Long-haul trucking is a physically demanding job that is associated with a significant number of health risks.
A survey done by HireRight shows that more than 21% of truck drivers leave their jobs due to health-related issues. A further 41% quit their job to spend more time with their families. This high turnover has caused a severe shortage of long haul truck drivers in the U.S.
Which are these problems that force truckers into quitting their jobs, you may ask? Or is there something they aren’t told before getting hired?
This article will take a look at some of the problems New Jersey truckers face on the road. We will also have a look at some tips that can help you, as a trucker, overcome these problems.
Current/ common health problems truckers face
- Obesity: According to from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health 69% of truck drivers are obese. About 61% of these drivers are also reported to have two other health problems such as high cholesterol and hypertension. One of the major contributor to this high number of obese truck drivers is having little to no physical activity. Their fast-food culture is a contributing factor too. Most truck drivers have limited choices when it comes to food. So they end up eating in highway restaurants where it’s hard to make healthy choices.
- Fatigue: Though often brushed off, fatigue is a dangerous issue truckers face. Most truck drivers are expected to have the endurance to drive for very long hours. However, when they become fatigued they don’t just “get tired”, but experience lower attention, concentration and increase mistakes they make on the road. Fatigued drivers also tend to be more distracted and stressed which influences their judgment on the road.
- Skin cancer: Due to the high amount of sunlight exposure, truck drivers face a greater risk of developing skin cancer than the rest of the population. They often have their body overexposed to sunlight and this may cause skin moles and growths which may escalate to cancer.
- Isolation and depression: Trucking often involves driving in lonely surroundings, with limited social interactions. For long haul drivers who spend most of their day’s miles and miles away from home, this may contribute to a feeling of loneliness and isolation which can lead to depression.
- Lung cancer: Studies show that more than 50% of truck drivers in the U.S smoke. Driving for long hours also exposes them to exhaust fumes continuously. This makes them prone to respiratory diseases such as asthma and lung cancer.
- Hypertension: Due to work stress and lack of rest most truck drivers also experience hypertension. Other conditions such as obesity might also increase the chances of developing hypertension.
- Covid 19: As more businesses are being impacted by the travel restrictions and the new ‘working from home’ regulations, most of the truck drivers are still carrying on with their jobs. This makes them more exposed than the rest of the U.S working population.
How can you overcome these health hazards as a truck driver?
Due to the sedentary lifestyle of trucking, it might be more difficult for you to stay active than most people. However, you can try to exercise every day or at least every three days. Create a 45 minutes workout routine that fits in your daily schedule. And by this, you’ll notice how drastically pains, aches and the risk of obesity will decline.
You can also take advantage of every 10 minutes or so in every stop you make. Walk around to maintain your blood flow and burn some extra calories.
2. Reduce your exposure to sunlight
Always wear sunscreen before heading out. Choose the “broad spectrum” or “multi-spectrum” sunscreen for better protection against both UVA and UVB rays. It might be more convenient to put on long sleeves to reduce your exposure to sunlight.
3. Good practices to reduce depression
As a truck driver, your social contact is limited. However, you can always contact home/friends on a daily basis through the phone. This will help you feel the connection of your loved ones.
If possible, you can also bring your pet along while trucking. Pets are a great companion to have when travelling for a long distance.4. Get more sleep
Drowsy driving and restlessness is a big cause of rod accidents on roads. Having sleep is therefore very important as a truck driver. Here are a few tips to help you get better sleep while trucking;
5. Coronavirus precautionary measures
- Find a quiet place to sleep- such as a parking lot, away from loud noises
- Use earplugs--This can help you reduce extra noise while sleeping
- Get a comfy mattress and/ or blankets- the more comfortable your bedding, the better you will sleep.
- Avoid drinking a lot of caffeine or heavy meals before going to bed
- Naps- if you have to stop to take a nap, please do. Drowsy driving is dangerous and can cost your life. Therefore if you feel fatigued ensure that you take a nap of 30-45 minutes, before resuming duty.
Here are some of the ways you can reduce your risk of getting infected with the virus;
- Wash your hands with soap and water regularly or sanitize
- Stay hydrated by drinking warm water regularly
- Avoid close contact with people who are coughing
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth or nose