July 15, 2022

Trucking Through the Tough Times: How to Avoid Driver Burnout

These last few years have been hectic for everyone, especially truckers. As the world shut down, we loaded up, started our engines, and continued to truck on. Pair that with a truck driver’s regular on-the-go schedule and you might notice yourself feeling like you’re on autopilot heading towards driver burnout, dragging through week after week feeling as if there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

Turnover in the truck driving industry has been a big issue over the last few years. Many drivers have cited “burnout” as their reason for leaving the industry.

What is burnout?

Burnout refers to someone who’s more than just tired and in need of a vacation. Burnout usually stems from unaddressed stress over long periods of time that eventually manifests as feelings of exhaustion, cynicism and, ultimately, inefficiency.

What causes truckers to experience burnout?

Burnout can be caused by several factors, but when it comes to truck drivers, the main reasons cited for experiencing burnout have to do with: lack of rest, earnings, and too much solitude.

  • Lack of rest

With the ongoing demand for truck drivers due to an influx in shipping truckers are feeling the pressure to keep driving even when they’re not well-rested. Not only is this unsafe for the trucker and other people on the road, over time, it will lead to burnout.

  • Poor compensation

Some truckers don’t feel like they’re being compensated fairly for their hard work, which ultimately leads to feelings of apathy. No one wants to work hard for little pay. At CRST, we make sure to pay our truck drivers competitively and fairly based off of each truckers’ driving background and years of experience.

  • Too much solitude

When you’re a solo driver, you spend a lot of time alone. Alone-time can be great! But it can also be demoralizing if you’re doing it too much. Feeling alone can lead to feelings of depression, or anxiety, which ultimately affects your mental health.

How do I know if I’m experiencing burnout?

Like we talked about earlier, burnout presents itself as: exhaustion, cynicism and, ultimately, inefficiency. These three are classic symptoms of a burnt-out employee.

  • Exhaustion

Exhaustion is the earliest warning sign of burnout that leads to turnover. It’s about feeling chronically tired, not just physically tired. The feeling of exhaustion not only can step from simply lack of rest but from feeling lonely or overworked.

  • Cynicism

When exhaustion is left unchecked, it then leads to cynicism. You may notice yourself feeling cynical if you feel there is a lack of communication between yourself and your company or if you feel as if you’re being constantly disrespected, berated, or undervalued.

  • Inefficiency

Inefficacy is the feeling of being unproductive or incapable due to a lack of skills or resources. Drivers often reference confusion over changing equipment, or ever-changing government regulations when it comes to feelings of inefficiency.

How do truck drivers avoid/combat driver burnout?

There are lots of ways truck drivers can avoid, or address, feelings of burnout. Here’s a few helpful suggestions to try out:

Take your vacations

This one’s a biggie. CRST offers truckers guaranteed paid time off. So, use it! We know how important it is to enjoy quality time with loved ones, to visit a new city, or to just relax on a beach somewhere catching some sun. So take that time off and enjoy life!

Take care of your body and mind

This one may seem like a given, but it’s easier said than done. Make sure you’re making an effort to eat a well-balanced meal, and steer clear of a diet filled with only gas station food. And be sure to stay active after sitting in the driver’s seat for so long. You can find some helpful tips to keep fit on the road here! Take time to relax and indulge in things you enjoy whether it’s a favorite podcast and just catching some extra zzz’s on your day off.

Take time to create a routine

While not always possible, a predictable routine or schedule makes it easier to keep your sleep pattern in check. In addition, a consistent routine can help provide you something to look forward to each day. For example, if you make 6:30 your dinner & Netflix time, you get to look forward to pulling over and catching up on your favorite show each night.

Talk to someone who can help with driver burnout

Lastly, if you’re feeling stuck on an endless loop, capped out, and burnt-out, talk to a trusted co-worker or your direct report about your concerns to see if any solutions can be found to address your burnout.