Being a truck driver can be a deadly job – for multiple reasons. It is not just the dangers of dealing with inattentive drivers that cause unnecessary deaths, it is we, the drivers, ourselves.
The sedentary lifestyle, aka the sin of sloth
I’m going to use some of the medical knowledge from my pre-trucking days… First, sitting for over 14 hours a day is bad for our health. Not moving around does not allow the muscles – primarily our hearts – to pump the blood through our bodies in the fashion our cardiovascular system was designed for.
Even our arms and legs help move blood around, but those don’t move much when we are sitting. Sitting allows toxins to build up in our extremities, where it can cause infections like staph and gangrene to develop. I’m personally having to wear compression socks because my legs and feet swell.
Consuming processed foods; damn the roller dogs!
Admit it, we eat way too much junk food, especially when freight slows. The paychecks get slimmer and we get fatter because we start living off the fuel credits buying liter bottles of soda and whatever is on sale at the “choke and puke.”
And heaven forbid you get to the point where you have to dig through the dumpster for overdone roller dawgs and tacos. That’s just plain nasty on too many levels to think about.
Sugary foods – can you say “Di-a-bee-tus”
Ok, how many times have you seen drivers coming out of the truck stop with a bag of soda bottles. I’m guilty of it myself, I’d buy two to three at a time, killing almost three gallons a day at my worst.
Diabetes is one of the silent killers in trucking. It can affect your body suddenly, causing you to pass out as you drive or go into a seizure. Both are nearly impossible to recover from without having a collision of some sort.
Blood sugar monitoring systems are now more commonplace in truck stops as drug and durable medical equipment (DME) vendors are entering the market space.
Lack of sleep/sleep apnea… the other silent killer
Have you ever started your day and begun to yawn after only an hour of your shift? It might not be lack of caffeine that is causing it.
Lack of sleep can happen in a multitude of ways. Staying up watching TV or getting engrossed in a video game were my worst ways. Having to talk for hours on the phone with a lady friend you have in the next town on the trail is another.
Another way is not sleeping when you sleep, aka sleep apnea. To put it simply, you die. Technically you stop breathing for a short period, then your body’s self-preservation system kicks in and makes you wake up briefly to breathe.
If you even suspect you might have sleep apnea, go to a legitimate doctor and get tested. Don’t rely on that company-given test; there’s too much suspicion of back room deals for me to trust it. Get a full sleep study and be sure.
Overzealous nature/anxiety and stress – ye ol’ hurry up and wait
The battle cry of trucking, hurry up and wait. Yelled from the trailer tops since days immemorial. You push your body and mind to its limits and then get told to stand in a corner for two or three hours.
It is something that can and will drive you crazy. Have you ever seen (or been) a trucker throw a tantrum when told his appointment was not until later or his load was canceled or changed without being told?
Mental health is a big thing I focus on, and anxiety/stress/patience is something we all need to work on. I became a lease operator to lessen my stress that came from being called constantly by a dispatcher asking “Are you there yet?” while I was still being loaded or unloaded.
Source of inspiration: https://youtu.be/88KacdT3tSk Trucking with Ole Snapper
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