Safety and 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 these 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.

Here are some tips to remind your drivers-

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. These 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. 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.

3. 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.

4. Reduce speed
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.

5. Adjust for bad weather
Inclement weather causes roughly 25% of all speeding-related truck driving accidents. Cut speed down on wet roads, and on snow covered or icy roads.

6. 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.