Trucking is one of the most dangerous occupations in the country. Yet, a lot of people do it anyways. Why is that? I can tell you from all the people I have talked to, I haven’t had any that say, “they want to do a different occupation because trucking is just too dangerous”.
So, what makes it so dangerous? We all know that any job can be dangerous at times. We still go to work everyday knowing that. Out of all the things that can be dangerous at work, I believe that there is one thing that tops the list.
Complacency! We all know we are good at our jobs. We do them day in and day out, but that’s the problem. We become like robots at times, just doing the tasks without thinking. That is where the problem is. We think we know our job so well, that we couldn’t possibly make a mistake, or can we?
When it comes to trucking, there are a number of different dangers that will present themselves at times.
- Fatigue: In trucking we have log books or e-logs, that keep track of our on duty and off duty work, and driving time. That’s great, but we are all human. We get tired! Drivers typically work 24/7 schedules, and are required to stay awake at odd times of the day. This can cause a major problem driving through the night. If a driver falls asleep at the wheel, it can be catastrophic to them, and anyone else on the road. Most drivers out there will tell you that they have been driving up and down the road at some point, and have not been able to recall the last 10 miles of driving. Why does this happen. It’s called driver hypnosis. It is very dangerous. you are basically unconsciously driving up the road. You are doing the task, but are not aware of things around you.
- Complacency: We all know how to do our job. That is the issue. We know it so well that we don’t think we can do it wrong, or make a mistake. It’s at that moment when something will happen. One little error and boom, something happens. Maybe that something will take an eye, a limb, or worse, your life. Always be on guard when doing your job. It’s the safest way.
- Road Conditions: Road conditions can also play havoc with driving a big rig. Uneven roads, potholes, gravel roads can all play apart in creating a dangerous driving experience.
- Weather Conditions: Rain, snow, sleet, sun, and even sand storms can all play a major part in driver stresses. If you don’t slow down, and drive for the conditions of the road and weather, you could be in for a dangerous experience.
- Breakdowns: A lot of breakdowns can be prevented. Pre-trip inspections are the law, and must be performed at the beginning of your shift. Having a breakdown on the road can be costly, and most of all dangerous. Imagine blowing a steer tire at 100kph. I can speak from experience, it isn’t fun, and is very dangerous if not handled correctly.
- Other Road Users: Imagine someone coming down the road towards you on the wrong side of the road at night. Doesn’t seem possible does it? Well it happens more than you think. Talk about a dangerous occupation there. Report it to 911 immediately.
- Insufficient Training: There are some places where driver training is quite inadequate. Imagine if you were trained to drive a big rig in just a few weeks, and sent out on the road with a full load. Would you know what to do? We put our trust in these drivers and companies to have trained, professional, skilled drivers behind the wheel. But unfortunately some are not.
- Long & Short Term Injuries: Injuries can happen in a blink of an eye. such as falling off a trailer or truck because you are not using a 3-point contact method. This can cause you, your family, and your employer a lot of time and money in lost time, and less income. What about a long term injury from a major accident. You could be incapacitated for a very long time in an instant.
- Nutrition & Fitness: Looking after yourself while on the road is extremely important. Heart problems and diabetes are 2 of the biggest causes of drivers not being able to work, or that are limited to working.
- Chemicals: Some of the products that are hauled by truck are extremely dangerous. Chemicals, such as fuel, oil, ammonia, acid, and others can be very toxic to your health. Make sure you wear a breathing apparatus, otherwise you may find yourself in poor health or worse, dead.
So, you can see there are a lot of variables in trucking. Some of them have the potential to be extremely dangerous. It only takes but a second to have something happen. Why not take care, and focus on what you are doing in the moment. It could very well be you and/or your family that gets hurt in the process.