Being a professional truck driver is no easy feat. While there are moments when roads are empty and the view is just breathtaking, there are times when you have to endure traffic, long working hours, and extremely physical work.
If you’re thinking of becoming a professional trucker, it’s essential to know the common challenges that lie ahead. Being armed with sufficient knowledge helps you mentally and physically prepare for this challenging profession.
Trucking comes with occupational health challenges that range from physical to psychological.
Spending long hours on the road, alone and away from family and friends, can cause bouts of depression, sleep apnea, and loneliness. Similarly, sitting for extended periods can lead to obesity, muscle tension, and backaches, which only become worse over time.
Transporting hazardous cargo can expose you to toxic substances harmful to your body. These chemicals can increase the risk of skin allergies and irritations. Similarly, inhaling exhaust fumes can cause headaches, nausea, and dizziness.
While it’s challenging to stay fit while traveling, you can make a conscious effort to pack healthy food and eat at regular intervals. Light stretching can also make a huge difference to your body. During vacations or off days, allot time to visit your doctor and ensure that you’re in optimal health.
Make those long hours more comfortable by investing in a quality cushion. This can relax your muscles, ease off the physical tension, and let you focus on driving.
Regular communication with your loved ones can ward off homesickness and sadness. Fortunately, technology has made it easier to stay in touch with your family. These days, it only takes a few clicks to communicate with your kids or spouse while you’re on the road.
Poor truck maintenance
Because trucks are expensive and hard to maintain, drivers are often stuck with old engines or faulty equipment. These damages can bring traffic fines and unprecedented safety risks. Imagine if your truck goes haywire in the middle of a highway. You can easily hurt yourself and the surrounding cars.
Before your trip, clarify with your employer if the necessary truck inspections and maintenance have been carried out. Test your brakes, steering wheel, and hydraulics often. Make sure you’re also armed with a functional set of tools for emergency purposes.
Unpaid non-driving work time
In some places, truck drivers are only paid based on their driving hours, neglecting stops, breaks, and time spent loading or unloading cargo. Thankfully, states like Washington follow a “Piece Rate” basis, which calculates driver’s pay per mile, load, and load percentage. If your contract indicates a piece-rate basis, you are entitled to additional payment for rest breaks and non-driving time, among your basic wage and other benefits.
Know your local laws regarding compensation for rest breaks and non-driving work time. Additionally, be aware of employers’ responsibilities to their truckers, especially in instances involving liability and personal injury.
If you feel that your employer is not adhering to local regulations, consult a truck labor lawyer as soon as you can. Labor laws can be tricky, so having someone who knows the ins and outs of your industry ensures you acquire the rights and wages you deserve.
Despite its challenges, being a trucker offers rewards you won’t find elsewhere. From independence to the endless travel opportunities, it’s a career that’s one for the books.