem to love it, but it could be detrimental to certain types of pets depending on their size or species. You don’t want to be responsible for an animal living in misery on the road.
Policies for Pets
Before moving on, it’s important to note that you should consult both your legal counsel and your insurance company before setting any pet policies. If your company ultimately decides to allow drivers to bring their pets into the cab, fleet managers need to enforce specific rules to protect company trucks and employees, prevent legal issues, and ensure a driver’s responsibility for their pet. Rules and regulations should be provided to drivers through official documentation. Here are some policies you may consider.
- Consider a limit on the number of pets a driver can bring on the road. It’s probably not a good idea for a driver to have more than two pets in the cab at any given time.
- Some companies ban specific dog breeds, as well as exotic pets that require complicated accommodations to ensure pets are not endangered in the cab. Many fleets have a weight limit of 60 pounds for any pet.
- Determine how cleaning or repair fees related to the pet will be paid. You may choose to charge drivers a security deposit that could pay for such costs, or be refunded if not needed. You may also choose to take costs of damage out of a driver’s paycheck
- For dogs, fleet managers should consider whether the dog is easy to train, how much it will shed in the truck, if it’s aggressive or anxious, how active the animal needs to be, and whether or not it will have enough space in the cab.
- Drivers must have proof of their pet’s vaccinations, veterinary certificates, identification tags, a photo of the pet for identification, and consider microchipping their animal.
- The pet needs to be house-trained, or “cab-trained,” meaning it should not chew, scratch, or cause other damage to the vehicle, and should know to relieve itself outside or in a litter box.
- The driver should train the pet so that it obeys commands and knows when to stay, enter, or exit the cab.
- Determine if pets are allowed during training, and if they are allowed on every route or only select routes.
- When a driver begins a shift, they should report to dispatch whether or not the pet is accompanying them, so that the company has the most complete information possible if something were to happen on the road.
Proper Care for Pets
While we’ve pointed out tips for taking care of pets on the road, managers should provide drivers with guidance on proper care for their pet.
- Make sure the truck is ready to safely transport a pet.
- Have a seat cover or towel over the seat to protect against shedding or sharp claws.
- Have a water bowl/container accessible that won’t spill or cause damage.
- Ensure the animal has enough space to safely and comfortably move.
- Use a barrier or travel crate to prevent the pet from dangerously accessing parts of the cab, such as the vehicle controls.
- Ensure the driver has storage space for trash, food, and medication.
- Drivers must have a leash for the pet and keep identification and vaccination tags on the animal.
- Drivers must take breaks for the pet to eat, drink, and relieve itself as needed.
- Drivers need to monitor the pet and never leave it in the cab by itself when the weather is dangerously hot or cold.
- Trucks should be regularly cleaned when the pet is riding along. Any damage caused by the pet must be reported to management.
Fleet managers have much to consider when it comes to whether their company should allow drivers to bring their pets. While there can be advantages to implementing pet-friendly policies, there are serious drawbacks to consider as well. If you’re looking for a commercial vehicle that’s right for your drivers and their pets, whether it’s a new work truck or a used cargo van, be sure to visit our marketplace on CommercialTruckTrader.com.