According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is a disproportionately high rate of fatal crash-related injuries and health disorders among truck drivers compared to the general public. To put this into perspective, in 2015, there were an estimated 2.5 million American workers driving trucks over 10,000 lbs. Three years previously, there were over 317,000 crashes involving large trucks, and that’s more than one crash for every eight drivers each year.
It’s easy to see why stress is an issue for any truck driver, no matter what or where they drive. There’s traffic to deal with, delivery times to meet, bad weather, poor drivers, irregular hours, lack of sleep, and difficult driving. Drivers have to deal with all these factors while handling vehicles, equipment, and cargo worth tens of thousands of dollars. Add in more stress recently from added safety practices to reduce the risks from COVID-19, and it’s easy to see why these factors can lead to health problems, accidents, poor service, and burnout.
Lauren Fletcher, the executive editor of Work Truck Magazine, recommends these six strategies for managing truck driver stress:
- Improve route and trip planning wherever possible. If drivers feel like they’re in a rush, they may skip safety checks or drive irresponsibly.
- Keep your fleet well maintained. Nothing adds to stress like constantly worrying that your truck may break down or an equipment failure will cause an accident.
- Exercise. Something as simple as walking around the truck a few times during safety checks can be beneficial.
- Work on ways to improve eating habits. Encouraging drivers to keep a cooler on hand with healthy drinks and snacks makes them less likely to fill up on unhealthy truck stop treats.
- Sleep is easy to skip out on but critical for performance and mental health. Rest should always be a priority.
- Keep a positive attitude. Today may be wrong, but the day’s problems are only temporary.