Trucking companies are failing to give drivers the education and tools they need to stay healthy. Simply offering health screenings is not enough.
Living without a kitchen, dealing with sleep deprivation and having schedules that are dictated by the availability of freight can mean that health and wellbeing are often low on the list of drivers’ priorities.
Various studies have revealed that obesity is higher among truck drivers than those working in other careers. Likewise, the percentage of smokers and people with diabetes is higher among truckers.
One survey by HireRight revealed that one in five truckers left the industry, at least in part, due to health reasons.
So what is being done to alleviate this situation?
One area that has seen a change over the years is truck stops. Today, drivers are more likely to find a gym, healthy food options and shops selling local produce when they stop.
Which is great news, but investment also needs to be made in educating drivers about health and wellness.
One idea takes inspiration from the Environment Protection Agency’s SmartWay program which encourages greater fuel efficiency. By bringing together health experts who understand the freight transportation industry, tailored guidelines and programs could be created for truckers.
Tips such as drinking more water, avoiding fast food, staying active and getting enough sleep may sound obvious ways to stay healthy but, as any trucker driver knows, they are not always that easy to put into practice.
Smartphone apps could also be part of the solution, bringing together communities of truck drivers who are keen to improve their health and fitness levels. There are a number of such apps out there. Healthy Trucker, Fitness Trucking, Rolling Strong and Iron Trucker Fitness are designed with the trucker in mind and offer nutrition tips, exercise plans and the ability to connect with an expert.
These apps aren’t setting out to convert swathes of truckers to crossfit, but rather to encourage them to take small steps towards a healthier lifestyle.
One of these apps, Healthy Trucker, was initially created with a focus on counting steps. Results were not what the app’s creators were hoping for, and the focus has since shifted to include eating at truck stops, exercise tips, and dealing with stress. Users are able to share their own tips and goals, and the app has developed more of a community feel.
The aim of these apps is to become part of a trucker’s daily routine. In the same way that vehicles are checked daily to ensure they are safe, perhaps it’s time fleet owners took as much care to check the wellbeing of the people behind the wheel?