Small Steps for Living Healthy
Thank you for your helpful hints about our eating habits. I have been trucking for over 35 years, and the choices I made about foods and walking for exercise have paid off.
I can chase down a thief, but more importantly walk up the sled hill (and ride down) with my grandkids and much more.
I know it’s hard as I read the fellow truckers’ stories, but unless we get a hold on our eating habits we could be unemployed as a result of sleep apnea, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and many more ailments.
It was easier for me to make gradual, realistic changes than go cold turkey all at once. I get the small burger and small fries or no fries instead of the “value” meal. I use bananas or some other fruit or veggies as a filler between meals. I usually eat every five or six hours and try not to stuff myself. I walk for 10-20 minutes on a short break where my truck is in view for fresh air and exercise. Start slow, gradually add on.
I still enjoy my sweets with my coffee, but because I try moderation all the time I can cheat a little on weekends and holidays. Good luck with that diet, guys and gals, and don’t kill the messenger, please!
Stephen Bauer, Akron, Ohio
Healthier equals happier
I’ve been a driver for 11 years, and I, too, was once a fat slob. I joined the Marine Corps out of high school. I was 5’10”, 280 lbs., and they got me down to 187 in boot camp. After I got out, I started to drive trucks, and I got fat again — ballooned all the way up to 320 lbs., wearing a 50-inch jean and 3XL-size shirts. I’m now down to 215 lbs. I run 3-4 times a week, and I lift weights. I stay out of the truckstop restaurants and eat out of the truck. I cook at home and bring it with me. But when I started in Nov. 2008 I started with Subway Fresh Fit and baked chips and lost weight. I’m healthier now, and I’m happier to boot.
Mike Keller, Kansas City, Kan.
Weighing in on sleep
Regarding the proposed FMCSA regulations as they relate to sleep apnea: Is it me, or do the so-called medical experts not realize that sleep-related issues are and will always continue to be one of the many risks associated with long-haul trucking?
With more than three decades of experience as a long hauler I feel that I am as qualified as any expert to lend my opinion to this debate. I’d like to begin by saying that in all those years I have probably managed to average about three nights a week of what most people consider to be a sound sleep. On the surface, one would surely believe me to be suffering from a medical condition. The reality is that most people outside of the driver’s realm cannot begin to fathom the daily course of events that prevent us from getting the sleep we need and deserve. There are a host of reasons why a vast majority of truck drivers suffer from fatigue brought on by the effects of sleep depravation. Sleep apnea is less a cause of fatigue than a result of the lifestyle we are forced to endure.
A few examples:
a.) Unrealistic sleeping patterns caused by irregular pick-up and delivery appointments: 3 a.m. on Monday; 7 p.m. on Tuesday, midnight on Wednesday, and so on.
b.) Unrealistic scheduling. Who’s fooling who? More often than not, we live and die by the whims of shippers and brokers. Sleep becomes something that happens after the customer is taken care of.
c.) Being awakened by the noisy motors and noxious fumes of APU units.
d.) Being awakened by reefer units with frozen loads that require the units to run full blast for extended periods.
e.) The inability to consistently find safe and proper parking, which causes many drivers to park in areas that are either illegal or unsafe, adding to the anxiety level which does not lend itself to a sound sleep.
f.) A lot of fleets have begun using back-up beepers on their trucks. Imagine the wake-up call in the parking lot of the truckstop at 3 a.m.
g.) Doors being knocked on by your friendly constabulary because your truck is too far down the exit ramp of the overcrowded rest area. Tickets always add to a more sound sleep.
h.) Not being able to idle in 80-degree heat or 30-degree cold. So instead of sleep, we sweat or freeze.
i.) The inane hours of service regulations — that, in spite of statistics, probably cause more accidents than they prevent. It’s a scientific reality that the human body’s circadian rhythms tell us to nap during the day. The current rules do not encourage this.
j.) The inability to properly exercise as often as we should. After the stress of driving all day, the mind is willing, but the body is not.
k.) Stress from home. Stress from traffic. Stress from cash-strapped states and municipalities wanting our hard-earned money. Stress from the continuing onslaught of burdensome regulations that never seem to cease.
And the list goes on and on. My point here is that no matter how the experts cut it, the real reasons that most drivers feel fatigued are results of the demands of the job. In our line of work, as in many others, sound sleep is a luxury.
As I’ve been chasing the information to try and keep up with the rulemaking process regarding sleep apnea, a simple question begs: who are the people responsible for advocating these regulations? The simple answer is — follow the money. As I’ve researched those individuals most involved in the process, I have discovered that many of them stand to profit keenly by way of franchised clinics, CPAP machines and sleep study centers once the regulations come into play. And they are pushing hard.
Highway safety is everyone’s concern. How I choose to sleep or not is mine. If a driver is so irresponsible that they get behind the wheel when they should be sleeping, then I can understand the concern. But to legislate something as private as a person’s sleep? To be blunt, with the myriad of other issues at stake in our industry, I think of the sleep apnea concern more as a subterfuge created by bureaucrats who need to justify their existence. There are many more causes and effects of driver fatigue than in how restfully one happened to sleep the previous night.
In the final analysis, I believe that the regs are coming. All I can say is that I hope the federal government is prepared to pay permanent disability to all those who were forced out of their careers because of such nonsense. And to discriminate against me because of my weight or neck size? Can anyone say EEOC Class Action lawsuit?
Dante Staciokas, Bally, Penn.
What is your favorite way to relieve stress on the road?
Get out and walk around and/or stop and call my girlfriend.
— Paul R.
A quick walk usually does the trick. Clears the head. If I have a few more minutes I read a verse or two in the Bible or some other inspirational book.
— Charlie N.
Visit family and friends when I can, otherwise watching movies and perhaps a walk around.
— Randal B.
If I get wound up I pull over and break out the wheel polish. Some days it’s only taken 20 minutes to do all 10.
— Brian C.
Since I team with my hubby, we take the weekend off, get a motel, and I spend most of the time in a hot bubble bath. Great stress relief.
— Jodie G.
Sing really loud to music.
— Tina M.
I like to relieve stress by reading a book or sitting in the truckstop with a coffee and shoot the breeze with other drivers.
I got a kickin sound system and subs in the truck. The higher the stress the higher the volume!
My stress reliever on the road: dart board with ex-wife’s picture as the bulls-eye target.
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How do you feel about FMCSA’s new electronic onboard recorder rule?
“I think it keeps drivers, if they’re tired or run over hours, it keeps them straight with the logs.”
— Bradley Lovelace, owner-operator, Greenville, N.C.
“It’s actually pretty good. It actually monitors everything. It’s just like logging on paper, very accurate … It’s actually stress-free … All I have to do is trip plan and trip point where I know that my hours are going to run out, and make sure that I stop at that time. It lets you know one hour before that your hours are about to run out.”
— Aniket Mehta, owner-operator leased to CR England, Athens, Ga.
“How long do I got? The rules are fine, but it hurts the driver financially. The old way: they used to cheat and get away with it. The new way, they can’t cheat. But the shipper and receiver are mostly responsible for that, because they won’t unload us and reload us. That’s the problem. That’s where it all falls on the tired drivers on the road.”
— Dennie Edwards, TransVantage, Atlanta, Ga.
“It’s another way for regulations to put a little bit more tight grip on us.”
— Walter McNatt,, owner-operator leased to Stevens Transport,, Bradenton, Fla.