There is no doubt about the fact that driving a truck is indeed really tough. In fact, according to CareerCast.com, it is one of the top 10 toughest jobs in the United States. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that, trucking is not only a job, it’s a lifestyle. One’s whole life changes when they become a truck driver. It could include working at least 16 hours a day, variance in wages, high risk of accidents, and worst of all, being away from your loved ones. Tight deadlines and continuous driving can take both a physical and mental toll on a driver.
Driving and being in a vehicle for extended and recurring periods of time has a direct effect on the body. Only 1/5th of Americans still smoke, and close to 50 percent of Americans exercise regularly. However, 54 percent of commercial drivers smoke cigarettes regularly, but less than 10 percent exercise consistently. On top of the physical side-effects there are also negative psychological implications. A research study conducted by DePaul University found that these occupational health-induced disorders were due to high occupational stress, low access and use of health care, and limited social support. The study showed the following issues as primary factors to their unhealthy mental state (from those surveyed):
- 9% loneliness
- 9% depression
- 6% chronic sleep disturbances
- 5% anxiety
- 13% other emotional problems
Daily Challenges Faced by a Truck Driver
One of the largest challenges that truck drivers face is the repetitiveness of certain actions. When a driver has done a long stretch it is easy for the mind to start wandering. This will reduce awareness of the road and other vehicles or possible hazards that might be around. If the driver doesn’t get enough sleep, this could also creep into the scene and possibly lead to an accident.
As mentioned earlier, health is also a challenge for truckers. Most drivers have irregular and unhealthy eating habits that affect their body in a serious manner. Data shows that 1 in 2 truck drivers are obese, in comparison to the national rate of 26.7 percent. This can be linked as a major contributor to the decreased life expectancy of a truck driver. According to Global Insight the average life expectancy of drivers is only 61 years in comparisons to the general US population average of 78.8.
How to make trucking easier?
It is clear that being a truck driver is tough and has some real challenges. However, the following tips might help keep you in tip top shape and add a few years to your life.
- Be sure to get sufficient sleep so you are refreshed for a long journey. Take naps at regular intervals, especially while driving at night.
- Try to moderate your calorie intake and incorporate a balanced diet. This is hard to do when you are away from home, but it could help increase your life expectancy and lower your risk for illness.
- Exercise whenever you get a chance. This will help reduce body pain, especially back pain.
- Bring your favorite music and audiobooks.
- Do not consume alcohol. Drinking and driving is one of the top causes of accidents.
Hopefully these tips can help reduce some of the fatigue associated with truck driving. Are there other strategies you utilize while on the road? Feel free to share in the comments section below.