Illness on the road

Sleep Driving

It happens to all of us at least once or twice. You wake up feeling like the floor in the back seat of a taxi on New Year’s Eve. Unfortunately, calling in sick is seldom an option, unless you’re REALLY under the weather, or are suffering from a serious medical emergency, such as a stroke or a heart attack. In the event of a stroke or heart attack, don’t mess around. Park and chew, not just swallow, chew 2 regular strength Aspirin, the real ones, not a substitute, and call 911 immediately.

For just a regular cold or flu, you pretty much have to tough it out as best you can.  Be wary of cough syrups and other over the counter medications, as they may contain ingredients that could cause a positive result in a drug test.  Tylenol 3, and any cough suppressant with codeine will show up as a positive in a drug test, so stay away from them. If in doubt, ask a pharmacist or your doctor.

If you can’t tough it out and you need to pull over, be sure to notify your dispatcher as to why you’re stopping and where, and when you reasonably expect to be rolling again.  This way they can keep an eye on you, and they know where to send another driver or emergency services to check in you if need be.

As with all things, planning ahead is much better than being caught unprepared.  Next time you see your doctor, ask him for a list of which OTC (over the counter) medications will best prevent a positive drug test, and keep a supply in the truck. Be mindful of any expiry dates on them, and replace as necessary.

Likewise, discuss any new prescription medications with your doctor, and if at all possible, start them while you’re at home to see how they may affect you. When you leave on a trip, carry all your medications with you in their original packages, and don’t take just enough for your expected trip. Take them all, as you may be on the road longer than you planned.

Don Taylor has been a professional driver since March 1985.  In 1994 he made the jump to driving tractor trailers, and has accumulated over 3.5 million miles, including over 4 years of driving turnpike doubles in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta.  He is currently hauling flat decks across North America.