Image of person with his head up high and eyes close with a title "Stop Stress In Its Tracks"
Image source: American Heart Association

Driving a truck requires being ready to take quick, sensible action at any time. Responding wrongly to a traffic hazard or other dangerous work condition can end in serious injuries, death, and costly damage. But maintaining a constant high level of readiness can be a challenge when workplace stress diminishes a driver’s mental and physical health. Medical research increasingly shows that chronic stress can raise the risk of mental and physical health problems. Prolonged stress can cause a driver to become a risk to themselves, their co-workers, and other motorists. Trucking companies can reduce workplace stress by including stress management and training in their safety programs.

Stress Factors and Symptoms for Truck Drivers

Truck drivers experience stress from several sources. Recent studies have listed the following factors as leading stressors among truck drivers:

  • Long routes and social isolation
  • Abrupt schedule changes, rotating schedules, long detention times, and tight deadlines
  • Compliance with hours of service regulations
  • Traffic delays and adverse road and weather conditions
  • Road rage and fear of violence
  • Vehicle noise, equipment vibration, and temperature extremes
  • Transporting hazardous freight

Signs and symptoms of stress include:

  • Fatigue
  • Digestive problems
  • Anxiety, headaches, and depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration issues
  • High blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke
  • Social withdrawal
  • Job dissatisfaction
  • Workplace violence
  • Alcohol or drug abuse

Stress Management for Driver Safety, Health, and Wellness

A trucking company can reduce workplace stress by including a stress management and training plan in their safety program. Having such a plan can help employees identify workplace stress, its sources, and its effects on their safety, health, and wellness. It should also provide stress prevention and control methods for employees. Effective workplace stress management can improve driver health and wellness, equipment operation, attendance, productivity, employee retention, morale, and job satisfaction.

Stress management methods include:

  • Improving work schedules and driving routes that are more compatible with demands and responsibilities outside the job
  • Providing health, vacation, and retirement benefits
  • Balancing work and family life
  • Teamwork
  • Regular medical exams
  • Taking breaks and getting enough sleep
  • Eating healthy food and staying hydrated
  • Exercise
  • Meditation
  • Preventing job hazards
  • Having a vehicle maintenance program
  • Arranging safe lodging when needed
  • Providing ergonomic equipment and well-fitting PPE

Plan a stress management plan for your safety program using these resources:

Keep Trucking Safe:

Dealing with Stress at Work

Got Stress? poster

Managing COVID-19’s Impacts on Driver Stress

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health:

Stress. . .at Work

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Workplace Stress Management

American Heart Association

Stress Management