With fall around the corner, the weather is changing, but just last week we had some close to record-setting high temperatures. These temperatures can mean horrible sleeping conditions for the long-haul truck driver.
While many cabs have air conditioning, local laws and company policies can stand in the way of allowing drivers to keep cool through the night, as they often prohibit idling cab engines. For drivers, this can mean sweating through the night, cab windows cracked, one ear open for intruders. Drivers who are forced to catch some sleep during daytime hours may find themselves in a bigger quandary. As the sun creeps higher in the sky, heat and humidity can combine to raise cab temperatures well past 100 degrees.
Many drivers on truck forums do point out that carriers and even law enforcement will excuse those idling engines during a heat wave. They, after all, don’t want to put drivers in danger. Others talk about the use of fans and screens, while parking well away from other rigs to improve air flow.
But this issue does speak to bigger concerns regarding driver health and safety. One recent survey of 3,000 drivers shows that 21 percent of drivers leave the industry due to health reasons. And life on the road can wallop a driver’s health when there’s few options for eating healthy, getting enough rest and exercising.
Hot nights can rob drivers of the rest they need to remain safe on the road. One study showed that over one-fourth of long-haul drivers logged six hours of sleep or fewer on average. Driving while fatigued or drowsy is dangerous, as it can affect performance and reaction time behind the wheel. There are also physical consequences that come with lack of rest. Researchers have found a link between fatigue and overeating, too, along with the other health problems it can feed into, including high blood pressure.
As carriers face increasing obstacles to productivity with hours-of-service regulations and coercion rulings, something as inconvenient as soaring temperatures can add significantly to the daily stress of a driver. Choptank Transport knows the tough job carriers face every day and we are grateful for the amazing job they do. That’s why we look forward to letting carriers know how important they are to us during this year’s Truck Driver Appreciation Week, being celebrated September 12- 16.