Month: September 2019

Sleep Apnea: What Every Driver Should Know

sleep-apnea

Sleep apnea is a growing problem in the trucking industry.  According to a study sponsored by FMCSA and American Transportation Research Institute of the American Trucking Associations, almost one-third (28 percent) of commercial truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea.  The reason for the high number in drivers is because it is more common in men than women, more common in smokers, and in people who are overweight, all things that tend to be higher among drivers.  A family history, alcohol use, and neck size also contribute to the likelihood of developing sleep apnea.  

Maintaining a healthy weight on the road is exacerbated by too many unhealthy food options and sitting sedentary behind the wheel for long periods of time, and those excess pounds can lead to sleep apnea.  Unfortunately, it often goes undiagnosed, can lead to serious health problems, and can even be life-threatening.

 

What Is It?

Sleep apnea is when a person stops breathing while they’re asleep.  It can last anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute and can happen a few times to hundreds of times a night.  A person with sleep apnea may not even be aware that they suffer from the disorder and may merely think they snore which is a common symptom of sleep apnea, along with choking while sleeping.

Why Sleep Apnea is a Problem

Sleep apnea, disruptions in sleep, can cause sleepiness during waking hours which can lead to increased accidents while on the road.  Even mild sleep apnea can disrupt sleep and prevent the driver from entering deep REM sleep that all need to get a healthy, restful night’s sleep.  Because of this, drivers with sleep apnea are at a much greater risk of drowsy driving, or even falling asleep while driving, and causing an accident.  Sleep apnea not only leads to sleepiness, but it also increases blood pressure, memory problems, headaches, stroke, heart attacks, diabetes, and heart arrhythmia.  Increased risk of developing depression can also occur. All of these problems affect a driver’s ability to drive and could disqualify him from driving commercially.

Because of the risks, more and more trucking companies are requiring their drivers to undergo testing for sleep apnea.  Drivers with mild sleep apnea may still be eligible to drive but those with moderate to severe sleep apnea will not.  

Solutions

Obstructive sleep apnea is treated using a CPAP machine.  Once diagnosed by a sleep specialist, which can usually be done using a monitor that looks for disruptions in sleep, recommendations can be made for a CPAP device consisting of a machine that pumps air to control breathing, and a face or nose mask to distribute the air.  

CPAP therapy is the most effective solution for obstructive sleep apnea but while it may be a more immediate solution, the units can be uncomfortable to wear while sleeping which can cause users to not wear them as much as they should.

The best cure for sleep apnea is to lose excess weight and keep it off.  Eating healthy and getting regular exercise can be challenging for drivers who spend long hours behind the wheel of a truck and the added sluggishness that sleep apnea causes makes it difficult for drivers to maintain their optimal weight and get the exercise they need.

But it can be done.  Healthy meals can be brought from home and truck stops are beginning to offer healthier options for drivers.  Insurance companies may offer gym memberships and many carriers are offering ways for their drivers to lead healthier more active lives.  Once successfully treated, a driver may regain the ability to drive if approved by the medical examiner.

 

Direct Freight Services is a full-service subscription load board that can help truckers find loads and help carriers find drivers in search of loads.  With helpful features like the app, load searching, truck posting, credit reports and scores, load filtering, turn-by-turn routing, and text alerts, Direct Freight is the only load board you’ll ever need.  Go to DirectFreight.com and try it out today!

 

Sources:  

https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/driver-safety/sleep-apnea/driving-when-you-have-sleep-apnea

https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/sleep-apnea/obstructive-sleep-apnea-causes#3

The State of Driver Salaries

state-of-driver-salaries

Across the country, the high demand and shortage of licensed drivers have been pushing up the salaries of truck drivers, making it a rewarding and lucrative career choice.  Drivers’ salaries can vary from state-to-state by nearly $20,000 with Alaska ranking highest when it comes to drivers’ salaries with a median of $56,250 as of May 2018 and West Virginia the lowest at $38,580.   Drivers who regularly drive in large cities like New York tend to bring in a higher paycheck as well.

Many other factors that can affect the earnings of truck drivers too:

Experience

As with any job, the most experienced workers get the highest pay.  This can be frustrating for drivers who are just starting in the industry and expecting a big paycheck.  Some companies do pay entry-level drivers more than others do so it’s good to shop around and if the training facility where you obtained your CDL offers job placement help, try it.  They may be able to find those higher-paying entry-level positions. Some companies shy away from first-year drivers because they’re a higher risk for carriers; their inexperience can cause deadlines to be missed or worse, it can lead to accidents on the road. If the driver sticks with it, and develops a good safety record, over time, he or she can increase their pay to upwards of $80,000 in a few short years.

Mileage

Long haul drivers generally earn more money than short route drivers but shorter routes have the bonus of allowing the driver to be home every night which may be better for drivers with families.  Life on the road for long hauls isn’t easy. Long hours behind the wheel can be physically demanding and your route may take you away from home for extended periods. For many drivers, the higher pay makes it all worth it.

Endorsements

Endorsements to a CDL are added training and certifications for driving specialty cargo.  They include HazMat, Double/Triple Trailers, Tanker, etc. Because there are fewer drivers qualified to carry this freight, a higher salary can be demanded.

Bonuses  

Many carriers offer bonuses as incentives to attract drivers.  They can be quite high but often carry with them some requirements.  Bonuses can include:

    • Sign-on bonus:  often paid in 2 installments: one when you start and the other after you’ve been driving for the company for a specified time.
    • Fuel efficiency bonus:  given when you’ve met fuel consumption requirements
    • Safety bonus:  awarded when you’ve maintained a good safety record for a specified time.
    • Referral bonus:  Carriers are always on the lookout for good drivers.  Referring drivers to them could earn you bonuses.

Owner/Operator

Drivers who earn the most are generally owner/operators which can bring in a salary as high as $184,803.  Of course, there’s the added cost of the truck, which can be purchased or leased, insurance, business operating costs, and taxes, brings down that take-home pay, but they still can earn significantly more than drivers who drive carrier vehicles.  Being an owner/operator is not for everyone, however, and takes discipline, responsibility, and organization. It can bring freedom, but earning a big salary is only accomplished by putting in the work and driving those miles.  

Driving a truck remains one of the most common jobs in the country and is expected to continue to grow.  With hard work, training, and a dedication to safety, drivers can earn an excellent living on the road.  

Direct Freight Services allows truckers to find loads and allows companies to post their loads.  The Direct Freight website also has many useful features such as mile calculators, fuel price data, weather conditions, turn-by-turn truck-specific routing and more. 

To see how Direct Freight  can work for you, go to DirectFreight.com today!

 Sources:

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes533032.htm#st

https://www.truckdriverssalary.com/owner-operator-salary/