March 28

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A Truck Driver’s Guide to Sickness While On The Road

By Virginia Montgomery

March 28, 2022


My father had been an over-the-road truck driver for over 10 years. Usually when he got sick, he drove it off and occasionally would stop to rest if it got to bad.

He started complaining about a cold in November, but after a while, he seemed better. It wasn’t until he stopped in Atlanta that we really knew something was off. He ended up spending three weeks on a ventilator due to Covid-19 and sadly, passed away.

It wasn’t until after he was in the ICU that I really realized that drivers are ill-equipped to deal with sickness. Had we not been able to track his location, he would have died in his truck.

I got to realizing quickly that truck drivers really need a guide on navigating sickness on the road.

So through extensive research and talking to drivers, I have come up with a guide that will hopefully help!

What do truckers do when they get sick?

Most drivers will just drive until they cannot anymore. Many drivers will sometimes pull over to rest if their sickness gets too bad.

A common issue in the industry is the lack of availability of healthcare for drivers. Insurance plays a major role in accessibility for drivers. Since most insurances have rules on networks and when traveling, this can create a big hassle for drivers.

Finding a doctor’s office where you can park your semi can be equally as difficult. If you have a disease like Covid-19, taking a form of transportation can be a major health concern for the person running the transport.

So many drivers are feeling stuck. I remember my dad asking me how he was supposed to get tested and honestly, I had no clue. I ended up asking his company about their sick policies for drivers and there was no definative answer as well.

So the real answer is complicated, considering most drivers feel stuck between working to earn money, and staying healthy. I tracked my father using his Facebook and he went through eleven states with Covid-19.

Truckers typically do not get sick leave, so when the truck is sitting, well, you just do not make money. That drives drivers to work hard even when their bodies are unwell.


How do truck drivers protect themselves on the road?

Truck drivers can wear facemasks, wash their hands, and disinfect their trucks, often to help protect themselves from viruses like Covid-19. Making sure to eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise can help ward off sicknesses as well.

Most drivers are often morbidly obese and this can cause a whole range of issues. Combined with tobacco use, this is a recipe for an unhealthy lifestyle!

Drivers can help protect themselves from illness by achieving a healthier lifestyle. Cooking at home and then bringing these prepared foods with you can help ward off unhealthy take-out.

Quitting any tobacco use and other bad habits is essential to ensuring a long life! In a study by the CDC, they found that long-haul drivers had a life expectency of 61. This is mostly due to their lifestyle.

How do truck drivers stay healthy?

Truck drivers often find themselves struggling with health problems due to their lifestyle. Here are a few ways that you can stay healthy as a driver!

Find a fitness routine

Cardiovascular fitness is essential to helping maintain heart health! Finding a routine for at least 30 minutes a day can help keep you in shape.

Eat Healthy

While a balanced diet may seem like a long shot when on the road, it is possible! Fresh foods and healthy meats can do wonders. Try counting your calories as well to make sure you are not excessively snacking.

Creating healthy meals is not that much harder than buying junk. If you snack while driving, try to substitute carb-rich foods with things like beef jerky or nuts. These are more filling and make you feel fuller, faster.

Drinking water is another must when driving.

Do not overwork yourself

driver writing electronic log books

I know, this can be a hard one because if you are not working, you are not earning money. You should be recording your hours as well!

Tip: When you take your break, try to at least stretch out your muscles.

Tips for Creating an Emergency Plan for the Worst

While my dad had almost everything figured out for his end-of-life plan, he was missing some crucial steps that would have made this process much easier for me. I found out a few critical mistakes that he made when he made his plan.

Beneficiary

An organized list of all bills, insurances, and important documents

Resources for his truck: towing, places to store it, list of authorized drivers, and emergency plan in case of incapacitation.

If you place a beneficiary on accounts, this makes probate easier than if you have nobody. Immediately, your assets should go to the beneficiary and nobody else.

Organize anything of importance for your family members. This includes life insurance, birth certificates, social security cards, anything of value, passwords, and really anything you think may be of importance to the final arrangements.

The biggest hassle by far has been the semi. We have had such an issue getting anything accomplished with it due to legal reasons. While dad was on a ventilator, I was not allowed to make any decisions with it, and when he ended up passing away, I was thrown to the wolves when it came to what to do.

By the end of the three weeks, I had racked up a massive tow yard fee and they were telling us it would be another three grand to tow it home. By the time dad passed, we had no insurance or tags on the truck either.

Luckily, I knew great drivers and had family willing to hold the truck while I went through probate.

If you own your own company, it may be best to discuss future plans regarding your business with your family and beneficiaries. Truthfully, from here I have no clue what to do with this semi-sitting pretty in the pasture.

Creating these plans not only gives you peace of mind but makes these situations much easier for your family during times when they may feel like their world is crashing down.

Resources to Keep in Mind

Resources like Truckers Final Mile are fantastic in the event that you need assistance. There are many local assistance programs to keep in mind as well, especially in the event of an emergency.

Another great resource is OOIDA. They are a fantastic organization dedicated to truck drivers.

The main takeaway is to make sure that you prepare for the worst and hope it never happens.

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