Eight tips for On-The-Road Health and Safety

Johannesburg, South Africa, 18 October 2016 –Crashes involving trucks and buses are a daily reality in South Africa – with collisions being caused by anything from fatigue to driving under the influence of alcohol.

Chris Barry, MD of HCV (Commercial Vehicle Underwriting) says that tired, overworked truck drivers are one of the major causes of crashes– but drivers can take steps to improve their health and better equip themselves for those long haul drives filled with stress and fatigue.

“As a truck driver, you work under extraordinarily challenging conditions. You’re under a lot of pressure to meet deadlines, work efficiently no matter the traffic or weather conditions, and meet the targets set by your employers,” he says. “While many trucking businesses offer wellness programmes for their drivers, it’s up to the drivers to take control of their own health and wellbeing too. There are so many minor lifestyle changes you can make to get and keep healthy, manage fatigue, and stay safe.”

Here are a few key tips to maintain a healthier lifestyle while out on the road:

  • Healthy body, healthy mind

Eating correctly is the first step to overall health. Chips, chocolates, sweets and fast-food may be the easy choice but they will only make you feel sluggish and tired throughout the day. Ditch the junk and opt for healthier snacks like fruit, vegetables, or even a few brown bread sandwiches with healthy fillings to boost your energy and help you stay focused.

  • Lose the booze

Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol lowers your ability to concentrate on tasks and keep your train of thought. If you do drink alcohol, never drive under the influence and make sure you keep it to no more than 14 units (one unit = 250ml of a 4% beer – note this isn’t a can of beer which is 330ml) a week.

  • Get active

When you’re behind the wheel, you’re seated for long stretches. It’s really important to exercise regularly in order to keep fit and maintain a higher energy level. Exercise will also help prevent certain illnesses and diseases. Taking a brisk walk around your truck a few times may help with circulation. During this break you can inspect your truck and ensure that everything is in order and as per regulation. This way you are up to date on safety checks and you’ve squeezed some much needed exercise in one go.


Focusing on the road for long periods of time is exhausting, so it’s important to get as much rest as you can, when you can, to avoid fatigue while behind the wheel. Aim for six to eight hours of sleep a night, making sure to switch off cellphones and cutting off as much light as possible for a restful night’s sleep.

  • Make regular stops

Find a safe spot to pull over or, better yet, pull into a rest stop when you start to feel tired, and take at least 10 mins to rest. Take a walk and stretch your legs. A great way to get your blood flowing is to touch your toes and hold this position for a few seconds at a time.

  • Crack open a window

The cab can get a little stuffy over a long-haul drive – especially in winter with the heater on and others in the cab with you. Before you start to feel a little drowsy, roll down the window and take a few deep breaths of the fresh, cool air. This will help wake you up until you reach a safe place to stop for a break.

  • Avoid caffeine

Drinking too much coffee or sugary, caffeinated energy drinks while driving long distances does more harm than good, severely depleting energy levels and causing your energy levels to ‘crash’ shortly after you finish the drink. Have the occasional coffee to stay alert, but try to drink chilled water to keep your mind and body fresh while in transit.

  • Switch on the radio

Listening to music or even talk radio stations keeps you alert. Remember to keep the volume loud enough to hear, but not too loud, to make sure you can still hear what’s going on around you.

Most importantly, these tips are just a guideline. If you are experiencing excessive fatigue, rest is the most important solution.

HCV works with its clients to help truck drivers learn the best ways to manage the demands of long-haul driving, helping protect the drivers and other road users from the common pitfalls encountered by the trucking industry.