Truck Driver Health Tips
The truck driver shortage is starting to get the recognition it needs. There are many factors that influence this shortage, from changes to drug screens, to retiring drivers, to younger workers entering other industries.
One area that is often overlooked when it comes to driver retention is driver health. Drivers face conditions that make it difficult to maintain healthy habits but can be pulled off the road if certain health issues arise. There are things drivers and trucking companies can do to help reduce this risk though.
Biggest Driver Health Concerns
One-third of drivers aren’t qualified to drive due to health issues. With driver shortages already hurting the industry, driver health is an issue that needs to be addressed.
The biggest health concerns for drivers are blood pressure, being overweight, and diabetes. This isn’t surprising as more than 10% of Americans have Type 2 Diabetes, and 75% are overweight or obese. These issues are increased for drivers as they spend so much of their time sitting behind the wheel.
Nutrition is the number one reason for these health issues. Part of spending their time on the road means drivers have difficulty maintaining nutrition. The trucking industry can combat some of these issues by promoting healthy eating, improved rest, hydration, movement, and stress reduction.
Promoting Healthier Eating
Beyond the obvious health issues associated with poor nutrition, this can also affect reaction times and decision-making skills. Poor quality foods negatively affect brain health and drain energy. You want your drivers to be alert and ready on the road.
Creating healthy eating habits can take time. Drivers should start with small changes, finding alternatives to their biggest problem foods first. Planning ahead also helps manage nutrition. Drivers can determine the best options for food on their routes to reduce poor food choices.
Companies can help by offering healthier options when drivers are in-house. Providing information on healthier options will also help combat some of the health issues involved with poor nutrition.
Sleep is when your body recharges and repairs itself, meaning lack of sleep is harmful to your physical and mental health. Beyond that, fatigued driving can lead to increased accidents.
Drivers can combat this by taking steps to get rest. A good place to start is by reducing caffeine and sugar, which will also help improve nutrition. Creating as much routine around their schedules will also help them rest better.
It’s essential to make sure drivers get enough sleep before getting on the road. Make sure they are following hours of service regulations while on the road as well. Explain the importance of proper rest so they know you are looking out for their best interest as well as yours.
Hydration is an important part of driver health. Poor hydration can lead to health issues such as high blood pressure, asthma, arthritis, and many other problems including being overweight. If you are thirsty, you may believe you are hungry which leads to overeating.
Reducing caffeine intake can help. Often when we drink caffeinated drinks, they can dehydrate us further. Drivers can make simple swaps to take in better-quality hydration options on the road, but water is always the best option.
Trucking companies should encourage drivers to keep water on hand when on long trips, so they maintain hydration. For those who don’t like water, encourage better alternatives such as real juices and flavored waters.
Body posture and movement are also important to health. Both can affect digestion, joint health, and bone health. Poor posture and lack of movement can lead to chronic pain issues.
An easy way for drivers to improve this is to take walks. This is an easy way to get moving without adding extra stress for drivers. Walking has the added benefit of helping with some of the stress of the job.
Encourage drivers to take time to move around. Even if it’s walking around their vehicle on a break, it is a start they can grow from.
Stress can lead to angry or aggressive driving which is more likely to involve truck drivers in an accident. Stress also affects the immune system and prolonged stress can cause heart issues. Unfortunately, we know drivers must deal with a lot of stress.
Positive thinking can go a long way towards reducing stress. Taking time to focus on the positive will help create habits of redirecting during times of high stress. Getting out and moving around for a while can also help reduce stress levels.
It is in everyone’s best interest for you to encourage your drivers to take time for stress-reduction activities. You can also help with stress by promoting better communication within your company.
Making Driver Health Part of Safety Training
While it is up to drivers to make the changes that are needed for better health, there are things you can do to promote driver health throughout your company. Encourage drivers to understand the importance of health and why they would want to be healthier. Understanding why will help them to form better habits.
Provide training on the importance of health and how bad health can negatively affect their work. Encourage small changes to help them build better habits. Wherever you can, provide healthier options for drivers to see the benefit.
Promoting health is a good way to help drivers feel safe with your company. Safety and health go hand-in-hand, so incorporate training on healthy habits with your safety training. Make driver health part of your safety culture.
Developing a Culture of Safety
To retain quality drivers, you want to make safety an essential part of your company culture. Providing the tools needed to promote safety and health are easy with Infinit-I Workforce Solutions. Our online training management platform allows you to provide training year-round without disrupting schedules.
Schedule a demo today to learn how easy it is to provide the training you need to develop a culture of safety.