You are what you eat, and a new study reveals that a poor diet may be increasing the risk of truck drivers becoming dangerous drivers.
The claim comes from researchers in Suzhou, China, who analysed the diets of 400 truck drivers in the city.
They found that those drivers who tended to eat more snacks, junk food and animal proteins are more likely to be tired and liable to driving dangerously.
Alert and safer on the road
However, truck drivers who ate a diet rich in vegetables were likely to be alert and safer while behind the wheel.
Researchers say that the drivers they looked at were between 30 and 60 years old and had racked up between six and 10 years of driving experience.
They were travelling an average of 31,000 to 62,000 miles every year.
The diets were analysed over the course of 12 months and the drivers were asked to complete fatigue surveys to judge their mental and physical tiredness.
Along with having less fatigue when eating a vegetable rich diet, these drivers also made fewer errors when on the road and were also less aggressive.
Unsafe drivers had an animal protein-based diet
The unsafe drivers were deemed to be those with an animal protein-based diet and who tended to snack while on the road.
The researchers say: “The study supports the relationship between driving behaviour and dietary patterns in truck drivers.
“Moreover, it is possible to conclude that positive driving behaviours can be predicted by dietary patterns such as vegetable rich diets, while some dangerous driving behaviour, for example, lapses in concentration, violations and errors, can be predicted by an unhealthy diet characterised by a high intake of sugars and fats.”
One of the issues is that 37% of truckers say they are eating all or most of their meals at truck stops, rather than having time to cook meals for themselves.
Eating much healthier types of foods
However, truckers who took meals they had made at home were eating much healthier types of foods such as vegetables, fruits and nuts instead of sugary foods and meats.
The researchers also point to a ‘demonstrable link’ between living a dangerous lifestyle and making unhealthy diet choices – they say that people who eat unhealthy foods are likely to take unnecessary risks.
And because a tired driver is more likely to be a dangerous one, they’re also likely to have a poorer diet choice and researchers say that fatigue plays a major role in drivers being less attentive behind the wheel.
However, for truck drivers who enjoy a varied diet, or regular truck stops, the researchers say they cannot be ‘100% certain’ that a poor diet choice will lead to fatigued and dangerous truck drivers.