SAFETY & HEALTH CONCERNS FOR TRUCK DRIVERS
Long-haul trucking is both one of the most crucial jobs and, unfortunately, one of its most risky.
Long-haul truck drivers are essential to the transportation of goods in the United States, but the demands of their job may contribute to a greater chance for health problems. Irregular schedules, long hours, little physical activity, limited access to healthy foods on the road, and stress makes healthy living a challenge for long-haul truck drivers.
Truck drivers have a greater chance for many chronic diseases and health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity compared to U.S adult workers. In 2012, the rate for nonfatal injuries in heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers was three times greater than the rate for U.S. adult workers.
Workers in the trucking industry experienced the most fatalities of all occupations, accounting for 12% of all worker deaths. About two-thirds of fatally injured truckers were involved in highway crashes. Truck drivers also had more nonfatal injuries than workers in any other occupation. Half of the nonfatal injuries were serious sprains and strains; this may be attributed to the fact that many drivers must unload the goods they transport.
Over 100,000 injuries and 300,000 accidents involved large trucks in 2012, according to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration. Time Magazine ranked truck driving at #8 on its 2014 list of the “10 Most Dangerous Jobs.”
Esurance.com has created a list of truck driver safety pointers which is beneficial to new drivers and to the seasoned longhaulers.
7 Truck Driving Tips:
1. Watch your blind spots
Other motorists may not be aware of a truck’s “no zones’ — those where crashes are most likely to occur. Common “no zones” include:
• Off to the side, just in front of the cab
• Just behind the side mirrors
• Directly behind the truck
If others aren’t aware of these trouble spots, they may drive dangerously close. As frustrating as this can be, it’s up to the truck driver to exercise caution before turning or changing lanes and to maintain a safe distance.
2. Reduce speed in work zones
Roughly one-third of all fatal work-zone accidents involve large trucks. Make sure to take your time going through interstate construction — your delivery can always wait.
3. Maintain your truck
Give your vehicle a thorough check each morning (fluid levels, horn, mirrors, etc.). The brakes are particularly vital, given how much weight is riding on them. If you spot anything unusual, report it to dispatch before attempting to drive.
4. Load cargo wisely
The higher you stack cargo, the more drag on the truck. By stacking lower and spreading cargo through the full space of the truck, you can stay more nimble and improve your fuel economy.
5. Reduce speed on curves
Usually, following the speed limit is a good thing. When it comes to trucking, however, there are times when even adhering to posted signs is still too fast.
Particularly on exit/entrance ramps, the speed limits are meant more for cars; trucks have a tendency to tip over if they take the curves too fast. When going through any curve, it’s best to set your speed far lower than the posted limit to make up for your rig’s unique dimensions.
6. Adjust for bad weather
Inclement weather causes roughly 25% of all speeding-related truck driving accidents. Cut speed down by one-third on wet roads, and by one-half on snow covered or icy roads.
7. Take care of yourself
A big part of truck driver safety has less to do with your vehicle, and more to do with you. Getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising, and taking quality home time will all help making the truck driver more content and refreshed behind the wheel — 2 qualities prized in any driver.
Truck drivers need to take a proactive approach in their own healthcare. Start by getting a thorough physical by your doctor in order to address any underlying issues. If you have an in truck refrigerator, stock it with healthy foods and snacks for you long haul. Stick to a schedule, make time for some physical activity like taking short walks around rest stops or when stopping to eat. Most important is to get a good nights sleep!