The next time you see a truck driver on the road and say, “That looks easy, I could do that,” you may want to rethink your proclamation. The life of a trucker is not for everyone because it requires a special type of determination. Committed truck drivers spend long days and nights on the road, sacrificing time with family, in order to get the job done.
What are the Risks?
The trucking industry is described as one of the most dangerous industries in Australia. Not only do truckers spend long hours, even days, on the road resulting in valuable time away from home, but many truckers are at a heightened risk of being injured or even killed while on the job due to many circumstances, including high dangers on the road. According to a Safe Work report, in 2014, 48 of 184 workplace deaths in Australia were in the transport sector.
- Physical and Mental Health Issues: Aside from fatalities, the biggest and most common risks associated with trucking include a variety of physical and mental health issues. Stress, exhaustion, and sleep deprivation is no stranger to truck drivers. Additionally, they are more likely to be deprived of exercise and poor diet choices due to life on the road. Lung diseases, caused by exposure to a truck’s smoke emissions and traveling through heavily polluted areas, are common physical ailments. Sadly, many truckers see minor injuries such as sprains and strains as a “normal part of daily work”.
In addition to a battery of physical ailments, truckers are at risk of mental health issues
like depression. According to a survey by Australian Rotary Health, truck drivers have a 7% greater chance of developing depression than other Australians.
You may be understanding that this dedication is strong than most that punch in their 9-5 jobs for a simple check. However, trucker drivers live and thrive on the road as they ensure that their job is done. Most of this dedication can be derived from thinking of their families and knowing that home will be waiting for them.
Why All the Risks?
So, why are the risks so high? Here are a few current issues:
- Inexperience: Today, Australia’s truck driver gains a license and learns on the job, but unfortunately the training is often lacking and doesn’t last long enough. Drivers that have been in this business for years understand the proper training and mindset required for this line of work.
Many people who become interested in the trucking industry think that if you can drive a car, you can drive a truck. While there’s a bit of truth, trucking requires extensive training that many truckers aren’t getting due to the pressure to hit the roads and transport goods.
The Fix? The trucking industry needs to change and require accredited training programs. Not only should truckers know how to navigate their giant vehicle, but they should know simple maintenance and safety.
- Failing to Handle Accidents Properly and Quickly: In the trucking industry, profit and time seem to be more important than the safety of a driver. When a truck driver is injured while on the job, either on the road or while loading or unloading a trailer, the driver is required to file a claim with WorkCover and if a driver is injured in an accident a claim must be filed with TAC. Unfortunately, injured drivers, who have submitted claims to TAC and WorkCover, end up waiting a long time to receive the help and compensation they deserve.
The Fix? Change trucking industry safety standards and value the hard work that dedicated drives deliver each day. It’s time to value the drivers as much as the product they transport.
Truck driving may be one of the most dangerous jobs out there, but it is also one of the most admirable jobs. Driving with caution for other drivers as well as themselves, drivers are the modern-day cowboys of the road. Next time you see one be sure to forget the stereotype and throw your hand up to someone that has experience, dedication, and drive that many will never exceed.