Truck drivers taking control of their health

Tom Kyrk I have been mulling this article for several weeks ever since I was asked to become the health contributor for North American Trucking Alerts.

Right from the beginning I knew the topic I wanted to write about.

To me it is the key to health. Over the last several days, several industry topics have entered into the focus of the industry. Ranging, from sleep apnea, to hours of service, and qualifications for new drivers. These are just a few if the issues that have captured our attention and comments.

Today I read a post on Facebook that made me realize the health of our industry is in danger as well.

North American Trucking Alerts advocates responsibility, awareness, accountability, and action. All of these are worthy goals. Yet there is one key component of this that I feel is missing. This component encompasses not only our personal health, but also the future of our industry as we know it.

We need to take control of our lives.

That statement sounds simple. Yet do we do it??? We enter a truck stop and say they don’t have healthy choices. Then proceed to order a cheeseburger and extra fries. Instead we could ask if they could make us some grilled chicken, with a baked potato, and a salad dressing on the side. We could go out to our truck and fix a healthier meal. We could grab a convenience salad, use a little oil and vinegar as a dressing, and remove the bacon. There are options but we may have to seek them out.

We need to be proactive:

Today I read a post on Facebook that made me realize the health of our industry is in danger as well.

I am paraphrasing this from the post on Facebook. (I have the author’s permission to use this post but I have decided to keep his identity private.)

“I wonder why good drivers are hard to come by? Companies are having to hire people that they normally would not hire. They believe they don’t have a better option. They are hiring a lower quality driver in order to take care of their customers.

Its a bad situation folks and if these trucking organizations that represent us drivers don’t get a foothold fast the trucking industry is going to be ruined.

If these organizations cant get it done, which they haven’t showed me they can yet, then its gonna be up to us drivers…”

This is the problem. We, as drivers are waiting for someone else to present the solution. Instead we need to look at ourselves, and how we drive. For example look at the various driver groups on Facebook. How many pics do you see of drivers being unprofessional? Things like urinating in public, committing hit and run, admitting to running illegal on their logs, and speeding. They then wonder why the public has a poor image of drivers, and safety groups are screaming for more regulations.

The solution to the health of our industry is simple, we need to do what is right. We need to look at the health of our industry, and begin the change with our selves. Simple things like regular showers, wearing clean, and neat clothing. Remembering that people are seeing our words, and actions on Facebook, and Radio Call in shows. That these comments shape peoples’ opinions of us. If we wish to be treated, and paid as professionals perhaps we should look, and act as professionals.

Many health problems are directly affected by our diets. The only one who can change our diet is us, as individuals. We can ask the truck stops to respect our health, and serve better options. The truck stops that do support them. The ones that don’t, don’t spend your money there. Yes, eating healthier may be slightly more expensive.

However if you do not take care of your body now. It will ultimately cost you more in higher medical bills, or being unable to pass a medical exam.

Which is cheaper in the end?

Likewise with the industry how we conduct ourselves affects us. Running when we know we should not, may make us a bit more money in the short term. Long term if there is an accident, or increased regulations from the actions of those who make poor choice. It will make it more difficult for all of us. Due to the actions of a few. Ultimately it costs us all, who call ourselves professionals.

If we wish to be healthier as individuals, and as an industry we need to take charge of what we as individuals can control. By doing that, and encouraging others to do so. We will increase our health personally, and as an industry. After all if we are healthy as individuals, and as an industry. We will show we do not need more regulation. As we are professional enough to know what is right and to do it.

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Tom has been driving in the trucking industry for 9 years working for a major over the road refrigerated carrier. He has worked as a police dispatcher while in college for Geology and Sociology, spent time in restaurant kitchens and 9 years in retail electronics. During his time as a driver his weight went up and his health went down. In making the decision to start taking back his health, he soon realized how an unhealthy lifestyle on the road affected all drivers. His website, Road Tested Living chronicles his story, as well as sharing tips and tricks for professional drivers with limited time, space, and equipment, to live well on the road.

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