Most people associate repetitive strain injuries with assembly line workers or perhaps people who spend too many hours using a keyboard. This certainly doesn’t describe the work of a commercial or owner operator truck driver, so how does this happen? Answer: the driving itself. Think about it, your hands, wrists, elbows, and shoulders make the same motions steering your rig for hours on end. Poor roads make the problem worse because they require gripping the steering wheel harder and making more frequent corrective steering movements.
Even highway design contributes to the problem. The right side of the road slopes downhill to direct water runoff. This road pitch requires constant corrective steering movements, typically made with the left hand and arm, which contribute to the “trucker’s shoulder.”
Repetitive strain injuries affect both beginner and experienced truckers alike, where the condition simply takes longer to show itself in experienced drivers. Fortunately, there are preventative measures you can take to reduce your risk of injury:
- Give your hands and arms a rest break. Drivers commonly favor one hand over another for doing specific driving motions. For example, you can avoid the trucker’s shoulder injury mentioned previously by using your right hand to make the corrective steering movements for about thirty seconds. This gives your left arm a brief rest. Repeat this every twenty minutes. You can also distribute the steering force between the two arms differently by keeping both hands on the wheel. The distribution doesn’t always have to be fifty-fifty, or with just one arm doing all the work while the other does nothing.
- Change your hand position on the steering wheel. The optimum hand position for driving safely is either 10-2 or 9-3. However, varying your hand positions causes subtle variations in the muscular exertions in your arms, which again, is the key to avoiding repetitive motion injury. Always assume the optimum hand position in challenging driving situations.
- Avoid hard jerky steering movements. Smooth steering is not only easier on your joints, but on your truck as well. It also reduces the risk of jackknifing in slippery road conditions.
- Choose better routes. Avoid routes with road construction and bad pavement. Smooth pavement requires less corrective steering, reduces fuel consumption, and reduces transit time.
- Keep your elbows close to your sides. Avoid resting your arm on the window sill or the side arm rest. Position your seat and the steering wheel so that you don’t have to reach with your arms.
If you are looking for affordable commercial or owner operator truck insurance in Texas with good coverage, we can help. Contact us today at J.E.B. Insurance Services, LLC.