We all know how rewarding being a trucker can be... the freedom, independence, and the wide open road full of changing scenery. What more could you ask for? But it can also be a dangerous business.
The following, in no particular order, is a list of the top five hazards the average trucker might face in the course of his or her job. Don‘t despair, though. We'll point you in the direction for more information on how to avoid those dangers so your travels are smooth and stress is reduced to a minimum!
1. Health Hazards: Trucking jobs are well known for its occupational health challenges: sleep apnea, high blood pressure, depression, and obesity are some of the risks. To stave off illness, do your best to eat right on the road, and don’t forget to carve out some time to get a regular check up at your doctor’s office. Preventative maintenance is the best medicine!
2. Parking Hazards: Depending on where you're headed, sometimes there is plenty of parking to wait out in until its time to deliver, sometimes there isn’t. The recent rest stop closures have made it a little more difficult to find adequate and safe parking, but if you plan ahead and locate truck stops or rest areas along your route in advance, you’ll up your chances of finding a good place to park.
3. Sleep Hazards: Tying into the first two hazards, truckers are legally required to rest. So taking breaks and getting enough sleep is integral to the job. To complicate matters, almost 30% of commercial drivers have some form of sleep apnea, and are seven times more likely to get involved in a highway accident as a result. Advice: Plan your breaks out ahead of time, and get a sleep apnea screening if you feel more lethargic than usual, especially if you’re overweight.
4. Highway Hazards: Truckers fall victim to roughly two-fifths of all job-related highway fatalities. To reduce your risk of becoming a statistic, watch your speed. Driving over the speed limit factored in 22 percent of fatal crashes involving large trucks, reports the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
5. General Safety Hazards: Nonfatal injuries such as sprains and strains related to loading and unloading goods on and off the truck often plague truckers. And needless to say, drivers who haul hazardous materials have to watch out for their safety much, much more carefully. OSHA outlines best practices in loading and unloading here and hazmat transport here.
Bonus number 6! Truck Wear and Tear Hazards: Don't forget to perform regular maintenance of your truck. Washington state's Department of Labor and Industries offers some good general tips--like checking your brakes, steering, hydraulics, etc. often--with links to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for more information. Be sure to look into the specific rules and regulations that apply to truck maintenance in your state though.