If you’re a truck driver, did you know that your profession is one of the ten deadliest jobs in the country? With a fatal injury rate of 24.7 for every 100,000 individuals employed full-time, it’s vitally important that you prioritize safety every time you get on the road and log your customary long work hours. Here are the key areas you should pay attention to.
Manage your body
As a truck driver, your physical condition is a major factor when it comes to safety. A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that nearly a quarter of truck drivers had persisted in driving when tired or under unsafe conditions, and 68% did not report non-crash injuries sustained outside of work to their employer.
Long haul truck drivers are at increased risk of sprains and strains to the arms, back, and neck. Encountering pain or discomfort when you drive long hours on the road will increase the risk of a collision or serious injury. And although sleep statistics vary, it is estimated to be a factor in up to 13% of single-vehicle crashes and 4% of truck driver crashes.
All drivers of any type of vehicle are well-advised to avoid distractions, which are among the leading causes of road accidents. And when you spend so much time driving your truck, it’s even more important to resist the urge to text or call while behind the wheel.
Other distractions that can lead to you taking your eyes off the road include eating or drinking, navigation, and prolonged or involved conversation with a passenger or dispatcher. Make use of your scheduled breaks to eat, attend to your messages and calls, and any other business that needs to be done while off the road so that you can completely focus on the road while driving.
Wear your seat belt
Up to 14% of drivers wore their seat belts occasionally or not at all, which was also related to other unsafe behaviors and prior violations. Don’t be like that – buckle up! It increases safety for you and your passengers and is required by law in many states. Police officers can pull you over for such a violation.
Watch your schedule
A lot of road accidents can be traced to unnecessary risks when driving, such as speeding. For truck drivers, these behaviors, in turn, can be fueled by the need to meet unreasonable delivery schedules. Combined with long work hours and the physical exertion when lifting or handling cargo, it all adds up a high level of risk.
Businesses often push for tight deadlines to improve service efficiency and cut costs. As a truck driver, you should be aware of your rights; for example, you can consult with a labor lawyer in Washington to know that you are entitled to paid breaks and extra pay for non-driving related tasks. However, you also need to balance your safety with schedule demands and incentives.
When you drive some of the biggest vehicles on the road, playing a vital role in transporting heavy loads across the country, this job can be a source of pride. Keep in mind that the long hours, physical toil, and demanding schedule all put you at higher risk than normal, and will, in turn, require increased attention to safety on your part.