Sickness on the Road – Knowing Your Limits



I have done it, you have done it and I am sure every other truck driver on the road has done it. As long as you have been driving a truck for more than a week, chances are you have driven while you were sick. This is a situation where we simply cannot help it. The only way we are going to earn money is to keep those wheels rolling. And the only way to keep the wheels rolling is to drive with a sickness. In this article I want to discuss some of the dangers presented when choose to drive with a sickness. Also, some of the ways you can cope with a sickness while still driving. And having a sickness, where you should shut it down and relax to make sure you do not prolong the suffering. Dealing with sickness on the road is not mentioned very often in safety meetings. However, I do believe it is a major factor in keeping your personal driving record safe.

When we were kids,  we didn’t think being sick was a big deal. We often faked it just to get out of school or church. However, as a professional driver we have many things that can put us in jeopardy and sickness is one of them. What are some of the common dangers associated with a professional truck driver getting sick? Well, for one, we spend on average 10 hours behind the wheel of an 80,000 lb. vehicle rolling at speeds of 60+ miles per hour. This alone is a recipe for a disaster when you add sickness to the mix. If our minds are not clear due to a cold and our judgment is impaired due to cold medicines. We are putting ourselves and the other motoring public at risk. You can also easily get dehydrated when you have a sickness. Keeping a good amount of fluids is essential to getting better. And making sure you get extra rest while you are sick so you don’t put yourself in danger of falling asleep while driving. Your body needs lots of extra energy while you are dealing with a sickness. And the more rest you get, the better you will feel and drive.

Now that we have established some of the dangers associated with being sick on the road, let’s look at some of the common forms of sickness and the best way to cope with them while cruising down the road. I know that I am not the only truck driver out there to keep a good pharmacy on hand in the truck. You should always be prepared for everything, including sickness. Some of the more common items I keep stocked are: cough drops, Airborne, Dayquil tablets and Tylenol Cold and Flu. These cold remedies usually cover any and all aspects of dealing with the common cold and don’t make me drowsy. I can pop the Airborne into a 1/4 of a bottle of water, pop a Dayquil or Tylenol C&F and then focus on the cough drops. As long as you pick these items up on your home-time they don’t get too expensive. I try to stay away from anything that may make me drowsy. This is because you may accidentally take it at the wrong time and it will affect your driving.

Now dealing with the common cold is way different than dealing with a debilitating migraine. Or what I have been dealing with for the last three weeks which is a bad allergic reaction. Everyone deals with sickness different. However, these are situations where you should know your limits and not try to be a hero. I know that the load needs to get there and the dispatcher is putting pressure on you. However, you are the driver and if you feel like you are putting your life and others at risk because you are too sick to drive. You need to communicate this and shut it down. I have had the pleasure of dealing with both of these areas of sickness now and from what I know these are both something that you shouldn’t mess around with. It’s alright for you to miss a day of work to go get treated so that the sickness doesn’t prolong. It also may be a sign of something far worse to come like a tumor or anaphylactic shock.

This is why it is up to you to make sure you know your limits. Especially, when it comes to dealing with sickness. There’s no one in the world better equipped to self-analyze your sickness than you. If you feel like something is wrong you need to evaluate it and communicate with your dispatcher. They cannot fire you or even take away your birthday just because you got sick. Remember, they get sick too and they call into work too. The only difference between you and them is that if they go into work sick they have a chance at giving everyone in the office their sickness too. The biggest concern you have is to make sure that you clean your cab and sleeper real good so that the sickness doesn’t linger. So again, know your limits and shut it down when you have to. Your life and safety record is worth way more than one day of being tough and driving through sickness. As always let us know what you think by commenting below. Thanks for reading and be safe out there!