Being a truck driver can be a lucrative and rewarding career but it can also be a dangerous one. According to the latest statistics from the Department of Labor, in 2017, 840 truck drivers were killed on the job, up from 786 the previous year.
With e-commerce on the rise and the economy doing well, there are more trucking jobs than ever, and it’s expected to rise 6% from now to 2026. With a shortage of trained truckers to fill those spots and pressure on current drivers to pick up the slack, an increase in accidents is almost inevitable.
Sometimes speeding seems like the best way for truckers to meet deadlines, especially if they’ve been bogged down in traffic. Unfortunately, driving recklessly can result in an accident that will slow you down further or keep you from getting to your destination at all.
Mother Nature doesn’t care about your deadlines and is happy to drop a foot of snow at the drop of a hat.
Poorly Maintained Equipment
Brakes can be worn down, systems can fail, and breaking down on a busy highway can put you and other drivers in danger.
If loads are not secured properly, they could fall off and end up in the road where they will cause an accident.
Driver fatigue is a major cause of accidents on the road. Long routes, lack of sleep, and strict schedules can cause drivers to fall asleep at the wheel.
What Truckers Can Do
Fortunately, drivers can take a proactive approach to fight the dangers that come along with the job of driving a truck. By doing so, they can minimize the occurrence of accidents.
Obey Traffic Laws
By driving the speed limit and obeying other traffic laws, most accidents can be prevented. Many other drivers don’t understand that big rigs require significantly more stopping distance than they do, nor do they realize that trucks are much less maneuverable than a Honda Civic. Accidents can be prevented by assuming this,expecting the unexpected, driving defensively, and by always being aware of your surroundings.
Drive Appropriately for the Weather Conditions
Drive cautiously according to the current weather conditions and be prepared for other drivers who won’t.
Get Enough Sleep
Coffee and energy drinks are a temporary solution to fight fatigue because they usually cause your body to crash later. The best defense against fatigue is to have a regular sleep schedule with at least 8 hours of sleep a night and to follow the hours of service regulations.
Maintain Your Equipment
Regular maintenance may prevent breakdowns, tire blowouts, and brake failures, all of which can be deadly on the highways.
Secure Your Load
Be sure to always use proper loading techniques and follow load guidelines including weight restrictions.
It’s not only accidents that pose a risk to truck drivers. Health risks abound if a trucker isn’t keeping a close check on his or her health.
Be Physically Healthy
One of the biggest dangers to truckers on the road is the lifestyle. It’s all too easy to rely on greasy fast food and be sedentary behind the wheel all day. Unfortunately, these decisions can be deadly for drivers. Fast food is high in cholesterol, sodium, and fat; that and lack of exercise can lead to a myriad of serious health problems including obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes. Regular exercise and healthy eating can fight these diseases.
Be Mentally Healthy
Mental health is another important issue for truck drivers. Deadlines, traffic, and loneliness can cause an abundance of stress and even lead to depression. Maintaining your physical health also helps with mental health problems. Bringing a spouse or pet along on the road can fight loneliness but if you feel you’re struggling with your mental health, it’s important to seek professional help.
Your career in trucking can be much safer if you are alert, proactive, and take a methodical approach to the job. It requires diligence to drive safely and just like any other job, if you do it well, you will reap the rewards.
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