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Ways to Manage Truck Driver Stress On the Road

Truck driver stress has a number of causes. Change your set-up to avoid back pain, find time for family and adhere to regulations.

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ABCO Transportation
September 9, 2020
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Many long haul truck drivers find that after time they start to develop stress regarding their job. This could be for many reasons. If you are a long haul driver, you may end up spending long stretches of time away from your family and loved ones. Another problem faced by some truck drivers is back problems and other health issues caused by uncomfortable seating arrangements. 

Truck driver stress has a number of causes. Of course, not everyone experiences all of these issues and the cause of potential stress is different for each individual. However, by listening to yourself and heeding advice, there are plenty of ways to reduce the stress caused by all of these problems. From changing your set-up to avoid back pain, setting clear schedules, finding time for family, and making peace with regulations, stress management could be easier than you expect. 

Is Truck Driving Worth It?

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There are the normal stresses of driving to consider: Dealing with other drivers, staying focused for long periods of time and navigating your journeys. Furthermore, there are the pressures of conforming to the many regulations that surround a truck driving career. If you’re experiencing driver stress, it might even be tempting to look for a career elsewhere. 

It’s also important to remember what made you start truck driving in the first place. Chances are, there were good reasons for it and one of those reasons is because it’s a job you enjoy. Driving an 18-wheeler, or even a smaller truck, is a real skill that can take years to learn and perfect. Rather than wasting your talents, it’s worth considering the ways you can manage and reduce stress whilst staying out on the road.

Given the potential causes of stress, it may seem easier to quit driving altogether. However, you must not lose sight of all the positive aspects of truck driving. This is a job with plenty of benefits for people with the right temperament, and these positives can make all the stress worth it.

Travel

For anyone who dreams of seeing the country - perhaps even the world - truck driving is one of the best ways to do this while you work. No more spending all your savings to travel halfway across the country; with truck driving, you can do it for free. Even better, you actually get paid for it! Long haul truck drivers say that one of the major benefits of their job is getting to see the scenery change throughout their drive, visit new places, and get to know the country they live in. Truck drivers don’t always travel the same route and could be sent to many different locations for different jobs, so there’s no better way to get out there and see the world from behind your wheel.

Freedom

Does the thought of sitting at a desk with a supervisor breathing down your neck make you want to scream? If so, you’re not alone. That’s the beauty of truck driving. For large portions of time, you are your own boss, with control over yourself and everything you do. As long as you deliver yourself and your cargo to the right location at the right time, you can do what you want. That means resting when you want to rest, stopping where you want to stop, and playing whatever music or radio station that you want. For a career that escapes micro-management, truck driving is definitely worth it.

Flexibility

Though long haul driving may take up a large amount of time, there’s a surprising amount of flexibility in a truck driving job. Many truck drivers can choose between local runs, long-distance runs or cross-border runs. Given the shift-style schedule, there can also be a great deal of flexibility between jobs and shifts. For example, if you’ve just completed a long-haul journey, you may be able to take a few days off before your next job begins - and it doesn’t even have to be a weekend! Flexibility is a great positive aspect of a truck driving career, allowing you to organize your life in a way that suits you.

Headspace

One of the unsung benefits of truck driving is the headspace it allows you and the time with yourself. If you’re an introvert or someone who simply enjoys the quiet pleasure of your own company, this is one of the only jobs in the world that enables you to really make the most of your alone time. On a drive, you can get away from the constant noise and demands of your life, and simply concentrate on the road. Do you:

  • Dream of peace and quiet? 
  • Enjoy spending whole days by yourself?
  • Hate distractions?
  • Love being able to think your own thoughts? 
  • Wish you didn’t have to worry about the opinions of anyone else? 

If so, then truck driving is definitely your dream job. For many truck drivers, the headspace that their job affords them is one of its most important aspects and it is one that makes everything else more than worthwhile.

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Is Truck Driving a Good Job?

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In some areas, truck driving can get a bad reputation. Indeed, this is one of the causes of truck driver stress as you may feel you are not getting the respect you deserve from other car drivers and people you work with. In fact, truck driving is a highly skilled job with a number of benefits that cannot be underestimated. By being a truck driver, you are joining a strong community, with good pay rates and great job security. In short, truck driving is a good job, for a number of different reasons.

Pay Rates

According to the website Indeed, the average base salary for a truck driver in the US is $61,356 a year. This a great number, particularly when you consider it is over thirty-five thousand more than the lowest base salary of $24,000 across the country. Truck driver salaries can start from around $36,228, although this will differ depending on the company you work for and whether you are paid an annual salary or through an hourly or daily rate. Still, this is a very reasonable amount, and it doesn’t take into account various employee benefits offered by many companies including paid time off, fuel discounts, health insurance, and even employee stock ownership plans. Many truck drivers will also receive bonuses for consistent deliveries, and your salary will increase with experience and years worked. Look for a job with a company that pays more than the average. 

Job Security

Part of the reason why truck drivers pull in good salaries is also why a career in truck driving has great job security. While the need for other jobs may fluctuate, as more people across the world increase demand for products, more truck drivers than ever are needed to help facilitate the transport of these goods. The truck driving industry is still growing and it doesn’t look set to stop or reverse any time soon. This has led to a shortage of trained CDL truckers and therefore great peace of mind for anyone who does work as a truck driver. Given the flexible nature of the job, it is also a great option if you are ever looking to relocate, as you will still be able to perform your work from a base anywhere in the country.

Community

It may not be as visible to those outside the industry, but a career in truck driving comes with a fantastic community of like-minded people. Being a truck driver is a job unlike any other, and the only people who will really understand you are other truck drivers. After long hours spent on the road, truck stops can become a great place to relax with other drivers. You will get to know those who share similar routes to you, form friendships with other drivers who work for the same company, and you will always have friendly faces to look forward to wherever you pull in for some rest. The community built by truck drivers is unique, full of people who support each other through thick and thin.

Skills

Learning to drive a large truck for long-haul journeys is a very particular and special skill. There are courses available across the country to get Class A CDL accreditation - but unlike a university degree, these courses only last four weeks, rather than four years. If you’re a small truck driver looking to transition into more heavy-duty vehicles, it’s a worthy investment to make. However, truck driving isn’t just about driving itself. You also develop and maintain many other vital life skills. These include

  • Focus and concentration
  • Patience
  • Communication
  • Sight and Hearing
  • Attention to detail

Is Truck Driving Hard?

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As mentioned above, truck driving is certainly a special skill that is stressful and you will have developed your skillset through training and accreditation. This is something you can certainly be proud of once you have mastered it, as it is a hard learning curve. However, there are other aspects of the job that could be considered difficult - though each one comes with ways to manage it and make life easier for yourself.

Maneuvering

One of the main aspects covered in truck driver training is simply learning how to deal with the sheer weight and size of the vehicle you are driving. Maneuvering an 18-wheel vehicle is hard enough on the open road, let alone when it comes to reversing, turning, and even parallel-parking. It’s often underestimated by those who have never even sat in a truck, but simply seeing what is around you can be a challenge. Experienced truck drivers are understandably proud to possess this difficult skill, making very hard maneuvers look easy. Good training will help you get to grips with your truck and feel completely confident controlling it on any type of road.

Long Hours

Particularly for CDL drivers taking trucks on long-haul trips, the long hours this entails can put a strain on the driver. Often, truck drivers are required to travel huge distances in relatively short amounts of time, with minimal breaks. Although legal requirements will mean you have to stop and rest, many drivers find staying awake a challenge. This is a particularly important hardship to overcome, as it relates to the safety of the driver, your truck and everyone on the road around you. Different drivers find different ways to deal with this, whether it’s playing music, having a coffee every now and again or listening to the radio. As a result of training this skill, many drivers have increased focus and the ability to stay awake no matter the circumstances.

Physical Strain

Being a truck driver can put a great deal of physical strain on your body. This can lead to problems including:

  • Back pain
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Eyestrain

Of course, some of these problems aren’t unique to truck drivers. Anyone who spends most of their working life in a seated position can develop problems such as backache, arthritis and muscle strain - and these issues are particularly prevalent amongst office workers. However, there is no denying that you have to be a strong person to be a truck driver! Although it is a hard job, particularly as you help load and unload your trucks, there are ways you can minimize risks by lifting properly, making sure your seat is comfortable and eating as healthy as possible while on the road.

Being Alone

For many CDL drivers, being alone in their truck is one of the great benefits of truck driving. For others, it can be a little harder to get used to.

How to Reduce Stress with Truck Driving Jobs

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Take care of your body

One of the best ways to reduce stress levels for truck drivers is to take good care of your body. Make sure your back is fully supported in the driving seat, even if that means investing in a special support cushion. It might be tempting to snack on fast food across a long haul flight but drinking plenty of water and grabbing fruit and veggies from the service station is a good way to fuel your body as well. Make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need. It’s also vital to make sure you rest well and get a good night’s sleep wherever you can.

Make your truck a home 

Your truck doesn’t have to be empty and corporate. You’ll be spending a lot of time here, and it will help manage your stress levels if you can see your cab as a second home, rather than a workplace. Get a couple of photos of your family stuck up and a few other nice things to keep you company while you drive. Some drivers even mock-up incredible mini bedrooms so they have somewhere nice to sleep on long-haul trips. With a little bit of effort, you can create a place you genuinely want to spend time in and doesn’t just feel like the front of a truck!

See your family

One of the major causes of stress for long-haul drivers can be not seeing their family for stretches of time. To combat this, make sure you’re carving time out for them on your days off. You might feel tired, but it’s important to plan family trips and activities, so you’re actively engaging with your loved ones and getting valuable family time in while you can. This will help sustain you on those long journeys away.

Build a community

Truck stops across the country can be amazing places of community. To make the most of them, don’t be afraid to get to know your fellow truckers. Being able to chat with other people who are having the same experience, and see familiar faces every now and then, can really help to reduce driver stress levels. One of the best things about being a truck driver is being part of the community, so ensure you make the most of it.

Make peace with regulations

Many truck drivers can get frustrated with the regulations they need to follow. Built for health and safety, these regulations are all very important, but they can put burdens on drivers regarding their ability to drive and other requirements. Drivers need to make peace with these regulations in order to reduce stress and find ways to follow them without creating further issues.

Connect with ABCO Transportation Today

Truck driver stress can be managed through a number of different methods, including sleeper cabs tips to help you rest better. Though causes of stress include health issues, long haul hours, being away from family, and sticking to regulations, these can be dealt with by taking care of your body, managing your schedule, and making your truck into a comfortable working environment. 

It’s also important to make sure you are working for a trucking company who understands what it is like to be a truck driver, and who work with their drivers to manage truck driver stress and create positive careers. 

ABCO Transportation offers you great pay, great benefits and free stays at resorts to give you mental and physical health. We have truck driving jobs in Ocala and other areas.
If you are considering getting a job as a truck driver, fill out our trucking job application today. We have OTR, Regional and limited local truck driving jobs. Connect with us today at 866-980-2710 and be healthy on the road with a new company!

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