Truck News


Like trucks, drivers need maintenance

Any trucking company that wants to be successful will know the importance of looking after their equipment. Trucks and trailers will get regular servicing and have an active preventive maintenance schedule. This ensures reliability and helps...

Any trucking company that wants to be successful will know the importance of looking after their equipment. Trucks and trailers will get regular servicing and have an active preventive maintenance schedule. This ensures reliability and helps the carrier achieve the promises they make to their customers.

Maintenance budgets run into tens of thousands of dollars per truck each year, but far too often one important part of the truck’s ability to do its job is overlooked. That part is, without doubt, the most important piece of the puzzle, yet it is often disregarded.

I refer, of course, to the driver. A driver that is not firing on all cylinders cannot do the job efficiently. That is a fact. Sure, most drivers will carry on regardless. After all, a strain here and an ache there will not stop them in their tracks. But if they go untreated they can lead to bigger problems. How long before that little backache becomes severe enough that the driver cannot report for duty?

Anybody who has spent any time out on the road will have seen drivers walking across the yard or truck stop looking like they’ve just rode in on horseback. Some will have experienced this themselves. Hour upon hour spent in one position is not good for the body; joints get stiff and muscles get weak. But as in the preventive maintenance schedule for the truck and trailer, a little bit of tweaking here and there can have a dramatic impact in reversing the damage we do to our bodies as part of our job.

The trouble is, most drivers won’t do anything about it until it is too late. By that time they’re immobilized and the truck, trailer and cargo are going nowhere fast. It is crazy really. We do our pre-trip inspections, check our fluid levels, tire pressures and all the rest of it, we notify the company of the slightest problem with the equipment, yet, for the most part we do nothing to look after ourselves.

Most health care policies have an annual allowance for chiropractic and massage therapy, yet few use it. We pay for it regardless, so why not get some value for our money?

Companies have a part to play in this too. How about making driver health a priority? It is well documented that we are facing a shortage of drivers, so we really need to look after the ones we have. Keeping them healthy has benefits for all concerned.

Taking this to an extreme, companies could have fitness centres at terminals, or negotiate a reduced membership fee at local gyms if you’re a smaller concern. There could be some kind of incentive to encourage drivers to join up and attend. It is another scenario where it isn’t so much how much it will cost; it is more a case of how much it could cost you if you don’t.

Diet is another thing that can lead to problems. It is difficult to maintain a healthy diet out on the road. The easy choices are fast food and gargantuan plates of ‘home cooking’ at the truck stop – neither of which are particularly good for you.

A little bit of thought and some grocery shopping can make a big difference, but to do this the truck needs to be equipped with a fridge and a power source capable of supporting a microwave or small oven.

A few hundred extra dollars spent when you order a truck can have a significant impact on a driver’s life. Again, it isn’t the cost if you do, it’s the cost if you don’t.

Encouraging drivers to have a general check-up is also a wise move. Medical advances have come in leaps and bounds over the past few years.

High blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes are all very common in truck drivers, yet each one is easily controlled if you know you have a problem in the first place. Managing things like this may have an impact on a very worrying statistic, that which tells us that truck drivers live, on average, 12 years less than the average man or woman.

Everybody has something to gain from this focus on health. Drivers enjoy better health and companies have a more productive and happier workforce. That’s a win-win situation and there aren’t too many of those around.

Doctors’ clinics have leaflets on display about looking after yourself and they are provided by the provincial health department. You could put up a rack on the wall of the driver’s waiting room containing the leaflets.

There are a number of Web sites for in-cab cooking and healthy living out on the road. You could join these sites and download information, advice and recipes from them and stick them up on the notice board.

It is also something that could be covered in orientation; a half-day session would be plenty.

Existing employees could be taken care of by joining orientation classes until everyone has been seen – it would pay dividends in the long run.

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