Life On The Road
Get the message before it’s too late
by Dan Baker
I can remember when I was a little boy, sitting on the front porch of our house in Burkburnett, TX every Friday evening, waiting to see my daddy’s running lights come around that corner. When daddy came home in that truck, it was the biggest and happiest moment of my young life. My daddy was a truck driver.
But maybe I say it wrongly. In truth, my daddy wasn’t a truck driver. My daddy was a daddy who drove a truck. And saying it like that makes all the difference in the world.
As a consultant to the trucking industry, I’m always talking about safety. I want you to be safe for your company, the motoring public and your customers, but I also know there’s somebody back home waiting to see your running lights come around the corner. To me, the heart of safety in trucking is coming home.
As a professional over-the-road driver, you face what sometimes is an even bigger threat than your safety, and that is your health. Many of us take our health for granted because it isn’t a pressing problem. We’ve got plenty of other problems to focus on like schedules, miles, the price of fuel, PTAs, ETAs, dispatchers, family and finances. But when something goes wrong with the old ticker, all those other pressing problems take a back seat in a big hurry.
I’ve been in this business too long to remember all the tragic stories of great, professional drivers who were struck down before their time; many of whom could still be with us had they managed their health as carefully and thoughtfully as they managed their truck and their driving habits. The silent saboteurs of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high sugar and high stress often lay us low before we even know they’re in the neighborhood. And we are shocked and surprised when the doctor tells us what’s been true all along.
I have a neighbor who used to weigh 295 pounds. Not bad, except he was five-foot-seven. He had a lot of friends who continually told him he was too overweight, and he just kept on laughing and stacking it on. Then, one evening, he couldn’t catch his breath and collapsed in the kitchen. Luckily, an EMS team got him to the hospital in time, and that evening, as his vital signs began to stabilize, his doctor looked down at him and said, “Fred, you’ve got to lose 150 pounds or you’re gonna die.” Today, Fred weighs about 195 and is in good shape, enjoying his new lifestyle.
Fred had what we call a “teachable moment” —a moment of clarity and understanding —where he got the message loud and clear. The tragedy is that a lot of my driver friends don’t get the message until it’s too late. Don’t be one of them. The choice is up to you.
Dan Baker (www.danbakertexas.com) is a nationally known speaker and consultant to the trucking industry.