Driving a truck over long distances is demanding work which can affect the driver’s health and safety on the road. According to the 2017 Safe Work Australia Transport Report frequent work-related injuries include sprains and strains and traumatic joint or muscle conditions.
Because of their sedentary lifestyle, drivers are at increased risk of stroke, coronary artery disease, hyper-tension and heart failure. Sadly, a high percentage of driver fatalities are single vehicle accidents, many of them caused by fatigue.
Because Rentco takes the health and safety of our staff and clients seriously, these tips are designed for driver safety on long haul trips.
Don’t drive tired
Factor in regular breaks into your estimated journey time. Fatigue affects your concentration and focus, and is a major risk factor to accidents. Research suggests that driving after being awake for 17 hours is equivalent to driving with a blood alcohol level of 0.05.
Stick to the plan
Maintain your log book records and stick to rest time schedules. Aim for 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night.
Know the signs of fatigue
Yawning, sore or tired eyes, hearing drumming or humming noises in your ears, and losing time (mini sleeps) are all signs of fatigue and a signal that it’s time to stop and take a break.
Factor in a 15-minute break every two hours
Regular breaks are the best way to keep safe. Get out of the cab, move around, do some stretches and have a cuppa and a light snack.
Make healthy food choices
Service station or truck stop food can often be high calorie fast food. Packing a small esky with veggie sticks, fruit, a healthy sandwich, water or low sugar drinks ensures you always have access to good fresh food.
Build in a bit of exercise to your schedule
Even 15 minutes of exercise a day makes a difference to health and well-being. Taking a brisk walk or doing some exercises while the truck is being loaded or unloaded or during a scheduled break has great health benefits.
Mind your head
Long distance driving can be isolating so keeping your mind active is a priority. Listening to music or audio books is a good start or check out AM radio in remote or regional Australia. Explore phone apps for word games or mind exercises. Improve sleep quality with short mediation apps for relaxation in down time.
Have an emergency plan
Things can go wrong or you could come across an emergency situation. Keep on top of weather conditions by checking with BOM if you’re driving in areas that are prone to flooding or severe weather events. Make sure you have a comprehensive first aid kit and know who to use it. Doing a first aid course could save a life in an emergency.
Most importantly, make sure you have more than one communication device available to you so that you can reach out for assistance in an emergency. In areas where mobile phones don’t work, a GPS messenger or satellite phone is a good backup.