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Empowering Our Truckers

Truck Driving Can Be Dangerous, Which Is Why Drivers Need More Industry Support

Photo: Courtesy of Ralph (Ravi) Kayden

Truck driving is by nature, a solitary job. 

A professional driver spends much of their time alone. For better or for worse, a driver receives little or no support for many of their job duties, or the challenging lifestyle. 

A truck driver’s personal health and safety is not monitored, nor is any support offered to the driver. It’s virtually all left up to the driver, to stay fit, healthy, and protect themselves. There is no governing body or support system to advise, offer advice, or make suggestions on how to best deal with the stressful, dangerous, and unhealthy lifestyle. 

Sales staff and dispatchers of a trucking company typically don’t hesitate to send a driver into a dangerous area.

It’s up to the driver to make the decision to refuse a load delivering to an unsafe area. Problem is often, it’s difficult to know upon acceptance of a freight delivery, whether or not the area is truly a safe one. 

Drivers can be pressured to accept a load. But it’s only the driver who truly suffers if things go wrong, in such a situation. 

A trucker needs to be every vigilant and aware of the risks and potential dangers on the road and in areas where his driving job takes him. 

Likewise, with a driver’s overall health. While many drivers are in a rush to overlook or dismiss the harm of not eating properly on the road or not getting enough rest or proper exercise, these bad habits can be silent killers for the sedentary trucker. 

It was a sobering statistic for me to read recently that the average life expectancy of a truck driver today is just 61 years old. That’s 17 years sooner than the average age of the rest of society in North America. 

But these statistics could be turned around easily with support for the professional career truck driver. 

As strange as it may sound, the mandating of E-logs are helping drivers in this respect. Trucking companies can no longer push drivers into running ridiculously long hours, as they once did. 

A driver now has 10 hours off duty each day to eat properly, get some exercise, and sufficient rest. The reset period after 70 hours of work is 34 hours, although I personally think the reset time should be longer. 

Here again though it is solely up to the driver and no one else, to ensure personal health and be ready to work again after the brief reset period. 

Many trucking companies view the E-logs an “efficiency tool” to help them maximize their equipment use. But while the equipment may be “road ready” after 10 hours, it doesn’t necessarily mean the driver is also ready. This can be a major flaw with the E-log system. 

E-logs were implemented as a safety tool to ensure a driver had the chance to get a proper amount of rest. 

But when the trucking company calls a driver at 3 a.m. to go back to work and start driving because he was out of hours mid-day the day before, it is just downright dangerous. It defeats the original intent of the system. 

The human body is not at its best at 3 a.m. The level of alertness is down, as is reaction time. It is not the ideal time, given the lower visibility at night, to take a commercial vehicle out on the road. 

Trucking companies are aware of this yet some still force their drivers out on the road. 

Once again, the driver is on his own and needs to make the final decision on whether he’s ready to drive, despite the outside pressures. 

This matter is a critical one. The wrong decision on the part of the driver may cost them their life and the lives of other motorists on the highway. 

At Smart Trucking, we are of the belief that more direct support is needed for the professional truck driver to educate about healthy lifestyle practices, how to best cope with the stressful, sedentary and often dangerous job and advise on how to best handle E-log situations. 

We’ve all heard the saying, “Truckers keep America moving.” But our drivers need support in order to keep American moving. 

There needs to be ongoing lifestyle and health support and education, for the men and women who work so hard at this important but often undervalued job.

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