Driving for long hours on the open road exposes heavy vehicle drivers to significant sun exposure, which can have detrimental effects on their health. In fact, the Cancer Institute NSW highlights that outdoor workers, including truck drivers, are exposed to three times more UV radiation than indoor workers. Over the long term, this can result in melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers. UV exposure can also lead to eye damage and other serious health consequences. 

Sun safety is, therefore, crucial for maintaining overall well-being and ensuring that drivers can perform their duties safely and effectively. This article discusses essential sun safety strategies tailored specifically for heavy vehicle drivers.

Conduct a pre-trip inspection

Before setting out on any journey, a thorough pre-trip inspection is a fundamental safety practice. This inspection should include checking for adequate sun protection and driving safety measures. Ensure your windshield is clear of smudges and debris that can interrupt your vision and your vehicle is equipped with sun visors in good condition, as they are your first line of defence against direct sunlight. Additionally, consider installing UV-blocking window tints on the side windows to further reduce sun exposure. Tints such as 3M’s Automotive Window Film Crystalline Series can reject up to 64% of total solar energy and up to 99% of infrared rays, significantly lowering the risk of skin damage and keeping the cabin cooler. 

Apply sunscreen

While it might seem unconventional, applying sunscreen is an essential step for truck drivers. The side windows of most trucks do not block all UV rays, leaving drivers vulnerable to sunburn and long-term skin damage. In the case of one truck driver, neglecting sunscreen led to photodamage on the left side of his face from 28 years of truck driving. To avoid this, make sure to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 on all exposed skin, including your face, arms, and hands. An affordable sunscreen to consider is Bondi Sands’ SPF 50+ Fragrance-Free Face Sunscreen Lotion, which is available at most chemists. 

Wear sunglasses

Sun glare is a major hazard for drivers, as it can momentarily blind you, increasing the risk of accidents. In a previous post, we discussed that high crash rates have been linked to sun glare during specific seasons and involving certain driving manoeuvres, underscoring the need for proper eye protection. Wearing high-quality sunglasses is an effective way to mitigate this risk. OPSM offers a wide range of sunglasses with UV protection, including models with polarised lenses, such as Ray-Ban’s RB4264 Chromance frames. Polarised lenses are specifically designed to reduce glare from the sun and reflective surfaces, greatly enhancing visual clarity and comfort for optimal road visibility and safety.  

Stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is crucial for maintaining alertness and overall health, especially when driving long distances in the heat. Dehydration can cause fatigue, dizziness, and impaired concentration, all of which can jeopardise your safety on the road. Keep a supply of water in your cabin and drink regularly throughout the day. You can bring along an insulated bottle like the Rambler Jug from Yeti, which can hold up to 1.9 litres of liquid and keep drinks cold for hours. Aim to consume at least 2.1 litres to 2.8 litres of water daily, and increase this amount if you are driving in particularly hot conditions. Avoid sugary drinks and excessive amounts of caffeine, as they can contribute to dehydration. 

Sun safety is an often overlooked aspect of road safety for heavy vehicle drivers. By incorporating these strategies into your daily routine, you can protect yourself from the harmful effects of the sun and ensure that you remain safe on the road. Prioritising sun safety enhances your health while contributing to safer driving conditions for everyone on the road. 

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