Commercial drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles safely and responsibly. When they fail to do so, serious accidents can occur, causing injuries and even fatalities. Their job is very demanding and requires long hours on the road, which can lead to fatigue. As a result, they are prone to many hazards and injuries, including catastrophic accidents that may be fatal. Likewise, staying rooted in one place for a long time with minimal exercise and movement leads to a sedentary lifestyle riddled with numerous complications. There are over 1,000,000 commercial truck drivers employed in the US.
About 9.0% of these experts are women, while 91.0% are men. The average age of commercial truck drivers is about 48. Therefore, considering these facts, as a commercial driver, you must focus on your health. So, if you are looking for ways to manage and maintain your well-being as you do your job, here’s what you need to know:
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1. How To Ensure You Are Fit For The Road?
Commercial motor vehicles (CMV) such as pickup trucks, buses, vans, and semi-trucks differ significantly from regular vehicles. These vehicles require your vigilance, skills, and knowledge to safely move from one area to the next without mishaps. This is why you need to have a commercial driving license (CDL) before operating a commercial vehicle that clears your position as a driver.
A CDL is a comprehensive test that classifies the type of vehicle you will work with, examine your technique, and tests if you know the basic rules and regulations of the road. There is also a physical exam for CDL license that confirms that you are healthy enough to drive a commercial vehicle. Certain states, like California, are very particular about this physical test. You can meet Dr. Gurj Kalay at the Yuba Sutter Chiropractic for your DOT physical exam. And he will give you a complete analysis and examination to confirm that you can drive a commercial vehicle.
2. What Happens If You Are Not Physically Well?
As a CMV driver, your health plays a crucial role in driving. Controlling a large vehicle is all about reflexes. You need to have a good idea of where to speed up, where you need to slow down and how to balance the weight in the back. At the same time, while driving your vehicle on the highway, you must watch for smaller cars and bikes that can appear in front of you. If you have a cloudy vision, suffer from ailments like glaucoma, or don’t get enough sleep at night before the big drive, there is a high chance you may struggle to drive carefully. In this manner, you will have trouble being weary of cars and motorbikes that may appear out of nowhere and crash into you.
On the other hand, you are also at risk for obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. Life on the road is often isolating and busy. You may be more used to eating in diners and pubs than at home. Consequently, processed meals may start clogging your arteries, making you susceptible to a stroke or high blood pressure. This is not good for you, and there may come the point where you can no longer go behind the wheel.
Similarly, it is not uncommon for CMV drivers to hold their urine while on the road. Constantly driving without bathroom breaks is terrible for your health. Not only does the urine buildup stretch out your bladder, but it can also impact your kidneys. This may lead to frequent urination and weaken your bladder, causing leaks.
Once these health factors start piling up, eventually, it will get more challenging for you to do your job. Furthermore, when you’re not physically well, it can slow you down, making you a hazard for the passengers on board and those on the road. For this reason, you need to start looking after yourself better and ensure that you responsibly carry out your duty without harming anyone.
3. How Do You Look After Yourself?
Paying attention to your well-being is the best way to tackle your job. You can handle your job much more effectively when you have a suitable physical, mental and emotional status. Whether you are a city bus driver or transport goods across state lines, here are some practical ways to monitor your health better:
- Try To Get A Good Night’s Sleep. Before you start your shift, you need plenty of sleep. Aim for at least getting seven to eight hours every night to ensure that you are well-rested and able to ward off drowsiness. Sleep is also good for your muscles. It allows them to heal and receive sufficient oxygen through the night, which helps you feel fresh in the morning. Plan how to tackle the journey if you have to drive a long route and may be on the road for several hours. It would be best to start early, so you can cover much distance and get time to take naps. Whenever you feel sleepy as you drive, it is recommended that you pull to the side and sleep.
- Upgrade Your Seat. Customized driver seats cost a fortune, but they are far better for your health in the long run. An ergonomic design can give you the comfort you need to do your job without jeopardizing your well-being. The extra cushion and padding can provide much-needed lumbar support, which may help your posture and keep your spine straight.
It would be best if you also tried lifting your hips, not sitting too close to the steering wheel, ensuring that your seat is at the right height, and looking into leaning back slightly. Invest in a neck pillow and install a cushion in your headrest. This prevents your neck muscles from getting stiff from being in one position. You should also wear comfortable shoes that allow your toes to expand. Lastly, adjust your mirrors, so you can look at them without straining your neck.
- Pack A Healthy Snack. Making meals for the road is always a good idea to save yourself from dining out at unhealthy joints. Start by keeping a calorie intake counter that accounts for lifestyle and job to inform you how much you need to eat. From there, pack a lunch suitable for your sedentary lifestyle and doesn’t add to your weight. Salads, lean meat, protein, and fruits are always reasonable options. Pack dry nuts and a granola bar packed with fiber if you want to snack. While making a pit stop, make healthy choices. Look at the menu available and see what items are low in calories and ideal for your consumption. You may feel tempted to bring a large thermos of coffee with you. Avoid doing that. Instead, have water bottles with you and stay hydrated as you drive.
- Don’t Forget Your Mental Well-being. Driving can be an isolating activity. You may feel alone and stressed while you are on the road. So, try looking for ways that can elevate your mental fatigue. While driving, listen to upbeat music and podcasts to help you stay entertained. During your break or when you pull over, do quick stretches, call up your loved ones and meditate to relax your mind. You can also pack a book or download a show on your smart device to watch as you relax. If you need to go a long distance, inform your employer if you will be pulling up at a motel and choose to give yourself a time-out rather than pushing yourself to reach your destination.
As a commercial vehicle driver, you must be more cautious on the road than other vehicles. You must also be aware of your blind spots and give yourself enough time to brake. Remember, safety is always the top priority when driving a commercial vehicle. And if you are ever in an accident, contact an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the legal process. Also, your health is essential, so get a regular DOT physical exam to ensure you are physically fit to drive.