The work of a driver is specific mainly due to the time dimension of this work and the fact that it is not possible to return home every day – in the case of drivers in international transport, a long stay away from home is simply inherent in the characteristics of this profession.
What makes up a driver’s working time?
The driver’s working time is not the same as the time of driving itself. Not only driving, the employee performs work-related activities – also included are all activities related to the operation of the vehicle, completion of the necessary paperwork, securing the goods, loading and unloading and waiting.
The driver’s working time is regulated not only by the relevant law, but also by the Mobility Package, which is a set of provisions of EU legislation, coming into force on different dates. The regulations of individual EU countries also regulate the possible forms of rest for truck drivers in different ways, and one could dwell on this subject at length, but in this article we want to focus not on the driver’s working time itself, but on how the breaks in this work, during which drivers remain away from home, after all.
Rest of a professional driver
Where do drivers sleep? Usually in the cabin of their vehicle and these cabs are increasingly modern and comfortable, equipped with air conditioning, heating and a range of amenities that make the cabin a place where one can eat a meal, use a laptop or watch a movie. The vehicle’s cabin virtually becomes the driver’s second home. At LCL Spedition , the average age of fleet vehicles is 1.5 years – not least because of the ability to provide employees with the highest possible standard.
Parking spaces for drivers
All right, but in order to go for a rest, the first thing to do is to find a place to do so, and this turns out to be no easy task at all when drivers drive along the highway from one overcrowded parking lot to another.
Thetype of parking place during the route plays a huge role not only for the comfort and safety of the worker himself, but also for legal reasons and to protect the cargo itself, which can often be very valuable. Therefore, already at the stage of planning the route, stopping in specific locations should be taken into account – although even this does not give us the certainty that there will be a vacant space in a particular parking lot when we reach it, and then we should go to the next one… and perhaps yet another one. Adequate parking facilities are unfortunately still a “scarce commodity”.
Atruck parking lot should have a number of amenities, have adequate sanitary and telephone facilities. Often on its territory there are stores and gas stations and the area is monitored. It also happens that a motel is located nearby. The parking lot should be surrounded by greenery – vegetation definitely lowers the temperature, provides coolness and simply improves the quality of rest. Ideally, there should be a service and truck wash near the parking lot. In some EU countries, parking outside such specially adapted parking lots is punishable by a fine.
Should you pay to stay in such a parking lot?
Both free and paid parking lots are available, the former of which are often overloaded, have no monitoring, their sanitary facilities are dilapidated and the surface is sloped. Proper leveling of the parking lot is another important issue – cars can then make parking without damaging their technical components. The cost of paid parking is no more than a dozen euros per day, and it is definitely worth the expense so that the driver can have a comfortable rest, and the vehicle and goods are safe. So much for the guidelines and regulations themselves.
Activities undertaken by drivers in their free time
What can drivers do at a stopover, how do they diversify their time? There’s no denying it, quite a few people choose the “laptop + beer” option in the cabin of their vehicle and reports on the health of professional drivers alert that as many as ⅔ of them are affected by overweight problems caused by poor nutrition and lack of physical activity – in this case we already have a straight road to earning ourselves such problems as diabetes, hypertension, spinal degeneration or heart attack.
At the same time, we can observe a new trend, especially among young drivers, accustomed to regular physical activity, which they do not want to give up just because they do not have constant and easy access to a gym on the road.
Workout in the parking lot
Just a few years ago, the sight of a driver doing a workout in a parking lot between semi-trailers of vehicles was something exotic, arousing general merriment among the others. Today no one is surprised to see dumbbells, benches and barbells being taken on the road. Nothing difficult for the willing? Not really, because the question of taking care of yourself is always something difficult, especially in the initial stages of changing habits – but at the same time it turns out that nothing is impossible, with the right motivation and preparation.
Taking care of activity on the road does not always mean doing weight training with equipment. There are often exits located near parking lots leading to neighboring towns or villages, where you can walk, run or bike. This is always a better choice than a string of episodes of a TV series bitten into chips.
Associations and foundations dedicated to drivers
Drivers are a large professional group, and their health has already been taken under the microscope by the relevant administrative units. Associations and foundations dedicated to drivers, focused on the issues of their condition and safety, and promoting a healthy lifestyle, are being established. One such organization, the Truckers Life Foundation, has built 109 gyms, located in parking lots along highways in Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic and Lithuania. These places are free of charge for all drivers, so when stopping at a parking lot with a gym, one has to make quite an effort to come up with an excuse from physical activity.
The aforementioned foundation is known not only for building a network of gyms. Its activities also include the HeroTrucker program, aimed at equipping drivers with first aid skills, is a public awareness campaign “I look. I see?” that makes traffic participants and pedestrians aware of the field of vision a truck driver has, it’s the “Get on the road” campaign that encourages regular medical checkups. It’s also a whole online community of drivers motivating workouts and healthy eating, by showing their own ideas for spending their layovers actively and choosing healthier food options.
The annual Master Truck Show, an international rally of tuned trucks, is also an opportunity to promote healthy habits and get free checkups. At these rallies we can admire not only the most beautiful trucks from almost all over Europe, but also athletic drivers participating in sports competitions.
Of course, it’s not about every driver squeezing 120 kg on his chest, kicking from a half-turn like Chuck Norris and weighing meal weights. But the example of athletic drivers shows that it really is possible to take care of one’s form, even spending most of one’s time behind the wheel and not coming home on nights or weekends. In any profession, it is always important to take care of one’s health in order to simply enjoy a quality life for longer without ailments or pain. Especially having a so-called “sedentary job,” we must pay special attention to how we spend our leisure time and how we compose our meals. Everyone will admit that a belly check is worth more than a beer check before bed, but it is the latter that we can acquire without effort.
However, it’s worth the effort to take care of our health, especially having such easy access to knowledge on how to go about it doing the job of a professional driver, having our fellow drivers as an example, and having access to increasingly better infrastructure in parking lots. Just choosing to go for a walk during a stop instead of spending time watching movies in the cab of a truck can make a big difference. We recommend reading the website truckerslife.eu – perhaps its content will inspire a few people to take that all-important first step toward a healthier life.