“Something can be happening at home that can cause stress, and then some little thing happens on the road that can make a man click,” Chris Rogers says.
As if that’s not enough, piloting a big truck through strange, crowded cities exacts its toll.
“People in cars don’t understand that the majority of times they see trucks in their town, it’s probably the driver’s first time there,” Housel says. “The reason he’s going slow is to be safe because he doesn’t know his way around.”
“It’s pretty easy out on the open road,” Chris Rogers says. “But when you get around big cities where you’re a stranger, it’s very stressful,” he says. “On top of maneuvering the truck, you’ve got to follow laws and follow directions. That all adds up to stress.”
“If you get lost or somebody gives you wrong directions – that causes stress,” says Laura. “People think you can turn around in somebody’s driveway or the first open spot,” she says.
“I get that pretty often: bad directions that get you someplace where you don’t need to be,” Chris says. “We’ve got directions that said ‘left’ when it was supposed to be ‘right,’ and ‘left’ was a dead end.”
And no discourse on stress for truckers is complete until it mentions weather. Bucking strong crosswinds with a lightly loaded, 53-foot van on snowy and icy roads might be the most stressful thing a driver can do.
Stress is fertile soil for road rage, and professional truckers need what Dr. James calls “inner power tools” to help them keep calm.
“The required level of courtesy is higher for a professional truck driver than other drivers,” Kennedy says. “Have patience, too. That’s one of the key factors for dealing with road rage.”
Adequate trip planning is a huge stress reliever. “Give yourself plenty of time,” Kennedy says. “When you’re in a hurry, you want to be in front of everybody. If somebody cuts you off, you want to get back in front of them,” he says. “But if you give yourself plenty of time, you don’t have to be first.”
Housel lives and drives in Florida, and his “inner power tool” for stress is getting out of the truck. “I got to the point where I can go home whenever I please,” he says. “I’m usually only about three hours away. I can get out of the truck for a couple of days and take a break.”
“The best cure for stress is to pull over and take a break, if you can,” says Chris Rogers. “Take a walk, watch television, do something different for a while.”
Exercise is an excellent “power tool” for reducing stress. “Most truckers don’t get enough exercise,” says Laura Rogers. “In some rest areas they have little paths you can walk on.”