After some time driving professionally, a driver can start to feel beaten down by the demands of the job and their lifestyle. In addition to feeling physically and mentally drained, they may get so beaten into this hard lifestyle that they may start to feel guilty when they are not at work. In many cases, this can lead them to drive when they shouldn’t, which can put them and other drivers on the road at significant risk. This becomes a vicious cycle and, sooner or later, every truck or emergency services driver will start to burn out if they are not careful.
Before allowing your drivers to reach the point of burnout, there are several things that transportation operators can do to improve things for their teams. It begins by recognizing what can cause professional drivers to feel drained by the job, and then taking steps to change these root causes.
Three Major Causes of Driver Burnout
There are a few things that weigh on a trucker’s mind and may lead to feelings of burnout.
- Earnings. Drivers are typically paid by the mile. They know they are not making money unless they’re moving down the road. This can lead drivers to feel as though they need to drive much more than is safe for them to.
- Improper Sleep. The body needs rest at night. The natural body biorhythm means people typically sleep at night when it’s dark. Many dispatchers don’t recognize this, and often actively go against it in the course of their work. When a driver is expected to go out on the road at any given time at the request of the company, just because he legally has enough hours to do so, it is not always a good idea. Many drivers still comply and start out on trips through the night unrested.
- “Downtime”. There are situations when drivers get so-called “downtime” between loads, but it is not always easy for them to truly get proper rest. They are expected to be responsible for the truck, trailer, and load during this time, plus they are waiting for instructions for their next move – meaning that any rest is light, and the driver isn’t truly getting quality rest through that period. For downtime to be effective, it needs to be true downtime, where they can rest their bodies and their minds before their next trip.
Ways to Reduce Burnout
In all of the causes mentioned above, the link is that drivers feel that they need to constantly be working, and they do not take the time that they need to fully rest and recuperate, physically and mentally. Improving company culture in a way that provides drivers with a more manageable routine will work wonders in keeping drivers alert and satisfied on the job.
Drivers should not skip vacations because they think they can’t afford to take the time off. In reality, one can’t afford to not take time away from driving. It is important to take regular days off each week and that employees take time off when feeling they need a break from the monotony of driving. Constantly being with the truck, whether driving or not, you are not getting a good break from the job. Being out on the road for long periods and it can’t be avoided, one should get away from the truck to reset and do something enjoyable.
A regular, scheduled run with a more predictable schedule will result in a more regularly scheduled sleep pattern. A routine will introduce more stability into drivers’ lives, and help them to feel more secure and comfortable on the job.
Electronic logs will help prevent drivers from over-working and force them to rest more regularly, and get off the road after about 70 hours. This will help prevent driver burnout while working for the company.
Transportation is one of the most dangerous industries to work for. It is absolutely crucial that you protect your business and your employees with a comprehensive Transportation Insurance program that has been specifically designed for your business and your industry.
About Provident Insurance Programs
With roots dating back to 1902, Provident Insurance Programs is a program administrator that serves paid and volunteer firefighters in addition to emergency medical responders with numerous custom-tailored insurance programs. We’ve also extended our expertise and experience to offer benefit plans and coverages to participant groups as well as Transportation Benefits. We are committed to continuing to provide superior customer service, and would be happy to speak with you to provide further information. Give us a call today at (855) 201-8880 to speak with one of our representatives.