Is it me, or did this year just roll by like 18 wheels of steel? It’s already time to make those New Year’s resolutions once again. This year consider your health, wealth, and safety, especially of those around you. As a truck driver, you are one of the nation’s most valuable commodities, and it’s up to you to keep you and your truck in tip-top shape. Here is the Trucker Top 10, resolution suggestions in no particular order.
1. Get plenty of sleep. Nothing says a good day on the road as plenty of zzz’s behind you. The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep for adults, per 24-hour cycle. It is possible to build up a sleep debt that cannot be repaid—not a good proposition for somebody who makes a living on the roadways.
2. Eat well and eat often. It’s a no-brainer that eating on the road can get costly and require many stops. It’s generally best for your body to eat several small meals anyway, and these can include easy to pack and eat portions. Think fruits like berries, grapes and bananas, pre-cut veggies like carrots and broccoli, and small baggies of nuts, raisins and cereals. Protein bars can be a great too, but remember they are generally intended as meal supplements and have a fair amount of calories and fat. Although you will want to keep pulling over to a minimum, it is important to keep hydrated throughout the day. Always have water on hand.
3. Stretch, stretch and stretch some more. Once you do pull over, make sure you stretch. Sitting in an upright position for hours at a time can take a toll on your body. Even getting out of the truck, pumping gas and walking to the rest area can help. If you are stopping at a regular store or truck stop, try parking further away than normal for the extra steps. It’s important to get your heart rate up on days off, so try to talk up walking or exercising with your family and friends. It’s a great way to keep your relationships up-to-date while doing something good for all of you.
4. Get your eyes checked. We are reminded to go to the doctor every year, but you should also make an appointment with the optometrist as well. Although you may have passed the DMV driving test, your eyes may experience subtle changes over the years with the strain of being on the road during different times of day and road conditions. You may also need to update an existing prescription or change your contact lenses if you are experiencing discomfort or blurriness.
5. Make driving fun. We know you’re working, but driving can still be a good time. The radio provides a hotbed of entertainment choices. Satellite radio seemingly has a limitless variety of stations for nonstop sports, talk radio and news, and you can hear your favorite radio personalities no matter where you roam. If you’re sticking with AM/FM, you can get the flavor of each area through local radio stations, and pick up new information with each region.
6. Never drink and drive. This should be an obvious one, but every driver needs to be reminded. Drinking and driving is still one of the top preventable killers in the United States. As a professional driver, it is also your responsibility to stop other drunk drivers on the road. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) advises that if you see a driver you suspect is drunk, stay as far as you can from them. Without putting yourself in jeopardy, try and make note of the color, model, make and license plate, if possible. Pull over and call 911 at your earliest convenience, giving them the details and highway information.
7. Save on fuel. Obviously your fuel outtake is going to vary depending on what you’re hauling, but there are some easy ways to save a little dough along the way. The first thing to do is make sure your rig is maintained from your engine down to your tires. You should also check the efficiency of your tuck and consider reducing the airflow under the vehicle and on the sides. And finally, reduce your idling time when you’re stopped for lengthy periods.
8. Pre-inspect your vehicle. Many companies make sure you have a pre-inspection checklist at hand before taking on any job. Just like you want to make sure you’re in good working order, make sure your truck is too. Even if it isn’t time for your regular inspection, check out all aspects of the truck inside and out. Before each long trip, make sure you check the fluids and tires for a good tread. Also, be sure to check your brakes on a regular basis.
9. Buckle up for safety. Not only is buckling up the law—it is an essential in case of accident or emergency. If you hit another vehicle or object, being buckled in keeps you in the vehicle and in control of it. One of the highest trucker fatalities involves being ejected at the time of impact, and this would not happen with a seat belt.
10. Make time for your loved ones. Trucking is one of those professions that can take a lot out of you. If you carry long hauls across the country, it may be hard to see family and friends as often as you like. Keep in mind that they miss you too, and really appreciate the effort you make to see them when you can.
Since driving a truck is such a big part of your life, it makes sense that your new year’s resolutions would be in line with your work. There are many tips on here that can transfer over to the general health of your family and loved ones, as well as the regular vehicles you maintain within your household. Hope this Trucker Top 10 helps you have a healthy and happy 2012!
By: Andrea Rizzo