How Trucking Operations Can Protect Their Drivers’ Mental Health

While it’s important for trucking professionals to do their job well, including getting every haul to its destination on time and taking care of their payload to the utmost, it’s also important for drivers to take care of their self, just like how trucking companies can take care of their operations with truck insurance.

Driving for long hours alone on the road can take a toll on drivers’ mental and physical outlines, so knowing how you can take better care on the road is key. According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, more than one million truck drivers in the United States will be involved in serious road accidents at some point in their careers, opening the door for post-traumatic stress.

Trucking companies can take care of their employees by offering suggestions to keep their minds sharp and spirits lifted. Here are some suggestions:

Consider a Travel Companion

If it’s allowed, truck drivers can consider bringing on a co-pilot for long hauls. This will help beat road isolation that becomes a common threat for drivers. From spouses to friends, fellow drivers or even dogs, having someone in the passenger seat can help keep spirits up, especially for bigger projects.

Keep a Strong Network

During taking breaks on the road, drivers should check in with loved ones or even support groups back home. The good news is there are so many different ways to stay connected. Social media, video calling, text, email–drivers have so many options to keep in touch. Even a quick chat between stops can make a big difference.

Have a Routine

Sometimes it actually backfires to have the same routine every day. But for drivers it can give them something to look forward to. From waking up at certain times to having morning rituals, like a stretch session or going on a run before getting the day started, drivers should make an effort to have some consistency every day. After the day gets going, drivers can add some variety to their days by looking forward to checking in with family and friends, posting on social media or even listening to podcasts.

Keep Fit

Spending long hours behind the wheel can also be hard on the body; back stiffness and leg problems are the most prevalent. That’s why making small efforts to keep fit on a schedule can make a big difference. Not only will staying active be helpful to the body, it can also be good for the mind and soul by adding confidence and helping with sleep. From light jogs to yoga to high-intensity interval training, drivers can help keep their mind and body in shape.

Bring Some Comforts From Home

While truck cabs may not be a good replacement for your living room back home, they can still stand in as great reminders of what’s waiting for you. Bring photos and small decorations to remind you of home and family or even just your favorite spots back in your hometown, like restaurants and sports venues.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates and coverage changes.

Tired Trucking: How to Combat Driver Fatigue

With the rise of e-commerce platforms like Amazon and a huge shift in how we as a society shop for and ship items, the trucking industry has seen a huge boom in activity in recent years. More than 15 million commercial trucks drive along American highways, transporting more than 70% of all goods in the U.S. While this may be a good sign of consumer confidence, it also shows the built-in rise of risk behind the wheel.

According to a survey conducted by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), the main reason behind commercial truck crashes are fatigued and overworked drivers. Given the nature of the size of vehicle, these crashes ultimately result in serious injury and even death. While it’s important for truck drivers and the transportation companies they work for to invest in Commercial Truck Insurance as a safe precaution, it’s even more important to understand how driver fatigue can be avoided. Here are some ways to combat it:

Get Enough Sleep

This may seem like a simple idea, but more often than not truck drivers find themselves climbing behind the wheel without the proper amount of sleep. It’s important to get a full night’s sleep every night and try to avoid driving when you’re feeling drowsy. Drowsiness may impair the response time of a driver and increase the chances of being involved in a crash.

Have a Healthy Diet

Long hauls on highways may make it hard to maintain a healthy and consistent diet, but it’s a vital component to driver health overall. Going to bed on an empty stomach, skipping meals, or eating foods that don’t contain adequate nutritional value can all lead to interrupted sleep. Not being well-rested due to lack of nutrition and lack of refueling can impair awareness and reaction time.

Stop for a Nap

Even though driver’s like to stick to a schedule, if it gets to a point where you find yourself constantly sleepy behind the wheel, especially during the day, it would help to pull over and nap for a short period of time. A quick stop to recharge or even just rest your eyes without falling asleep for 30-45 minutes will rejuvenate drivers in the middle of a long haul.

Be Aware of Drowsiness

Keep paying attention to indicators of drowsiness such as frequent yawning, heavy eyes blurred vision, and hearing issues. Being awake for 18 hours is relative to having a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent, the legal level of intoxication. Be sure to recognize when it’s getting too hard to keep your attention focused, as this indicates drowsiness beyond a good limit.

Don’t Use Tricks to Stay Awake

From slapping yourself in the face to rolling the window down to let cold air in to chewing sunflower seeds, there are many different tricks that people have used to stay awake. These actually give you a false sense of security, making you feel like your gaming sleepiness. What they’re doing is actually making things potentially worse as you’re exerting more effort to stay awake when it’s easier and more sensical to pull over and rest.

What’s more, while caffeine may be good to get the day started, depending on caffeine to keep you awake will lead to insomnia, headaches and nervousness, a powerful combination that can lead to mistakes behind the wheel.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates and coverage changes.

The Biggest Problems Facing the Trucking Industry Today

No matter the type of business, no matter the economy, there are high times and tough times for each major industry. And with the advent of smarter and more efficient technology many industries are seeing the speed of change pose new issues.

One major industry feeling the pressure of too much change, too fast, is the trucking industry. From driver shortages to more tech-based opponents, traditional trucking companies are having to change course. One step to protecting the overall future of the industry is to invest in truck insurance, and another is to invest in the actual future: drivers. Here are some ways in which the trucking industry is feeling some pain today.

1. Driver Shortage

Even with an average pay of around $80,000, many news outlets are reporting that the trucking industry is seeing a huge challenge meeting it employment needs. A driver shortage is causing trucking companies to find new ways to attract tomorrow’s drivers. This has been a concern for years in the industry and with companies like Tesla and Uber testing out self-driving trucks, traditional truck drivers are feeling like they’re being replaced.

According to ATRI research, nearly 57 percent of the trucking workforce is at least 45 years old. If this continues, the shortage will reach more than 175,000 drivers by 2026.

2. Hours of Service

Flexible hours or service rules are now more emphasized by companies for their drivers. Many of those who hold stake in the industry believe that drivers should split their hours of operation, while some stress eight hours of straight driving. Employees could get an opportunity to rest when tired and adjust their schedules to avoid everything from traffic congestion to health risks.

3. Cash Flow

Trucking fleets may see a wait time as long as 60 to 90 days to get paid by brokers and shippers. With an extended cycle, a fleet’s cash flow can be drained and growth could be limited. Accounts receivable financing turns fleets’ invoices into cash in under a day, which results in building their working capital.

4. Driver Health

Truck drivers face a number of health obstacles, especially the longer they’re behind the wheel. These drivers are twice as likely as other workers in any industry to be obese, have diabetes and not have any type of health insurance. The job is demanding, and with such stress put on it, drivers are seeing a rapid decline in health, another component of making the job less enticing to new crops of drivers. There are new initiatives in place, like Rolling Strong, which aim to invest in drivers’ health and wellness with better fitness.

5. Safety

Accidents and fatalities behind the wheel happen and have always posed a risk for drivers. But beyond these risks, drivers face overall safety at their truck stops or where ever they park their trucks. There is new sensing technology that has come out that helps trucks avoid collisions and helps reduce the number of accidents, with numbers expected to reduce in the coming years.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and \ transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates and coverage changes.

More Than Just Posture – 3 Tips for Better Driver Ergonomics

Did you know that proper ergonomics is just as important of an aspect of truck driver health and safety as it is for those who work in offices? Each year, thousands of drivers are plagued by neck, back, and spinal issues associated with poor posture. Truck drivers are among the top professions to be out of work due to injuries, and ergonomic injuries are wholly avoidable by making only a few small changes

Most people don’t consider it, but the simplest way truckers can help prevent these types of ailments is by taking the same proactive steps designed for improved posture that are recommended for desk dwellers. Here are three vital ergonomic ideas to consider.

#1: Make Seat Adjustments

Similar to choosing the right type of desk chair, one of the easiest ways to ensure your cab is as safe as possible is to pay attention to seat adjustments before you even start the engine. Begin by making sure your feet can comfortably reach the gas pedal, clutch, and brake. Then adjust the seat’s backrest so that your arms are at a slight angle while you are holding the steering wheel. You’ll also want to raise the seat as high as you can while still being comfortable and tilt the seat cushion so that your thighs are fully supported without putting too much pressure on your knees.

#2: Remember Your Posture

Another vital thing to remember is your overall posture inside the truck. No matter how fatigued you become, don’t ever slouch while driving which can cause strain on your muscles and joints. This may take a bit of practice at first, but remembering to sit up straight can help prevent neck and back pain. It is also important to change your position in the seat slightly every half hour. While it isn’t always possible, try to take breaks when you can to get out of the vehicle and stretch.

#3: Maintain Good Habits When Outside the Truck

Keeping up with good health habits when you are off the road is also important. Exercises such as yoga or Pilates are excellent for strengthening your core area, which can help support your neck, back, and spine more efficiently when you are driving. And remember to correct your posture while sitting in a chair in your living room, hotel, or even at restaurants. Practice really does make perfect.

While truck drivers don’t spend their days in an office per se, a healthy and safe working environment is just as important. Protect your body by implementing the above ergonomic tips as soon as possible.

However, in addition to having these best practices in place, all truck drivers, whether they are full-time employees or independent contractors, should have truck insurance that provides coverage for injuries incurred on the job, whether it is Workers’ Compensation for full-time employees or Occupational Accident for independent contractors and owner-operators.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is much more than a commercial truck insurance agency. Since 1954, we have provided our clients with unparalleled service for truck insurance quotes, customer service, coverage charges, insurance certificates, and more. We are committed to providing our clients with the service to keep their costs to the minimum and their opportunities to the maximum. For more information about our products and services, give us a call at (800) 937-8785 to speak with one of our experts.

How Truck Drivers Can Stay Safe in the Summer Heat

Now that the sweltering months of summer have arrived, many truck drivers find themselves facing some unique safety challenges behind-the-wheel. Fortunately, there are a few simple tips all truck drivers can follow to keep themselves and other motorists safer this summer.

Save Yourself From Sunburn

Exposure to UVA and UVB rays is a risk for truck drivers year-round, but this is especially true during the summer months, when truck drivers are less likely to be wearing protective layers that would otherwise limit their exposure to the sun’s harmful rays. While driving during daylight hours, make sure you apply (and re-apply) a quality sunscreen at least every few hours. Wearing sunglasses and/or a hat with a brim while driving can also protect your eyes from sun damage while allowing you to avoid dangerous glare and other obstructions.

Keep Your Truck Maintained

When was the last time you had the tire pressure checked on your truck? If it’s been more than a week or two, be sure to have this done; this is an important maintenance task year-round, but especially during the hotter months of summer, when truck tires are more susceptible to blow-outs. The same goes for checking and servicing your brakes, as hotter temperatures can make it easier for your brakes to overheat and create a major safety hazard while driving.

Load Up on Hydrating Fluids

Drinking plenty of water while behind the wheel is one of the best decisions you can make to avoid dehydration and the side effects (such as fatigue) that can come along with it. While it may be tempting to choose an iced coffee, soda, or other caffeinated beverage over plain water, it’s important to stay well hydrated during the sweltering months of summer. To make sure you’re drinking enough water, consider investing in a quality insulated water bottle that you make an effort to fill up at least a few times a day during your travels.

Be Alert on Crowded Roadways

Highways and roadways tend to be more crowded during the summer months, especially as children are out of school and families are taking more vacations and road trips. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to stay alert on the road, especially during times of heavy traffic. Above all else, try to maintain your patience and remember your safety training when navigating busy roads.

Summer time can be a more dangerous time for truck drivers—and for a number of reasons. By following these practical safety tips and making sure you’re protected by the right commercial truck insurance, however, you can keep yourself and other motorists safe. Reach out to the Western Truck insurance team today for more information.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is much more than a commercial truck insurance agency. With roots dating back to 1954, we have provided our clients with unparalleled service for truck insurance quotes, customer service, coverage charges, insurance certificates, and more. We are committed to providing our clients with the service to keep their costs to the minimum and their opportunities to the maximum. For more information about our products and services, give us a call at (800) 937-8785 to speak with one of our experts.

Cook in a Semi Truck – Great Tips to Eat Smart While on the Road

Want to cook in a semi truck? If you’re tired of greasy burgers, so-so tacos, fried chicken and all you can eat buffets, you’re not alone. A trucker’s diet can be hard on the body and morale. In fact, some truckers are so fed up with eating unhealthy and flavorless meals they devise ways truckers can cook home-style meals on the road.

If you’re tired of spending your hard-earned money on gas station food and fast food joints, change your ways and start cooking on the road. With a little bit of planning and the right truck driver cooking equipment, you can start cooking on the road in no time.

Invest in the Right Equipment

If your truck isn’t already equipped with a mini fridge, stove, microwave, coffee pot and crock pot, chances are you’re new to the industry. Take a look at any trucker’s rig and you’ll discover that the back of their cab resembles a mini studio. A 12-V cooler can keep your drinks cool on hot summer days, and a mini coffee pot can ensure that you always stay energized no matter the time of day.

Tools Every Truck Driver Needs On the Road

There are plenty of safe cooking appliances as well. Small microwaves, electric frying pans and grills and lunchbox ovens are all perfectly safe ways to prepare a homemade meal on the go. If you’re more of the outdoorsy type, get a small propane grill. However, make sure that you take it outside before you light it up, otherwise you risk carbon monoxide poisoning.

Before you go around buying all of the above listed appliances, make sure that your truck’s power supply can handle them all. You don’t want to sacrifice a load just because you decided to make a homemade pizza in your new mini pizza oven.

Stock Up on Easy-to-Prep Food Items

Steak, potatoes, chicken breast, asparagus, cheese, bread, carrots…there are plenty of foods out there that don’t require much prep work to make yet that still taste good going down. Those foods also happen to be good for you. Before you hit the road, make a list of the meals you’re going to want to eat and what you need for each. Then hit the grocery store. Remember, you’re working with limited space, so don’t treat your grocery shopping as you would when shopping for your home.

When shopping, remember that the point of making your own foods is two-fold: to save money and to eat healthier. While one meal a month of steak and potatoes is actually good for you, loading up on just steak and potatoes is both bad for your body and your wallet. Stick to cheap, bulk foods that still deliver a nutritional punch. Think chicken, fish, turkey, yogurt, fruits and veggies. Don’t forget the spices, as you probably want to enjoy more flavorful foods than your average Mickey D’s can deliver.

Meals for Every Meal

If you’re not much of a cook, it can be hard to come up with easy-to-prepare meals that are both tasty and healthy. It can also be difficult to come up with variety. If you need some inspiration, consider making the following meals:

Breakfast

  • Omelets
  • Waffles
  • Oatmeal
  • Pancakes
  • Eggs
  • Turkey bacon

Lunch

  • Sandwiches
  • Salad
  • Leftovers
  • Tuna
  • Pizza
  • Mac and cheese
  • Grilled cheese

Dinner

  • Stew
  • Pot roast
  • Burgers
  • Hotdogs
  • Steaks
  • Chicken
  • Soup
  • BBQ pork
  • Stroganoff

Of course, you don’t want to forget sides and snacks. Pastas, rice, fruits, veggies and salads make for tasty and healthy sides to any of the above. If you have a sweet tooth, pack a pint of ice-cream or freeze a candy bar or two for an after-dinner treat.

When in Doubt, Meal Prep

If cooking in a semi truck doesn’t sound appealing, or if you just don’t trust yourself to summon up the energy and willpower to prep your own meals come meal time, consider simple and delicious meal prep ideas for truck drivers. If you have a spouse, let him or her give you a hand. In fact, meal prepping could be your guys’ way of bonding while you’re out on the road, and it can even allow you two to “share a meal” even when you’re miles apart.

Bonding moments aside, meal prep only requires a few hours of your time but can yield amazing results. Some people have gotten so good at meal prepping that they can make a whole week’s worth of food in just a few hours’ time. Those meals are generally healthier than what many other people make fresh. Once your meals are made, you can store them in small, reusable containers, which you can easily stow in your mini fridge. Plus, by meal prepping, you can save space on appliances and allow you more room to sprawl out at night.

Just because you’re a trucker doesn’t mean that you have to eat poorly. With the above tips, cooking in a big rig can be easy and fun, and, if cooking on the job doesn’t appeal to you, you can always jump on board the meal-prep bandwagon.

Simple and Delicious Meal Prep Ideas for Truck Drivers

Living a healthy lifestyle and consuming nutritious foods on a regular basis can be a real challenge for those who spend the majority of their time on the road. The stress of irregular work hours and the difficulty of finding fresh, healthy food can make meal prep for truck drivers a nightmare. However, preparing easy meals for truckers can be simple, especially with a bit of preparation and strategy.

Fresh Vegetables

When deciding on food to pack for truck drivers, vegetables are often an easy and delicious choice. They are relatively affordable, high in nutritional value, and easy to find, and as long as you have access to a refrigerator, they are perfect for long-haul trips. Try packing one or more of the following types of vegetables before your next trip:

  • Carrot sticks
  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers
  • Celery

If you find yourself getting bored with your normal vegetable routine, try adding a bit of peanut or almond butter to your celery. Some vegetables will taste even better when tossed with your favorite seasonings or vinaigrette dressing. Just be sure your vegetables are fresh and you don’t drown your vegetables in calorically dense dressings and nut butter.

Fresh Fruit

Much like fresh vegetables, fresh fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, and grapes can be tasty and nutritious at the same time. Consuming fruits regularly is a great way to stay hydrated and obtain the important vitamins and nutrients your body needs to stay energized and healthy. When choosing fresh fruit, try to avoid fruits that are bruised or dull in color. If you absolutely cannot find fresh fruit near you, look for fruit cups that contain juice instead of high-fructose corn syrup.

Nuts and Seeds

Raw nuts and seeds such as almonds, cashews, and sunflower seeds are high in protein, fiber, and “good” unsaturated fats. Many of them also contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower your chances of heart problems, as well as vitamin E, which can help reduce the amount of plaque that accumulates in your arteries. Roasted seeds are known to be an excellent source of zinc, which has been proven to be beneficial for men’s health. When choosing nuts and seeds, try to avoid items packed in salt, and consume them sparingly—even though they are nutritious, they are still high in fat. If you are really craving something sweet and salty, try making your own homemade trail mix by adding dried fruits and a bit of chocolate to the nuts of your choice.

Boiled Eggs

Eggs are packed full of nutrients, and they are relatively simple to prepare. Eggs are high in protein, vitamin D, iron, and vitamin B2. Their whites also contain nutrients such as selenium and cholesterol, and many brands of eggs now contain omega-3 fatty acids, which can keep your heart healthy and lower your risk of heart attack and stroke. Boiled eggs will also store well as long as they are kept at a safe temperature.

Greek Yogurt

The nutritional value of many types of yogurts can be questionable, but Greek yogurt is high in protein, and many types are low in sugar. Most brands of Greek yogurt contain anywhere from eight to 12 grams of protein, as well as considerable levels of calcium and vitamin D. The cultures contained in yogurt have also been known to aid in digestive health and regularity. With so much to offer, consuming Greek yogurt is the perfect way to handle your ice cream cravings.

Protein Bars

Protein bars are a popular healthy snack, and they can be found in virtually every grocery store in the country. Once only consumed by bodybuilders and fitness enthusiasts, protein bars have become mainstream and are often substituted for entire meals. They contain relatively high amounts of protein and come in a wide variety of flavors and textures. When choosing a protein bar, be sure to carefully examine the fat and sugar content before making a final decision. In an effort to boost sales and appeal to a wider variety of palates, many protein bar manufacturers have opted to add unhealthy amounts of sugar and fat to their products. These types of protein bars can be immensely unhealthy when consumed on a regular basis.

Muffins

Contrary to popular belief, muffins can be tasty and nutritious. They also store well, making them ideal for long trips. In general, homemade muffins that incorporate fresh oats, nuts, fruits, and seeds tend to be significantly healthier than prepackaged grocery store and coffee shop muffins. They are much lower in sugar, and many people add healthy add-ins such as protein powder to increase the nutritional value.

The Importance of Planning Ahead

As mentioned above, meal prep for truck drivers can be simple with just a bit of preparation and planning. High-calorie, sugar-laden foods may be more convenient, but your body will thank you if you choose to consume the healthier options listed above instead. To make meal preparation easier, try packing items that store well before your trip so you don’t have to keep running to the store.

How Long-Haul Drivers Can Stay Awake While Driving

Though many long-haul drivers may have been lured into the industry by dreams of the open road and freedom from the stress of a 9-5 job, the job of road warrior is anything but a dream. Instead, it is filled with many different types of stress that differ greatly from those in the jobs they may have previously held.

Turning Wheels Mean Dollar Signs

One of the most stressful parts of driving long-haul is often seen plastered on t-shirts, coffee mugs and posters in truck stops across the country. Though the grammar may make some people cringe, the well-known saying “If the wheels ain’t turning, you ain’t making no money” is one that is known across all aspects of the industry. In essence, it means that anytime the truck is not moving, it is not making any money for the owner.

This leads trucking companies to come up with creative solutions, such as assigning two drivers to the same truck, each sleeping while the other is driving. It does not matter, however, if drivers are alone, or if they have a partner sleeping in the back of the rig. The long miles drive across the country can feel even longer than they really are, no matter how excited they were to begin driving a big rig for a living.

Boredom Leads to Mental Exhaustion

Current log book regulations mean that gone is the day that a driver could make his way across the country only taking cat-naps. Instead, drivers today have enforced limits on how long they can drive before they are required to take a specific length of time off-duty. There is much heated debate about whether or not the current system of hourly regulations really work out best for those who are behind the wheel, but currently they stand as law.

On average, a trucker drives anywhere between 2,000 – 3,000 miles each week. Even with enough sleep or off-duty time, the long miles put in by truck drivers can lead to a very real mental exhaustion which can, if not recognized and planned for, lead to a driver falling asleep behind the wheel. No matter if they spend those miles listening to talk radio, to music, or talking on the phone via Bluetooth headset (drivers are not permitted to hold their cell phones while they drive), the passing miles and the hypnotic hum of the tires on the road can still lead to boredom and mental exhaustion.

Tried and Trusted Tips to Avoid Falling Asleep

Thankfully, drivers are typically willing to share with each other the tips and tricks that keep them from falling asleep while driving. Following is a list of ways that have been found to work for those who are looking for better ways of staying awake.

  • Healthy Food – Though it is so tempting to indulge in fast food meals while driving, many have found that healthy meals consisting of protein and complex carbohydrates help them stay awake for much longer than foods that are full of fats, salt and sugars. Healthy snacks work as well. Instead of grabbing a candy bar, truckers who want to stay awake prefer trail mix, or a bag of almonds. Having a mini-fridge and a small cooking oven in the truck are not only convenient, they enable drivers to eat much more healthy foods overall.
  • Switch up the Listening – Drivers should change up listening selections while driving. Alternate between music, talk radio, podcasts and digital books. This way, the brain will be entertained instead of falling into a bored, sleepy slump. And if all else fails, turning up the volume to ear-splitting levels and singing along seems to work as well.
  • Cat Nap – Taking a short nap before starting on a long drive can be incredibly beneficial. In fact, studies show that a nap that is under an hour can power you enough to stay awake for many more hours than had you taken a nap that lasted for a few hours. Drivers who find themselves becoming drowsy on the road can always pull over and grab a 20-minute power nap in order to make it to the needed destination.
  • Get Out and Move – Sitting for extended periods of time can be hard on a body too. Any time drivers feel sleepiness sneaking in is a good time to find a spot for some safe exercise. This can be as little as a few laps around the truck or as extensive as some push-ups, squats and a quick jog. Getting that heart rate up means the blood will be less-sluggish upon return to the drier seat.
  • Don’t fall for Caffeine – Good hydration is very important to staying alert. Unfortunately, sodas that are readily available in every truck stop do not aid to overall hydration. Even worse is the fact that drinking too much caffeine while driving can make a driver need to find a restroom much more frequently than if they had simply stayed with water.

No matter the reason for getting into the long-haul industry, the end result is typically the same after many miles driven. Being prepared to combat sleepiness and stay wide awake, no matter how long the road ahead, should be the goal of every road warrior.

Health Concerns All Truckers Should Know About

Though many over-the-road drivers may enjoy their jobs, education about possible health problems that are common for those in the industry is increasingly important. Health problems can all too frequently mean that a driver can no longer certify for a CDL, adding to the nation’s driver shortage. In fact, a recent study completed by the American Trucking Association found that by the end of 2017, the driver shortage could reach 50,000.

Most Common Health Problems

In order to keep qualified and competent drivers on the road, companies must find ways of alerting, educating and incentivizing their drivers to avoid some of the biggest common health problems. These include:

  • Exhaustion – Whether the exhaustion is due to an ever-changing sleep schedule, or to the fact that the time spent behind the wheel can be mind-numbing, many drivers report a feeling of exhaustion a majority of the time. This exhaustion, if not handled correctly, can lead to accidents on the highways. Companies that acknowledge driver exhaustion and provide education, permission for drivers to make needed stops, and incentives for exercise may find that drivers begin to report less exhaustion once beneficial changes become habit.
  • Work-Related Injuries – While some might scoff at the thought of getting a workplace injury while sitting behind the wheel of a semi, drivers experience such health problems all too frequently. Musculoskeletal disorders are often the most common type of injury, as drivers are often tasked to load or unload some or all of the freight in a trailer. Injury of the back and neck are most common. Working with drivers to educate them about the necessity of a proper stretch or warm-up period before lifting may help to alleviate some of these injuries.

Repetitive motion injuries are often experienced in the trucking industry as well, especially in the wrist, hand and knee. This is most likely due to the need for drivers to constantly shift gears (wrist and knee) and keep a frim grip on the steering wheel (hand.) Encouraging drivers to engage in exercises for each of these areas daily may be the answer to this type of injury.

  • Risks of Sitting – A recent study conducted by Harvard University confirmed, once again, that sitting for long periods of time puts people at a heightened risk of death from all causes. Though the exact connection between sitting and poor health was not pinpointed, the chances of early death were found to be much higher, documenting increased rates of death from type 2 diabetes, cancer, and even an increased risk of dementia. This study also found that even people who exercised for up to an hour a day continued to be at risk if they also spent prolonged hours sitting each day.
  • Obesity – It should come as no surprise that the first occupation on the list of highest obesity rates is that of a truck driver. After all, who would not gain weight and keep it on if each day consisted of up to 11 hours of sitting and the easiest meals were the unhealthy offerings of fast food chains or truck stops. Companies that provide drivers with a small fridge and a way to heat healthier options are on the road to helping each driver be more healthy. Incentivizing an exercise program can also give drivers a reason to take regular exercise breaks.
  • Sleep Apnea – A high body mass index (BMI), regularly found in long-haul drivers, can also lead to a disorder called sleep apnea. Basically, a driver never gets good sleep because they stop breathing through the night as their upper respiratory system constricts and blocks air flow. Many times, drivers do not even realize that they are waking repeatedly during the night, they only know that they rarely wake feeling refreshed. Heavy snoring is one sign that a driver may be suffering from this health concern. Companies that offer free testing for sleep apnea, as well as follow up care are sure to find that drivers perform much better and are of better health with the properly prescribed breathing machine.
  • Stimulant Dependence – Sleepy truckers frequently find it simple to grab a stimulant, whether in pill form, in a soda, or an enhanced power bar. The problem comes in the fact that, taken regularly, caffeine builds a dependency in users. Truckers typically need more to stay alert and find themselves with an excruciating headache when they go without caffeine. A better suggestion is to engage in healthy ways of staying alert such as stretching, drinking cold water, and eating apples or baby carrots. By doing this, drivers can grab something caffeinated on occasion without fear of becoming dependent.

The Healthy Driver

When trucking companies and their drivers agree on the fact that driver health is of utmost importance, changes can be encouraged which will benefit all involved. Ongoing education and incentive programs can not only have a positive effect on health, but also on mental health. And a healthy driver is one who can remain an asset long into the future.

Stop Smoking and Drive Healthier: 5 Resources for Quitting on the Road

Odds are, you’re a smoker. Most truckers are, just about 51%. As you well know, smoking is terrible for your health and quitting is hard. Make a healthier choice for yourself and quit smoking. These resources can help.

There is no one guaranteed solution for quitting smoking. Find resources that look like they will help you and try them. If it isn’t working, try something else. Stick to your goal and don’t give up. Quitting is possible and you can do it. Make the decision to quit today and then find a plan to make it happen.

1-800-QUIT-NOW

All states have a dedicated quitline to help smokers as they decide to quit. Services available and hours will vary by state. Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW to get in touch with your state’s quitline. Another available option is 877-44U-QUIT, available Mon-Fri from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern time.

Freedom from Smoking Online

Support groups are an excellent resource as you quit an addictive habit, but many drivers, especially long haul and over the road truckers, may have a hard time hitting a weekly meeting due to their varied schedule and time on the road. Freedom from Smoking Online is an adaptation of the American Lung Association’s highly successful group program. It can be done on your own time, from anywhere with an internet connection. There is a small fee to register for the program, but with all the money you’ll save when you no longer buy cigarettes, this program is very affordable and is an excellent option for those wanting a group style program without the weekly, in-person meetings.

Smokefree TXT

Are you running low on data? Do you want support without having to use the internet? Smokefree TXT provides 24/7 support and encouragement for those that are trying to quit. Each day you’ll receive approximately five encouraging text messages, helping you to stay on track. To sign up visit https://smokefree.gov/tools-tips/smokefreetxt

Quit Day

QuitDay.org hopes to add 10 healthy years to your life by helping you to ditch the cigarettes. Their website will help you understand why you smoke and will help you identify common setbacks met during the quitting process. They have a page specially dedicated to helping truck drivers quit smoking.

Apps for Quitting

Are you an app lover? Use one of these free apps to help you quit (links are to Android apps, but Apple versions are available too):

Tips for Success

Quitting smoking can be especially difficult for truck drivers. You spend hours alone driving, time that you probably filled with cigarettes. These tips may be helpful.

  • Try Sunflower Seeds and Gum– Many truckers find it helpful to stock up on sunflower seeds and gum for those long, boring stretches where you’re used to smoking. Make sure you have something to do as you drive so you can break the smoking habit with a healthier option.
  • Talk with Your Doctor– Your doctor may be able to prescribe treatments to reduce your urge to smoke. Ask them about your options.
  • Get a Buddy– Everything is more fun when you do it with a friend. A quit buddy may make it easier to stop smoking. This resource guide from the University of Alabama will help you enlist a family member, friend, or fellow trucker for help on your quitting journey.
  • Do it for You– Quitting is hard and the only way to be successful is to want it. Why do you want to quit? Remind yourself of the reasons that you’re quitting every time the going gets hard.

Live longer and feel better. You might drive a truck, but that doesn’t mean you have to smoke like a trucker. Quit smoking today!