4 Occupational Hazards for Truck Drivers and How to Minimize Risk

It’s no secret that long-haul trucking is a dangerous career. After all, every time you get on the road as a commuter, you see accidents, poor driving decisions, and near misses. Spending even more time on the road hauling goods from one end of the country to the other leaves you with no misconceptions about your career’s relative safety.

However, just because trucking can be a dangerous occupation doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pursue a career in trucking. Instead, familiarize yourself with some of trucking’s most common occupational hazards so that you can understand the dangers you may face on the road — and, even better, how to avoid them altogether or minimize your risk.

Keep reading for a list of trucking’s occupational hazards, complete with information on how you can stay safe and reach the end of your truck-driving career hale, whole, and healthy.

1. Driving Accidents

The high rate of car accidents is one reason why, in 2016, truck driving was considered the deadliest occupation in the United States. Truck drivers are on the road constantly, and unlike other drivers, they can’t always get off the road when the going gets tough — most truck drivers haul through the night and are expected to persevere through harsh weather conditions to deliver products on time.

You can’t control other drivers’ actions, but you can take a few key steps to protect yourself while on the road:

  • Don’t break federal limits on driving time. Even if it jeopardizes your arrival time, always pull over and rest for the night if you’ve driven many hours in a row. Delivering a product on time isn’t worth your life.
  • Know how to drive safely in all weather conditions. Always check the weather before you set off on a drive and prepare accordingly (for instance, bring chains whenever you drive in the winter). Get off the road if driving becomes too dangerous.
  • Many car drivers either don’t know how to drive around trucks or intentionally antagonize truck drivers. However, road rage endangers everyone on the road, yourself included. Stay calm even when others around you drive foolishly.

You can also take steps to reduce the possibility of injury in the event of an accident. Purchase a semi with airbags, and always buckle your seatbelt. Remember, wearing a seatbelt is not just the law — it’s a small action that could save your life.

2. Equipment-Related Injuries

As a truck driver, you spend a lot of time both doing truck maintenance and lifting the goods you haul. Lifting truck equipment or goods incorrectly can injure your back and knees or even result in death, especially if you’re trapped between the truck and trailer while uncoupling or coupling the two.

To avoid injuries, learn how to lift products correctly and without straining your back. Use cargo-moving equipment to deal with heavy loads. When performing maintenance like replacing a tire, stay aware of your surroundings, have every tool you need on hand, and take the time you need to complete the task — rushing through it can increase your risk of injuries during the task or contribute to a truck accident down the line.

3. Ergonomic Injuries

Sitting for hours while driving isn’t just uncomfortable. It’s also actively bad for your health. Sitting in an uncomfortable seat can permanently injure your back. Keeping your hands on a vibrating steering wheel while going over rough roads may contribute to aching joints. Staring at the road for hours, especially in bright sunlight, causes cumulative eye damage over time.

To minimize ergonomic injuries, make a few key changes around your truck. Invest in an ergonomic seat, keep a pair of UV-blocking sunglasses in the cab, and fix issues like misalignment and shaking steering wheels as soon as possible.

4. Lifestyle-Related Diseases and Injuries

Life on the road doesn’t give you much time to exercise, eat healthily, or connect with friends and family. Diseases like diabetes and problems like poor digestion or malnutrition are real issues resulting from gas-station food and a lack of exercise.

The stressful job and boredom lead some truckers to smoke, a habit that contributes to diseases like lung cancer, and the lack of connection with other people can cause mental health deterioration that contributes to depression or, in extreme cases, suicide.

To stay healthy while on the job, keep your cab stocked with healthy, non-perishable foods like freeze-dried apples and whole-grain crackers. Make exercise a daily habit, even if that means walking around the rest stop for 10 minutes. Talk to a doctor about changing habits like smoking to extend your lifespan.

Reach out to friends and family even when you’re on the road. If you experience anxiety and sadness that refuse to dissipate, get in touch with a therapist once you’re safely back at home after a job.

When you’re aware of the industry’s most common occupational hazards, you can do what’s necessary to reduce their impact on your life. Along with taking the actions listed above, make sure your truck is your friend — not your foe — when it comes to staying safe on the road. Check out Arrow Truck Sales to find a high-quality used truck that will help you reach your destination safely and on time.