The Risks Truck Drivers Face – And Why You Need Insurance

Lynn Martelli
Lynn Martelli

Truck drivers keep the country moving. It is one of the most essential occupations in a modern economy but truck driving is not without its challenges and risks. When truck drivers hit the road they face risks to their health and safety, to the truck and cargo and also the risk of harming the public. This article explains the main areas of risk that truck drivers are exposed to, how they can reduce these risks and why every truck driver in Australia needs transport insurance.

Risks of the road

Whether they are a long-haul driver or they stick to the city streets, truck drivers are on the road for a large part of the year. As such, the risks of the road are an ever present risk in their working lives.

Risks may include bad driving from other motorists and livestock or wild animals crossing the road. These are often not predictable in advance and can lead to a crash resulting in expensive damage, delays, injury or loss of cargo. Floods, bushfires and debris from storms can likewise make driving dangerous or block roads for extended periods. Icy roads, especially in mountainous regions can lead to drivers being turned into passengers as their truck goes out of control and slides off the road.

To reduce the likelihood of being harmed by these risks there are some steps that can be taken. One is to check the weather and road conditions ahead of time and plan the best route accordingly. Another is to reduce speed and increase vigilance at the first sign of danger, a quick reaction can avoid many collisions.

Personal safety

Unfortunately it is not just the truck and cargo that can be harmed, truck drivers themselves face risk to their safety.

In the event of a crash, truck drivers can suffer severe injuries and even death. There is also a lot of risk when a breakdown occurs and the truck driver must exit the truck onto the road or roadside. Personal safety can be threatened by criminals seeking some gain from the truck or driver because often the truck driver is alone at night-time in unfamiliar places while en route. Injuries can also occur when a driver is climbing up onto trailers or if unsecured cargo falls on them.

The risks to personal safety can sometimes be partially avoided. When the truck driver needs to leave their truck, especially in breakdown scenarios, it is important that they wear high visibility clothing and use safety lights and traffic cones. Researching safe and secure places to park the truck ahead of time can also reduce the safety risk.

Loss of cargo

Truck drivers usually carry very expensive cargo and between pick-up and drop-off they are responsible for it. Unfortunately for uncountable reasons, damage or loss of cargo can occur resulting in the truck driver being liable for hefty costs.

This can be somewhat protected against through properly securing loads, guarding against theft and having backup plans ready in case the first truck or driver cannot continue the delivery.

Chemical or biological risk

Hazardous material, whether chemical or biological, is a common risk to truck drivers.

The material could be the cargo, for instance chemical fertilisers, or it could be material from the truck itself. Some materials are corrosive, toxic, reactive, an irritant or flammable.

The best way to be protected from this type of risk is to know what type of material you are carrying, to be trained and accredited to handle it, to follow the best practice when handling it and to use the correct personal protective equipment.

Health and wellness risks

Truck driving can be hard on the body, mind and emotions. Being aware of these risks is important so that they can be managed.

Long hours of sitting can lead to chronic injuries, particularly to the back and can also trigger deep vein thrombosis. Long periods of isolation on the road, and the toll it has on relationships can also lead to mental health and social problems. Poor diet and little activity can also lead to poor metabolic health and obesity.

Chronic injuries to the body can be avoided if frequent rest periods, adequate exercise and sleep are maintained. If mental health problems do arise then it is a good idea to talk to someone appropriate about them. Maintaining a healthy diet will also help keep the body and mind in a good state.

Mechanical failure

When a truck is in bad condition the risk of a breakdown or crash is greatly increased. This can be expensive to fix and can cause delays in delivery leading to unhappy customers.

There are many things that could go wrong and bring the truck to a halt. These include burst tyres, engine faults, brake failure and light failures.

The best thing to do to keep these risks down is to maintain the vehicle through regular and thorough servicing. It is also important to do a daily check over the vehicle to identify early any problems that are arising.

Why truck drivers need insurance

The risks outlined above are not the only risks that truck drivers face, there are many more. Even though these risks can be guarded against to some degree, most cannot be eliminated. Each time they occur they cause a loss, financial or otherwise which needs to be paid. Since medical and legal bills can be so expensive, not to mention the high value of the truck itself and its cargo, the truck driver could easily be overwhelmed by the cost of an incident. That is why truck drivers need insurance.

Transport insurance is designed to cover all the above risks and more to ensure that when incidents occur, everyone is appropriately compensated, the truck driver’s business is able to continue and medical and legal needs are financially covered. The best insurance for a truck driver is one that is customised for the areas of risk that they face in their own business and gives sufficient cover at the right price. Get in touch with an insurance broker to know more about transport insurance.

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