Today, we will be discussing truck driving while sick. Unfortunately, being sick is not always something that we can avoid. And, while being sick is certainly not a good time, it is especially not fun when you have to work.

Regardless, as long as your sickness isn’t debilitating, you can still get through it and get the job done. If you are interested in learning more about driving while sick, you’re in the right place. Let’s get started.

Law on Driving while Sick

First and foremost, it is important to keep in mind that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) prohibits driving with an illness that impairs the driver’s ability. According to section § 392.3 of the Code of Federal Regulations:

“No driver shall operate a commercial motor vehicle, and a motor carrier shall not require or permit a driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle while the driver’s ability or alertness is so impaired, or so likely to become impaired, through fatigue, illness, or any other cause, as to make it unsafe for him/her to begin or continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle.

However, in a case of grave emergency where the hazard to occupants of the commercial motor vehicle or other users of the highway would be increased by compliance with this section, the driver may continue to operate the commercial motor vehicle to the nearest place at which that hazard is removed.”

With that being said, as a truck driver, you can refuse to drive if you feel that your ability or alertness is at risk. In most cases, this refers to severe illnesses that can put you and fellow drivers on the roadway at risk, or if you are taking medication that impairs your driving ability.

This does not generally apply to illnesses such as the common cold. If you do come down with the common cold, or seasonal allergies, you can still drive, as long as you are not fatigued. For the most part, these types of illnesses are inevitable. You will probably be on the road with a cold at some point.

Tips of Driving while Sick

Stay Hydrated

One of the best things you can do if you come down with the common cold is to stay hydrated. In fact, many experts believe that hydration is the first step to getting back to your usual, healthy self. Water does not contain any calories, sugar, or preservatives, which means it is good for you. When you are sick, you are likely to lose water and electrolytes through sweat.

Be sure to drink things like water, juice, and other electrolyte-filled fluids to stay hydrated, loosen mucus, and relieve congestion. You may also find it beneficial to sip on hot liquids, such as tea or broth. This can soothe a sore throat and relieve congestion, too. 

Get Enough Rest

We’ve all heard about the importance of getting enough sleep, but this is especially important if you are sick and if you are a truck driver in general. Adults are recommended to get at least eight hours of sleep per night. However, we understand that, as a truck driver, your hours may stray from the traditional 9 to 5, sometimes resulting in you driving during the night.

If this is the case for you, be sure to get eight hours of sleep before your shift, even if it’s during the daytime. Additionally, if you have the opportunity to take a short break while on the road, be sure to take advantage of it. You can even take a nap in the cab of your truc. Getting extra sleep when you are sick can help jumpstart your immune system. 

Support the Immune System 

Support your immune system by eating healthy foods and snacks or taking supplements. Certain vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamin C, are extremely beneficial for the immune system. You can get your dose of vitamin C by eating citrus fruits, drinking orange juice, or taking a supplement such as vitamin C capsules or chewable tablets.

You may also find it helpful to get lozenges, which can help your throat. Plus, some of them even provide you with a boost of vitamin C. If needed, grab some medication to help you kick your cold. Just make sure that it is non-drowsy. Cold medications that contain an antihistamine can make you tired and can be extremely dangerous. 

Know When to Throw in the Towel

While we’d all love to keep working despite a cold, sometimes it’s just not possible. We know that pay doesn’t always come if the wheels of your truck aren’t turning, but we advise you to put your health first. You know your body better than anyone else. There is no shame in calling in sick. In fact, knowing when you need to rest means that you are a responsible truck driver! Be honest about your symptoms and know when to call it quits. If you are on the road and feel that you cannot continue, pull over. Do not put yourself and others at risk. Here are some signs that you need to take a break and see a doctor:

  • High fever (Above 101.5)
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting or other physical symptoms

As you can see, these are just a few ways that you can navigate driving while sick. Sometimes, it’s just not possible, and that’s okay. We’d rather you be safe than sorry! In our last post, we discussed fatigued driving. With long, sometimes unconventional hours, being a truck driver can be exhausting. In fact, it is not uncommon to come across a fatigued truck driver.

Fatigued driving is extremely dangerous, both for yourself and for others on the road. We discussed the dangers of fatigued driving and how you can prevent it, so be sure to check out our last post if you are interested in learning more.

Here at BW Mitchum, we take safety seriously. Our drivers and staff work together to create a culture of safety. It’s part of who we are! We hope you find this article helpful and informative. If you are looking for a job as a commercial truck driver, we hope you’ll consider driving for BW Mitchum.

You can learn more about our career opportunities at BW Mitchum here. We hope you found this article informative, and we hope to see you back on the blog soon for more tips and insight on topics involving truck drivers. If you are currently seeking new opportunities in the commercial trucking industry, we are always interested in adding new talent to our team! Thank you for reading.