Published on September 14, 2016
Did you ever drive past a truck and signaled the driver with your arm to get them to blow their horn? That’s about as far as most folks go to show their appreciation for truck drivers, but did you ever stop to think how hard truck drivers work to get the goods we use every day? They drive hours on end, through storms and on icy roads, day or night. And sometimes, fatigue gets the best of them and takes a toll, causing terrible accidents. Truck drivers quietly drive the economy and for that they deserve a medal. A holiday, they deserve a national holiday. Lucky for all, there is already one. It is the National Truck Driver Appreciation Week and this year, it is celebrating its 27th year. In honor of all the truck drivers around, who are transporting the food we eat, the clothes we wear and pretty much everything we buy, here’s a list of our best tips to keep you healthy and safe while on a long haul drive.
Fatigue is one of the most common causes for single vehicle accident amongst truck drivers. Watch out for signs of exhaustion, like yawning, heavy eyes or humming in your ears. Aim at 7 or 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every 24 hours and take 15 minute breaks every two hours. Keep a logbook to help you adhere to rest time schedules.
Food choices on the road are not always the healthiest. Roadside diners are quick and convenient, but they are generally unhealthy. Pack a cooler with some healthy snacks like fruits, vegetables, yoghurts and the like. Eat breakfast and then snack every two or three hours between meals.
According to a survey by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 69% of long-haul truck drivers are obese. They also have the highest risk for chronic health problems. Heart attacks, strokes and fatigue are increasingly common amongst truck drivers. Now we know that it is hard to find the time to exercise when you are driving across the country, but exercise does not need to take place at the gym. Ab crunches, plank and push-ups can be done on a yoga mat set next to your truck. TRX suspension training is another great alternative for exercise while on the road; attach the suspension cables to the bottom of your rig and get a full-body workout in 15 minutes.
Driving for extended periods of time can tense up your muscles and cause pain or discomfort. Relieve the stiffness of your shoulder area by doing some shoulder shrugs: lift your shoulders up to your ears in an “I don’t know” motion. Hold the position for 5 seconds and release. Keeping your hands on the steering wheel can get your fingers and hands to become stiff and in some cases cause arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. Rotate your wrists in a circular motion or place your fingers on the top of the steering wheel and press into your hand holding the position for 30 seconds before releasing. Sitting for prolonged periods of time can cause stiffness in your neck. Check out this exercise video to learn how to stretch your neck while sitting in your truck during a break.
Keep a log
Logging your nutrition and fitness routine in a journal can help you spot weaknesses easily and maintain healthier habits.
Wear comfortable clothing
Lack of proper blood flow can result in health problems along the line. The best way to avoid health issues and discomfort brought on by sitting for long periods of time, is to wear loose and comfortable clothing and shoes.
Adjust your seat properly
Some of the vibration frequencies at which trucks operate can injure your spine long term. Tilting back your seat so that it is not completely vertical, may reduce the amount of vibration and shock traveling directly to your spine.