Truck Driver Injury Prevention: Tips to Stay Healthy

Truck driver injury protection is a chief concern for shippers in the U.S.A. Find out how to prevent injuries and health issues associated with trucking.

By

Joe Weaver
January 2, 2024
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Truck driver injury prevention is essential for anyone who makes a living by delivering goods via semi truck and trailer. It’s a tough job, full of risks like muscle strain and traffic accidents. Staying safe isn’t just about driving carefully. It also means self-care, getting enough rest, and taking breaks as necessary. Preventing injuries in this line of work is challenging, but simple changes can make a big difference in a trucker’s well-being.

The American Trucking Associations advise that truck driver injury prevention should focus on reducing risks from factors such as:

  • Long hours
  • Poor ergonomics 
  • Road hazards

Key measures include regular breaks, ergonomic seating, and safety training. These steps help ensure driver health and safety on the road.

Join us as we review common trucker injuries and health problems, along with ways to reduce and prevent them.

Truck Driver Injury Prevention: Where to Start

Truck driver injury prevention means avoiding everything from minor injuries to significant damages caused by wrecks such as the wrecked semi-truck and recovery hauler shown here.

Injuries in the trucking can be broadly categorized under one of two descriptions, which are:

  • Damages resulting from truck-related accidents 
  • Health issues stemming from the long-term effects of the job

Generally speaking, preventing these injuries and health issues means driving safely and maintaining an active lifestyle while eating properly. Before we look at more detailed prevention strategies, let’s first review some injuries and health issues truckers commonly face.

Common Truck Driver Injuries

Truck driving, a profession crucial for our economy, often involves risks that can lead to various injuries. While on the road, truck drivers are exposed to a unique set of hazards that can result in both minor and serious damages. 

Below, you’ll find a list of common work-related injuries truck drivers often experience.

  • Whiplash and Neck Injuries: Caused by sudden stops or collisions, leading to neck pain and stiffness.
  • Concussions: These can occur during accidents, especially if the driver’s head hits any part of the truck’s interior.
  • Sprains and Fractures: Handling heavy cargo or accidental slips and falls can result in these injuries.
  • Back Injuries: Lifting and moving heavy objects can lead to back pain and injuries.
  • Repetitive Strain Injuries: Continuous driving can cause strain in the hands, wrists, and elbows.
  • Truck Driver’s Face: Uneven exposure to the elements can cause the window-facing side of the face to experience disproportionate sun damage.
  • Eye Strain: Long hours of focusing on the road can lead to vision problems and headaches.

Understanding these common accidents and injuries is the first step in preventing them and avoiding the need for medical attention.

By being aware of these risks, drivers can better prepare and protect themselves on the road. However, injuries from accidents are only half the story. 

What Health Issues do Truck Drivers Have?

A truck driver standing next to a half-open enclosed trailer while contacting someone on his phone.

Almost every job carries health risks that stem from performing required duties and responsibilities. While some drivers may have to assist with lifting, loading, and unloading, trucking is a largely sedentary profession. As such, many of its health issues stem from a lack of movement.

Common health issues and repetitive stress injuries resulting from the trucking lifestyle include:

  • Obesity: Unhealthy eating habits and long periods of time without physical activity on the road contribute to weight gain.
  • Hypertension (High Blood Pressure): Stressful work conditions and irregular sleep patterns can lead to increased blood pressure and heart disease.
  • Diabetes: A combination of obesity, poor diet, and lack of exercise increases the chances of falling victim to type 2 diabetes.
  • Sleep Disorders: Irregular sleeping patterns and long-haul trips can lead to conditions like sleep apnea.
  • Chronic Back and Neck Pain: Extended periods of sitting and poor posture while driving often result in chronic pain.
  • Mental Health Issues: Truck driving can be a lonely and isolated profession. Anxiety and depression aren’t uncommon among truckers.

Recognizing these health risks is vital for truck drivers to take charge of their health. 

Drivers must incorporate healthy habits like exercise, a balanced diet, and sufficient sleep into their routines. Prioritizing health and wellness is not only good for the drivers, but for the trucking industry as a whole.

Preventing Truck Driver Injuries due to Accidents

A truck driver seated in her cab talking on a CB radio.

The key to avoiding injuries as a truck driver lies in preparation and awareness. By adopting certain practices, truck drivers can significantly reduce their risk of accidents and injury.

Here are some essential tips to consider: 

  • Stay Alert: Be aware of other vehicles and road hazards.
  • Follow Traffic Rules: Adhere strictly to speed limits and other traffic laws.
  • Regular Vehicle Maintenance: Make sure routine maintenance is up-to-date, and inspect your vehicle before departure.
  • Use Safety Equipment: Always wear your seatbelt and use other safety equipment provided in your truck.
  • Avoid Distractions: Stay away from your phone or other devices while driving.
  • Manage Fatigue: Take regular breaks to rest and recover. Driving while tired can be as dangerous as driving under the influence.
  • Adapt to Weather Conditions: Adjust your driving according to weather conditions. Slow down in bad weather and maintain several car lengths worth of space from others on the road.

Truck drivers who use these strategies will be more likely than most to circumvent injury.

Safety should always be the top priority, as it ensures not only the well-being of the driver but also that of others on the road. Remember, being a cautious driver is just one important part of maintaining a long, healthy career in truck driving. The second part is combating health issues that arise from trucking as a lifestyle.

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Preventing Truck Driver Health Issues

As mentioned, the trucking profession can lead to various health issues due to its nature and demands. Long hours of sitting, irregular eating habits, and stress are just a few factors that can negatively impact a truck driver’s health

Some effective ways to prevent health issues commonly faced by truck drivers include:

  • Maintain a Healthy Diet: Choose nutritious foods over fast food. Packing healthy meals and snacks can help you maintain a balanced diet.
  • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to avoid dehydration. This is approximately 3.7 liters for men and 2.7 liters for women.
  • Regular Exercise: Your daily routine should include scheduled physical activity. Even short walks or stretches during breaks can make a difference.
  • Adequate Sleep: Restful sleep is as important as exercise and diet. Avoid disruptions to your circadian rhythm by maintaining a regular sleeping schedule.
  • Stress Management: Use techniques such as deep breathing exercises or listening to relaxing sounds (calm music, rain, etc) to manage stress levels.
  • Regular Health Check-Ups: Keep up with routine medical check-ups and screenings.
  • Social Interaction: Stay in touch with family and friends to combat feeling isolated and lonely.

By adopting these practices, truck drivers can minimize the health risks associated with long hours on the road.  A healthy truck driver is more alert, efficient, and happier on the job and at home.

Exercises and Stretches for Truckers

Out of all the tips we mentioned above, exercising is probably the most difficult to enact. You can eat healthily in your truck, even sleep well in a sleeper cab, but how do you work out on the road?

You may have to expand your definition of ‘exercise’ a bit, but these activities can make a world of difference if done repeatedly.

  • Seat Squeezes: While seated in your truck, contract your glute muscles for five to 10 seconds, then release. Repeat this several times to help strengthen your lower back and glutes.
  • Shoulder Shrugs: Lift your shoulders up as if you’re trying to touch your ears with them, hold the position for a few seconds, and release. This simple exercise can relieve tension in the shoulders and neck.
  • Wrist Rotations: Extend your arm while rotating your wrists around and around. This reduces the risk of injuries caused by repeated strain.
  • Ankle Circles: Lift one foot off the ground and rotate your ankle from side to side, then switch feet. This encourages circulation in your feet and lower parts of your legs.
  • Leg Lifts: In a seated position, extend your left leg out straight and hold it in place for a few seconds, then lower it back down. Alternate to the right leg afterward. This exercise is good for strengthening leg muscles.
  • Abdominal Bracing: Tighten your abdominal muscles as if you’re bracing for impact. Hold for five to 10 seconds and release. This helps to strengthen the core.
  • Neck Tilts: Gently tilt your head towards your shoulder and hold for a few seconds on each side. Try to avoid cracking your neck while doing so. This helps relieve neck stiffness.
  • Steering Wheel Grip: Grip the steering wheel tightly and then release. Repeat several times to improve grip strength and reduce hand fatigue.

These exercises can be done during short breaks or even while driving (where appropriate), helping to keep truck drivers healthy and alert on the road.

How Can Truck Drivers Prevent Back Injuries?

A truck driver in their cab attempting to release back strain by stretching forward and pushing on the lower back with their hands.

When discussing common health problems truckers experience, back issues deserve special mention. A bad back can impact everything from your ability to lift to your stance and posture. As such, truck drivers should pay particular attention to their backs and use exercises, such as seat squeezes and wall squats, to combat common back problems caused by extended periods of inactivity.

Stretching and exercise, while vital, aren’t the only weapons in the fight against back problems. Truckers can also avail themselves of accessories designed to keep their backs straight and strong.

What Do Truck Drivers Use for Back Support?

There are several pieces of supportive gear that can help prevent back injuries in truckers. While diet and exercise are still key to keeping those injuries at bay, these products provide an additional line of defense.

Some examples of back support gear for truckers are:

  • Quality seat cushions that provide proper support during long drives.
  • Lumbar supports to maintain natural spine curvature.
  • Adjustable seats that allow for proper positioning and comfort.

These tools offer truckers an advantage in maintaining back health and preventing injuries.

Stay Safe on the Road With ABCO Transportation

From understanding common injuries and health issues to adopting safe driving practices and regularly exercising, these guidelines are key to staying healthy on the road. 

As one of the most advanced trucking companies around today, ABCO Transportation understands how important it is for truckers to maintain a healthy, balanced lifestyle. That’s why we encourage our drivers to look out for their health and do what they need to in order to be in good health on the road.

Other benefits of driving for ABCO include:

  • Competitive wages
  • Free stays at ABCO-owned properties
  • And more

Call our recruiters at (866) 980-2710, or contact us online to apply for any of our available positions. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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