Truck driving is a demanding and stressful job. According to statistics, it is one of the most hazardous occupations in America and even globally. Many truck drivers suffer serious injuries and fatalities on the job. In 2004, 17.5 fatalities per 100,000 were recorded among those working on transportation and logistics jobs, which is a rise from 16.7 in the previous year.
The nature of their jobs means that truck drivers spend hours on end sitting. This contributes to unhealthy, sedentary lifestyles. The job also involves other practices or habits that may worsen health outcomes.
However, it’s not entirely a tale of gloom and doom. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to stay safe and healthy as a truck driver. We discuss a number of those in this article.
Read Also: 8 Tips for Recovery After an Accident
Carry Out Regular Inspections
Among the primary steps that can help safeguard you while driving are inspections. You need to carry these out before you embark on your trips and afterward.
Inspections are a standard recommendation by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). However, you shouldn’t just carry them out perfunctorily. You need to ensure that you are thorough with them. It will help if you involve tools that can help you to be more methodical with your pre- and post-trip inspections.
Have a Strict Maintenance Schedule
It is critical to have a schedule for the regular maintenance of your vehicle. This will go a long way in keeping you from being involved in an accident. You don’t have to wait until your truck breaks down in the middle of nowhere, especially if you regularly go on long-haul trips.
You should adopt a prevention mindset when approaching maintenance. Work with your auto experts or mechanics to put together an effective maintenance schedule.
Practice Defensive Driving Techniques
You are not entirely in control of what happens while driving on the road. But you should still approach your driving as if everything depends on you. Try to learn and practice defensive driving techniques as they will help.
Defensive driving entails proactively looking out for hazards that could lead to undesirable outcomes. You should be knowledgeable about and anticipate potential risky situations so that you can make the right decisions.
One of the defensive driving techniques is the practice of the three-second rule. This means, in simple terms, that you should leave a gap that will take you three seconds to cover between you and the vehicle in front. Take note that the three-second rule isn’t constant. It should increase when conditions change, such as when the road is covered with snow.
Paying due attention to blind spots is another way of practicing defensive driving. More than 840,000 accidents are linked to failure in this regard each year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports. It might not suffice to rely on the side and rear-view mirrors to see smaller vehicles beside or behind you when switching lanes. Look out of the window and over your shoulders to get better views of blind spots.
Have Useful Tools
It will help if you can get your employer to invest in tools that can make your job safer. These range from those for inspection to maintenance and monitoring road conditions.
For instance, some tools can provide you real-time information on distance traveled and engine status, including providing fault codes. These data can go a long way in guiding you to take proper actions.
You will also benefit from having tools that enable you to respond promptly and aptly to road conditions. There’s no telling what the roads will be like, especially when you are going on long-haul trips. Tools that put you on top of weather and traffic situations along your planned routes can help prevent accidents.
Listen to your body and know when it demands rest. Driving for long hours can be tiring, so there’s no need to prove that you are macho as it’s risky.
This is why it is mandatory for truck drivers to make rest stops after driving for some hours. Under the U.S. Hours of Service (HOS) regulations, you must take a break of 30 minutes after driving for eight hours. There is also a requirement for an off-duty break of 10-11 hours.
When you are taking these breaks, make sure that you don’t remain sitting during the entire time. Try to walk around a little during short breaks. Consider lying down to change and improve your posture during longer rest stops.
Guard Against Distractions
Distracted drivers are a danger on the road – both to themselves and other motorists. According to experts, inattention is the most common cause of accidents. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) rates it as the topmost cause of accidents involving truck drivers. You should, therefore, do all you can to stay well in control of your mind.
One of the most common distractions while driving is the use of mobile phones. Taking eyes off the road and eating while driving are among other widespread distractions. It is important to your safety and wellbeing (and those of others) to guard against these.
Truck driving, especially the long-haul kind, can be rather monotonous, which increases the likelihood of getting distracted. You will find it beneficial to invest in things that can keep your mind active and prevent thought distortions. Music players or apps, audiobooks, or language tapes can help.
Have a Healthy Diet
Food choices are part of what makes many truck drivers maintain unhealthy lifestyles. It is common for them to consume lots of junk food and caffeine while on the road. They do this either to get loads of energy or to deal with boredom.
While some may argue that conditions are not favorable for eating healthily, it is not entirely impossible to do so. You can usually find grocery stores along your route where you can get healthy food items, such as pre-washed vegetables, fresh-cut fruits, and even grilling meat. There are portable grills as well that drivers can carry onboard for grilling meat.
It might even be possible to have a little refrigerator on your truck. This enables you to carry along more healthy foods for your trips.
Make Time for Exercise
Exercise might seem hard to fit into your schedule. But seeing how helpful it is, you should consider making room for it, and this is possible.
For instance, you can get good shoes that you can use for walking or jogging during your rest breaks. A folding bicycle is another option you can consider taking along for quick rides around where you’ll be making stops. Aside from these, certain workouts don’t take much time yet help reduce the toll of driving on your body.
Another useful tip for ensuring your safety on the job has to do with how you exit the cab. Make sure that you do not jump while doing so. Many truck drivers sustain injuries because of this.
After long hours spent sitting while driving, your senses become somewhat weakened. Your body, especially your trunk and lower extremities, won’t be in a good state to handle an impact. In addition to the high loads jumping would put on the lower parts of your body, you could land awkwardly in the process.
Experts advise that truck drivers should observe the “three points of contact” rule. This means that three of your four limbs should be in contact with your truck when alighting or mounting. Doing this helps ensure that you get sufficient support for your body and guards against falls.
Prepare for Eventualities
You could succeed in drastically reducing the risk of being involved in an accident when you take all necessary precautions. However, other drivers on the road might not be as careful as you. It will, therefore, help to prepare well in advance for what could happen.
One of the ways you can do this is by ensuring that necessary coverage is in place. Well, this is more of a matter for your employer to see to – just try to get them to do what is necessary. Workers’ compensation insurance will be especially important to protect you as a truck driver.
Many questions can come up when accidents happen on the road. You may visit this site to get answers to some of them, including information on what you can do if the unwanted happens.
Go for Checkups
Finally, make sure that you undergo physical checkups periodically. This is not only important to ensure you’re in a good state of health but also to promote your safety and others’ when on the road.
It is a requirement by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for truck drivers to undergo DOT physical exams. Drivers have to pass this before getting their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
You’re required to have a physical checkup at least once every two years. However, it is better to have yourself examined annually.