How does a truck driver work affect their physical, mental, emotional and social condition? What are their coping mechanisms against their work conditions on the road?
This article will try to answer those questions by delving deeper on how it is like living the life of a truck driver.
A typical day
What is a typical day for truck drivers? How do they start and end their day?
Their day starts early to attend to their personal chores like breakfast, shower, and pre-travel check before they hit the road.
Depending on the distance, they may or may not reach their drop off point. If they do, then they drop off their cargo but if they don’t, they usually stop over for lunch before continuing.
Nighttime is the most difficult time. Whether they are on their way back, or just about to reach their destination, they plan where to make their stop for the night.
Once parked, they do post-travel check of their cargoes, followed by dinner. If there are paper works that need filling up, they usually finish before retiring for the night. They take an early night’s rest in preparation for another early day the next morning.
The Physical demands for the truck driver
Truck driving requires stamina and endurance. It takes a lot of their physical strength to drive long hours at long distances.
Here are a few of the working conditions that truck drivers experience on the road:
Drive in a small, enclosed space for more than 12 hours. This can cause cramps and aches. Truck drivers alleviate this by making stopovers to stretch their muscles.
Exposure to extreme temperature changes. The sudden change in temperature leaves truck drivers vulnerable to illness. Eating healthy and wearing the right clothes help protect them against cold and other illnesses.
Staying awake. A driver has to fight of sleepiness while on the road. Keeping themselves awake is not easy, especially if they are in for a long haul. If there is no need to drive at night, it is best to just take an early night and rest to prepare for the next day’s travel. If driving at night is necessary, some drivers bring alternate drivers, play music, chat on radio, and some even take their wives along.
Prone to road accidents. Any driver worth his salt will do his best to avoid having an accident that can cause injury. However, accidents are sometimes unavoidable. Even the best and most cautious driver cannot fight against external forces such as weather and other drivers on the road. To combat these, drivers should keep themselves alert and ready for any contingencies.
Fighting mental stress
Mental stress is one of the worst conditions that any truck driver has to face. This often leads to negativity and distraction that could eventually cause accidents.
Here are a few mental stressors that truck drivers have to contend with:
Solitude. It is not easy being isolated from family and loved ones. Just the mere thought of leaving your family behind is enough to cause pain. Returning home will not take away the feeling of isolation. Truck driving becomes your whole world that it becomes difficult to switch back into your life at home when you get back.
Lack of communication. Even with mobile phones, communication with their family, friends, and loved ones is still limited. Mobile phones are among the top causes of road accidents. A big truck and a driver on mobile phone are a recipe for disaster.
Fear for the family they left behind. This can be a crippling feeling, especially if one is away from their family. Their greatest fear is their inability to return home immediately in case of family emergencies. It is important for truck drivers to have a partner they can trust and depend on.
Road rage. Keeping your cool on the road is sometimes not easy. The solitary confinement inside the truck, long work hours, and lack of sleep can contribute to the feeling of anger and frustration when driving. If you ignore these feelings, it could eventually pile up to get you to a bursting point. If you feel yourself all worked up, best to take a short rest to calm yourself down.
Dealing with emotions and relationships
Truck driving jobs mean long distance relationship. Emotional relationships are not easy when you are on the road.
Here are few challenges drivers have to deal with while on the road:
Long distance relationship. Family time is almost next to nothing, and eventually leads to break up. Commitment must be unbreakable and the trust, unshakeable. Some bring their spouses with them just to keep the relationship solid.
Homesickness is another issue for truckers. Life on the road is very different from life at home. You are sure to miss many things like eating with the family, bonding time with your spouse and your children, spending holidays and vacations with your family. Truck driving jobs can deprive you of time spent with people you love and care about.
Creating relationships. If you are often on the road, there is very little time for you to form relationships. Developing relationships with other people needs time, effort and nurturing. You can do these things if you are present or near that person. This is difficult to do if you are always on the road.
Socializing on the road
Truck driving may be a tough life but unbelievably, many truck drivers form new friendships and manage to socialize even on the road.
Despite the feeling of isolation, truckers find ways to socialize with others.
Pit stop socialization. There are pit stops that truck drivers often frequent. They meet other drivers there and get to talk and share experiences with one another. This helps drivers combat the feeling of isolation as they find themselves being able to discuss the difficulties they face.
CB radios to communicate. The CB radio is very popular to truck driving. The banter between and among truck drivers is often done using CB radios. Even if they do not know each other, the mere presence of someone sharing the road with you is enough to help combat the loneliness caused by isolation. Of course, nowadays truck drivers use chat apps on their smart phones, but CB radio is still part of truck driving jobs.
Handling work conditions
The working conditions very different from other regular jobs.
It requires physical, mental, and emotional readiness to do this job so it is not surprising many truck drivers are accorded a high level of respect in their field.