The trucking industry is the backbone of commerce. Without trucking, stores and shops wouldn’t be able to stock their shelves with all the necessities and luxuries their customers want. Small trucking businesses with 10 or fewer trucks make up 90% of the trucking industry, 350,000 of which are owner-operator businesses.
According to ABC News, truck driving is the most hazardous occupation. Not only are truck drivers at risk of being involved in serious motor vehicle accidents, they are also at risk of injuries and falls. If you own a small trucking business, it’s crucial that you are aware of several factors that may contribute to accidents and injuries in your industry—dehydration and musculoskeletal injuries. Here’s what you need to know and what to look for when shopping for a new or used commercial truck.
Dehydration has the same effect as drunk driving
Researchers have discovered that driving while dehydrated has the same effect as driving while intoxicated. Dehydrated drivers have been found to make double the amount of mistakes. In fact, drivers who are dehydrated are comparable to drivers with blood alcohol levels of 0.08%.
The reason for this is because dehydration causes you to be unable to concentrate, reduces your cognitive skills, and slows your reaction time due to impaired alertness. Any of these factors can lead to an accident, which is why it is very important to stay hydrated while on the road.
The amount of water you’ll need to stay hydrated on any given day can vary depending on several factors, which include your physical activity level, the temperature, how much you perspire, and whether or not your body is fighting off a fever or illness. Typically, however, men should drink about 13 cups and women about 9 cups every day in order to be hydrated. If you feel thirsty, you are already mildly dehydrated.
What to look for: To help your drivers stay hydrated while on the road, look for cabs that have built-in coolers or mini-refrigerators. That way, they can stock of water bottles in their cab to keep them refreshed. Be sure to buy a truck that has a diesel-powered auxiliary power unit to keep the appliance on so the water will be cool at all times.
Obviously, one of the concerns of truck drivers is being unable to use restroom facilities whenever they want. Stopping to use the facilities may cause them to be behind schedule, which could affect your bottom line. For this reason, invest in a truck that has a sleeper cab with either a built-in toilet or room for a portable toilet.
Musculoskeletal injuries can cut your driving time
Truck drivers are prone to musculoskeletal injuries, which can make it difficult for them to drive safely due to having limited mobility. Your back can ache after sitting in one position for many miles or your muscles can tense up, especially when the seat is uncomfortable. You could stretch and strain your body to enter and exit the truck or when you reach for the pedals while driving.
Also, loading and unloading the truck after sitting for a long period of time can cause you to strain your muscles and/or injure your back. These types of injuries can slow your reaction time in a motor vehicle accident or cause you to lose time on the job if you do attempt to continue driving while injured.
What to look for: When purchasing a truck, factor in the comfort of the driver’s seat, of course, and pay attention to ergonomics. Truck cabs are not one-size-fits-all. If the truck you are purchasing is for a specific driver, it’s a good idea to have that driver test out the cab to make sure it is ergonomically suitable for him or her. If there will not be a specific driver dedicated to the truck, make sure to purchase one that has adjustable seats, gears, levers, pedals, and mirrors.